Please read the overview page for a description of the structure of Fathoming Physics classes.
Overview of year 11
COVID-19 UPDATE: As of the 21st of March 2020, students are able to attend lessons remotely, via video conference link. Please contact me for more details.
Term classes (starting term 1 2020) run on Saturday mornings, 8:30-10:30am and Wednesday evenings (4:30-6:30pm). There is the possibility of an after school class on either Wednesdays or Thursdays if there was sufficient student interest.
To allow me to run the class at a pace suitable for students also interested in preparing for the Physics Olympiad, please note that enrolments are restricted to students who are concurrently studying Extension 1 mathematics at school.
I do accept enrolments of students in earlier years of high school, subject to students having a suitable background (and ability) in mathematics. Please contact me to discuss your situation.
Year 11 is the best time to begin physics tuition, as this year lays a solid foundation of understanding upon which we will build in year 12. It is hard to excel in year 12 without the fundamental understandings that are developed during year 11.
Introduction to the new physics syllabus:
The new physics syllabus is significantly more mathematical than the previous syllabus, and there has been a shift in emphasis from testing extended responses which can be memorised, to requiring that students actually understand physics. This will be a very welcome change for most students who are studying physics for the HSC, who generally choose physics because they enjoy science and mathematics.
The new syllabus has also increased the emphasis on practical work, with approximately half the syllabus dot points now explicitly requiring first hand investigations, and has introduced “depth studies”. Fathoming Physics offers students instruction in all of the practical, as well as all theoretical aspects of the new syllabus.
Fathoming Physics year 11 course details
Following the January intensive covering Module 1, the remaining three modules of the course are taught over 3 terms. Each lesson includes revision of previous work.
Module 1 (Kinematics)
Kinematics is the study of motion. We will examine uniform (unaccelerated) motion, relative motion and motion under constant acceleration in 1D and 2D using vectors, graphs and equations. We will use motion sensors, motion encoders and data loggers to measure displacement, velocity and acceleration for objects sliding and rolling down slopes and falling under gravity, as well as a liquid nitrogen cooled superconductor levitating on a track of neodymium magnets.
Terms 1 to 3, 2020
Module 2 (Dynamics)
In dynamics, we study how forces cause changes in motion as we apply Newton’s laws to many physical situations. We will introduce a range of forces, including gravity, the normal force, friction, tension and spring forces. We will measure these forces using force plates, force probes and spring scales and use our data to make sense of Newton’s laws in real-life situations.
In the second half of our topic on dynamics we will introduce momentum, impulse and elastic and inelastic collisions. We will measure the impulse exerted by an egg on a force plate, as well as the momentum and kinetic energy of (volunteer) students’ fists using a high speed camera to determine if they have enough kinetic energy to break a karate board (or perhaps enough to break two?!).
Waves, sound & light (Module 3)
We will use what we have learned in dynamics to understand how wave motion occurs in solids, where atoms behave as if they were connected by springs. We will use practical activities to demonstrate reflection, refraction, diffraction and superposition in water waves, sound waves in air, on springs, in pipes and other objects such as Chladni plates. We will learn about beats and the Doppler effect in sound (as well as making our own sonic boom in the lab, and breaking a glass with sound).
We use the ray model of light to understand the behaviour of light as it interacts with lenses, mirrors, your eye and the world around you. We will view the world from inside a lab-sized camera obscura, learn how to make a “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion, and (some of) the physics behind rainbows.
Thermodynamics (Module 3)
In the section on thermodynamics we will learn about the difference between temperature and heat and how heat is transferred by conduction convection and radiation (for the last we will use a thermal camera to discuss). We will also cover heat capacity and latent heat, with practical work on these concepts integrated into each lesson.
Module 4: Electricity and magnetism
In module 4 we will cover electrostatics, electrical circuits and magnetism, and in particular, how all these fit together into one coherent story through a qualitative discussion of Maxwell’s equations that we continue through into our year 12 topic on electromagnetism.
Integrated practical activities with electrostatics or circuits occur in most lessons during this module.