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IB Physics SL (2019-2020)


  • Informational Packet / Syllabus
  • Syllabus Addendum - Grading
  • Introduction to class
  • Homework - brainstorm a notation for keeping track of how far an object moves AND in which direction it travels, e.g. a man walks 20 meters eastward, then 20 meters northward, then 10 meters westward; can you write this in a way that the sum of these three motions gives you the man's final position?



  • 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; if you have a textbook, read over pp. 27-38 for a review of the material we've covered thus far


  • 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)
  • Extra Practice  - match motion to graphs with this interactive.
  • Homework - do test corrections on a separate sheet of paper (just rework the missed problems)


  • 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


  • 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
  • the general Lab Report Format


  • calculate lab uncertainties
  • the lab report will be due Wed 9/18 (at 11:59 pm) through
  • homework - you should get started on the lab report


  • graph the free fall data -- linearize the graph
  • homework - complete your lab report; the free fall calculations are due 9/23


  • quiz over free fall  postponed until Monday
  • review free fall calculations
  • discuss relative motion
  • homework - complete free fall calculations (handout)


  • quiz over free fall
  • introduction to vectors
  • homework - read pp. 39-43 in your textbook


  • model 2D projectiles
  • homework - complete this worksheet of projectile problems (the answers are given within the document)


  • review projectile problem-solving
  • projectile motion lab (online)
  • homework - complete the lab
  • pay for the IB Physics field trip to iFLY! The trip will be Mon, Oct 21.


  • Mythbusters video
  • discuss the effect of air resistance on projectile motion
  • solve IB projectile problems
  • help with projectiles
  • homework - extra projectile practice (key)


  • quiz over projectile motion
  • discuss the nature of a "law of nature" and the certainty of our knowledge
  • homework - pay for the iFLY field trip!



  • meeting with counselor
  • discuss the concept of a force and the types of forces found within our world (follow this guide and answer questions in your class notebook)


  • review types of forces
  • begin lab investigation of Newton's 2nd Law - formal lab info

**No school on Monday or Tuesday**


  • complete the lab
  • STUDENTS: before going to iFLY, you or your parent must complete this
  • online waiver!! go ahead and do this asap -- reservation #4115004005
  • help sheet for adding max and min trend lines to your graph


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


  • read and process the information on this webpage
  • calculate the force of gravity and discuss weightlessness


  • discuss apparent weight 
  • calculate friction
  • draw free-body diagrams and calculate the acceleration of various objects
  • homework - the formal lab is due Friday, Oct 25 Saturday, Oct 26 at 11:59 pm on; try to do these problems, after reading the explanations


  • practice drawing free-body diagrams and using F=ma; model an Atwood machine and a modified Atwood machine
  • homework - read Unit 2.2 Forces, in your textbook; complete the Forces SL packet
  • 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, 11/6. 


  • analyze a block sliding down a ramp (and hanging signs (in translational equilibrium)?)
  • discuss Newton's 3rd Law
  • homework - if you haven't already, read Unit 2.2 Forces; you can find a bunch of review videos here


  • test over forces (even if you were absent last class)
  • the mini-project is due here by class time today; upload it, don't share it; it will count as a major grade


  • define kinetic and potential energy and work
  • homework - read pp. 62-69 in your textbook


  • derive and use the Work-Kinetic Energy Theorem
  • calculate change in kinetic energy from a force-vs-position graph (key)


  • solve problems involving work and energy
  • sample problems worked out
  • practice solving energy problems (note: I am not assigning the entire packet)
  • upcoming: the mousetrap-powered car project will be assigned next week
  • upcoming: we will have a test next week on work and energy
  • homework - solve at least 12 problems in the green packet [answer key]; complete the four mini-worksheets


  • calculate elastic potential energy
  • solve IB test problems involving elastic PE
  • homework - complete pages 2 and 3 of the handout (IB problems on EPE)


  • assign the mousetrap-powered car project (due Dec 9) - video help
  • solve additional problems involving elastic potential energy


  • test on work and energy


  • discuss the energy test; spend more time learning energy concepts
  • carefully read and think through this handout on work and energy
  • [we will need to meet during PIT to properly finish this topic; you will need to re-take the exam]
  • homework - watch this video on power and efficiency; take notes; we won't discuss the material in class
  • re-take the exam Friday before school (8 am sharp) or next Wednesday PIT; your grade will be the higher of the two


  • define momentum, discuss its conservation, and model the transfer of momentum in a 2-body collision
  • get help by watching this video


  • the mousetrap-powered cars and videos are due [submit the video here]
  • lecture on impulse and its connection to momentum
  • homework - complete worksheet of momentum problems


  • solve IB problems on momentum
  • homework - complete the packet of IB problems


  • quiz on momentum
  • homework - review for the midterm


  • midterm exam, covering all material from the semester

** Winter Break **



  • begin Unit 3: Thermal Physics
  • discussion of internal (thermal) energy (PowerPoint)
  • practice calculations using specific heat capacity


  • calculate equilibrium temperature; discuss latent heat
  • pressure and the ideal gas laws (worksheet)
  • homework - read pp. 101-106, the bullet points on 107, and 110-112 in your textbook


  • ideal gas law, additional practice (worksheet)
  • discuss what makes a gas "ideal" and how real gasses compare to ideal gasses
  • solve IB problems on thermodynamics
  • homework - complete the rest of the IB Thermodynamics packet, excluding problems 5 and 14 - answers, for looking at after you attempt the problems
  • begin thinking about an IA topic for the class; read about the physics IA in your textbook, beginning on page 687
  • you will want to get my approval for your topic within the next week or two
  • a rough draft of your IA Exploration will be due January 31


  • quiz over thermodynamics and the ideal gas law


  • an introduction to circular motion
  • centripetal force lab
  • homework - complete the lab; it is due next class (note: this is not a formal lab report); also complete quiz corrections


  • discuss/model circular motion; define and calculate centripetal force and acceleration
  • differentiate between centripetal and centrifugal force
  • homework - front side of worksheet; watch this video on circular motion; be thinking about your IA topic


  • notes on circular motion, including a dad swinging his daughter around by her arms
  • review of going around a loop-the-loop


  • discussion of banked curves
  • notes on satellite motion and artificial gravity
  • homework - complete problems 1-6c in the packet of IB problems


  • review the homework and complete the rest of the IB problems
  • homework - read Unit 6.2 in your book; this video will help with understanding, and it has some good practice problems; I recommend watching it, in addition


  • explore the behavior of springs using an online simulation - activity
  • describe the position, velocity and acceleration of an object undergoing simple harmonic motion
  • finalize your IA topic this week
  • your IA Exploration, including Procedures, is due Feb 18th
  • be prepared to conduct your experiment during class on Feb 18th and 20th


  • discuss simple harmonic motion (SHM) and analyze the associated position, velocity and acceleration graphs - worksheet, old handout on Hooke's law and elastic PE


  • test over circular motion, gravity, and Hooke's law


  • analyze position, velocity and acceleration graphs for an oscillating body
  • solve IB practice problems on oscillation
  • homework - complete the packet up through #15 (remember we omitted some of the problems, including 14b); do test corrections (by Thurs or next Tues)


  • analyze longitudinal and transverse waves using a Slinky
  • notes on waves
  • homework - complete the big blue packet, omitting pages 7-8, by next Thursday; use this website as a resource
  • the IA Exploration is due, through turnitin, by 8:40 Tuesday; you should be prepared to begin your experiment during class on Tuesday


  • work on your IA

Wednesday, 2/19 - Group 4 Project, all day​



  • work on your IA
  • homework - read Unit 4.5 in your book, and then complete p. 7-8 in the blue packet; use the same website for help
  • the IA Analysis is due March 6th, through turnitin


  • work on your IA


  • discuss wave properties, with a focus on the creation and propagation of electromagnetic waves
  • discuss polarization


  • use Malus's Law to model the transmission of light through a polarizer and analyser; solve related IB problems
  • simulation of the above (Malus's Law)
  • calculate wave intensity
  • homework - watch this video and take notes on light refraction (Snell's Law); also read pp. 145-151 in your textbook


  • discuss diffraction and Huygens' principle - simulation
  • discuss/observe reflection and refraction - simulation
  • total internal reflection (TIR) in fiber optic cables (video)
  • solve these problems, mostly about refraction


  • use class time to work on your IA and/or review for the upcoming test
  • the IA Analysis is due tomorrow night through turnitin; turn in a document with both the Exploration and Analysis


  • review standing waves
  • discuss double-slit interference and experimentally find the wavelength of a laser using its interference pattern
  • review for the test


  • test over SHM and waves


  • Electric-Field Activity; watch this video; read pp. 169-179
  • I will be providing feedback on your IA through turnitin. The final IA, including the Evaluation, with corrections made based on my feedback, will be due, through turnitin, on Sunday, March 29 March 31st at 11:59 PM. This will be a major grade.



* You should have received an email from me on 3/25 with our plans for this week and next. Your primary goal for now is to complete the IA. Make sure you read the email.

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

Free Fall Motion: s,v,&a graphs

Parabolas in the NFL: the physics of a football punt

How strong is the force of gravity on Earth?




IA Checklist


Physics IA

(scored a 24/24)


this is from an IB student and YouTuber

Week of April 6-9


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.


  • Allow me to set the stage by bringing your attention to electrically-charged particles, like electrons, protons, and larger ions. You certainly have heard that objects have either negative or positive charge, or they are neutral. Furthermore, opposite charges attract, while like charges repel. Our focus this week will be on calculating the force of attraction or repulsion.
  • Please read pp. 169-175 in your textbook.
  • Then read this document and complete the problems at the end of it.
  • Take a photo of your work and submit it through turnitin.

Week of April 14-17


Assigned Wednesday, due Friday.


  • Read this handout.
  • Please complete this Electric Field Activity. Use the simulation, linked within the file, and write your answers in your class notebook. Take pictures of your answers and submit them through turnitin.
  • Then watch the first 3 minutes of this video. The point of the video is to help you visualize a "vector field", in particular the electric field.
  • Also read pp. 175-180 in your textbook. You might want to look at page 398, but you don't have to.
-answer key for last week's assignment

Week of April 20-24


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.


  • If you were interested in learning the detailed ins and outs of all electric (and magnetic) phenomena, you'd want to spend more time thinking about electric (and magnetic) fields, and you'd practice drawing and calculating the fields, and using mathematical expressions for the fields to answer questions about what will happen to charged particles placed within those fields. This is not our goal. I want you to simply understand that electric fields -- electric force fields -- exist around all charged objects, and other charged objects are affected by them. They are a mechanism by which charged particles interact.
  • We're going to direct our focus to electric circuits, now. Electric circuits are established paths through which electrons flow; the electrons carry energy with them, and they give this energy to whatever they encounter as they move through the circuit, such as a motor or a light bulb. The electrons get the energy, essentially, from a battery, at least for battery-powered circuits. You can think of electrons as energy carriers, carrying energy from a battery to a light bulb, for example. Upon giving energy to a bulb, they circle back through the battery, gain more energy, and then make the trip again.
  • For electrons to flow in an electric circuit, they must be continuously pushed and pulled forward. This is like a lawnmower, which must be continuously pushed (or pulled) forward to keep moving. The reason it doesn't keep moving forward after the initial push is NOT because things must be pushed to move but because of friction. Friction brings the mower to a rest, so you have to keep pushing it, overcoming more friction. If there was no friction, you could stop pushing and it would coast forward indefinitely due to its ... inertia. Similarly, the electrons encounter friction, which is usually called "resistance" in this context, so they must be continuously pushed forwards. And it is our friend the electric field that does the pushing. And where does the electric field come from? Essentially, the battery. Which is why when the battery is removed from a circuit, the electrons stop flowing.
  • So, let's shift our focus away from the electric field and just focus on describing the key features of an electric circuit.
  • Begin by reading pages 6-23 in this booklet that I created. Please read carefully, and critically, and take notes.
  • Then complete this fairly simple virtual investigation of a circuit, using a PhET simulation.*
  • Submit the answers to the PhET investigation through turnitin.

​*In the simulation, you have the option, under "Show Current", to select "Electrons" or "Conventional". Just leave it as "Electrons". But you might be asking yourself what this means. It's kind of interesting, and kind of irritating, and definitely a quirk of history. Basically, people knew about electricity before they knew about electrons, and they assumed that electricity was the flow of tiny positively charged particles. They wrote it up that way in textbooks. Later, people discovered that the particles were actually negatively charged electrons, and they were flowing in the exact opposite direction to that assumed. This was interesting. Apparently, when creating a model to understand how a circuit works, it does NOT matter which way you assume the charged particles flow. Clockwise flow of positive particles is functionally the same as counterclockwise flow of negative particles. Both assumptions make correct predictions. And today, people continue to use both models, even though one is technically not correct -- the particles really are negative, not positive.

Week of April 27-May 1


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.


  • This week, we continue to analyze electrical circuits, making use of a famous equation called Ohm's Law. The goal is to understand the relationships between the resistances of a handful of resistors in a circuit, the voltages across those resistors, and the currents flowing through them.
  • The assignment that you will be completing is the same one that PreAP physics is completing, as they are currently covering the same material.
  • Make a copy of the document linked above, fill it out as appropriate, then submit it through turnitin.
A cool electric field simulator...

Week of May 4-8


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.


  • This week, we investigate magnetism and the magnetic field. A particular focus is on a type of magnet called an electromagnet.
  • Begin by watching a recorded lecture on magnetism. My lecture covers some of the material later referenced in the assignment, but not all of it. But this is fine, because you are meant to learn the additional information using the simulations and video clips linked in the assignment.
  • Then complete this assignment. Make a copy of the document, answer the questions, then submit it through turnitin.

Week of May 11-15


Assigned Monday, due Wednesday.


  • Electromagnetic induction is an important concept and is part of the story for how we produce electricity to power our cities. Please watch this short video on the topic.
  • If you are really interested in understanding how we, as a society, generate electricity and get it to people's homes, you might enjoy reading this booklet that I put together. But given that this is the last lesson of the course, I don't want to require you to read this lengthy explanation. Instead...
  • I think it could be interesting, if perhaps a little confusing, to learn about the most famous equation in physics: E=mc2. And so I invite you to watch this video from PBS Space Time. You might need to pause the video here and there, or watch it twice, because the guy talks fast. Actually, first, watch this short clip of Einstein himself talking about his equation.
  • Please answer a few question through this Google form, as one final assignment.
  • And let's end things with two inspirational videos, both featuring the renowned physicist Richard Feynman: here and here.
  • Science does not answer all of the questions we humans have, but it is the best method known for answering certain types of questions. The scientific method is an invention; it is important to realize this. It is one of the greatest inventions our species has developed and one of the greatest gifts handed down from previous generations. I hope, throughout your life, you will continue to appreciate this gift. I hope you will always remain curious about the world. I also hope, as scientists do, you will take pride in uncertainty. It is okay to be uncertain. Science is not about proof. No scientific theory is proven. Rather, scientists hold varying levels of uncertainty in their beliefs about different theories. That's how science works, and how progress is made. I think certainty is one of the most dangerous of feelings. It's been a great, albeit strange, year. Take care, please, and have a wonderful summer.