Physics class offers new opportunities


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Maggie Hines, Features Editor

When most AP and honors students finish their junior year physics course, they never want to see another constant acceleration equation again. However, for those who are passionate about their scientific studies, there is now an option for more.
First-year physics students only learn about kinematics and dynamics, covering chapters 1 through 8 in the Advanced Placement book. Typical college courses cover not only these topics, but also waves, electricity, and magnetism, so when students enter a college course, they would not be familiar with all the material.
Physics teacher Elizabeth Giles saw a problem with sending her students off to college without full preparation, so she created a new class that students could take, Honors Physics E+W, which stands for electricity and waves.
“I would hear from students in college that they were incredibly well prepared for mechanics, but they had no idea how to handle electricity,” Giles said.
Another problem with the old system of physics classes was that students could not cover all of the information needed to take the AP Physics 1 test in May. Only about half of the material on the test can be covered in a full-year class.
“Students who take both Honors Physics and Honors E+W would be prepared for the AP test,” Giles said.
Students who take the class in the coming years can expect to do a lot of “outside the box” labs, Giles said.
“We already did the Van de Graaf generator lab that makes your hair stand up. I plan to do a lab with shining lasers through lenses to study refraction and one with liquid nitrogen to study superconductors,” Giles said.
Despite interest in the class, there was a question about what it should be called because it did not coincide with regulations set by the College Board, according to administrators. The class was taken from the AP level down to the honors level.
Seniors in the class believe that this class has been helping them prepare for college and their future careers in scientific fields.
“I think taking the class will make college years easier,” senior Alex van Hulten said. “I want to be an aerospace engineer, so I really have to know my physics.”