Use Google's Chrome browser for proper viewing.

IB Physics HL - Year 1 (2019-2020)



  • discuss briefly the history of modeling motion
  • differentiate between average and instantaneous speeds and define constant speed
  • determine if a toy car moves with constant speed
  • create a scatter plot of the motion of a toy car and discuss the significance of its slope
  • homework - read to p. 11 in the booklet (Physics: An Introduction); do the 6 math questions on p. 10


  • define distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration
  • "read" position,velocity and acceleration graphs and relate them to one another



  • derive the kinematic (or suvat) equations
  • practice using the kinematic equations
  • homework - solve sample IB test questions on motion graphs


  • test over motion graphs, with general questions about distance, displacement, speed (average and instantaneous), velocity and acceleration
  • homework - install Logger Pro on your laptop (on a school-issued laptop, install it from the Software Center; on all other laptops, use these instructions); read pp. 27-38 in your textbook


  • graph the motion data in this spreadsheet and add trendlines
  • practice interpreting trendlines and using the extracted (velocity and acceleration) information to interpolate and extrapolate (file 1file 2)
  • homework - do test corrections on a separate sheet of paper; also, complete the worksheet from class


  • picture day
  • read what Aristotle and Galileo had to say about falling "bodies"
  • study how objects fall using a "motion detector" - lab instructions
  • homework - finish the lab at home; read (and take notes on) pp. 8-16 in your textbook
  • check your Interpolations and Extrapolations homework against the key


  • use the kinematic equations for modeling freely falling objects - worksheet
  • homework - read about experimental uncertainty (its measurement and propagation in calculations) - handout


  • begin formal lab investigation of free fall acceleration (enter data here)
  • the general Lab Report Format


  • "linearize" the free fall data in Logger Pro; add trend lines
  • the lab report will be due 9/20 (at 11:59 pm) through
  • practice solving motion problems
  • homework - complete the motion problems (answer key)


  • introduce a new way to represent vectors - 3Blue1Brown video
  • model 2D projectile motion
  • homework - read pp. 39-43 in your textbook


  • test over 1D motion (with a focus on the kinematic equations, but including a few graph-related questions) - postponed until 9/24
  • continue modeling of projectiles launched at an angle
  • study this animation of a launched projectile
  • the lab report is due tonight through
  • homework - solve these kinematics problems (answer key); review for the test


  • test over kinematics (no 2D projectiles)


  • complete analysis of projectile motion
  • solve projectile practice problems (key at end of document)
  • homework - complete the worksheet of projectile problems
  • by the end of next week, pay the fee to participate in the IB Physics field trip to iFLY, scheduled for Monday, Oct 21
























  • discuss the independence of a projectile's horizontal and vertical velocity
  • PhET projectile motion simulation (lab instructions)
  • homework - complete the online lab



  • determine the acceleration due to gravity in the Angry Birds game -  video
  • solve IB problems on projectiles
  • homework - review for quiz on projectiles next class; pay for iFLY before Monday


  • quiz over projectile motion
  • discuss the certainty of our knowledge


  • an introduction to epistemology, the study of knowledge
  • distinguishing between deduction and induction - worksheet
  • homework - please review the end of the PowerPoint and read the Scientific Laws document below
  • The Laws of Nature (PowerPoint)
  • TED Talk: "Do we see reality as it is?"
  • Scientific Laws and What They Say

**No school on Monday or Tuesday**


  • investigate various types of forces (online activity)
  • discuss the various types of forces in the universe
  • discuss Newton's First Law; define inertia
  • STUDENTS: before going to iFLY, you or your parent must complete this
  • online waiver!! go ahead and do this asap; reservation #4115004005
  • homework - read all of section 5.1 in your new booklet, Physics: An Introduction, Chapters 5 and 6


  • short review of Newton's 1st Law
  • lab investigation of Newton's 2nd Law - formal lab info
  • homework - you should complete the Exploration portion of the lab this weekend, so that you have less to do between next Tues and Fri


  • field trip to iFLY !! some photos of the trip


  • complete Newton's 2nd Law lab
  • help sheet for adding max and min trend lines to your graph
  • homework - the formal lab is due Friday, Oct 25 Saturday, Oct 26 at 11:59 p.m. on






















  • read and process the information on this webpage
  • handout on "g"
  • calculate the force of gravity and discuss weightlessness
  • homework - read section 5.2, 5.4, 5.5 (do the math), and 5.7 in your booklet, Physics: An Introduction, Chapters 5 and 6; feel free to read 5.6 if you want to


  • discuss apparent weight
  • calculate the force of friction
  • draw free-body diagrams and calculate the acceleration of various objects
  • homework - complete the worksheets from class [key]

10/30 - PSAT Testing


  • practice drawing free-body diagrams, including for hanging signs (in translational equilibrium); calculate all forces and acceleration, if relevant (help sheet)
  • model an Atwood machine and a modified Atwood machine
  • homework - read Unit 2.2 Forces, in your textbook; finish the hanging signs worksheet; the rest of the other packet can be taken as a fun (optional) challenge
  • mini-project - Video yourself asking two individuals (not juniors or seniors in high school) what it means to be weightless and record their responses. Then, in 1 min 30 sec or less, clearly explain what it means to be weightless. Also specifically address any misconceptions offered by the interviewees. Don't say too little; show what you know. Plan what you are going to say before you say it! You do not need to appear in the video throughout, but I should see you at least some and hear you for the entire post-interview section. Props, diagrams and photos can be used, if desired. Upload this video to the linked Google folder by the deadline, 11/7.
  • please read your Second Law lab feedback, on turnitin


  • answer key for hanging signs problems
  • model a block sliding down a ramp (simulation) and stacked blocks
  • discuss static friction
  • homework - solve the problems on p. 56 and 61 in your Chapters 5&6 Booklet; upload the mini-project


  • test over forces
  • the mini-project is due here by class time; upload it, don't share it
  • homework - packet of worksheets (nTIPERs); you can skip p.115 for now


  • review the homework (nTIPERs answer key)
  • solve IB test problems on forces
  • homework - finish the packet of IB test problems


  • discuss Newton's 3rd Law of motion
  • homework - read this book excerpt (from The Feynman Lectures on Physics) on energy


  • -no lesson-



  • derive the work-energy theorem
  • practice solving energy problems
  • homework - solve these challenging "Dynamics Problems"; read pp. 61-69 in your textbook (take notes, as needed)
  • assign the mousetrap-powered car project (to be due Dec 16th) - video help

** Thanksgiving Break **



  • (in my absence) continue working through the big, green packet of work-energy problems [do at least 15 problems; check against the key] - these worked-out sample problems should help
  • carefully read and think through this handout on work and energy
  • return to this handout (with a block on a hill); it has been expanded; study it and try to complete it
  • homework - try to complete the block-on-a-hill handout, which is now 3 pages


  • review homework
  • discuss Hooke's Law (Hooke's original paper, from 1678, is an interesting, rather easy, read; I've annotated it; read it!)
  • define and calculate elastic potential energy (handout)
  • homework - check your homework against the answer keys (calculating work, mostly on hills, #4-8 key, and the dynamics problems key); please do look over the Hooke's Law paper
  • the mousetrap-powered cars are to be designed and built at home; there are plenty of internet resources, including this great video; here is the overview; you can work with one partner, creating a single car and video, if you'd like; it's due on 12/16


  • solve additional work-energy problems - nTIPERs key
  • homework - complete two worksheets (one and two); maybe acquire materials for mousetrap car


  • calculate change in kinetic energy (and work) from a force-vs-position graph
  • solve a problem using elastic potential energy; briefly discuss power
  • review for the work-energy quiz - IB problems key
  • homework - watch this power and efficiency video and complete the IB problems


  • quiz on work and energy
  • the mousetrap-powered car project is due next class, on Monday the 16th


  • test our mousetrap-powered cars [turn in your video here]
  • work on the midterm review


  • review for the midterm


  • midterm exam, covering the entire semester

** Winter Break **



  • define momentum, discuss its conservation, and model the transfer of momentum in a 2-body collision
  • get help by watching this video
  • homework - complete pages 3-4 of 4-page handout on momentum


  • define impulse and discuss the impulse-momentum theorem
  • homework - in the packet of IB momentum problems, complete problems 1-15, omitting 6 and 11; also read pp. 73-82 in your textbook


  • review homework
  • obtain impulse from a force-time graph; practice problems from a book
  • review elastic collisions
  • homework - complete practice problems (answer key)


  • momentum conservation lab - due through turnitin on Friday 1/24 Saturday 1/25 at midnight
  • the general Lab Report Format - however, this report does not require the following sections: Background, Graph, Extension; it may be unclear, but I do want Strengths and Weaknesses and Areas for Improvement
  • reminder: you may share raw data but not any calculations or processed data
  • all written parts of the lab should be in your own words


  • model a ballistic pendulum
  • calculate both final velocities in an elastic collision
  • practice uncertainty calculations
  • homework - finish the two AP problems on momentum


  • test over impulse and momentum
  • homework - the lab report is due Saturday night (at 11:59 pm) through


  • begin our study of thermodynamics, with a focus on the relationship between temperature and kinetic energy; methods of heat transfer; and specific heat capacity - PowerPoint


  • discuss latent heat (worksheet); calculate the equilibrium temperature achieved by two objects in contact
  • define pressure and begin an exploration of the ideal gas law (packet)
  • homework - complete the ideal gas law packet














  • discuss the nature of an ideal gas, and how real gasses differ
  • solve IB practice problems re: thermodynamics
  • handout - read me before doing the homework!
  • homework - read these essays on entropy in preparation for a round table discussion; come prepared for the discussion with questions and/or comments; the packet of IB problems is due Thursday (2/6)


  • discussion of entropy -- if you want to read more about time, check out The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli
  • answer key for thermodynamics packet


  • test over thermodynamics and ideal gasses

​Are you ready to educate and entertain some 5th graders? Feb 12 is the date!



  • introduction to circular motion
  • centripetal vs centrifugal force - Vsauce video


  • most of the class will be visiting Grandview Hills Elementary School


  • discuss centripetal acceleration
  • analyze the motion of an object going through a vertical loop


  • Group 4 Project, all day


  • analyze circular motion in other contexts, including a banked track
  • model satellite motion - packet
  • homework - complete the satellite motion packet and the IB questions (omit 6 f,g,h) on circular motion by 2/27; there will be a homework help session during PIT on Wed, 2/26

​You need to start thinking about a Research Question for your physics IA. Spend some time thinking, and researching online, and reading the back pages of your textbook (pp. 687-692), and come to me to visit about some of your ideas. I'll help you choose a good Question. You want to have a Question by the end of February.



  • ACT Testing
  • class time to work on "homework"; general review for test
  • answer key for satellite packet
  • discussion of Kepler's Laws


  • test over circular motion and gravity

​Submit your IA topic here by Sunday, March 1.



  • begin the study of oscillatory motion, and Hooke's Law, with this online lab
  • Phet simulation - Masses and Springs
  • -- we first looked at Hooke's Law back on 12/4; we're taking another look --
  • homework - explore this simulation, paying careful attention to the graphs; draw acceleration, kinetic energy and potential energy graphs on the graph sheet from class; complete the Hooke's law problems (both pages) on the handout; if you didn't finish reading through the online lab, do so


  • SAT testing


  • find the mass of an astronaut in space, and examine the motion of a pendulum - worksheets
  • homework - complete the worksheets, then also do this one, which is new


















  • pendulum lab
  • begin packet of IB problems
  • homework - complete packet of IB problems
  • answer key for big packet of IB problems
  • answer key for previous homework (with focus on energy)


  • quiz over SHM
  • the pendulum lab is due March 29th April 5th at 11:59 PM, through



*Class, you should have received an email from me on 3/25. Be sure to read it.

Lab Report Format

Unit One-Page Overviews

1.1 Measurements in physics

1.2 Uncertainties and errors

1.3 Vectors and scalars

2.1 Motion

2.2 Forces

2.3 Work, Energy, and Power

2.4 Momentum

Unit One-Page Overviews

3.1 Thermal Concepts

3.2 Modelling a gas

6.1 Circular Motion

4.1 Oscillations

4.2 Travelling Waves

4.3 Wave Characteristics

5.1 Electric Fields

Parabolas in the NFL: the physics of a football punt
projectile motion

Science does not aim at establishing immutable truths and eternal dogmas; its aim is to approach the truth by successive approximations, without claiming that at any stage final and complete accuracy has been achieved. - Bertrand Russell

Luke, Cameron, Daniel, Shreyas, Rohit

How strong is the force of gravity on Earth?

by Randall Munroe

The science of approaching absolute zero (o K), as discussed by a former professor of mine. (Published in Scientific American, March 2011)

Free Energy, Entropy, and the Meaning of Life! - blog post by physicist Sean Carroll


Week of April 6-9


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.


  • It is time to transition from objects that oscillate in place - via simple harmonic motion - to waves. They are related, mind you!
  • Prior to Spring Break, I passed out this Waves document. Please find it or print a copy.
  • Watch this video that I recorded. I will give you some of the information needed for completing the Waves document. The remainder of the document I expect you to figure out and complete on your own.
    • The video makes reference to this link:
    • The website is worth exploring further. Here is the home page. I recommend looking at "What is a Wave?" and "Wave Motion in Space and Time".
    • Here is the PhET simulation mentioned at the end of the video. Please open the simulation and try to connect frequency, wavelength and wave speed in your mind.
  • ​Take pictures of your completed Waves packet and submit them via turnitin.
left: click on the image to open an online simulation of a ripple tank; use the simulation to study wave behavior, including reflectionrefraction and diffraction

Week of April 14-17


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.


  • You know that the speed of a wave is determined by the properties of the media through which it travels. What happens when a wave crosses from one medium into a different medium, as when light travels from air into water? Well, its speed changes, as does its wavelength (but not its frequency!). However, sometimes when a wave hits a boundary between media, it reflects off the boundary instead. And now, more accurately, it's usually the case that some of the wave (some of the energy) reflects from the boundary and the rest of the wave (the rest of the energy) propagates into the second medium. We want to explore these processes a bit.
  • Spend a few minutes playing around with this simulation. Observe how part of the wave reflects and part travels into the second medium -- we call this refraction.
  • Watch this video, from a different IB Physics teacher, about these wave behaviors. He goes into more detail.
  • Watch this second video. This one puts an equation -- called Snell's Law -- to refraction. Do the 4 problems in the video on your own paper, take a picture of them and submit them through turnitin.
  • Read over this little summary sheet I put together and try the two problems. Also submit these two problems through turnitin. Put them on the same paper you used for the other 4 problems.
  • Look over this webpage. You don't need to memorize anything. It's just interesting and may help get across the main idea.
  • Final Check: Do you understand what wave fronts and wave rays are? Do you understand how part of a wave reflects while part refracts, upon hitting a boundary between media, unless you are witnessing total internal reflection? Do you understand which properties of a wave change when it changes media? Do you understand how to use Snell's Law to model refraction? Do you understand the meaning of an index of refraction?
- answer key for last week's waves packet (last page)

Week of April 20-24


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.


  • Snell's Law is named after the unfortunately-named Willebrord Snellius, a Dutchman who rediscovered the law of refraction in 1621. (Previous discoveries had been lost or forgotten, although we now are aware of them.)
  • You are going to conduct a "distance learning lab", in which you investigate Snell's Law. The lab is one you would normally do IRL (not online). Two dudes have recorded a video of themselves collecting the necessary data, and I want you to watch the video, record their data as your own, and complete the lab. Submit pages 3-5 through turnitin; you'll need to print these pages, then write on them, or neatly write out everything on pages 3 and 4 on your own paper, with data and answers, and then only record the answers for the questions on page 5. (Omit Question 3 on page 4.)
  • Light is a wave. Scientists call it an electromagnetic wave because instead of particles of matter vibrating with SHM as it passes through, the light wave is a pattern of vibrations in electric and magnetic force fields, which permeate all of the universe. (Here is a simple simulation and video explanation.) Sound waves are patterns in vibrating molecules, like air molecules or wood molecules, that transfer energy but not matter; light waves are patterns in vibrating invisible force fields that transfer energy but not matter. When we perceive either of these waves, we absorb the energy and "destroy" the wave. Importantly, the color of light depends on the frequency of the vibrations in the force fields. Red light has a different frequency than blue light, for instance. Our eyes are able to detect this difference -- not so much because the frequencies are different as because the energies are different; red light carries less energy than blue light, which is why red laser pointers are less dangerous than blue ones -- and tell our brains what color to see.
  • Watch this interesting video which explains why light slows down in transparent media, like water.
  • Watch this great video on total internal reflection.
  • Look over my PowerPoint presentation on refraction, total internal reflection, and rainbows. Check out this rainbow simulation.

​Will this take longer than 90 minutes? I don't know. If it's taking a lot longer, you are allowed to stop and email me that it is taking a lot longer. I will then give you time next week to finish up. But I am hoping we can complete this this week, because we have a lot of material to cover within the next one year. Peace out.

Week of April 27-May 1


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.


  • The goals this week are to obtain a deeper understanding of electromagnetic waves -- what they are and how they move -- and to understand, and be able to mathematically model, a property of EM waves (and other transverse waves) called polarization.
  • Begin by watching specific clips of this 3blue1brown YouTube video. Start by watching 1:39 - 9:48, then 10:43 - 11:30, then 17:07 - 18:07. You may be tempted to watch the entire video, and you can, of course, but it gets into some quantum physics that will probably confuse you more than assist you right now. But, it will be our goal to go back and look at this quantum physics at some point in the future.
  • Next, I will ask that you watch a video of me talking about EM waves and polarization. My video turned out to be 35 minutes long, which is probably too long to watch in one sitting. I recommend watching to 24:30 -- then take a BREAK -- then go back and watch the last 10 minutes.
  • Check out this simulation, mentioned in my video. Test out your understanding of Malus's Law using it.
  • I think you'll enjoy watching this video on why LCD screens produce polarized light.
  • Practice using Malus's Law. Solve these IB problems and submit your solutions through turnitin. For the problem involving the graph, check out page 144 in your textbook; I recommend trying to create this same graph using Desmos. Can you do it?

Week of May 4-8


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.


  • Waves do something that particles do not do. They superpose, or interfere, or combine. Read through this webpage for a better understanding of the phenomena. Once you've digested the information on this page, you might enjoy a quick peek at this other page.
  • Now please read through this handout. The focus is on "single-slit diffraction", which is unit 9.2 in our textbook.
  • Watch this video on diffraction of water, then watch this video on diffraction of light.
  • Then read through a similar discussion of the material on this webpage. I want you to see the information presented in more than one way. I know it's repetitive, but you may benefit from also reading pages 151-2 and the very short unit 9.2 in your textbook.
  • This simulation might help you understand the geometry of the experimental setup used to form the interference pattern.
  • There is a complicated formula for calculating the intensity of the different bright bands or fringes in an interference pattern. You don't need to know it, but you do need to know that the secondary peaks have an intensity only about 5% of the central peak. And further-out peaks are even smaller. If you ever draw the intensity graph shown on page 364 in your book, be sure to make the secondary peaks way shorter than the central peak. Here is a simulation that lets you play around with this.
  • Complete these IB problems on single-slit diffraction. Submit them through turnitin. You might get some help from this page.

Week of May 11-15


Assigned Tuesday, due Thursday.

  • In this week's lesson, we differentiate between diffraction and interference, and we compare light patterns formed by a single slit with those formed by two slits, referred to as a double-slit.
  • Read over this handout and explore the linked simulations, as requested.
  • Now watch this Veritasium video on the Double Slit experiment. Recall that the interference effects made clear by this experiment are interpreted as evidence of light's wave-like nature. First observed in 1801, this interference pattern cleared up the long-running debate as to whether light was a wave or made of particles. Nowadays, the picture is not so simple, as we also have evidence that light sometimes behaves like it's comprised of particles. We thus conclude, light has a dual nature. But the particle-like nature is irrelevant for us, at this point. Here we are focusing just on the waviness of light.
  • View this data, collected by Vernier equipment and displayed in Logger Pro. (I've converted it to a pdf.) Here is a video showing how the data was collected. You might find this video enlightening. Complete problems 1 and 2, described in the pdf file. Submit your answers to these two questions, along with some additional information demonstrating your understanding of this lesson, through this Google form.
  • Finally, I'd like you to watch this Khan Academy video on diffraction gratings. This is what you get when you decide two slits just doesn't cut it; you want hundreds of slits! After watching the video, do a Google Image search of "diffraction grating" and look at some of the pictures. If it helps, you can also read about diffraction gratings on pages 371 and 372 in your textbook. Note: Diffraction gratings are useful tools throughout science. In astronomy, for instance, they are used to analyze the light that arrives from stars, revealing their chemical composition.