Welcome to my physics home page. This site supports all the phyiscs courses I teach here at Suffield Academy. The pages are designed as a tool for these classes. They contain all the Power point presentation that are shown in class. You can also find review topics here that will help you study for the final exam. Just click on a topic to the left.
Check here for news on tests, projects or the final exam. Click on Freshmen, Sophmores or Seniors to go to the review page.
Freshmen and Sophomore Physics at Suffield Academy
Six years ago Suffield Academy turned the science curriculum upside down. We deciede then to teach Physics First, following a very small movement that has since grown. Suffield Academy is one of only about 6% of high schools having re-sequnced the curriculum. There are many reasons why we believe teaching physics to all freshemn an new sophmores was and still is the right step.
In Freshmen and Sophmore Physics the emphasis is on insuring a qualitative understanding of the concepts of physics. Since the students are currently taking Algebra 1 or beginning Alegbra 2, algebraic manipulations and detailed numerical analyses are avoided in favor of a more descriptive approach.
The course starts with a development of proportional reasoning skills using the concepts of mass, volume, and density. Graphing is the motivation for a discussion of motion (linear and projectile) without looking at its causes. The greatest emphasis is placed on a thorough exploration of the forces that are the cause to the changes of motion. Using free-body diagrams this chapter is ideal for a conceptual approach that leads to an in-depth coverage of a complex physical phenomenon without the use of extensive algebra. Understanding of Newton’s third law leads directly into a discussion of laws of momentum and energy conservation. Drawing heavily on the skills taught in the mechanics part, wave motion, sound, and light follow. Electrical charges, static and in motion, are the focus of the third term, leading up to magnetism. The course includes extensive experimental work, much of it using the interfacing capabilities of computers to collect data, clarify concepts, and develop analytical skills. Computer simulations are also introduced to the same end. The course also relies heavily on the use of tutorials, where students discover the concepts in small groups through a Socratic dialog following a worksheet. These tutorials have been specifically designed to develop scientific reasoning skills and to provide practice in relating scientific concepts and models to real world phenomena.