SCI520: AP Physics B
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:
This course is the equivalent of an introductory college-level survey course, but does not require proficiency in calculus. Students focus on five general areas: Newtonian mechanics, thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Students gain an understanding of the core principles of physics and then apply them to problem-solving exercises. They learn how to measure the mass of a planet without weighing it, find out how electricity makes a motor turn, and learn how opticians know how to shape lenses for glasses. Students prepare for the AP Exam and for further study in science and engineering.back to top
Two Semestersback to top
Success in MTH303 or MTH304: Algebra II, MTH403: Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry, and a teacher/counselor recommendationback to top
Unit 1: Welcome to Physics
This unit focuses on introductory concepts in physics and tools that students need to succeed in the course. Students review how to convert units and learn a basic problem-solving strategy.
- Why Study Physics?
- Math Tools
Unit 2: Kinematics: Describing Motion
Students are introduced to some of the most useful equations in physics. They learn about motion in two dimensions—updown and side-to-side—and find out how to use kinematic equations to describe motion. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic I: Newtonian Mechanics (Kinematics).
- Motion in One Dimension
- Motion in Two Dimensions
Unit 3: Dynamics, Kinetic Energy, and Work
Students learn about Newton's three laws of motion and practice applying them. They learn how something gains energy, and how to distinguish between the energy an object holds while at rest and the energy it has while falling. They learn the equations that explain the basic principles of momentum, impulse, and collisions. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic I: Newtonian Mechanics (Newton's laws of motion; Work, energy, power; Systems of particles, linear momentum).
- Newton: Three Laws of Motion
- Kinetic Energy and Work
- Momentum and Collision
Unit 4: Circular Motion, Gravitation, and Rotation
Students learn about circular motion, opening the door to understanding astronomy, cosmology, and the process of putting a vehicle like the Space Shuttle into space and returning it safely to Earth. They learn about rotational equilibrium and torque and how fluids shape our lives. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic I: Newtonian Mechanics (Circular motion and rotation; Oscillations and gravitation) and Topic II: Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics (Fluid mechanics).
- Circular Motion
- Gravitation and Planetary Orbits
- Rotational Statics
Unit 5: Vibration, Waves, and Sound
Students learn about the motion of a pendulum, called simple harmonic motion (SHM). They learn about the properties of waves, the characteristics all waves have in common, and how to distinguish one type of wave from another. They learn how to measure and compare the intensity of sounds. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic IV: Waves and Optics (Wave motion).
- Oscillation (Vibration) and Simple Harmonic Motion
Unit 6: Temperature, Heat, and Thermodynamics
Students learn about temperature, energy transfer, and thermodynamics—the study of how thermal energy can be converted to mechanical energy and do work. They discover that no matter how efficiently a thermodynamic machine operates, it will always contribute to the disorder, or entropy, of the universe. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic II: Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics (Temperature and heat; Kinetic theory and thermodynamics).
- Temperature, the Ideal Gas Law, and Kinetic Theory
- Heat and Phases of Matter
Unit 7: Review and Exam
Students review what they have learned and take the semester exam.
Unit 1: Electrostatics
Students explore electric energy and learn about the basics of electric fields and potential. They learn about capacitance, how capacitors hold charge, and how much energy a capacitor can store. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic III: Electricity and Magnetism (Electrostatics; Conductors, capacitors, and dielectrics).
- Coulomb: Law of Electrostatic Forces
- Electric Fields and Potential
Unit 2: Electric Current
Students learn about direct current, how resistors operate in different types of electrical circuits, how electrical outlets work, and why circuit breakers are important. They look at some real-life applications of capacitors in circuits and the relationship between resistors and capacitors. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic III: Electricity and Magnetism (Electric circuits).
- Ohm: Law of Electric Current and Resistance
- Introduction to Circuits and Circuits With Resistors
- Circuits with Capacitors
- Kirchoff: Circuit Rules
Unit 3: Magnetostatics
Students explore the relationship between magnetic fields and electric charges, and consider some typical magnetic fields. They identify the basics of how electric current can create magnetic fields, analyze some of the common uses of this electromagnetic phenomenon, and study the equations that deal with the electromagnetic relationship. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic III: Electricity and Magnetism (Magnetostatics; Electromagnetism).
- Introduction to Magnetic Fields
- Applied Magnetic Fields
- Electromagnetic Induction
Unit 4: Electromagnetic Waves and Light
Students learn that radio waves, microwaves, ultraviolet waves, visible light, and even x-rays all are basically a form of electromagnetic radiation. They learn about mirrors, reflection of light, and refraction (bending) of light, and its application in fiber optics. They learn about common vision problems and how corrective lenses fix them. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic IV: Waves and Optics (Geometric optics).
- Introduction to EM Waves and Light
- Optical Instruments
Unit 5: Physical Optics: Interference and Diffraction
Students review their understanding of wave interference and extend that concept to light and color. Interference patterns of light waves are caused by diffraction. Diffraction occurs when light bends or spreads around the edges of slits or other obstacles. Students learn various ways to accomplish diffraction and the consequences. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic IV; Waves and Optics (Physical optics).
Unit 6: Quantum Theory and Nuclear Physics
Students see how the worlds of chemistry and physics merge in the Periodic Table—the arrangement of elements in the table and the electron configurations are all described by the energy levels proposed by the quantum model of the atom. They learn about nuclear reactions: fission, the splitting of the atom, and fusion, the combining of two atoms of hydrogen to form one atom of helium. In the College Board's topic outline, the content in this unit maps to Topic V: Atomic and Nuclear Physics (Atomic physics and quantum effects; Nuclear physics).
- Relativity and the Origins of Quantum Theory
- Atomic Structure: The Bohr Model
- Applied Nuclear Physics: Fission and Fusion
Unit 7: Review and Exam
Students review what they have learned and take the final exam.