Sunday, June 30, 2013

AP Physics C: Mechanics Standards 2013-14

I've finished revising my standards for AP Physics C: Mechanics for next year. The standards that I used last year were a little too grainy, for the most part, for my liking. I prefer having each model as a standard, with the specific content and skills subordinate to that model as indicators. This means that reassessments don't suffer as much from the "cherry picking" of students choosing isolated and unrelated skills to reassess. Because each reassessment is on a whole model, even a student that only had an issue with elastic collisions would still have to reassess on all of the related skills - identifying when CopM applies, deal with other types of collisions, etc. and demonstrating sustained mastery. This also keeps the number of reassessments that I have to make lower, with only 8-12 standards per term.

The standards reflect a hybrid AP/Matter and Interactions approach (I'm using Knight's Physics for Scientists and Engineers for the first time this year, alongside M and I). I weave the two together, including the topics that the AP curriculum covers that M and I doesn't and the larger narrative and inclusion of programming and modern physics of M and I.

The overview:
  • Fall Term (the momentum principle)
    • Unit 1: motion (constant and non-constant a and forces), drag, oscillations (springs and others, but not pendula), intro to Python
    • Unit 2: momentum principle, momentum (conservation and impulse), circular motion (uniform and non-uniform), non-inertial reference frames
    • Unit 3: chaos, relativistic momentum, materials (ball and spring model of matter, speed of sound, Young's modulus)
  • Winter Term (the energy principle)
    • Unit 4: work, power, relating U and F, gravitational and electrical potential energy, universal gravitation and orbits, conservation of E
    • Unit 5: quantized energy (spectra), relativistic energy, mass energy
    • Unit 6: real and point-particle systems, moment of inertia, conservation of energy with rotation
  • Spring Term (the angular momentum principle)
    • Unit 7: angular momentum conservation, torque, static equilibrium
    • Unit 8: unbalanced torques, angular motion
    • Unit 9: statistical mechanics: micro/macrostates, entropy, temperature, specific heat, Boltzmann distributions
Here are PDFs for the standards:


  1. So excited for our Physics class!

    1. That makes two of us - hopefully 6 of us, I guess :)

  2. How often do you do assessments, and how many times are you able to cover each standard when you use this granularity?

  3. How often do you do assessments, and how many times are you able to cover each standard when you use this granularity?

  4. In the second year class, I probably get two teacher-directed assessments per standard. I assess about twice every three weeks, I suppose - maybe a little more often. In the first year class, I try to get three per standard, but it's sometimes two (always at least two). Adding a takehome assessment as the first one for each standard helps add to the opportunities for feedback, and security's not an issue, because those scores are replaced anyway. I think that it helps get them in the mindset that assessment's for their benefit, rather than for mine.