What Do You Learn in High School Physics?

In summary: Dynamics is a more general term that covers everything from thermodynamics to statistical mechanics. Whereas thermodynamics is a branch of physics that is all about the study of heat, vapor, and liquid, dynamics includes things like collisions, elasticity, and fluid dynamics.
  • #1
thinkies
249
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********P.S.: Made an error in the title, its supposed to be High School and Physics...********

Hello people, here I am again with a soon-to-be-controversial-thread (have a look at my other threads :P)...Joking oviously...^.^

Ok. I am starting physics next year(10th grade) and I will pursue it until I finish high school (11th grade)...

Does someone know what you are actually suppose to lean in high school physics?

Thank you.
 
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  • #2
Units:
Forces and Motion
Energy, Work, and Power
Waves and Sound
Light and Geometric Optics
Electricity and Magnetism
 
  • #3
My school is offering a more complex(and 2-3 more units then the one you mentioned) curriculum... What are the 'mathematic' side in physics are you suppose to learn (vector?,etc...)
 
  • #4
btw, thank you sam432 for your answer...
 
  • #5
Depends. I took two years of physics in high school, one that covered a lot of topics, and the second one calculus-based for AP Physics, which covered less (mechanics and e&m only), but in much more depth.

What else can introductory physics teach other than the things Sam mentioned? Perhaps some very basic modern physics, but that's about it.

Don't you have course syllabi or descriptions? We really don't know your school system.
 
  • #6
Maybe fliuds, gravitation, elasticity, torque, angular momentum, gas laws, thermodynamics, I guess would be some more things, but meh.

It seems like he will be taking an algebra-based physics first, so he'll probably do a lot of stuff oh a surface level, and then probably take a calculus based later on and get more in depth. Hard to say though.
 
  • #7
awvvu said:
Depends. I took two years of physics in high school, one that covered a lot of topics, and the second one calculus-based for AP Physics, which covered less (mechanics and e&m only), but in much more depth.

What else can introductory physics teach other than the things Sam mentioned? Perhaps some very basic modern physics, but that's about it.

Don't you have course syllabi or descriptions? We really don't know your school system.

I presume some additional units then the one sam mentioned may be simply some in-depth stuff or w/e...

As for the course description, I really don't know...I'll ask some of school's physics teacher to provide some info regarding that. *Will update this post later*.
 
  • #8
PowerIso said:
Maybe fliuds, gravitation, elasticity, torque, angular momentum, gas laws, thermodynamics, I guess would be some more things, but meh.

It seems like he will be taking an algebra-based physics first, so he'll probably do a lot of stuff oh a surface level, and then probably take a calculus based later on and get more in depth. Hard to say though.

We already finished (about like 3 months ago) the unit on fluids (basic stuff I presume, such as pressure,viscosity,etc). We are also starting sound/waves in a week...We have 3 semester in a year and they are divided into 3, biology,physics and technology(which includes biotechnology,etc)...They obviously cover basic stuff...

What kinds of stuff do you see when it comes to calculus-based physics? And What are the stuff you see in algebra-based physics??


Thanks.
 
  • #9
I skipped my high school physics course and just blew right into P I w/ calc :P
 
  • #10
In algebra-based physics, you tend to see a lot more stuff ranging from kinematics all the way to electricity. It generally is covered without knowing where exactly the math comes from, but it tends to give you a nice idea on what physics is.

Calculus-based physics, you will learn less in terms of the range of stuff, but you will learn more about the topics at hand. A first year calc-based physics generally goes from kinematics all the way to thermodynamics. Notice, it tends to end before electricity. During your first year course, the math will resemble algebra based physics, but you'll be able to derive a lot of the equations instead of simply memorizing them.
 
  • #11
@PowerIso

Thank you for your reply. Um, is calculus based physics usually offered in high schools? Or does it start from college?

And, are you sure thermodynamics are thought in high school? I guess we'll be learning dynamics instead of thermodynamics (they probably aren't the same thing?)...? Well I still don't have much information regarding the physics classes in my school, I'll ask a physics teacher this Monday...
 
  • #12
thinkies said:
And, are you sure thermodynamics are thought in high school? I guess we'll be learning dynamics instead of thermodynamics (they probably aren't the same thing?)...? Well I still don't have much information regarding the physics classes in my school, I'll ask a physics teacher this Monday...

It would depend on the school, I assume. Personally, I did learn some basic thermodynamics in high school. It was algebra based and we didn't go too in depth, but we did cover it.
 
  • #13
G01 said:
It would depend on the school, I assume. Personally, I did learn some basic thermodynamics in high school. It was algebra based and we didn't go too in depth, but we did cover it.

Ah. are dynamics different then thermodynamics?
 
  • #14
Yours should be similar to mine. My Physics I curriculum is as stated:

scalars, vectors, kinematics, projectiles, mass, density, Newton’s laws, forces, (mechanical, gravitational, frictional, centripetal), work, energy(potential, kinetic), and its conservation, power,impulse, linear momentum and its conservation, elastic and inelastic collisions, angular, measure and motion, the concept of angular momentum and its conservation, equilibrium of forces and torques, simple machines, temperature, thermal equilibrium, linear expansion and contraction, specific heat, calorimetry,modes of energy transfer, thermodynamic laws, simple harmonic motion, wave propagation, standing waves,sound, electrical charges and force, coulombs law, voltage sources and resistances, series/parallelnetworks, electricity and magnetism, light, index of refraction, color, optics, lenses, mirrors, interference phenomena
 
  • #15
razored said:
Yours should be similar to mine. My Physics I curriculum is as stated:

scalars, vectors, kinematics, projectiles, mass, density, Newton’s laws, forces, (mechanical, gravitational, frictional, centripetal), work, energy(potential, kinetic), and its conservation, power,impulse, linear momentum and its conservation, elastic and inelastic collisions, angular, measure and motion, the concept of angular momentum and its conservation, equilibrium of forces and torques, simple machines, temperature, thermal equilibrium, linear expansion and contraction, specific heat, calorimetry,modes of energy transfer, thermodynamic laws, simple harmonic motion, wave propagation, standing waves,sound, electrical charges and force, coulombs law, voltage sources and resistances, series/parallelnetworks, electricity and magnetism, light, index of refraction, color, optics, lenses, mirrors, interference phenomena

Um, can you organize that someway in units...(general categories?)... Thank you for your answer, much appreciated.
 
  • #16
So...Razored (or anyone else), do you have any ideas of any general categories in which you may categorize all those terms you mentioned (for your physics I curriculum course)...(Ex.: Optics,etc)

I'm asking this because my curriculum is not stating those topics individually, its more of organized in 'categories' and I don't have much idea what those categories include...

Thanks.
 
  • #17
thinkies said:
So...Razored (or anyone else), do you have any ideas of any general categories in which you may categorize all those terms you mentioned (for your physics I curriculum course)...(Ex.: Optics,etc)

I'm asking this because my curriculum is not stating those topics individually, its more of organized in 'categories' and I don't have much idea what those categories include...

Thanks.
Sorry, I am just as clueless as you; i don't know what belongs where; but why does it really matter? If you want to categorize it because you want don't want to miss anything out on your course, you are better off buying a book on physics to supplement the course(that's what I am doing).
 
  • #18
Riogho said:
I skipped my high school physics course and just blew right into P I w/ calc :P

I didn't take any introductory nor high school physics. It would have been great to have had some background knowledge. Somehow, I survive introductory physics w/ calc. Electricity and Magnetism w/ vector calculus is really making my semester.
 
  • #19
Thinkies:
They will probably teach you these topics.

-Vectors (how to add them, subtract them, etc)
-Kinematics (movement of objects)
-Momentum/torque
-Energy (potential, Kinetic)
-Oscillations (they MIGHT teach this, provided it has no calculus involved)

I'm pretty certain that will be your curriculum - basing my opinion on the stuff taught in the semester-long algebra physics that my GF is currently taking.

Some people are giving you long lists of stuff that will not be taught in 1st year high school physics.

You can expect to have problems involving objects flying through the air, without air resistance. There might be some problems involving cars that crash into each other and 'transfer' their momentum. Most of it will be modelable with moving blocks and circles.
 
  • #20
thinkies said:
@PowerIso

Thank you for your reply. Um, is calculus based physics usually offered in high schools? Or does it start from college?

And, are you sure thermodynamics are thought in high school? I guess we'll be learning dynamics instead of thermodynamics (they probably aren't the same thing?)...? Well I still don't have much information regarding the physics classes in my school, I'll ask a physics teacher this Monday...

Dynamics covers such a WIDE range of fields, so you could consider thermodynamics to be part of dynamics...i guess.

Dynamics tends to mean, at least to me, more mechanical. When you add other prefixes to the word, it takes different meanings.

As for calc-based physics in your high school. How do you expect me to know that answer? My school did, so if you want to find out, ask someone at your school.

Some people are giving you long lists of stuff that will not be taught in 1st year high school physics.

Hm...I wouldn't be to sure about that. That long list was part of my high school physics course =/.
 
  • #21
Some people are giving you long lists of stuff that will not be taught in 1st year high school physics.
That is actually my current curriculum as well.
 
  • #22
razored said:
That is actually my current curriculum as well.

Those stuff you mentioned in your curriculum will be though within 2 years right? (10th grade + 11)..?

Thanks.
 
  • #23
PowerIso said:
As for calc-based physics in your high school. How do you expect me to know that answer? My school did, so if you want to find out, ask someone at your school.

course =/.

What does calculus based physics tend to teach you? Or, preferably, can you tell me what will be the mathematics stuff I'll be learning with cal-physics w/e...?

Thanks.
 
  • #24
thinkies said:
What does calculus based physics tend to teach you? Or, preferably, can you tell me what will be the mathematics stuff I'll be learning with cal-physics w/e...?

Thanks.

How certain laws/theorems/equations are derived. More depth to the topics covered, and new topics that cannot really be discussed at all without calculus.
 
  • #25
razored said:
That is actually my current curriculum as well.

They might touch on the subjects. But I doubt any electric flux calculations or anything will be required. You will focus on the things I listed.

Mathematically, you will probably focus on calculating the things on my list more than anything else.
 
  • #26
carstensentyl said:
They might touch on the subjects. But I doubt any electric flux calculations or anything will be required. You will focus on the things I listed.

Mathematically, you will probably focus on calculating the things on my list more than anything else.

I contacted a school physics teacher (through e-mail) and he said we will be touching the stuff mentioned by razored but we won't focus on all of them(we will obviously focus on few stuff, such as Newton's laws,etc). Pretty much what you said in the comment #19.

Thank you for your reply.
 
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  • #27
Feldoh said:
How certain laws/theorems/equations are derived. More depth to the topics covered, and new topics that cannot really be discussed at all without calculus.

I'm sure I won't be doing physics w/calculus in high school...? Right? :)
 
  • #28
If you want to walk away with something important, you need to learn how to think for yourself and learn how to 'learn' physics on your own. Because when you get to college, you are going to have to do this. So try to do as much as you can with the minimum amount of hand holding by your teacher. Also, learn the concepts. If you find yourself plugging and chugging at any point you have no clue what your doing.
 
  • #29
thinkies said:
I'm sure I won't be doing physics w/calculus in high school...? Right? :)

Typically, calculus with physics in high school is taken after you've already taken one year in physics.
 
  • #30
Dude... thinkies, you really need to relax. Being this future oriented may distract you from your present. Go with the flow, and worry about it when you get there.
 

Related to What Do You Learn in High School Physics?

1. What is the purpose of studying high school physics?

The purpose of studying high school physics is to develop a fundamental understanding of the physical world and the laws that govern it. It also helps in developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, which are applicable in various careers and everyday life.

2. What topics are covered in high school physics?

High school physics covers a wide range of topics, including motion, forces, energy, waves, electricity, magnetism, and optics. It also introduces basic concepts of quantum mechanics and relativity.

3. Is high school physics difficult?

High school physics can be challenging for some students, but it is not an impossible subject to grasp. It requires a strong foundation in math and a willingness to think critically and solve problems. With proper studying techniques and practice, anyone can excel in high school physics.

4. What are the benefits of taking high school physics?

There are many benefits of taking high school physics, including developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, preparing for college-level science courses, and understanding the world around us. It also opens up career opportunities in various fields, such as engineering, medicine, and research.

5. How can I succeed in high school physics?

To succeed in high school physics, it is essential to attend class regularly, actively participate in class discussions and activities, and take thorough notes. It is also crucial to practice solving problems and seek help from teachers or tutors when needed. Developing a strong understanding of the fundamentals and staying organized can also contribute to success in high school physics.

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