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Welcome to the study of how the physical world works around us!


This class offers students a place to "do science" and experience development of ideas in ways similar to the way scientists developed them. We use this approach to learning to help develop a deep conceptual understanding of the subject that can be built upon and applied in the future. 


Here is a short read that addresses some popular beliefs about high school physics: Seven myths about High School Physics


Following is a list of frequently asked questions that might answer some of your questions regarding this class. If you have any additional questions, you may reach me at [email protected]

Please note that my ID is "kopatel", not "kpatel".


AP Students, please visit College board's website for the latest updates on this year's AP Exams.





How can I help as a parent?


  1. Teach your child how to develop good study habits, if good study habits are not present already. High School students should be able to study at least two hours a day, without being distracted. Review of classwork and doing homework counts as studying. Start with setting reasonable goals.
  2. Have discussions with your child about social issues such as peer pressure and cheating on homework and tests, because such issues affect everyone in one way or another.
  3. Promote the idea of developing into an “independent problem solver” instead of relying on someone else for all answers.
  4. Remember that each child has their unique set of skills, abilities and personality. Their grade in class is not the only measure of their success in life. Excessive pressure typically leads to issues including cheating and blaming before thinking through. Slight competition is always healthy and students learn best when they are happy about what they are doing.


What is the best way to reach the teacher?


Please send me an email if you would like to see me or talk to me. I typically respond to emails within 1 business day. If you do not receive a response from me, I may not have received your email. Be sure to check the email ID - my ID is “kopatel”, not “kpatel”.


What supplies do I need for the year? 


-- A 1.5 inch 3 ring binder with filler paper (200 sheets) OR a notebook for notes and problems.

-- Sharpened pencils, erasers, pens.

-- Optional: A 30x series (scientific) or above calculator.


Are cell phones allowed during class? 


Students will be asked to keep their cell phone/s in a cell phone holder as they enter the class and take them back as they are leaving the class. School rules will apply if a student is found using a cell phone for personal use such as texting, using social media, etc. during class.


At times (permitted by the teacher), we use cell phones during class to take pictures of whiteboards and to use certain apps such as a stopwatch.


How do I study for tests and quizzes?


The questions in tests and quizzes will be based on the concepts done in class but will be different from the questions done in class. Students are expected to show their understanding of the concepts as in any real life problem. All concepts in this class are developed through labs, so take notes during labs and start with reviewing your lab notes. Ask yourself, “why is this true” before moving on, in order to make sure you understand the concept thoroughly. Be sure to complete the assigned homework problems. You may use any of the suggested links on our class website for extra help with concepts. Our textbook has plenty of good problems. The time you spend reviewing your everyday work and doing your homework counts toward studying for a quiz or a test. Make sure that you are well rested on the day of a quiz or a test. A tired mind is less likely to think through during time constraints.


There is a difference between memorization and learning. Rote memorization leads to short term retention and learning leads to long-term retention. Since this course builds on itself, it is important that you understand the previous concepts, so you can build on them when developing ideas as we go through the year. Short-term retention for the day of a test will not help with the kind of tests that you will have, nor will it be helpful when developing ideas through the year.


Where do I find resources for extra help?


- You will find reliable resources listed on this class website. 

- I am available for quick questions and for lab and quiz make-ups during the zero period physics tutorial in 6353 and after school on certain days till 3:30 pm, typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays. One may also request to schedule a one on one student conference for help with a specific topic.

During virtual instructions, students can schedule a video conference during office hours from 3:00 to 3:30 pm.


Be sure to ask for extra help as soon as you feel left behind with a certain topic in class.


What kind of help am I likely to receive from the teacher or a peer?


One of the goals of this class is to help students develop into independent problem solvers. Research shows that when person one explains everything to person two, the second person is involved in ‘passive listening’, leading to poorly constructed ideas. Keep in mind that the ideas developed in this class are mostly counter intuitive and when they are poorly constructed, students retreat to their initial ideas, which experiments disagree with.


Hence we rely heavily on discussions in this class. When person one engages person two in back and forth dialogue-using questions, person two is engaged in ‘active thinking’ as opposed to 'passive listening'. Students should not be afraid of making mistakes and be willing to ask questions regarding any doubt that they have in mind. This provides a better opportunity to develop a thorough understanding of concepts.


When trying to figure out something, one may use any of the following techniques -

Extreme case analysis - think of what happens to the variables at the boundary conditions.

Visualize - use visual representations such as motion diagrams, graphs, force diagrams, bar graphs, etc. to understand and explain a problem.

Disprove ideas - one experiment is enough to disprove an idea, whereas even several supporting experiments only support an idea, not prove the idea for sure.

Rely on fundamental laws - it is safe to assume that the laws in physics are always true, there are only a handful in this course. Remaining equations that are derived for specific cases don't apply to all situations.

Assess your (quite often hidden) assumptions before arriving at a conclusion.

Unit analysis - units give you a sense of what quantity you are working with, units need to match on both sides of an equal sign.



Where will I find class updates?


Daily updates are available on Schoology. Announcements, current daily agenda including homework, pictures of class boards during inperson instructions, suggested website links and some handouts are available on Schoology. Parents can be added to Schoology to receive updates. Please send me an email if you are a parent of one of my students and would like to start receiving Schoology updates.


What if a student misses a class?


If a student misses a class, it is their responsibility to check the daily agenda on Schoology to make-up the missed work. Typically, a lot is covered in one class period, so students must make sure that they read the textbook for missed work, or see me after school to help them catch up on a missed lesson, assessment or lab, and get in touch with peers to obtain any pictures of student whiteboards from the class. Tests that were missed for legitimate reasons can be made-up at the same time as the re-assessment of that test. Students get a new test each time the assessment or its retake is offered. 


What is the grading policy used in this class?


70% of the grades come from end of the unit tests

  • This will include mostly FRQs (free response questions) and some multiple-choice questions. There will be two to three tests per marking period.

20% of the grades come from quizzes

  •  About 3 to 4 Do-nows will collectively count as one quiz grade.
  •  2 to 3 activity reports or 1 lab report may also count as one quiz grade
  •  Tests and quizzes will be retained in class during in person instructions. Students and parents may request an appointment to see a previous test or a quiz that is retained in class, anytime.

10% of the grades come from homework

  • Homework will be given on ‘Mastering Physics’, which is an online homework program associated with the textbook. 
  • Sometimes homework may be in the form of a handout or a an activity write up that will be collected in class.

 There are no extra credit opportunities in this course. We try to have the grade reflect an understanding of the concepts.


AP Physics 1 and 2:


What does the AP score look like?


Your score is a weighted combination of your scores on the multiple-choice section and on the free-response section. The final score is reported on a 5-point scale as follows:

5 = extremely well qualified
4 = well qualified
3 = qualified
2 = possibly qualified
1 = no recommendation 


"Qualified" means that you have proven yourself capable of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college. Many colleges and universities grant credit and placement for scores of 3, 4 or 5; however, each college decides which scores it will accept.


Source -



Some tips to keep in mind as you work during the year preparing for the AP Exam:


  • For the handwritten AP Exam and pictures of handwritten work for an online AP Exam: Handwriting needs to be legible. If the scorers can’t read it, they wouldn’t.
  • ‘Paragraph length responses’ need to be to the point and written in 3 to 5 sentences. Long stories are unlikely to be read completely.
  • All responses to free response questions need to be correct, clear and concise in order to receive credit.
  • Read the multiple-choice questions carefully and completely. Often there are minute details in words that would lead to a different answer than the one that a partial reading would lead to.


Is calculus involved in AP Physics 1 or 2?


AP Physics 1 and 2 are algebra based physics courses; each course is one year long. No calculus is involved in either course. 


What math background is required for AP Physics 1?


Students have to be concurrently enrolled in Honors Algebra II or higher in order to be enrolled in AP Physics 1. They should have completed Geometry and Algebra 1. Students who have completed AP Physics 1 are eligible for AP Physics 2.


What is the difference between honors physics and AP Physics 1 courses?


Both honors physics and AP Physics 1 follow the same curriculum, except for the pace. Honors physics course allows students more time, about two additional months, for the same content.


What is the specific content of the AP Physics courses?


AP Physics 1 course includes the following topics:



(study of motion)



Universal Gravitation)


Two Dimensional Motion

(Uniform Circular Motion,

Projectile Motion)







Waves (removed from AP Exam, done in class)

Introductory Electrostatics

and Circuits (removed from AP Exam, done in class)



AP Physics 2 course includes the following topics:


Fluid Statics and Fluid Dynamics




(Electrical Force, Field, Potential, Energy)


DC Circuits


Magnetism and Electromagnetism



Geometrical Optics

Physical Optics


Modern Physics




When is the AP Physics exam? How much time do we plan to spend on review? How much time do we have approximately per unit?


AP Physics 1 Exam is on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 08 am.

AP Physics 2 Exam is on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 12 pm.


There are 180 school days, out which about 30 days are after the AP exam. We plan to set aside 20 days for review. Assuming a few snow days, we are left with about 125 school days. This equates to about 3 weeks per unit.


Do we need a separate lab notebook?


You will keep a separator in your binder to separate all labs and activities from class notes and problems. It is very useful to have the labs and activities in one place, along with an index, since it serves as a place to look up previously developed concepts. Some colleges ask for a lab journal during the admission process. A print out of a picture of your group’s whiteboard from a lab or activity along with notes taken during the post lab discussion will also work as part of your lab journal, along with the formal lab reports.


Didn't find your question here? Send me an email at "[email protected]".