Monday, January 21, 2008

It's second semester: where are you?

In our first-year physics course, we're done with mechanics. And heat!

For us, second semester is devoted to electricity, circuits, magnetism, induction, waves, sound, light, and optics. This material easily fills the semester, and I have plenty of material "left over" to cover in our second-year physics course (AP Physics B).

First semester was devoted to linear motion, Newton's laws, circular motion, gravity, momentum, energy, and heat. To make all that fit into the semester, some commonly covered elements are left out. Nothing that's mission-critical, and nothing that California needs its physics students to know. But things that might be considered by some to be part of the canon of high school physics.

The reality of the nascent Standards-and-Assessment Era of high school physics in California is that the canon has been redefined. And it now includes heat and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, light and optics.

Personally I'm happy to be done with mechanics. It has its charms, to be sure. But second semester content so much groovier, from the hair-raising Van de Graaff generator to unraveling the mystery of why the sky is blue.

I'm happy to be jumping into it once again!

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