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# AP Physics 1

## Welcome to the FIRST TRUE class of AP Physics 1! This is an

AP Level Course with high expectations. You will be expected
to do college level work and earn a college level understanding
of physics and PASS the AP Physics 1 exam in May.
B or better, and be very comfortable with algebraic
manipulation and problem solving.
You will be expected (with a little help at first) to understand
how to read a problem or question, decide which variables
are given or implied, and determine the necessary
equation(s) and/or relationships needed to solve the
problem or question. The new AP science curricula are
designed to focus on high order problems that require
multiple mental steps before arriving at solutions.
Conceptual understanding is more important than numerical
problem-solving.
This questions will often focus on explain, describe, and
differentiate. Some of these non-math questions can be
understood through algebraic manipulation, however, so it is
important that you can solve simultaneous equations
WITHOUT numerical values.
There will be some standard trigonometry (Sine, Cosine,
Tangent, and the Pythagorean Theorem), but I will teach or
remind you of the necessary processes.
Each unit of the course will build upon previous units. A
deficiency in one unit can snowball into a major problem
VERY QUICKLY if it is not addressed early on.
You must understand each unit well enough to apply it to
subsequent units.
questions as soon as you have them.
The work we do in class is the primary form of instruction; it
is essential to your best understanding of the course.
I try to make it relatively easy for you to get C in the class
(if you do what I ask), but an A requires a very solid
understanding.
You will need a calculator; any AP approved calculator is
acceptable (even graphing calculators). The calculator AND
formula booklet can be used on exams and tests.
You will also need a pen, pencil, and paper. While the notes
will be on Edline, there will be additions and explanations in
class of which you will want to make note.
Course tests will have two parts:
The first will be a multiple choice section without a
calculator or formula sheet. It is expected that simple
calculations can be done without the calculator.

The second part will be free-response. This might
include short responses, graphs, analysis and
problem solving. Work should be shown for all
problem solving.
Answers must be circled and units should be included.
I do not curve tests; if the class as a whole did poorly on a
test, I will give you a second chance to make up the points.
You will likely need to know much of the material from each
test for subsequent tests, so you will have to learn it at
some point.
VOCABULARY
Some Fundamental Terms & Concepts
PHYSICS: The scientific study of matter, energy, and the
interrelationship between the two.
The most fundamental of all sciences.
MATTER: Anything having mass (inertia) and taking up space.
Matter is associated with energy, charge, momentum, and/or
All matter has a gravitational field associated with it.
ENERGY: A property of all matter related to mass and forces.
Energy is not usually observed directly but can be described
by the way it affects a mass.
Energy has the ability to do work
FORCE: An agent or action that can result in a deformation
or change in the motion of matter. Forces can store energy.
Forces are pushes or pulls
INERTIA: A measure of a masss resistance to having its
motion changed (resistance to forces).
Inertia is dependent on mass
VECTOR: A physical quantity that is represented by both a
magnitude (size) and direction.
Vectors can be represented by arrows
SPEED: An objects average change in distance from a
reference point per unit of time.
How fast something is moving
VELOCITY: The vector form of speed.
Speed and direction
ACCELERATION: A vector quantity indicating a change in
velocity. This could be a change in speed or a change in
direction.
Speeding up, slowing down, or turning
For instance, METERS tells us a length was measured,
and each meter is about the distance most door knobs
are above the ground (around 3 feet in English units).
UNITS: Units indicate the form in which the measurement was
taken. They follow a number that represents the amount (or
magnitude) of the measurement.
Units tell you the type/size of the measurement.
You should know the metric units and be familiar with the
prefixes.
Values in problems will often be given with no comment on
what the measurement is except the units, so knowing the
unit is the only way to know what the value measures!
For example: The problem might say a 25 kg crate sits on the
floor, or it might say a 25 N crate sits on the floor. One is the
mass of the crate, and one is the weight of the crate.
The Fundamental Metric Units are:
meters ( m ) for length
Liters ( L ) for volume
gram ( g ) for mass
Seconds ( s ) for time
Ampere ( A ) for electric current
Kelvin ( K ) for temperature
Some of the Derived units Units are:
Newtons ( N ) for force
Coulombs ( C ) for charge
Ohms ( W ) for resistance
Other Units are usually combinations of the fundamental an/or
derived units:
Cubic meters ( m
3
) for volume
meters per second ( ms
-1
) for speed or velocity
meters per second squared ( m/s
2
) for acceleration
Newton seconds ( Ns ) for impulse
VARIABLES are letters that represent physical quantities.
Variables are used in equations to show the relationship
between different concepts.
We will use specific variables for most of our equations; you will
need to know what the variables represent. Your formula sheets
are rather useless if you dont know your variables!
The equation for Force will be used more than any other in
this class. The variable for force is: F
Look at the equation F = m a
[ force = mass times acceleration ]
This tells us that the force is proportional to the mass and the
acceleration. It also tells us that for a given force, the
acceleration is inversely proportional to the mass ( a = F / m )
Many of the concepts in AP physics can be understood using the
equations
Some of the variables for AP physics:
Distance is a change of position: d, Dx, Dy, Dz
(x, y & z are used for displacement or position)
length: l, L
height: h
acceleration: a
Force: F mass: m
Speed or velocity: v
time: t
Period: T frequency: f
Energy: E, K, U Work: W
angle: q, a, b Torque: t density: r
Power: P
Angular velocity or speed: w Angular acceleration: a
Angular displacement: q
Metric Prefixes:
Nano (n) = 10
-9
Centi (c) = 10
-3
Mega (M) = 10
6
Micro (m) = 10
-6
Kilo (k) = 10
3
Giga ( G ) = 10
9

Milli (m) = 10
-3
The other units are combinations of these units. For
instance, the speed of an object is the distance divided by
the time: v = d / t
The units carry through (like variables):
v = 10 m / 5 s = 2 m/s
There are different ways to write units that have value in
numerator and denominator. Previously, we determined
that the units of speed were m/s.
This can also be written as ms
-1
.
Sometimes a group of units will be re-named in honor of the
scientist who made a major contribution to the concept. We then
replace the group of fundamental units with a new unit. This new
unit is called a derived unit.
The Newton (N) is a derived unit of FORCE to honor Isaac Newton.
1.00 N = 1.00 kg m/s
2

The ( N ) replaces the collection of fundamental units ( kg m/s
2
).

You can use the equation for force to see the way this derived
unit (N) comes from the fundamental units:
Variables: F = m a
Units: N = kg m/s
2

Be careful! A letter as a unit can have a very different
meaning as a variable. The variable, m, stands for mass while
the unit, m, stands for meters.
Equations will only work properly when the units agree. That
means that each measurement for a specific concept must be
in the same units (dont mix meters and centimeter)
Some equations have constants which means that the units of
the other values must be the same as used in the constant.
In the gravity equation there is a constant called the Universal
Gravitational Constant, G.
G is given on your formula sheet as 6.67 x 10
-11
m
3
/ kg s
2
This means that you will want meters, kilograms, & seconds
as the units for the values you will be plugging in.
G can also have units 6.67 x 10
-11
Nm
2
/ kg
2
To make things easier, we will use a standard sets of units for
most of our problems. These will not necessarily be the
fundamental units. You will learn the standard sets with each
topic we cover. It may be possible to use a different set, and you
will not be penalized if you do (as long as the answer is
equivalent).
To begin you should know the following set of units:

length meters (m)

mass kilograms (kg)
time seconds (s)
Velocity meters per second (m/s or ms
-1
)
Acceleration meters per second squared (m/s
2
or ms
-2
)
Force Newtons (N or kg m/s
2
or kg m s
-2
)
You will sometimes need to convert units. The units used
in a calculation should be consistent; check the other
values and constants to make sure units agree.
We will only deal in English units for comparative purposes.
You will need to know a handful of metric conversions.
These are some common conversions should know!
1 km = 1000 m 1 m = 100 cm 1 cm = 10 mm
1 kg = 1000 g 1 L = 1000 mL 1 mL = 1 cm
3
1 m
3
= 10
6
mL = 1000 L

1 day = 24 hr
1 hr = 60 min 1 year = 365 days 1 min = 60 s
You will also need to know how to convert units that are not
so straight forward. There is a fairly simple unit conversion
strategy if units need to be converted. You can use this
(the best way) or your own strategy; just make sure you are
converting correctly! The strategy is called
FACTOR/LABEL
Factor-Label is a logical method for converting units.
The main concept behind factor-labeling is that a value
multiplied by 1 maintains its value.
Factor-labeling is multiplying by units equivalent to 1!
Factor-Label
For example, the conversion between pounds and kilograms:
1.00 kg = 2.20 lbs
By dividing we can get:
1 = 2.20 lbs / 1.00 kg OR
1.00 kg / 2.20 lbs = 1
We can use these to convert units between lbs and kg.
How many kilograms are 2000.0 lbs?
We want to get rid of lbs and have kilograms, so we should use
the factor that has lbs in the denominator (so lbs will cancel).
2000.0 lbs x 1.00 kg / 2.20 lbs =
This value is equivalent to one
( 1.0000 ), so the value has not
been changed, just the units!
909 kg
How many lbs are 2000.0 kg?
2000.0 kg x 2.20 lbs / 1.00 kg = 4400 lbs
An English ton is 2000 lbs. A metric ton is 1000 kg which is 2200 lbs.
Some factor-label problems require more than one conversion.
For instance we will have to convert km/hr into m/s quite often.
Determine the speed of a car in m/s [ meters per second ] if the
car is traveling at 75.0 km/hr.
75 km
hr
X
1000 m
km
X
1 hr
3600 s
= 20.8 m/s
Determine the number of seconds in 18.0 years.
18.0 yr
X
365 days
yr
X
24 hrs
day
= 5.68 x 10
8
s
X
3600 s
hr
A pitcher throws a ball that is clocked at 93 miles per hour.
What is the speed in meters per second?
1.00 km = 0.6214 miles
93 miles
X
1.00 km
0.6214 mi
X
1000 m
km
= 41.573 m/s
X
3600 s
1.00 hr
hr
v = 42 m/s
A car is traveling at 75.0 km/hr. What is the speed in meters
per second?
75.0 km
hr
X
1000 m
km
=
20.8333 m/s = 20.8 m/s
X
3600 s
1.00 hr
a billion seconds is at 15 years, 10 months, 8 days; you will hit 1
billion seconds at 31 years, 8 months, 11 days [ Jan 14, 1999 ]. I am
about 1.49 billion seconds old June 9, 2014 67 days (Aug 14) till
1.5 billion.
Many of the concepts and relationships in AP physics can be
seen mathematically by combining equations and
rearranging the variables so that the one you are determining
is by itself to the left (or right) of the equal sign.
This is called: Solving for the Variable.
Solving for the variable (once you are used to it) also makes
problem solving easier, helps minimize errors, eliminates
unnecessary values, and provides more precise answers.
For most of the test questions I give you, I will expect you to
solve equations for the variable before doing any
calculations.
Doing this requires a keen sense for ALGEBRA. You should
be able to manipulate equations (algebra) without plugging
numbers into a calculator.
Quick Algebra Reminders / Hints:
Being excellent at algebra is sometimes a matter of how you
look at the equations. A fractional coefficient can be eliminated
by making the whole term fraction.
mv
2
=
mv
2

2
When dividing by a fraction, multiply by the reciprocal.
r = m / V = m / ( 4/3 p r
3
)
4 p r
3

3
m
r =
4 p r
3

3
m
r =
4 p r
3

3m
=
Be careful when solving for a value in the denominator of an
equation. You can often cross-multiply or take the reciprocal
of both sides to move the unknown to the top.
P =
m g h
t
P t =
m g h
t =
m g h
P
Example: Density (r) is equal to mass (m) divided by volume
(V), and the volume of a sphere is 4/3 p r
3
of the sphere. We have two equations:
r = m / V and V = 4/3 p r
3

If we need to determine the radius of the sphere (given the
mass and density), we would combine the equations and re-
arrange the variables until we have r = Give it a try!
r = m / V and V = 4/3 p r
3

r = m / ( 4/3 p r
3
)
( 4/3 p r
3
) r = m
4 p r
3
r = m
3
Easier Form
4 p r
3
r = 3 m
4 p r
3 m
r
3
=
4 p r
3 m
r

=
1/3
Its not uncommon for the AP test to expect this kind of
solution for a multiple choice question.
If plugging values into the equation, you need to be VERY CAREFUL
with the order of operations AND the way your calculator works.
Imagine that we have to create a 0.500 kg sphere made of
copper which has a density of 8960 kg/m
3
. What would the
4 p r
3 m
r

=
1/3
3 ( 0.500 kg )

4 p (8960 kg/m
3
)

r = = 0.0237 m

1/3

A 0.500 kg ( 1.10 lb)
sphere of copper
would be less than
5.00 cm in diameter!
Look how the units work ourkg / kg and then 1 / ( 1/m
3
)
Inside the brackets, the units equate to m
3

When we take the cube root, the units come out as meters.
Lets try another. Begin with the following equation and solve
for the acceleration.
m
1
g - m
1
a = m
2
g + m
2
a
m
1
g - m
2
g = m
1
a + m
2
a
g ( m
1
- m
2
) = a ( m
1
+ m
2
)
g ( m
1
- m
2
)
( m
1
+ m
2
)
= a
g ( m
1
- m
2
)
( m
1
+ m
2
)
a =
I wont require you to solve this way on your first test, but you
will lose a point on future tests if you dont solve this way