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Physics C Mechanics AP

SCI 509/510

Physics C Mechanics AP

  • Course ID:SCI 509/510
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:Physics
  • Course Rank:College Level
  • Teachers:Pete Bancroft

Description and Objectives

AP Physics C Mechanics is an advanced course in which students learn the principles of classical mechanics, and master the skills necessary to mathematically model mechanical phenomena. The course will challenge students’ abilities in problem-solving using algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.

The curriculum corresponds to the first semester of university physics for science and engineering majors. Topics include Kinematics, Vectors, Newton’s Laws, Work and Energy, Momentum and Collisions, Circular Motion, Gravity, Rotation and Periodic Motion.


University Physics, Vol. 1, 12th ed., Young & Freedman, Pearson Addison-Wesley Publishers, ISBN 978-0321500625. This is one of the most widely used textbooks for calculus-based university physics classes. It provides clear explanations and examples and has excellent problem sets.

Course Requirements

The textbook and notebooks will be provided; a scientific calculator must be purchased.

Daily homework will consist of outlining the text and solving mathematical word problems. Occasional quizzes, announced or unannounced, will be given. The majority of the student’s grade will be determined by tests given after each chapter.

Successful Students

Successful students will study each night until they thoroughly understand all new material. This will allow them to focus in class on the finer points and problem-solving techniques rather than on basic understanding; and test preparation will consist in reviewing material rather than in trying to master it for the first time.

A student fully understands a scientific concept only when he is able to use it in mathematical calculations to evaluate data and determine the value of unknown variables. This kind of problem-solving requires an orderly method, attention to detail, and patience. When a student’s first attempt to solve a problem results in a wrong answer, it is crucial to review the lesson and figure out how to get the correct answer (given in the back of the book). Nothing contributes more to mastering concepts than figuring out your mistakes in solving problems.

An orderly method of problem-solving includes: parsing each sentence of a problem to identify what quantities are given and what must be found; identifying equations that describe the relationships of known and unknown quantities; and writing out every step of your calculations, including the equations you are using, the values you are substituting in for the equations’ variables, and the units for each quantity. Working in an orderly fashion ends up saving time by reducing false starts and mistakes and making it easier to figure out the source of mistakes.

This course will serve as an excellent foundation for those students who go into math or science in the future, and the mental discipline and habits it develops will serve students in whatever field they eventually choose.

Additional Resources

AP Review books will also be made available to the students for exam preparation.

Summer Assignment

Read Young & Freedman Ch. 1 and do odds 1.1 to 1.97. Be sure to check the Answers and try to figure out  mistakes. (Click on the links for the text and answers.)