Course Syllabus

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Course Title: Physics

Level: H

Instructor: Christine Carpenter


          Physics at the Honors level provides students with an in-depth overview of physics topics including light, waves,  electricity and magnetism, mechanics, heat, and energy. The course is designed for students who have a strong proficiency in mathematics, including the ability to easily solve algebraic equations. Students will be expected to express understanding in clear, coherent writing, and to demonstrate mastery of problem-solving techniques. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course. In lab, students will develop foundational science skills, such as experimental design, qualitative and quantitative observations, data and graph analysis, and meaningful communication of scientific results. This rigorous and fast-paced course is suitable for students who can work independently in order to master the material and have advanced skills in reading, writing, math, and data analysis. It is recommended that students also be concurrently enrolled in honors math. This course prepares students for the Introductory Physics MCAS.

Course Sequence:

Sequence subject to change to better to accommodate for students and schedule.

  • Geometric Optics (Snell's Law, Intro to Trig)
  • Mechanical Waves (Sound and Water)
  • Electromagnetic Waves (Light, Microwaves, Radio, etc)
  • Electrostatics and Electric Fields
  • Electric Circuits
  • Electromagnetism and Magnetic Fields
  • Describing Motion (constant velocity and constant acceleration)
  • Explaining Motion (Newton's Laws, Forces, Friction, Universal Gravitation)
  • Conservation of Momentum
  • Conservation of Energy
  • Nuclear Physics
  • MCAS
  • Final Experience - Relativity? (TBA)

Student Engagement Expectations:

Student engagement this year is going to be more important than ever as we navigate the changing schedule and landscape.  Communication and patience are the most important elements!  Students should reach out whenever they need additional support.  Please also be patient with yourselves and with me!  We will learn how to manage this together.  

Hybrid Class Model:

    • Students must adhere to established safety protocols at all times while in the classroom and building.
    • Students should bring laptops, paper, pencil/pen, and headphones to the class daily.    

Remote Model:

    • Students will report to zoom class on time when they are scheduled.  
    • Students should remain engaged while participating in zoom lessons.  This might mean taking notes, responding to questions, or engaging in a class discussion.
    • Any asynchronous assignments should be completed during the class time unless otherwise indicated.
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate!!!  Students are expected to reach out when they hit roadblocks.  There will be MANY.  Please check in when you need support!


Required Course Materials:

Laptop and something to write with

  • While most work this year will be completed through the computer or online, we will need to write or draw some items in class and remotely.  Please have access to paper and pencil (or pen) at all times.  Remember, sharing or borrowing is not allowed!  

Headphones or Earbuds:

  • There may be a lot happening in the classrooms with in person cohort and the remote cohort operating at the same times.  Students must have headphones with them whenever they attend in person Physics class.

Textbook (maybe...) 

  • Students might be provided with the Conceptual Physics textbook by Hewitt. Much of the information we use is available online in multiple formats that can be explored here.  Students might be given the option to take a hard copy of the textbook or access to an online version (or both!).  Students might be asked to complete readings, online assignments, and activities using this resource.  Students should NEVER bring a hardcopy textbook to class daily.  If a student receives a textbook, they must return their textbook in June at the completion of the course or pay for a replacement.  The cost of this book is $100.  

Scientific Calculator

  • The subject of Physics is often very math-based. You should bring a calculator daily. Graphing Calculators, cell phones, or other electronic devices may not always be permitted.  Again, please remember, equipment cannot be shared or borrowed.

Grading Policy:

            The final grade for Honors Physics will be calculated according to the following breakdown.  Given the uncertainty with the schedule this year, grade weights may shift to better support students.

Item Weight
Semester 1 50 %
Semester 2 50 %
Overall Grade 100%


Semester Grade Details:

Quizzes and Summative Assessments - 65% 

  • There will be a summative assessment at the end of each section to monitor student mastery.  Currently these are on Canvas and retaking them is possible. I recognize the lack of test integrity but I am not interested in sacrificing precious "in person" time to spend testing. 

Homework, Lab Activities and Projects - 35%

  • Activities will generally be worth 1-10 points. A larger, long term project might be worth more. Each lab partner must turn in an individual lab activity.
  • Homework and Asynchronous Classwork assignments will be worth 1-5 points depending on the complexity of the assignment. Homework will be assigned most nights and is due the following class to receive full credit. Homework will be checked in class or collected via Canvas. Assignments turned in later will not receive a reduction in credit. Once we get the hang of hybrid learning, assignments for a given unit will not be accepted late after the Assessment has been completed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Graded assignments are posted on the Canvas homework calendar and in PowerSchool.  Students are expected to check assignments and grades often (once a week.) Parents are encouraged to check Powerschool once a month. Currently all details are on Canvas (comments, rubrics) and Powerschool just has numbers.