Freshman Physics First
Rock Bridge Senior High School
Course Description: Physics is a branch of science that involves the study of the physical world from the aspect of the interactions between matter and energy. The course will utilize the acquisition and analysis of experimental data to determine basic mathematical relationships. This will allow the student to verify if a physical rule, theory or law is indeed reliable.
Pre-requisite Skills: Since mathematics is one of the fundamental resources used in Physics, students will be learning how to use algebra, basic geometry and maybe some basic trigonometry in their work. Current enrollment in Algebra 1 is the minimum expectation.
Textbook: There is no formal textbook for this Physics First course. I will have my students download an e-Book designed for use in the Physics First curriculum. Schaum's Outline of Beginning Physics I: Mechanics and Heat (Schaum's) ISBN # 0070256535 is a good introductory text. You could get a copy for a penny on Amazon last I looked. I will be handing out materials for my students to read over the school year along with various lab materials to analyze and as always, giving them homework to do.
Materials required for the class: The following items must be brought by the student every class period:
- Pencils and a good eraser: ALL work in my class will be done in pencil only. ABSOLUTELY no work will be accepted in pen and ANY ink on work submitted will be docked points. NO exceptions. I recommend a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with a good eraser. If you frequently lose your pencils, have your parents buy you a box and you can keep them in my room.
- Laptop Computer: You will receive a laptop at the start of the year. Bring it to class, charged and ready to go. (Seriously, I do NOT have a classroom set of chargers. Please plug them in before you go to bed.) We will be using Microsoft Office extensively in class especially Excel. We will also have Logger Pro installed to do video analysis. They have a touch screen so a writing stylus for notes is recommended.
- A drawing kit: Ruler, Protractor, Compass, Eraser. We'll be using this kit for drawings and graphs for labs and various assignments through the year. See “Geometry Drawing Set” at Amazon.This will become invaluable to you when we start working with vectors. This will begin early in the first semester and continue throughout the year.
- A TI-30 Scientific Calculator (≈$12): If you don't own one yet, I recommend you get one. If you can afford a used TI-83 or TI-84 Graphing Calculator, it would be useful to go ahead and get one. They will be used all through High School.
Behavior Expectations: This class will have daily discussions and class notes along with several labs using VERY expensive and fragile equipment. I expect you to actively participate in class discussions, work on physics problems in class, ask appropriate questions when needed and behave in a civilized and polite manner. Your assignments must be completed by the due date and you must communicate with me if your life outside of school is in chaos and might affect your abilities to perform. Inappropriate classroom behavior will not be tolerated and students may be asked to leave the classroom when it occurs. If you are asked to leave, do so without argument. Middle school behavior will not be tolerated. I reserve the right to issue you a set of squares for any misbehavior. You will not be allowed back in class until they are completed.
Cell Phones: Cell phones are not to be used in the class room unless they are needed for a lab or activity. (ie: Timer or video) Please use some self-discipline and be respectful. If I see a student using one or attempting to use one, a set of squares will be assigned along with a referral, if necessary. They were out of control last year so this year we really need to keep them off and put away during class. You’ll be able to use them during breaks if we have time. Cell phones are forbidden during any quizzes and tests. If a student is caught with a cell phone during any assessments, a score of ZERO will be given and a referral will be written and squares will be assigned. You know why.
Food and Drink: Please refrain from bringing food into the classroom. You may eat it out in the hall but not in class. This includes snacks and/or candy. Water will be allowed in class but it must be in a closed or sealed container. If you spill any water in class, you will be expected to clean it up quietly and immediately.
Attendance and Make-ups: Participation in class discussion and daily homework practice are critical to a Physics class. If a student knows in advance that they will miss a class, they are responsible for notifying me via e-mail and coordinating with me for the material that will be missed. If the student is unexpectedly absent from school for one day, they will be responsible for having someone pick up the missed assignment or printing it off of Schoology. They also need to notify via e-mail BEFORE the next class. Please reference the student handbook. If a student misses a quiz or test for any reason, arrangements must be made with me for making up the missed assessment. Tests and quizzes will be made up during the student's AUT or after school prior to the start of the next class. Otherwise you will make up the test or quiz during the first part of your return to class. Homework, tests and quizzes must be turned in or taken care of PRIOR to scheduled absences due to school activities. If the student fails to notify me via e-mail before the extracurricular absence, a full or partial loss of points to any and/or all assignments missed may be incurred at my discretion. Academics have first-priority in my class. Extracurricular activities are optional and are the student's responsibility.
Grading: Grading will be done using the following percentages. Tests and quizzes (assessments) are worth 45% of the semester grade. Homework, labs and worksheets, etc will be worth 45% of the semester grade. Tests will typically be worth approximately 50-100 points. Quizzes may run anywhere from 5 to 50 points. Selected homework will typically count anywhere from 1 to 10 points. Projects and labs, when assigned, will vary in point value depending on the scope of work. The school grade table will be used and is in the student handbook. The cumulative final exam is worth 10% of the semester grade.
Homework: Late homework will be accepted up to the day of the unit test. Late fees will be charged for each day after the due date at my discretion. Late work must be complete and VERY high quality. After the unit test, a zero will be given. It is due at the beginning of the class period after it is assigned unless I indicate otherwise. It must be done in pencil only. It must be neat and legible. Any written portions must use complete sentences. At my discretion, it may or may not be collected for a grade. Any homework missed due to illness is to be coordinated with me immediately upon the student's return to school. It is the student's responsibility to find out what was missed and any late turn-ins must be approved by me in advance. Your full name and the date of completion are required on each page.
Lab write-ups and work quality: We will be performing Physics Labs throughout the year. The student is expected to create an organized and structured lab write-up if a lab sheet is NOT provided. For all labs, the student’s full name and date MUST be on every page submitted. Students are expected to use proper spelling, grammar, complete sentences and legible penmanship in their lab write-ups. Points may be deducted if these criteria are not met. The lab write-ups will be collected before each mid-term, quarter and semester for grading.
Progress Reports: I will make every effort to keep grades updated on a weekly basis. Grades are now available on-line 24/7 to both students and parents at Home Access on the RBHS website. The student is expected to review this information with his or her parent /guardian as updates are made and must notify me IMMEDIATELY if any discrepancies are found. Be aware that I do the majority of my grading during weekends and that tests and quizzes have priority over homework. If a student makes an A on a quiz or test, I will notify the parents by phone, usually around dinnertime Sunday nights.
Extra-Credit: Count on none. If there ever is a point awarded, look at it as a once in a lifetime gift from Mt. Olympus.
Tutoring: RBHS has full-time Science help available in the Success Center in Room 334 over behind Guidance. One of the Science Teachers is assigned there to assist students in homework and labs. If a student feels they may need extra help, I would suggest coming by to see me before or after school. I want to encourage students to work closely with their peers and to enlist any outside resources they may have at their disposal first. Be aware that Student Advisory this year now has a peer tutor assigned to assist students with their homework assignments. The intent here is to make you a SELF-LEARNER and prepare you for the college days where help may not always be readily accessible.
Pass/Fail Policy: I will not authorize any Pass/Fail grades for this course. This is a decision to be made by the department head and administration. Any Pass/Fail authorized by the administration will require that a grade of C be maintained in the class in order to pass. A student may choose to audit the course at their discretion for no credit or grade.
Communication: I am always available and willing to listen to comments and concerns from the students and/or parents. My e-mail address is MalSmith@cpsk12.org . If you have any questions on the course, please feel free to e-mail me (preferred) or call. Also be aware that I am usually available before and after school for help in my room, if needed.
Extracurricular Activities vs Physics: Since many students are heavily immersed in extracurricular activities along with one or more science and/or math courses, time management becomes a critical issue. Depending on the activity, many students have learned to manage their time appropriately and succeed in their courses. Others have found time management to be one of the most difficult aspects of a challenging class. Students must learn to recognize their capabilities and decide how to prioritize appropriately. This is a key component to surviving the more challenging degree plans at major Universities. Please be aware that you may stumble once or twice as this year progresses. Learn from it and reorganize your priorities as needed. I will teach you physics and prepare you for further studies in science but be aware of outside hazards. Please remember that academics are ALWAYS first priority in my book. Extracurriculars are optional.
Reality: This is a 9th grade Physics class, not an Advanced Placement Physics class. It is their first science class in a High School environment. It takes about two months for most of the Freshman students to adjust to the workload and expectations. There will be some bumps in the road which is to be expected. The first quiz and exams will be enlightening and will set the foundation for the rest of the semester and year. This is NOT a college level class but it is an important one. Students will have to learn to put aside trivial differences and learn to work together and more importantly, help each other out. A student will earn huge amounts of political capital with me if they work with their peers, exchange ideas, be flexible and open minded and manage their addiction to their cell phones. If they are having a bad day, please just let me know when class starts one-on-one and I will cover for you. Communicate, be open-minded and flexible…that’s all I can ask. It really is a pretty fun class but there is also quite a bit of work.