Physical Science Notes

Welcome to Coach Cowland's Physical Science Lecture Notes.

Contents

Topic 1: Scientific Enquiry
Topic 2: Motion
Topic 3: Forces and Newton's Laws
Topic 4: Mechanical Energy
Topic 5: Simple Machines
Topic 6: Heat and Thermodynamics
Topic 7: Static and Current Electricity
Topic 8: Magnetism
Topic 9: Energy Sources
Topic 10: Waves and Sound
Topic 11: Electromagnetic Waves and Light
Topic 12: Properties of Atoms
Topic 13: Radioactivity and Nuclear Decay

Topic 1: Scientific Enquiry

Topic 1 is a review of the scientific method, an examination of peer review, learning how to write lab reports, lab basics, the difference between theories and laws and some basic mathematical methods that we will be using.

The videos below provide lecture materials for the topics covered















LAB: Calculate the volume of the classroom.

Students are challenged to calculate (through direct and indirect methods) the volume of the classroom. This basic lab allows experimental thinking, the opportunity to write the lab up formally and a familiarity with basic lab equipment that students are going to need to use.


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Topic 2: Motion


Having had a brief introduction to the scientific method, students will look at the basics of motion: Average speed, instantaneous speed, velocity and acceleration as well as variables like distance, displacement and time. We will look at the definitions, mathematical formulas and relationships between these concepts.









LAB: Graph the motion of two constant velocity cars

Students use stop watches and meter sticks and graph the motion of a constant velocity car when traveling at a slow speed and when traveling at a higher speed. Students predict the shape of the graphs and analyze the results.

LAB: Graphing Motion using Vernier Equipment

Students have the opportunity to try out Vernier Logger Pro and some of the motion equipment when the graph the motion of different items. This is a technology lab where students get to relate the mathematics of motion with actions in real time.

Interdisciplinary Unit Assignment: Challenge

 

Students watch 'Particle Fever' and examine the many challenges that face the scientists and engineers working on the Large Hadron Collider.

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Topic 3: Forces and Newton's Laws

Students examine Newton's Laws of Motion, given examples, they solve and find the relationship between net force and acceleration. This leads into Gravitation. The unit concludes by looking at friction and air resistance. Students will learn to solve mathematical problems involving F=ma, Newton's law of universal gravitation and also friction.












LAB: Newton's First Law.

Students use basic lab equipment to show that an object in motion will remain in motion, whereas an object at rest will remain at rest. This is a fun lab with a number of simple activities such as flicking an index card off a beaker with pennies on it.


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Topic 4: Mechanical Energy

Students examine the relationship between potential and kinetic energy, work and power. Students look at mathematical relationships as well as examining the practical sides of the relationship in several labs.








LAB: Popper Lab.

This year, I introduced poppers to my physical science class. This lab uses a simple inexpensive toy but demonstrates the relationship between work, elastic potential energy and, gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy.


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Topic 5: Simple Machines

Simple machines alter the direction or magnitude of forces. They include slopes, wedges, pulleys, screws, levers etc. They are combined to make complex machines such as bicycles - where many simple machines are connected. In this topic, students look at AMA and IMA and efficiency and have the opportunity to put it into practice in a fun lab.


Interdisciplinary Unit Assignment

This year, our second interdisciplinary unit was Renewable Energy. Students had the opportunity to examine their Carbon Footprint through the EPA website. We also watched and discussed An Inconvenient Truth. Having watched and discussed the movie, we went further and examined data that has been recorded since the movie was made to see if Vice President Gore's predictions were correct. This culminated in a presentation and final discussion in class.

LAB: Rube Goldberg Machine

Students design and construct a Rube Goldberg Machine out of components found in the lab. The objective is to use each type of simple machine in turn. Although this is a fun lab, most students find it quite challenging.
The video below gives a very cool example of an ambitious Rube Goldberg Machine.



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Topic 6: Heat and Thermodynamics

This topic looks at heat and how it relates to energy. Students examine insulation and conduction, an atomic examination of what happens when things get hot, specific heat capacity, radiation, conduction, convection and latent heat.

LAB: Energy in Food

By using food sources as fuel, students can appreciate the relationship between food and other fuels. Depending on the make up of the food, students can see which burn long and slow and which ignite quickly.

LAB: Latent heat of Water.

Students measure the temperature of water as it is being heated up and record temperature/time graphs. Students then have the opportunity to infer what is happening on the graph.


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Topic 7: Static and Current Electricity

Students learn to distinguish between static and current electricity as well as understanding the differences between current, resistance and voltage. We examine power in circuits and the differences between series and parallel circuits.

LAB: Static Electricity

This mini lab allows students to experience and explain what happens with static electricity as it is experienced first hand. Students witness and explain attraction and repulsion due to static electrical charge. Students learn Ohms law and equations for power.

LAB: Conductors and insulators

Using a basic circuit, students experiment with different materials to identify which ones conduct and which ones do not. Students then try to classify types of material to good and bad conductors.

LAB: Series and Parallel Circuits

Students become familiar with Circuits, measure the current and the voltage and learn about resistance and how it affects the energy and energy lost.


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Topic 8: Magnetism

Students learn about magnetism and the special relationship that exists between magnetism and electricity. Students will draw diagrams of different magnetic fields and will look at the polarity of magnets as well as the earths magnetic fields.


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Topic 9: Energy Sources

This topic has some overlap with Environmental Science and examines different sources of energy, how they are created, how much of what type of energy is used and the positives and negatives of each type of energy. The topic examines fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy sources.


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Topic 10: Waves and Sound

This topic examines mechanical waves. Students look at transverse and longitudinal waves, students calculate wavelength, velocity and frequency of waves, wave media and examine sound waves. Students also look at reflection, refraction and diffraction of waves and other wave properties.


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Topic 11: Electromagnetic Waves and Light

Having looked at electricity, magnetism and waves, students then have the opportunity to look at electromagnetic waves, look at how they are created, similarities and differences between electromagnetic and mechanical waves and how they are used by humans and seen in nature.


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Topic 12: Properties of Atoms

Students look closely at the the atom examining sub atomic particles, the nucleus, recent sub-atomic physics discoveries, different models of the atom, and how and why they have changed. Students go on to examine the classification of atoms in the periodic table and look at atomic masses, atomic number, mass number and properties of isotopes.


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Topic 13: Radioactivity and Nuclear Decay

Students examine what radioactivity is, including differentiating between different types of radioactive particles. Students understand nuclear decay and are able to understand the nuclear half life of radioactive isotopes. Students also study methods for detecting radioactivity and look at nuclear reactions. Students examine the difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.