Physics course description          

Why study physics?  It is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science. Physics challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and string theory, and it leads to great discoveries, like computers and lasers, that change our lives. 

Physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. Moreover, it’s the basis of many other sciences, including chemistry, oceanography, seismology, and astronomy.  The importance of physics isn’t limited to the “hard sciences.” Increasingly, physicists are turning their talents to molecular biology, biochemistry, and biology itself. Even medicine has a niche for physicists, and since medical physicists are hard to come by, they are much in demand.

Physics also undergirds many new technologies. Cell phones, the Internet, and MRIs are only a few examples of the physics-based technological developments that have revolutionized our world. Many theoretical and experimental physicists work as engineers, and many electrical and mechanical engineers have physics degrees.

A physics education equips a person to work in many different and interesting places—in industrial and government labs, on college campuses, and in the astronaut corps. In addition, many physics grads leave the lab behind and work at newspapers and magazines, in government, and even on Wall Street—places where their problem-solving abilities and analytical skills are great assets.  The study of physics develops important skills, including sophisticated mathematical reasoning to analyze physical systems.

Most of us are curious, we study it because we WANT to understand why things are the way they are.  Some people just like solving puzzles. The study of physics is great fun for puzzle-solvers.

So—physics is interesting, relevant, and it can prepare you for great jobs in a wide variety of places.

Our textbook Conceptual Physics is structured in a conversational way that greatly reduces the difficulty of the subject matter.  It is very strong on stories, cartoons and applications.

The units we will study are mechanics, heat, sound and light, electricity and magnetism.  I try to engage your minds, leading to a deep understanding of the material and how it impacts your life, not just memorizing facts.   As part of our hands-on approach, we will have frequent demonstrations and laboratory studies.  For most labs, you will write a detailed report about your procedures and results.  These lab reports are a major part of your grade.  We have frequent homework assignments, many of them questions printed in the book.  Other times, you will discuss science news reports.  The “problem of the day” is in-class work, that can not be made up if you were not present.  Expect a quiz about once a week, and a major test about once a month.  The final exam will emphasize the more recent material, but your results will depend on mastery of material we have studied through the whole year. 

Back to main physics page