Year 11 Physics Tutoring

Please read the overview page for a description of the structure of Fathoming Physics classes.

Overview of year 11


As my new tuition premises are being built early in 2019, I will not be running a year 11 physics class in 2019. Students in year 11 in 2019 are welcome to book ahead for the HSC class beginning in term 4 2019.

Please accept my apologies for this.

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.


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 new “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

The course is spread over 3 terms. Each lesson includes revision of previous work.

Term 1 2019

Weeks 1-5: Module 1 (Kinematics) 

Bowling ball pendulum, demonstrating conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy.

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.

Weeks 6-10: 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.

Breaking a karate board with bricks to measure the work done.

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 students’ fists using a high speed camera. Do you have enough kinetic energy to break a karate board if you wanted to? (do you have enough to break two?!).


Term 2 2019

An (upside-down) view of Epping train station created with our lab-sized camera obscura.
Sound waves produced by a tuning fork are converted to a voltage by a microphone and displayed on a data logger.

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..!)

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.


Term 3 2019

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.

Fathoming Physics

HSC physics and Physics Olympiad tutoring with Dr. Tammy Humphrey, a PhD qualified physics teacher with a decade of experience teaching gifted students. Classes include all practical work as well as all theoretical work required by the new HSC physics syllabus.

94B Baker St, Carlingford NSW 2118
 0473-645-857
tammy@fathomingphysics.nsw.edu.au

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