DP Physics course outline

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IB Physics (SL/HL), Year 1 and 2
Dragan Manic (dmanic@isb.rs)
Welcome to IB Physics. This is a two-year course designed to cover the equivalent of two introductory semesters of college level physics. It promotes in-depth investigation, the honing of applied math skills, and allows students the opportunity to work in small groups while uncovering the finer details lying beneath the surface of classical physics. 
The following are the aims and objectives of experimental sciences, as described by the IBO Subject Guide,
  1. To provide opportunities for scientific study and creativity within a global context which will stimulate and challenge students
  2. To provide a body of knowledge, methods and techniques which characterize science and technology.
  3. To enable students to apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques which characterize science and technology.
  4. To develop an ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize scientific information
  5. Engender an awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities.
  6. To develop experimental and investigative scientific skills.
  7. To develop and apply the students’ information technology skills in the study of science.
  8. To raise awareness of the moral, ethical, social, economic and environmental implications of using science and technology.
  9. To develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations associated with science and scientists.
  10. To encourage an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and the overarching nature of the scientific method.
Having followed the physicscourse at the standard or higher level, candidates will be expected to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of:
  1. scientific facts and concepts
  2. scientific methods and techniques
  3. scientific terminology
  4. methods of presenting scientific information. 
2. Apply and use: 
  1. scientific facts and concepts
  2. scientific methods and techniques
  3. scientific terminology to communicate effectively
  4. appropriate methods to present scientific information. 
3. Construct, analyze and evaluate:
  1. hypotheses, research questions and predictions
  2. scientific methods and techniques
  3. scientific explanations.
4. Demonstrate the personal skills of cooperation, perseverance and responsibility  appropriate for effective scientific investigation and problem solving. 
5. Demonstrate the manipulative skills necessary to carry out scientific investigations with precision and safety.
The IB program concludes with an external assessment, which consists of three written papers. 
Paper 1: 
Paper 1 is made up of multiple-choice questions which test knowledge of the core and additional higher level (AHL) material for higher level (HL) students and the core only for standard level (SL) students. The questions are designed to be short, one- or two-stage problems which address objectives 1, 2 and 3. No marks are deducted for incorrect responses. Calculators are not permitted, but students are expected to carry out simple calculations. A physics data booklet is provided.
Paper 2: 
Paper 2 tests knowledge of the core and AHL material for HL students and the core only for SL students. The questions address objectives 1, 2 and 3. The test includes short-answer and extended-response questions. The use of calculators is permitted. A physics data booklet is provided.
Paper 3: 
Paper 3 tests knowledge of the options and addresses objectives 1, 2 and 3. This paper will have questions on core (and AHL material for HL students) and SL/HL option material. The test has two sections
Section A: one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work
Section B: short-answer and extended-response questions from one option
A calculator is required for this paper. A physics data booklet is provided. For this course, our options will be Astrophysics.
IB Grade:
Student work is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IBO. The performance in IA at both higher level and standard level is judged against assessment criteria each consisting of achievement levels 0–3. IA’s consist of labs and projects, each grading a specific set of criteria that will be given to you on a separate sheet.
Our internal assessments are based on labs and projects spread throughout the two years. Grading criteria for each will be provided beforehand.
ISB Grade:
In addition to the IBO grade, students will also receive a quarterly ISB grade, given on a 1 to 7 scale (as opposed to an A through F scale). The correlation between percentage points earned and the 1 through 7 grade will be determined per assignment, and when determining the final quarter grade tests and labs results will be taken into account.
As the IBO Subject Guide states:
“At the school level both theory and experiments should be undertaken by all students. They should 
complement one another naturally, as they do in the wider scientific community. The Diploma 
Programme physics course allows students to develop traditional practical skills and techniques and 
increase facility in the use of mathematics, which is the language of physics. It also allows students to 
develop interpersonal skills, and information and communication technology skills which are essential 
in modern scientific endeavour and are important life-enhancing, transferable skills in their own right. 
Alongside the growth in our understanding of the natural world, perhaps the more obvious and 
relevant result of physics to most of our students is our ability to change the world. This is the 
technological side of physics in which physical principles have been applied to construct and alter the 
material world to suit our needs, and have had a profound influence on the daily lives of all human 
beings; for good or bad. This raises the issue of the impact of physics on society, the moral and ethical 
dilemmas and the social, economic and environmental implications of the work of physicists. These 
concerns have become more prominent as our power over the environment has grown, particularly 
amongst young people for whom the importance of the responsibility of physicists for their own 
actions is self-evident. 
Physics is therefore, above all, a human activity and students need to be aware of the context in which 
physicists work. Illuminating its historical development places the knowledge and the process of 
physics in a context of dynamic change in contrast to the static context in which physics has 
sometimes been presented. This can give students insights into the human side of physics: the 
individuals; their personalities, times and social milieux; and their challenges, disappointments and 
Topic 1: Physics and physical measurement
1.1 Measurements in physics
1.2 Uncertainties and errors
1.3 Vectors and scalars
Topic 2: Mechanics  
2.1 Motion
2.2 Forces
2.3 Work, energy and power  
2.4 Momentum and impulse
Topic 3: Thermal physics  
3.1 Thermal concepts  
3.2 Modeling a gas  
Topic 4: Waves
4.1 Oscillations
4.2 Travelling waves
4.3 Wave characteristics
4.4 Wave behavior
4.5 Standing waves
Topic 5 Electricity and magnetism
5.1 Electric fields
5.2 Heating effect of electric currents
5.3 Electric cells
5.4 Magnetic effects of electric currents
Topic 6: Circular motion and gravitation
6.1 Circular motion
6.2 Newton’s law of gravitation
Topic 7: Atomic, nuclear and particle physics
7.1 Discrete energy and radioactivity
7.2 Nuclear reactions
7.3 The structure of matter
Topic 8: Energy production
8.1 Energy sources
8.2 Thermal energy transfer
Additional Higher Level topics (AHL):
Topic 9: Wave phenomena
9.1 Simple harmonic motion
9.2 Single-slit diffraction
9.3 Interference
9.4 Resolution
9.5 Doppler effect
Topic 10: Fields
10.1 Describing fields
10.2 Fields at work
Topic 11: Electromagnetic induction
11.1 Electromagnetic induction
11.2 Power generation and transmission
11.3 Capacitance
Topic 12: Quantum and nuclear physics
12.1 The interaction of matter with radiation
12.2 Nuclear physics
Option D: Astrophysics
Core topics
D.1 Stellar quantities
D.2 Stellar characteristics and stellar evolution
D.3 Cosmology
Additional higher level topics
D.4 Stellar processes (HL only)
D.5 Further cosmology (HL only)
Topics 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 will be covered during the first year. The remaining topics will be covered during the second year.
The teacher will…
  • Use a wide variety of instructional methods, from Socratic discussions and collaborative work (such as labs and projects) to lectures and videos.
  • Clearly explain the expectations for each individual assignment beforehand, including the IB grading rubric to be used in their assessment.
  • Give students opportunities to show their understanding through various types of assessments that all stretch their critical thinking and analytical abilities.
  • Prepare students for internal and external IBO assessments by providing practice throughout the course.
  • Be available for extra help and guidance, by appointment, and after school.
     The student will…
  • Be prepared for each day’s activities by keeping up with the numerous assignments given.
  • Be present and on time to class, ready with the necessary materials.
  • Make sure all work is your own only, or the group’s in a collaborative situation.

Utilize moodlic and the class website (www.sites.google.com/site/isbphysics1)

Take responsibility for making up work (including tests) due to absences— make-up tests are generally more difficult than the ones in class, so it behooves you to take them on time.  If you know you are going to miss class for any reason, please speak with me beforehand contact to make arrangements to make up work.  

... and  most importantly,

RESPECTeach other’s opinions and ideas as you shape your own.


Students must have scientific calculators. They do not need to be graphing calculators, but if the student is considering a math or science degree in university, then I would recommend that he or she go ahead and get a graphing calculator now in order to become familiar with all of the functions.

Additionally, students need a 2 or 3-ring binder, paper, and writing utensils.