Below are our standards for 12th grade physics. The links in the year-plan will allow you to jump to the different units.

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Year Plan for Physics

Term 1

(September to mid-November - 10 weeks)

Math Skill Review

Unit One: Motion

Unit Two: Newton's Laws


Term 2

(mid-November to end of January - 10 weeks)

Unit Three: Momentum

Unit Four: Gravity

Unit Five: Machines, Work and Power

Unit Six: Energy


Term 3

(February - mid-April, 10 weeks)

Unit Seven: Electricity and Circuits

Unit Eight: Electromagnetism


Term 4

(mid- April - May, 6 weeks)

Unit Nine: Harmonic Motion and Waves 

Year-Long Math Skills

M1: Metric System

Use appropriate metric/standard international (SI) units of measurement. This includes: mass (kg), length (m), time (s), force (N), speed (m/s), acceleration (m/s2), momentum (Ns), work and energy (J), power (W), electric current (A), electric voltage (V), and electric resistance (Ω). MA Math

M2: Unit Conversion

Convert between units when appropriate (ex: centimeters to meters). MA Math

M3: Significant Figures

Determine and use the appropriate number of significant figures when measuring and recording data. MA Math

M4: Algebraic Problem Solving

Apply techniques of algebra to represent and solve scientific problems. MA Math, NGSS P5

M5: Scientific Notation

Be able to solve math problems using scientific notation.


Year-Long Scientific Practices 

P1: Scientific Investigations

Ability to formulate a testable question and hypothesis.  Able to design and carry out a lab procedure safely that produces data to support or refute your hypothesis.

P2: Scientific Analysis

Analyze data to determine relationships between experimental variables. Be able to relate experimental data to larger scientific explanations about the world.

P3: Scientific Research

Critically read scientific literature to determine the central ideas or conclusions. Gather, read, and evaluate information from multiple sources, assessing the validity and usefulness of each source.

P4a: Scientific Communication- Visual

Be able to represent, simplify, and communicate scientific ideas and information accurately in a variety of ways (eg. models, illustrations, presentations, etc.).

P4b: Scientific Communication- Oral

Be able to present scientific information in a professional manner- maintaining eye contact, speaking clearly and audibly, maintaining upright and calm posture, using few or no notes. Be able to present rehearsed information as well as ask impromptu questions clearly and coherently. Use complete sentences and appropriate language.

P5: Designing Solutions

Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

P6: Material Properties

Distinguish between the physical properties of materials including tensile strength, compression strength, shear strength, density, and elasticity and use these properties to select appropriate materials for structures. MA Tech 2.1, MA Tech 2.2, NGSS HS-PS2-6


Literacy Standards

From our school-wide BCAHS literacy standards

L1: Ideas

Clearly addresses the question, fully supports answer with relevant, correct information, and utilizes strong examples.

L2: Organization

Work is effectively organized. Communication of ideas is clear and correct.

L3: Tone

Consistently maintains a tone that is appropriate for the audience, purpose and subject matter. No errors in language usage are evident.

L4: Word Choice

Consistently and correctly uses vocabulary appropriate to the subject area. Varies word choice and sentence structure.

L5: Conventions

Consistently uses standard English grammar, spelling and punctuation. Few errors are evident.

Unit One: Motion

1.1: Distance and Displacement

Distinguish between distance and displacement and measure both accurately. MA Phys 1.2 

1.2: Speed and Velocity

Distinguish between speed and velocity and be able to calculate both given distance or displacement and time. MA Phys 1.2 

1.3: Acceleration

Understand acceleration and be able to calculate it given speed or velocity and time. MA Phys 1.2

1.4: Motion Graphs

Create and interpret graphs of 1-dimensional motion, such as position vs. time, distance vs. time, speed vs. time, velocity vs. time, and acceleration vs. time where acceleration is constant. MA Phys 1.3

 1.5: Vector vs. Scalar

Compare and contrast vector quantities (e.g., displacement, velocity, acceleration, or force) and scalar quantities (e.g., distance, speed, energy, or mass). MA Phys 1.1 

Unit Two: Forces and Newton’s Laws

2.1: Newton’s 1st Law

Define the concept of inertia and apply Newton’s 1st Law (that objects at rest will stay at rest and objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a net force.) MA Phys 1.4

2.2: Net Force and Force Diagrams

Be able to draw force diagrams and determine net force on an object. Understand the forces acting on an object in free fall and that all falling objects will eventually reach terminal velocity. MA Phys 1.5

2.3: Newton’s 2nd Law

Be able to describe how Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion (F =ma) describes the mathematical relationship between force, mass and acceleration of an object and be able to apply it in order to calculate the forces applied to objects. MA Phys 1.4, NGSS HS-PS2-1

2.4: Newton’s 3rd Law

Be able to apply Newton’s 3rd Law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) in order to calculate forces between interacting objects.  MA Phys 1.4

2.5: Friction

Distinguish between static and kinetic friction and explain how it affects the motion of objects. Be able to calculate friction force and the coefficient of friction. MA Phys 1.6 

Unit Three: Momentum 

3.1 Momentum and Impulse

Calculate the momentum of an object given its mass and velocity. Be able to calculate the force on an object if you know its change in momentum.

MA Phys 2.5

3.2 Minimizing Force

Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on an object during a collision. NGSS HS-P2-3

3.3 Conservation of Momentum

Mathematically interpret collisions and explosions based on the law of conservation of momentum (that the momentum of a system does not change when there is no net force on the system). MA Phys 2.5, NGSS HS-PS2-2

 Unit Four: Gravity

 4.1 Gravity

Describe Newton’s law of universal gravitation in terms of the attraction between two objects, their masses, and the distance between them and use it to predict the gravitational force between two objects. MA Phys 1.7, NGSS HS-PS2-4

4.2 Circular Motion

Describe the forces involved in circular motion and understand how these forces govern objects in orbit. MA Phys 1.8 

4.3 Planetary Motion

Understand the forces governing the movement of planets in our solar system and the history of the heliocentric theory. Be able to describe what causes the seasons, the tides, and phases of the moon. Discuss solar insolation, precession, and milankovitch cycles.

Unit Five: Machines, Work, and Power 

5.1 Work and Power

Define work as the energy used to exert an amount of force over a distance and be able to calculate work done on an object. Define power as work done per unit time and be able to calculate the power of a machine. MA Phys 2.3 & 2.4 

5.2 Machines

Be able to identify different simple machines and explain how each can be used to decrease or redirect force. Understand that machines create a mechanical advantage and be able to calculate it. Be able to calculate the efficiency of a machine given work input and work output.

Unit Six: Energy

6.1 Potential and Kinetic Energy

Be able to distinguish between and calculate kinetic and potential energy. MA Phys 2.2

6.2 Forms of Energy

Distinguish between different forms of energy including mechanical energy, chemical energy, thermal energy, radiant energy, and nuclear energy and provide examples of how energy can be converted between forms. MA Phys 2.2, NGSS HS-PS3-2

6.3 Conservation of Energy

Understand that energy of a closed system cannot change. Energy will only transfer from one form to another. MA Phys 2.1, NGSS HS-PS3-1

6.4 Thermal Energy

Understand that temperature is a measure of the average molecular kinetic energy of a substance. Understand that heat energy will always move from a higher temperature to a lower temperature through convection, conduction or radiation. Explain the relationships among temperature changes in a substance, the amount of heat transferred, the amount (mass) of the substance, and the specific heat of the substance. MA Phys 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4

6.5 Energy in Phase Changes and Latent Heat

Recognize that energy is absorbed when a substance changes from a solid to a liquid to a gas, and that energy is released when a substance changes from a gas to a liquid to a solid. Calculate the heat gained or lost in phase changes. MA Phys 3.3 

Unit Seven: Electricity and Circuits

7.1 Electric Charge

Identify the components of the atom that create charge differences between objects and be ableto predict the behavior of charged objects. Use Coulomb’s Law to calculate the electrostatic force between charged objects. MA Phys 5.1 and 5.4, NGSS HS-PS2-4

7.2 Electric Circuits

Be able to create simple arrangements of electrical components in both series and parallel circuits. Recognize symbols and understand the functions of common circuit elements (battery, connecting wire, switch, fuse, resistor) in a schematic diagram. MA Phys 5.3

7.3 Current, Voltage and Resistance

Be able to define current, voltage, and resistance and understand how they influence each other. Distinguish between insulators and conductors in terms of electrical conductivity, resistance, and molecular structure and give examples of the use of each in designed materials. Be able to calculate current, voltage, and resistance using Ohm’s Law. MA Phys 5.1, 5.2 and 5.5, NGSS HS-PS2-6

7.4 Parallel and Series Circuits

Explain how to measure and calculate voltage, current, and resistance in a series circuit and in a parallel circuit. Compare and contrast the advantages of each type of circuit. MA Phys 5.2, MA Tech 5.1

7.5 Electrical Power

Know that electrical power is measured in watts and be able to calculate the power of electrical devices by multiplying current by voltage. MA Phys 5.5

Unit Eight: Electromagnetism

8.1 Magnets and Magnetic Fields

Understand what causes magnetism on a molecular level. Distinguish between ferromagnetic, paramagnetic, and diamagnetic materials in terms of how they react to magnetic fields and in terms of their molecular structure. Be able to draw poles and magnetic fields for a given magnet and be able to predict how one magnetic field will interact with another.

8.2 Electromagnetic Induction

Recognize that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current. MA Phys 5.6, NGSS HS-PS2-5

8.3 Motors and Generators

Recognize that the interplay of electric and magnetic forces is the basis for electric motors, generators, and other technologies and be able to explain in general how these technologies work. Understand how AC and DC current is produced and the advantages and disadvantages of each. MA Phys 5.6 & MA Tech 5.5

Unit Nine: Harmonic Motion and Waves

9.1 Waves

Recognize that waves represent systems of harmonic motion that travel through media, distinguish between and give examples of mechanical and electromagnetic waves. Be able to distinguish between transverse and longitudinal waves. Be able to define the velocity, frequency, wavelength, amplitude, and period of a wave and express the relationship between them mathematically. MA Phys 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.5,

9.2 Wave Interactions

Be able to distinguish between constructive and destructive interference when waves meet. Describe qualitatively the basic principles of reflection, refraction, diffraction and absorption of waves. Be able to explain how the properties of waves change when they change media. MA Phys 4.4

9.3 Resonance and Standing Waves

Understand that resonance is the tendency of materials to oscillate at particular frequencies. Be able to mathematically describe standing waves and harmonics.

9.4 Sound

Understand that sound is a longitudinal wave that travels through waves of pressure in a medium. Understand how frequency and amplitude of a sound wave translate to pitch and loudness of sound. Be able to explain the apparent change in frequency of waves due to the motion of the source or the receiver using the Doppler Effect. MA Phys 4.6

9.5 Light and Vision

Recognize that electromagnetic waves are transverse waves that travel at the speed of light through a vacuum. Be able to describe the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of frequency and wavelength, and identify the locations of radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and gamma rays on the spectrum. Be able to describe how the human eye interprets electromagnetic signals into the sense of sight. Describe the evidence that electromagnetic radiation can be described by either a wave model or a particle model, and demonstrate that for some situations one model is more useful than the other. Discuss how the speed of light is constant. MA Phys 6.1 and 6.2