AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School
2010-2011 School Year
Physics Honors Course Syllabus
Instructor: Mr. Zareh Davidian
Textbook: Hewitt: Conceptual Physics, Pearson, 2009
This course covers the major topics of mechanics, heat, optics, electricity and atomic physics,
with an emphasis on conceptual approach. Conceptual Physics provides comprehensive content
and a three-step learning sequence that builds conceptual understanding and offers computational
reinforcement. The three steps are: (1) Exploration, (2) Concept Development, and (3)
Application. Through laboratory experiments students learn the procedures and skills necessary
to use laboratory equipment, make observations, record data, and interpret experimental results.
Students are required to work on individual science projects to enhance their skills in scientific
Solve problems that involve constant speed and average speed.
Know that when forces are balanced, no acceleration occurs; thus an object continues to
move at a constant speed or stays at rest (Newton's first law).
Apply the law F=ma to solve one-dimensional motion problems that involve constant
forces (Newton's second law).
Know that when one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object always
exerts a force of equal magnitude and in the opposite direction (Newton's third law).
Know the relationship between the universal law of gravitation and the effect of gravity
on an object at the surface of Earth.
Know applying a force to an object perpendicular to the direction of its motion causes the
object to change direction but not speed.
Know circular motion requires the application of a constant force directed toward the
center of the circle.
Students know how to calculate kinetic energy by using the formula E= (1/2) mv2.
Calculate changes in gravitational potential energy near Earth by using the formula
(change in potential energy) =mgh.
Solve problems involving conservation of energy in simple systems, such as falling
Calculate momentum as the product mv.
Know momentum is a separately conserved quantity different from energy.
Know an unbalanced force on an object produces a change in its momentum.
Solve problems involving elastic and inelastic collisions in one dimension by using the
principles of conservation of momentum and energy.
Know heat flow and work are two forms of energy transfer between systems.
Know that the work done by a heat engine that is working in a cycle is the difference
between the heat flow into the engine at high temperature and the heat flow out at a lower
temperature (first law of thermodynamics) and that this is an example of the law of
conservation of energy.
Know the internal energy of an object includes the energy of random motion of the
object's atoms and molecules, often referred to as thermal energy. The greater the
temperature of the object, the greater the energy of motion of the atoms and molecules
that make up the object.
Know that most processes tend to decrease the order of a system over time and that
energy levels are eventually distributed uniformly.
Know that entropy is a quantity that measures the order or disorder of a system and that
this quantity is larger for a more disordered system.
Know waves carry energy from one place to another.
Identify transverse and longitudinal waves in mechanical media, such as springs and
ropes, and on the earth (seismic waves).
Solve problems involving wavelength, frequency, and wave speed.
Know sound is a longitudinal wave whose speed depends on the properties of the
medium in which it propagates.
Know radio waves, light, and X-rays are different wavelength bands in the spectrum of
electromagnetic waves whose speed in a vacuum is approximately 3×108 m/s (186,000
Identify the characteristic properties of waves: interference (beats), diffraction, refraction,
Doppler Effect, and polarization.
Predict the voltage or current in simple direct current (DC) electric circuits constructed
from batteries, wires, resistors, and capacitors.
Solve problems involving Ohm's law.
Know any resistive element in a DC circuit dissipates energy, which heats the resistor.
Students can calculate the power (rate of energy dissipation) in any resistive circuit
element by using the formula Power = IR (potential difference) × I (current) = I2R.
Know the properties of transistors and the role of transistors in electric circuits.
Know charged particles are sources of electric fields and are subject to the forces of the
electric fields from other charges.
Know magnetic materials and electric currents (moving electric charges) are sources of
magnetic fields and are subject to forces arising from the magnetic fields of other
Know how to determine the direction of a magnetic field produced by a current flowing
in a straight wire or in a coil.
Know changing magnetic fields produce electric fields, thereby inducing currents in
Know plasmas, the fourth state of matter, contain ions or free electrons or both and
1. The Basic Science – Physics
2. Mathematics – The Language of Science
3. Scientific Methods
4. The Scientific Attitude
5. Scientific Hypotheses
6. Science, Technology, and Society
7. Science, Art, and Religion
8. In Perspective
1. Mechanical Equilibrium
2. Newton’s First Law of Motion – Inertia
3. Linear Motion
4. Projectile Motion
5. Newton’s Second Law of Motion – Force and Acceleration
6. Newton’s Third Law of Motion – Action and Reaction
9. Circular Motion
10. Rotational Equilibrium
11. Rotational Motion
12. Universal Gravitation
13. Satellite Motion
14. Special Relativity – Space and time
15. Relativity – Momentum, Mass, Energy, and Gravity
Properties of Matter
1. The Atomic Nature of Matter
1. Temperature, Heat, and Expansion
2. Heat Transfer
3. Change of Phase
Sound and Light
1. Vibrations and Waves
5. Reflection and Refraction
7. Diffraction and Interference
Electricity and Magnetism
2. Electric Fields and Potential
3. Electric Current
4. Electric Circuits
6. Electromagnetic Induction
Atomic and Nuclear Physics
1. The Atom and Quantum
2. The Atomic Nucleus and Radioactivity
3. Nuclear Fission and Fusion
Key Assignments & Activities:
1. More than 100 intriguing activities and experiments that allow students to explore,
develop, and apply the concepts presented in the text. The labs support all three stages of
the learning process: Explore, Develop, and Apply. The goals for activities and
experiments, while similar, are in some ways different.
2. 62 Activities. Most activities are designed to provide hands-on experience that relates to a
specific concept. The chief goal of activities is to acquaint students with a particular
physical phenomenon that they may or may not already know something about. The
emphasis during an activity is on observing relationships, identifying variables, and
developing tentative explanations of phenomena in a qualitative fashion. In some cases,
students are asked to design experiments or formulate models that lead to a deeper
3. 43 Experiments. Experiments are usually designed to give practice using a particular
piece of apparatus. Experiments are more quantitative in nature and generally involve
acquiring data in a prescribed manner. Here, a greater emphasis is placed on learning hot
to use a particular piece of equipment, making measurements, identifying and estimating
errors, organizing data, and interpreting data.
4. Applied concepts projects. Students will design and implement and apply physics project
that will demonstrate a practical use of physics in the world. The project will include a
20-minutes oral presentation, a 10-pages written report of findings, and a visual
exhibition like power point, a short movie, etc. Some topics are:
Summarize and compare the benefits to society and the costs to society of
fossil fuel plants and nuclear fission plants.
Make a list comparing the kinds of pollution resulting from fossil-fuel power
plants and nuclear fission power plants.
Write a letter to a friend and explain that you’ve learned that radioactivity has
been a part of nature from the beginning of time. Explain its benefits and its
dangers, and how common sense can minimize radiation dangers.
Write a letter to your grandparents explaining how Einstein’s theories of
relativity concern the fast and the big—that relativity is not only “out there,”
but affects this world. Tell them how these ideas stimulate your quest for more
Gather a selection of canned foods. Predict which will roll faster down an
incline. Compare liquids (which slide or slosh rather than roll inside the can)
and solids. Roll the cans to test your predictions. Describe your results.
Place a small rubber ball on top of a basketball and drop them together. How
high does the smaller ball bounce? Can you reconcile this result with energy
Calculate your personal “hang time,” the time your feet are off the ground
during a vertical jump.
Write a letter to your grandparents explaining what you’ve learned about a
moving Earth and how a person who might be unsure of it could be
Write a letter to a friend who has not yet studied physics and tell what you’ve
learned about Galileo introducing the concepts of acceleration and inertia. Tell
of how Galileo was also familiar with forces, but didn’t see the connection
among these three concepts. Tell how Isaac Newton did see the connection,
revealed in his second law of motion. Explain with the second law why heavy
and light objects in free fall gain the same speed in the same time. In this
letter, it’s okay to use an equation or two, making it clear that you see
equations as a shorthand notation of explanations.
Note: Details about daily and weekly assignments will be provided bi-weekly in the form of the
TWS (Two-Week Study Guide).
Each quarter’s grade will be determined as follows:
Class work/Projects 20%
Notebook/ Participation and effort 10%
Each semester’s grade will be determined as follows:
Two Quarter grades (40% each) 80%
One Final Exam grade 20%
The letter grade corresponding to the average points received by the student will be as follows:
A+ = 100-99% A= 98-94% A- = 93-90%
B+ = 89-87% B= 86-84% B- = 83-80%
C+ = 79-77% C= 76-74% C- = 73-70%
D+ = 69-67% D= 66-64% D- = 63-60%
Work Habits and Citizenship grade:
O= Outstanding: Student has exemplary behavior and has turned at the most one assignment
late, has maximum participation points, and always has materials ready for class.
S= Satisfactory: Student has occasionally broken classroom rules and has turned in at the most
two assignments late, has more than average participation points, and has not brought materials
for class only once or twice.
N= Needs Improvement: Student has broken classroom and school rules and has turned in at
most three assignments late or has failed to turn in one assignment, has average participation
points, and not brought materials for class three or four times.
U= Unsatisfactory: Student frequently breaks classroom and school rules and has turned in
more than three assignments late or has failed to turn in two or more assignments, has below
average participation points, and not brought materials for class more than four times.
Class Behavioral Expectations:
Students are expected to arrive to each class on time and be in their seat ready to begin work
when the bell rings. Students who arrive to class after the bell will be marked tardy. In class
tardy consequences are as follows:
Second and third: Parent notification by the teacher
Fourth: Referral to office and office assigned consequences
1) Listen when others are talking
2) Follow directions
3) Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself
4) Work quietly and do not disturb others
5) Show respect for school and personal property
If you choose to break a rule:
First time: Name on board: Warning.
Second time: One check: 5 minutes after school on Thursday.
Third time: Two checks: 10 minutes after school on Thursday.
Fourth time: Three checks: 15 minutes after school on Thursday. Parents called.
Fifth time: Four checks: 20 minutes after school on Thursday.
Referral written and student sent to the office.
Severe disruption: Student sent immediately to the office.
* Names and checks will be erased each Thursday afternoon.
Positive notes sent home (random)
Various other positive perks and incentives (random)
The joy of learning (everyday)
Homework will be assigned everyday and will be due at the beginning of the class period the
next day. The very last chance to turn in your homework will be by Friday each week. Late
assignments will automatically lose 10% of the total grade. The student will receive a grade
of “0” if he/she does not turn the homework assignment. My policy for turning homework after
an absence is the student will receive two days after returning to complete and turn in the
assignment without penalty. For long absences a sufficient time will be given based on the
circumstances. Students are encouraged to develop study buddies and exchange phone numbers
with each other to get assignments when they are absent or to have a source of assistance when
doing an assignment.
Extra credit will be given for different extra activities done by a student throughout the year
including but not limited to:
1) Sit in the front rows of the classroom
2) Participate in Enrichment Sessions
3) Make a poster or bulletin board about a topic covered by a lesson
4) Bring in research or newspaper articles about a topic we are covering
The method I use to notify parents of a problem will be:
1) Phone call to home/cell/work
I can be reached by calling the school at (626) 794-0363 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel
free to contact me if you have any question or would like to meet to discuss your child’s
progress. I hope this information will be helpful to you and your child and I am looking forward
for a wonderful year!