SCI403: Physics

This list is representative of the materials provided or used in this course. Keep in mind that the actual materials used may vary, depending on the school in which you are enrolled, and whether you are taking the course as Independent Study.

For a complete list of the materials to be used in this course by your enrolled student, please visit MyInfo. All lists are subject to change at any time.

Scope & Sequence : Scope & Sequence documents describe what is covered in a course (the scope) and also the order in which topics are covered (the sequence). These documents list instructional objectives and skills to be mastered. K12 Scope & Sequence documents for each course include:

Course Overview

This course provides a comprehensive survey of all key areas: physical systems, measurement, kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, thermodynamics, waves, electricity, and magnetism, and introduces students to modern physics topics such as quantum theory and the atomic nucleus. The course gives students a solid basis to move on to more advanced courses later in their academic careers. The program consists of online instruction, virtual laboratories, and related assessments, plus an associated problem-solving book.

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Course Length

Two Semesters

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MTH303: Algebra II and MTH403: Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry (or equivalents) (MTH403 strongly recommended as a prerequisite, but this course may instead be taken concurrently with SCI403)

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Course Outline


Unit 1: Introduction to Physics

Students explore physics and its place among the sciences, and confront concepts of the role in society of physics now and in the past. Students examine the relationships of energy and the physical systems scientists and model systems use to study energy.

  • Semester Introduction
  • The History of Physics
  • Physics and Society
  • Physics and Science
  • Physical Systems and Models

Unit 2: Physical Units and Measurement

To prepare for solving chemistry problems throughout the course, students learn about the metric system, significant figures, and conversion techniques. They learn the use of both base and derived metric units. Students have a laboratory in which they take measurements and understand them within the context of solving problems in physics.

  • The Metric System: History and Use
  • The Metric System: Base Units
  • The Metric System: Derived Units
  • Measurement and Scientific Notation
  • Conversion Techniques
  • Significant Figures
  • Laboratory: Measurement and Significant Figures 1
  • Laboratory: Measurement and Significant Figures 2

Unit 3: Graphing and Problem Solving

To prepare for solving physics problems throughout the course, students learn about the collection and graphing data obtain from research. They create and interpret graphs and learn how to properly construct and label them. Students are also given an overview of the strategies needed to solve physics problems, including experience in keeping units straight and in the estimation of answers.

  • Graphing Physical Data
  • Graphs and Data Relationships
  • Laboratory: Creating and Interpreting Graphs 1
  • Laboratory: Creating and Interpreting Graphs 2
  • Problem Solving Strategies: Units
  • Problem Solving Strategies: Estimation

Unit 4: Kinematics

Students begin their direct study of physics with an examination of kinematic motion. They compare and contrast speed and velocity, employing a frame of reference. They construct velocity-time graphs, then move to the concept of acceleration. Students perform two laboratories during this fundamental examination of moving bodies.

  • Rotation and Translation
  • Frame of Reference
  • Speed and Velocity
  • Position-Time and Velocity-Time Graphs
  • Laboratory: Kinematics 1
  • Laboratory: Kinematics 2
  • Acceleration
  • Acceleration and Displacement
  • Laboratory: Acceleration 1
  • Laboratory: Acceleration 2

Unit 5: Forces

Dynamics is the study of how forces affect the motion of a body. Students define and give examples of the various kinds of force that act upon objects to change their motion. Students confront the physical realities of Newton's three laws of motion. A laboratory gives students first-hand experience at applying Newton's laws.

  • Forces
  • Inertia and Newton's First Law
  • Newton's Second Law
  • Mass and Weight
  • Laboratory: Newton's Laws of Motion 1
  • Laboratory: Newton's Laws of Motion 2
  • Newton's Third Law

Unit 6: Net Forces and Vectors

Physicists are often confronted with determining the net force applied to a stationary or moving object. What will be the effect of the force or forces applied? To solve problems like these, students learn how to calculate net forces both graphically and through the use of trigonometry. This unit gives students a primer on the application of trigonometry to solving net force problems. There are two laboratories in this lesson so students can determine net forces and apply the proper mathematics to issues of the change in a body's motion.

  • The Net Forces Problem
  • Resolving Vectors
  • Adding Vectors
  • Laboratory: Working with Vectors
  • Net Forces at Equilibrium
  • Free Fall and Equilibrium
  • Calculating Net Force I
  • Calculating Net Force II
  • Friction
  • Laboratory: Net Force 1
  • Laboratory: Net Force 2

Unit 7: Motion in Two Dimensions

All students are familiar with certain kinds of moving object—a cannonball shot through the air, a baseball thrown in from center field, the swinging arm of a grandfather clock, a spring bouncing up and down. These are all examples of motion in two directions—the subject of this unit. Students conduct experiments in spring motion and other forms of harmonic motion. Students apply the knowledge gained in their studies of kinematics and dynamics to a new type of motion of a physical body.

  • Projectile Motion
  • Uniform Circular Motion
  • Laboratory: Motion in Two Dimensions 1
  • Laboratory: Motion in Two Dimensions 2
  • Laboratory: Motion in Two Dimensions 3
  • Angular Displacement and Torque
  • Simple Harmonic Motion: Springs
  • Simple Harmonic Motion: Pendulum
  • Laboratory: Harmonic Motion 1
  • Laboratory: Harmonic Motion 2

Unit 8: Gravitation

This course in physics builds student knowledge step by step. Their understanding of motion gives them a basis for understanding both Newton's and Einstein's views of gravity. They work with some of the data that Kepler worked with. Students then work problems with the inverse square law as applied to the gravitational attraction between two bodies. With a firm basis in acceleration, students then see how Einstein explained gravity to the world.

  • History of Gravitation
  • Laboratory: Keplar's Laws
  • Universal Gravitation
  • Einstein and the Gravitational Field

Unit 9: Physics and Scientific Inquiry

It is traditional in science classes to start a course with a discussion of the scientific methods. In this course, however, students are engaged in the scientific method later in the semester, allowing them to work with scientific processes after they have a solid basis in the physics of motion. Students spend detailed time on questioning, forming hypotheses, and other science processes.

  • Physics Inquiry: Inductive Reasoning
  • Physics Inquiry: Questions and Hypotheses
  • Physics Inquiry: Experimentation
  • Physics Inquiry: Data Collection and Analysis
  • Physics Inquiry: Conclusions and Communicating

Unit 10: Semester Review and Test

  • Semester Review


Unit 1: Momentum

In his studies of motion Newton spoke of the "quality of motion." All three of Newton's laws were written from the point of view of momentum—the subject of this unit. As a basis for understanding momentum, students first define it and apply the mathematics of momentum to an object. They learn about the law of conservation of momentum and its importance. The importance of the law of angular momentum is then discussed. Students do a laboratory that gives them data to which they can apply their understanding of momentum.

  • Linear Momentum and Impulse
  • Law of Conservation of Momentum
  • Momentum in Collisions 1
  • Momentum in Collisions 2
  • Laboratory: Momentum 1
  • Laboratory: Momentum 2
  • Conservation of Angular Momentum

Unit 2: Work

In this unit students take another step in understanding energy as it applies to physical systems by examining the concept of work. Using their knowledge of free-body diagrams, students work though problems involving direction of work problems, using simple and compound machines as a template for understanding work and power.

  • Work and Power
  • Direction of Force and Work
  • Laboratory: Work and Power
  • Machines and Mechanical Advantage
  • Laboratory: Simple and Compound Machines 1
  • Laboratory: Simple and Compound Machines 2

Unit 3: Energy

The conservation of energy is one of the fundamental laws of physics, and forms the basis for this unit. Students learn about the forms of energy and how one form can be transformed into another—realizing that energy is always conserved in the process. A laboratory allows students real experience with energy conservation in the sense of physics.

  • Types of Energy and Their Conversions
  • Kinetic and Potential Energy
  • Conservations of Energy 1
  • Conservations of Energy 2
  • Laboratory: Conservation of Energy 1
  • Laboratory: Conservation of Energy 2
  • Energy During Collisions

Unit 4: Thermal Energy

Thermal energy is a form of energy with a unique basis in atomic theory. Heat and thermal energy are discussed as resulting from the movement of particles and the motion in a many-particle system. Students come to know both the first and second laws of thermodynamics and have first-hand experience with heat engines. In addition, students calculate the heating of an object from solid to gas, including calculation of heat changes during change of state.

  • Kinetic-Molecular Theory
  • Specific Heat
  • Laboratory: Specific Heat 1
  • Laboratory: Specific Heat 2
  • States of Matter
  • Heat During Change of State
  • First Law of Thermodynamics
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics and Entropy

Unit 5: Waves

Heat is one way that energy moves from one place to another, and now students examine another way—through waves. Young physicists learn the characteristics of waves by examining them and by studying sound as an example of one type of wave. This unit provides the fundamentals that students apply to the study of light.

  • Characteristics of Waves 1
  • Characteristics of Waves 2
  • Sound: Vibration and Waves
  • Qualities of Sound
  • Laboratory: Sound 1
  • Laboratory: Sound 2

Unit 6: Light

The electromagnetic spectrum contains radiation of various wavelengths, including X-rays, gamma rays, and visible light. Students study the properties light by exploring diffraction and the resulting interference. Reflection and refraction then form the basis for students' understanding of the optics of mirrors and lenses. A laboratory on optics gives students the opportunity to create and interpret ray diagrams based on hands-on learning.

  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Diffraction and Interference
  • Reflection
  • Refraction
  • Mirrors
  • Lenses
  • Laboratory: Optics 1
  • Laboratory: Optics 2
  • Laboratory: Optics 3

Unit 7: Electric Forces

Students have explored the energy of motion and waves, as well as thermal energy. With this sound basis of what energy is and how it is conserved, attention is turned to electricity, another form of energy. This unit explores the electric charge and its behavior in electric fields. Students are introduced to the concept of an electrical field and apply various equations that define the behavior of a test charge in electric fields.

  • Static Electricity
  • Electric Force
  • Electric Fields
  • Laboratory: Electrostatics 1
  • Laboratory: Electrostatics 2
  • Electric Potential

Unit 8: Currents and Circuits

With a basis in understanding a force field and how to calculate and monitor electric potentials, students will diagram, construct, and interpret electric circuits. They will understand how a current is generated and how it flows through series and parallel circuits. In addition they will construct and interpret combined circuits, following the electric flow.

  • Current and Circuits
  • Current Electric Forces
  • Series Circuits
  • Parallel Circuits
  • Combined Circuits
  • Laboratory: Circuits 1
  • Laboratory: Circuits 2

Unit 9: Magnetism

Electricity and magnetism are both phenomena that students have a lot of experience with. In this unit the goal is to explore magnetism and then unite electricity and magnetisms, introducing the phenomenon of electromagnetism. Students conduct experiments in electromagnetism to gain knowledge of energy relationships involved in the interplay of electricity and magnetism.

  • Magnets and Magnetic Fields
  • Forces in Magnetic Fields
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Laboratory: Magnetic Fields 1
  • Laboratory: Magnetic Fields 2

Unit 10: Modern Physics

When you read news or see it over electronic media you can understand the importance of some of the area of physics traditionally called modern physics. Solar panels, for example, work because light, striking certain surfaces, can generate electricity. Why this happens was explained by Einstein. This and other modern physics topics connect students to the importance of physics in the modern world.

  • Atomic Spectra and Quantum Theory
  • The Nature of Light and the Photoelectric Effect
  • Relativity
  • Structure of the Nucleus
  • Radioactivity

Unit 11: Semester Review and Test

  • Semester Review
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Lesson Scheduling

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K12 Scope & Sequence documents for each course include:

  • Course Overview (as seen above)
  • Course Outline
  • Lesson Time and Scheduling