Physics Department

 

Students attending MSMS have more opportunities to take and experience physics coursework than any other high school in the state. Physics courses at MSMS are heavily laboratory-based with lab time comprising 33% of all the core physics courses.

 

Requirements for graduation

All students must complete one of the two combinations for 1 full Carnegie Unit:  

  1.  SC 331 – Mechanics and SC 332 – Waves & Electricity  
  2. SC 337 – AP Physics C Mechanics and SC 338 – AP Physics C E&M.  

Requirements for graduation with a concentration in physics

A concentration in physics is designed for students who want to pursue an advanced plan of study in physics while attending MSMS. Students who have completed 2.5 approved Carnegie Units in physics with a minimum B average or higher while attending MSMS shall qualify. The approved courses for a concentration in physics include:  

  1. 1.0 Carnegie Unit AP Physics-C (SC 337 and SC 338)  
  2. 0.5 Carnegie Unit Fluids, Thermodynamics and Optics (SC 434)  
  3. Additional 1.0 Carnegie Units (two semesters) which may include Modern Physics (0.5 CU) Electronics (0.5 CU) or Special Topics in Physics (0.5 CU)  

 

Other coursework may not be substituted.   

Courses offered

Mechanics is an algebra and trigonometry-based course which provides a college level introduction to the principles of Newtonian mechanics. The course is designed to be equivalent to a university’s first semester of introductory algebra-based physics. Successful completion of this course will provide the student with a solid foundation in the topics of kinematics, work, energy, momentum, and power. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences and an emphasis on conceptual understanding.

Waves and Electricity is an algebra and trigonometry based course which provides a college level introduction wave motion, sound and an introduction to the principles of classical electricity and DC circuits. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences.

The course provides students with a calculus-based introduction to the principles of classical mechanics. Topics include kinematics, Newton’s Laws, collisions and conservation laws, work and energy, rotational motion, statics, harmonic motion, universal gravitation, and other topics as well. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences.

The course provides students with a calculus-based introduction to the principles of classical electricity and magnetism. Both differential and integral calculus concepts will be utilized throughout the course. The major laws of electromagnetic theory are developed, including Coulomb’s Law, Gauss’ Law, Ampere’s Law, the Biot-Savart Law, and Faraday’s Law, ultimately leading to Maxwell’s Equations. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences.

This algebra and trigonometry-based course provides the student with an introduction to fluid mechanics, thermodynamic principles and simple optical instruments. Successful completion of this course will provide the student with a solid foundation in the topics of fluid statics and dynamics, thermodynamics, kinetic theory, PV diagrams and probability, and light reflection/refraction. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences. This course may be taken concurrently with Waves & Electricity or AP-C E&M (or after completing them).

This algebra and trigonometry-based course provides the student with a solid foundation in the topics of special relativity, electromagnetic waves, physical optics and radiometry, introductory atomic theory, nuclear physics, and an introduction to general relativity. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are developed through inquiry-based laboratory experiences.

The class will introduce the Earth & Moon system, the sky and seasons, the origin of the Solar System, comparative planetology in our Solar System, the varieties of stars and galaxies in the universe, and the life cycle of stars from their formation to destruction. Quantitative topics will include basic physics of orbital mechanics, gravitational forces/acceleration, conservation of momentum, and conservation of energy. The lab component of this course will focus on small group projects and astronomy research. Some nighttime viewing may be required.

This course is offered to allow students an opportunity to develop expertise in the area of electronics. Assignments will be made from both text and laboratory designs. Students can gain familiarity with basic DC and AC circuits, measuring voltage/current/resistance, measuring AC signals, assessing complex impedance, designing simple antennas, and other introductory electrical engineering practices. A major part of the grade will be a final project.

This course is designed to give the student an opportunity for individualized learning in physics. The student will select faculty advisors and with their help, choose a particular physics problem of interest and pursue the problem.