After watching the non-boiling pot of AP Physics B Redesign for a few years, I decided to look away until something actually happened.
I looked back today, and something appears to have happened. The College Board now has a full-fledged web page with FAQs, PDFs, and even a non-YouTube video.
AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2
Here's the preamble:
"Guided by National Research Council and National Science Foundation recommendations, the AP Program spent several years collaborating with master AP teachers and eminent educators from universities and colleges to evaluate and revise the AP Physics B course. This collaboration led to a decision to replace AP Physics B with two new courses, AP Physics 1: Algebra-based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-based. The new courses were endorsed enthusiastically by higher education officials and will benefit all members of the AP community. AP will begin offering the eagerly awaited courses in the 2014–15 academic year, and it will discontinue the AP Physics B program following the 2013–14 academic year."
As I feared, AP Physics 1 is essentially "All Mechanics All The Time" (with a toe-dip into electricity).
AP Physics 2 is "Everything Else".
Given the extent to which AP Physics 1 is a Modeler's Paradise, and the propensity of so many high school physics teachers to dwell in the realm of mechanics, I wonder if a market for AP Physics 2 will ever materialize. And if it does, how long that market will remain viable for the College Board. I foresee many high schools offering AP Physics 1 alongside their traditional physics course—both intended for seniors. There will be no place for AP Physics 2.
I don't see a bright future for AP Physics at my own school. Implementing an AP Physics 1-2 sequence would institute the kind of tracking we've avoided by eschewing any "honors" or "accelerated" science classes. Isolating the best and brightest from the rest of the student population in a first-year course is not the way to go. Our current Physics 1 course is nicely heterogeneous while not "unchallenging" to our top students.
I presume there's been some attempt to align Physics 1 with NGSS as a practical matter. NGSS seems to have left electric circuits out, so it's curious to see them in as the token non-mechanics item in AP Physics 1.
Jump to AP Physics C? We really don't have a sufficient population of phyz-excited students who have also completed AP Calculus AB as sophomores or juniors.
Then again, if AP Physics is abandoned, a year's worth of robust curriculum is also lost. AP Bio, AP Chem, and our new AP Environmental Science will soldier on with one fewer competitor in the market. I can't get excited about such a marginalization of physics.
I'll need some time (and inspiration) to find a path worth following.
UPDATE: Two years later, I'm teacher AP1 and AP2, but do not recommend the exam.