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IB Physics HL - Year 2 (2019-2020)


  • Informational Packet / Syllabus
  • Syllabus Addendum - Grading
  • Welcome back for another year of IB Physics! You are going to learn a ton as we uncover the rules that govern the universe!
  • Homework - prepare for a Socratic Seminar on Chapter 1 in your new booklet


  • Socratic Seminar on what physics can and cannot do, or say
  • PowerPoint introduction to electric charge, conductors and insulators, and the triboelectric series


  • balloon lab
  • discuss polarization of conductors and insulators; define an electric dipole
  • use Coulomb's Law to calculate the electric force between charges
  • Homework - complete the problems on this handout; skip #7


  • tape lab
  • review homework and practice using Coulomb's Law
  • Homework - do problem on board; read Chapter 2 in The Big Picture booklet
  • Notice: test over electrostatics next Thursday


  • define the electric field - handout 
  • explore depictions of the electric field
  • explore electric field strength with a Van de Graaff generator (IRL and in the 3D VR simulation below)
  • Homework - read pp. 169-182 in your IB Physics textbook


  • test over electrostatics
  • Homework - read pp. 183-186 in your IB Physics textbook; complete the packet of IB test questions on electric fields, and do the "breakdown of air" problem
Lab Report Format

3D VR simulation of electromagnetic phenomena

(Maroon VR  - website)

Electric Field and Potential Simulation


3D Electrostatic Fields Applet


PhET Interactive Simulation - Charges and Fields



  • review homework and discuss particle motion through electric fields
  • calculate the electric field within a parallel plate capacitor
  • homework - complete the notes sheet/ handout


  • finish discussion of a cathode ray tube (CRT) - video
  • graph the energy (as a function of separation) of a two-particle system
  • homework - complete the packet on energy


  • discuss gravitational potential energy and calculate the escape speed, at the surface of the Earth, for an unpowered rocket - handout
  • examine this xkcd infographic on gravity wells
  • homework - complete the handout; read the NewScientist article, at right


  • test over electric fields and electrical and gravitational potential energy
  • homework - review this handout, then answer these questions (answer key)


  • practice solving problems regarding forces, fields and energy (answer key)
  • homework - complete the problems from above and do test corrections for points back on the test


  • discuss the concept of electric potential - notes and problems
  • explore equipotentials using the Electric Field and Potential Simulation, above
  • another teacher explains...
  • homework - complete the Potential packet, up thru p. 11


  • review homework; complete packet of IB problems on potential
  • assignment of poster project (due next Wednesday)


  • an introduction to magnetism and the magnetic field
  • powerpoint presentation
  • homework - read (and take notes on) pp. 227-235 in your textbook
In China, scientists are exposing crops to electric fields
Courtesy of Liu Binjang



Inside China's attempt to boost crop yields with electric fields

Read the article. (21 Aug 2019)

Well... it's paramagnetic.

Last Year's Webpage
Some birds can 'see' magnetic fields.
B Field around 2 current-carrying wires
Lucy Reading-Ikkanda/Quanta Magazine
prototype MRI machine
A collection of excellent videos explaining electricity, its creation, distribution, manipulation and usage.

Power Generation and Distribution

(Perrone 2016)

View an illustration of Electromagnetic Induction here and also here.

These videos are rather advanced, but you may enjoy them.

Explore these interactive tutorials on electricity and magnetism!

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison

Edison's Revenge: Will Direct Current Make a Comeback in the U.S.? - article

Tesla vs Edison: the AC/DC current wars make a comeback - article



Why use 3 phase AC electricity?

1951 atom bomb testing in Nevada


  • magnetism practice problems
  • homework - complete the problems above, but omit #35 & 36
  • for #33 & 34, the force on a current (wire) equation is:
  • F = ILB, where L is length of wire and I is current
  • for #34, assume I = 5 amps
  • HW answer key - try them before checking the key!


  • explore the Charged Particle in a Magnetic Field simulation -->
  • homework - read the rest of Chp 5.4; solve the IB problems on
  • magnetism























  • discuss the use of magnetic fields for data storage
  • discuss the factors that affect the current in a wire (handout and a few problems)
  • Ohm's Law lab
  • PhET: Resistance in a Wire - Ohm's Law
  • a few slides on Velocity Selectors and the world's most powerful MRI machine
  • homework - practice problems on magnetism; and the handout on current; you should also look at the slides posted above


  • Series and Parallel Circuits lab
  • answer key to worksheet with 4 current problems


  • test over fields and forces (electric and magnetic), potential energy, potential, and magnetism in general


  • complete the Series and Parallel Circuits lab
  • homework: read in the yellow booklet, skim pp. 8-9 (because it's interesting), read p. 14 and 17-23; finish the lab; test corrections are due 10/17


  • discuss the application of Ohm's Law to series and parallel circuits
  • introduce Kirchhoff's laws
  • calculate electrical power
  • assign Electric Art project - due 10/25
  • homework - read/complete pp. 23-31 in the yellow booklet; buy foam board and batteries for the Electric Art project; do test corrections



  • project work day


  • practice applying Kirchhoff's laws - worksheet (key)
  • homework - read Unit 5.3 Electric cells















  • Electric Art project due (both artwork and portfolio)
  • discuss potential dividers, diodes and thermistors
  • discuss internal resistance of a cell - PowerPoint
  • solve IB circuit problems
  • homework - complete the packet of circuit problems [key] and the sheet of problems about internal resistance [key]


  • test over circuits
  • homework - read Unit 5.3 if you haven't already done so


  • discuss electromagnetic induction (Unit 11.1 in your book)
  • Electromagnetic Induction Lab (website, open in Internet Explorer)
  • generate a current with a solenoid and magnet
  • homework - read Units 5.4 and 11.1 in your textbook (take notes); we'll have a quiz over this material next Friday; also, do test corrections
















  • practice using Faraday's law and Lenz's law (notes/problems)
  • quiz review - you might find the first 2 videos here helpful
  • homework - complete the packet of problems
  • homework - read this webpage about induction cooktops, then complete this online reading check (Google form) -- this reading check assignment will be due 11/12, but do it before the test if you have time


  • quiz (test) over electromagnetic induction



















11/12 (late start)


  • discuss the workings of a dynamo and DC motor
  • discuss measuring current and voltage in an AC circuit - notes with problems
  • homework - read the Power Generation booklet and the 2 articles below; complete the packet


















  • explore Faraday's law, and the working of a transformer, in the lab
  • lab instructions and assistance (the lab report will be graded)
  • discuss the role of transformers in ac electricity distribution
  • homework - read pp. 444-449 in your textbook; 2nd pd should also do test corrections


  • complete the lab


  • complete IB problems on transformers
  • look at a tesla coil
  • homework - complete the end-of-chapter problems for Chp 5 (pp. 240-244)


Thanksgiving Break || Thanksgiving Break || Thanksgiving Break



  • analyze a diode bridge rectification circuit
  • simple simulation || video with explanation || complex simulation
  • homework - finish the Transformers packet, if you haven't already


  • discuss capacitors, including capacitance and the energy stored in a capacitor
  • PhET simulation of capacitor


  • analyze the charging and discharging of capacitors in the lab
  • Excel spreadsheet, for analysis


  • discuss circuits containing capacitors in series and in parallel
  • solve IB problems involving capacitors - key


  • quiz over capacitors
  • homework - complete the Chps. 10 & 11 end-of-chapter reviews and turn in, along with the Chp. 5 review, by the midterm -- this will serve as a major grade


  • semester review


  • midterm exam

Winter Break​



  • begin Unit 7: Atomic, Nuclear, and Particle Physics
  • Unit 7.1: Discrete energy and radioactivity
  • atomic spectra and ionizing radiation (worksheet)
  • ionizing radiation PowerPoint (we stopped at slide 13)

​[Following Unit 7, we will cover Unit 12, an AHL extension of Unit 7, and then Unit 8. At this point, we will have covered all of the content for the course.]



  • discuss the 3 types of ionizing radiation and when/how they are emitted
  • homework - check out this article


  • solve radioactivity problems using the decay constant, activity and half-life
  • homework - finish the worksheet


  • solve IB practice problems


  • test over atomic spectra and radioactivity


  • discuss E=mc2 and binding energy handout
  • The Real Meaning of E=mc2video


  • discuss fusion and fission
J.J. and G.P. Thomson, c. 1909

Nobel laureate J.J. Thomson, discoverer of the electron, with his son, George, who later shared a Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the wave-like properties of electrons, via electron diffraction.

The particle tracks emanating from a high energy collision at the LHC in 2014.
  • CERN homepage
  • virtual tour of LHC
  • explore data from the LHC
  • cryogenics - using 10,000 tonnes of liquid nitrogen and 120 tonnes of superfluid helium!


  • discuss the operation of a nuclear power plant
  • solve IB practice problems re: binding energy and fission/fusion
  • homework - complete the packet of practice problems



  • discuss radiation pressure, matter waves, the quantization of angular momentum in atoms, and related matters - handout



  • test over binding energy, E=mc2, the photoelectric effect, and matter waves


  • present research topics to the class
  • homework - complete test corrections by 2/18


  • finish presentations
  • lecture on quantum mechanics and the wave function
  • homework - read pp. 291-293 and Unit 12.1 in your textbook


  • finish lecture on quantum mechanics and its two main interpretations; discuss the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • video: the Quantum Experiment that Broke Reality
  • homework - watch video on the Rutherford-Geiger-Marsden experiment that led to the discovery of the nucleus; Rutherford experiment simulation; read pp. 492-496 in your textbook



















  • discuss quantum tunneling - video  graphic
  • spend some time reflecting on the various interpretations of quantum mechanics and the real meaning of the Uncertainty Principle
  • homework - read this CERN webpage on the Standard Model
  • read and reflect on this article from New Scientist


  • discuss The Standard Model and the conservation rules behind particle interactions
  • if you were absent - read pp. 294-298 in your textbook and watch this video


  • discuss the force-carrying particles (the gauge bosons)
  • draw and interpret Feynman diagrams
  • here's a collection of blog posts on Feynman diagrams, for browsing


  • discuss strangeness and the weak interaction, and quark confinement
  • solve IB problems on the structure of matter and particle interactions
  • video on particle physics, and the Higgs field/boson
  • homework - complete the packet of IB problems


  • Taming the Particle Zoo activity
  • Bubble Chamber Detective activity
  • homework - read pp. 492-499 and 303; examine the Fundamental Particles and Interactions graphic above


  • cool video on the Higgs boson
  • partial key for Bubble Chamber Detective activity
  • review for test over atomic, nuclear and particle physics; perhaps do the end-of-chapter questions in your textbook















  • test over atomic, nuclear and particle physics


  • examine blackbody radiation, the Stefan-Boltzmann law, Wien's displacement law, and radiation intensity as a function of distance from source
  • introduction to the greenhouse effect - worksheets
  • homework - test corrections are due 3/25


  • Energy: The Driver of Climate - NASA website (packet)
  • Climate Change PowerPoint
  • Climate Change: A Guide for the Perplexed (NewScientist, 2007)
  • NOAA website - A Paleo Perspective on Global Warming
  • homework - read Part I. Cascades in the book, The Uninhabitable Earth, by next class, 3/25
  • Read me!! - article



The school building will be closed until at least April 5th, and likely longer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should have received an email from me on 3/25. Be sure to read it.

Bored and looking for an interesting TV show that includes some quantum mechanics?


We recently discussed two main interpretations of quantum mechanics - the Copenhagen interpretation and Everett's Many-Worlds interpretation.


There is a third interpretation called the de Broglie-Bohm Pilot Wave interpretation. Learn about it by watching this PBS SpaceTime video.


Then check out this new TV show, called Devs, which you can find on Hulu. (If you want to; you don't have to!) You'll hear discussion of the various interpretations of QM in the series. The show is interesting, and dramatic, and eerie. If you check it out, let me know what you think. :)

Week of April 6-10


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.

  • I passed out a packet during class on 3/13. It referenced a NASA website that addresses the Earth's energy balance (net inflow - outflow). Please visit that website (reading through each page of the module) and complete the packet. Take photos of the completed packet for submission through turnitin.
  • Return to the padlet I created last week. The purpose of this padlet was for you to reflect on the book The Uninhabitable Earth. You should have read Parts I and II. If you have not added your own thoughts to the padlet, then do so. Regardless, read at least 3 posts from your classmates. (The password to edit the padlet was sent to you in an email on 3/31.)
  • Long-lasting, high energy-density batteries are essential for transitioning away from the burning of fossil fuels to power our vehicles and generators. Unfortunately, most lithium-ion batteries require a particular mineral that comes with a high human cost. Watch this video about that cost. Note: Copper costs about $4,900 USD per tonne, currently. This particular mineral, on the other hand, costs about $33,000 USD per tonne.

​I don't think these activities will take more than 90 minutes. Neither do I think they leave much time to read more of our book. So, if you are interested, then you have the option -- but it is not required -- to read more of the book, like the Storytelling chapter.

Week of April 14-17


Assigned Wednesday, due Friday.

  • It is easy to read about climate change and to feel that the situation is hopeless. Whether the situation is actually hopeless or not, we cannot accept it, hang our heads, and do nothing. While there is not much a single individual can do, it is important to try to help within your own community, to lobby your government, and to remind yourself that "life is beautiful", or "la vita è bella" as the Italians say. Don't fret to the point of not enjoying your life. For some glimmers of hope, check out this recent issue of WIRED magazine --
  • I'd like you read at least one of the articles that make up this climate issue. Read more if you have the time. Then summarize your article in a post to a new padlet.
  • I'd like you to then shift gears and solve a handful of old IB test problems. As we wrap up the year, I think it is important to revisit some old concepts, solve a few problems, and help solidify that knowledge. So do these problems. Write out the answers on your own paper and submit a picture to turnitin. Use your textbook, old notes, and the internet as resources.

​If the assigned work takes much more than 90 minutes, you are allowed to stop working and save the remainder of the assignment for next week. But you will need to submit the work you've done, and put a note on your answer sheet that you ran out of time.

Week of April 20-24


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.

  • I've emailed you the answer key to last week's packet of IB problems. Please consult it and grade that work.
  • This week I ask that you complete a second packet of IB problems. These focus on thermodynamics and waves. Submit your work -- and be sure to show all of your work -- to turnitin.

Week of April 27-May 1


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.

  • The details are in an email, but I'd like you to create a video for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. You do not have to actually submit the video to the competition, but I do want a 3-minute video on a physics topic that meets their criteria. I really hope you can have some fun with this, as the last thing you do for my class! (I don't know how long this will take you, and some of you may spend twice as long as others, if you are entering the competition, but spread the work over the remainder of the year.) Make something cool!
  • What to turn in this week: Describe your topic to me using this Google form. Try to get this in by the end of Wednesday, but you can submit on Friday if you really need more time.

Weeks of May 4-15


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.

  • Please continue working on your video for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Be mindful of the competition rules.
  • On Wednesday, May 13, submit to turnitin the pages of research and/or a script for the video that you have created thus far. This should be reflective of at least 3 hours of work.
  • Nothing is officially due after your Wednesday submission, but I encourage you to complete the video over the remainder of the school year (through May 29) and submit it to the competition before the deadline of June 25. Please also send me a link to the video, once you have finished.
  • Make something you are proud of!