Physics Information and Course Standards
Updated 8/23/14

Your Teacher

Sally R. Hair
Office: Room 233, back room
Home Page:

Eric Dennison (2nd Semester)
Office: Math Resource Center
Home Page:

Teachers are available for conferences during Tuesday x-periods, planning periods, and after school. Please make an appointment.

Textbooks and other required materials

  • The Physics Classroom by Henderson at
    This is a free, on-line textbook that includes reading, quizzes, problems, and activities. Individual sections are also available at iTunes as iBooks for 99

  • Calculator, with log and exponential functions and scientific notation. Bring this to class every day. You will need it for problems, labs, quizzes, and tests.

  • Three Ring Binder, with blank paper for class notes, handouts, projects, homework, and other graded work. Keep this organized and bring it to class each day. Dividers are helpful. You will need to have course handouts and information at your fingertips. Dividers are helpful.

  • Writing Instruments, preferably pencils with erasers. These are the physicist's essential tool!

Course Website and Communication

A class calendar with events, handouts, and deadlines is available at at the Physics Calendar link. The website also contains helpful links and physics resources. There will be a Google Classroom group for announcements and for turning in some assignments electronically. You must access your school email to participate in these aspects of the course. You are expected to view the calendar frequently to check assignment due dates, test dates, and missed work when absent.

Course Topics

Physics is all around you and you will learn a lot about how the world works in Physics class. We will learn why a car rolls downhill, why you feel a push when you go around a curve in a rollercoaster, and why going up in an elevator feels different from going down. We will learn about sound, light, and electricity. More details are in the Core Competencies, at the end of this document.

SAT II and AP tests

This course introduces many topics on the Physics SAT II. It would be wise to prepare for this test with your textbook and a test preparation guide. This course does not provide the depth needed to prepare for a physics AP test.

The Honor Code and Academic Integrity

Your teacher treats academic integrity with the upmost seriousness and expects you to also. Violations of the honor code eliminate an opportunity to learn and to understand, which is our primary reason to be in school. Cheating is an educational shortcut that can hurt you more than a poor grade would.

In Physics, violations of the Honor Code include, but are not limited to
  • Copying another student’s work, including homework and labs. The work on your paper must represent your own understanding. This is also true when working in a group.
  • Sharing the content of (or answers to) tests or quizzes with students who have not yet taken the test or quiz.
  • Falsifying data in a lab to achieve a desired result. Falsifying data is a breach of scientific ethics that has cost scientists their careers.
  • Failing to reference material that should be cited. This includes your textbook and sources of images.

If your teacher detects or suspects a violation of the Hanover High Honor Code, the Dean of Students will be contacted. The Dean then takes appropriate action in response to the Honor Code Violation, as described in the Student Handbook.

Your Quarter Grade

Your quarter grade in physics is made up of four components, as shown below.
In-class activities may occasionally be graded and included with the homework grade. At the quarter's end, your numerical grade is converted to a letter grade according to the standard HHS scale.

Your Semester Grade

At the end of each semester, each quarter's grade and the semester’s final assessment will be used to calculate your semester grade as follows:
The midterm exam will count for 10% of your first semester grade and the final project will make up 10% of the second semester grade. There is no final exam in physics.

What Is a Point Worth?

In physics class, points do not have a consistent value, across the different types of assignments. Since grading is done by percentages, a participation point need not have equal value to a point on a test or quiz. Consider each grade on a percentage basis and please don’t compare absolute point values between assignments.

Are Grades Curved?

Grades are NOT curved for individual tests, quizzes, or assignments. Quarter grades may be curved, if the class average is lower than the typical average for Physics, a B–.


Participation will be graded on a weekly basis in Physics class. All students start the week with 8.5 participation points and have the opportunity to increase this weekly grade to 10 participation points. At the end of each week, your teacher will evaluate your contributions and classroom citizenship. Criteria for adding participation points to your initial 8.5/10 include, but are not limited to
  • Meaningful contributions to class discussion, asking and answering questions
  • Preparation and work ethic in class
  • Independent work habits and motivation
  • Working up to potential and maximum effort
  • Cooperative work and leadership as a member of a group
  • Cooperative, helpful, and positive attitude

Criteria for subtracting participation points from your initial 8.5/10 include, but are not limited to
  • Being late or unprepared for class
  • Distracting others from learning or distracting the teacher from teaching
  • Wasting time, not making progress as expected, lack of focus on physics learning
  • Damaging lab or classroom equipment, not cleaning up after yourself

Note that an excused absence does not affect your participation grade either positively or negatively. You will need to make positive contributions on the days you are present to increase your participation grade from 8.5 to 10, however.


Doing homework problems is an important opportunity to learn and practice physics. Problems from the textbook will be assigned for each topic covered. Tests and quizzes will draw on the homework problems and you will be expected to understand and know the material in the problem sets.

Your problem sets will be checked for completeness, accuracy, and clarity of problem-solving method. Some problem sets will be completely graded and some will be spot-checked.

Problem solving requires clear communication of your understanding with words, equations, and pictures. Please show your work and demonstrate your thought process for all problems. Simply writing the correct result will earn a small amount of partial credit on homework (and on tests). Use significant figures correctly and have your homework ready at the start of class on the due date.

MOPS: Minds on Physics

MOPs is an on-line question and answer system that is part of your textbook, The Physics Classroom. MOPs are a tool to assess your understanding of physics and to learn and review. For each unit, you will record your personal “success codes” linked to your ID number, to receive credit. MOPs are part of your homework grade.

Please read more about MOPs here:
In the words of one student, "Minds On Physics forces me to think about what a physics concept means. The assignments are difficult. But when I finish an assignment, I know that I understand ... really understand”


Lab experiments illustrate the concepts and solidify your understanding of physics. We will have at least one lab experiment per chapter. Most experiments will take two or more class periods and include class discussion, recording results, and analysis. Lab experiments will be written up in a worksheet format, rather than a formal lab report.


An extensive, independent project is completed in the 4th quarter, in place of a final exam. This out-of class project is worth 10% of your grade for the second semester.

Quizzes and Tests

You will have a quiz or test nearly everyweek in physics class. Short or informal quizzes at the start of a unit will be followed by more challenging quizzes and a test at the end of a unit.

Tests will emphasize the chapter just completed, but may also include all topics included in the course, up to that point. Test material will come from class discussions, demonstrations, reading assignments, homework problems, and labs. Plan to work steadily on physics, as we cover the topics in class. Study on a regular basis, not just the night before a test.

The midterm for the course will be cumulative, on all topics covered in the first semester of the course. There is no final exam in Physics.

Make-up Tests

Students who are absent the day of a test are expected to make up the missed test by the end of the next x-period, unless other arrangements are made. Make up tests are a different test than the original and may be more difficult.

Late Work

Lab reports and Problem Sets turned in late, not as a result of an excused absence, will receive a grade penalty of 10% per day late. Communication with your teacher about late work is important. To encourage this, your grade penalty may be reduced if you make a plan with your teacher to complete late work. Students who have not turned in written work are required to attend x-periods until the work is made up. Late work must be turned in to the instructor in person so the date can be established.


X-periods for this class are on Tuesdays. X-periods are used for make-up work, extra help, tech portfolios, or finishing lab experiments. All students are required to check in at all x-periods.

Students are required to attend x-periods to make up missing work if they have not turned in a lab report by the due date, missed a homework check, or missed a test or quiz due to absence. If a student with missing work does not attend an x-period, an unexcused absence is reported and the consequences will be imposed.

Excused Absences

It is to your advantage to make prior arrangements for a planned absence and to make up the work as quickly as possible. For planned absences, have Dr. Hair sign a goldenrod form well in advance. All students, including athletes missing class for competition, are expected to let Dr. Hair know in advance about planned absences. If you miss class or lab experiments because of an excused absence, you have one day for each day absent to make up missed work. Labs missed due to excused absences will result in an extension for the entire lab group. Excused absence does not lower your participation grade, but you will need to make positive class contributions on the days you are present to increase your participation grade from 8.5 to 10. If a test is missed due to an excused absence you must make arrangements to make up the test with Dr. Hair. Tests must be made up by the x-period following the missed test, unless other arrangements are made.

Unexcused Absences

Unexcused absences, including required x-periods, will be handled according to the policies in the student handbook.

In Physics class, students will

  1. Evaluate the correlation of math with the physical world by comparing mathematical prediction to actual experimentation.
  2. Comprehend and apply Newton's Three Laws of Motion. Students will show understanding of these laws in three dimensions and how they are represented mathematically by creating force vectors in an experiment.
  3. Understand the mathematical formulas of linear motion with constant acceleration and apply these formulas to real life situations in problem solving, physical experiments, and simulations.
  4. Analyze projectile motion in a laboratory experiment to comprehend the independence of vertical and horizontal velocities and the distinct components of vertically accelerated motion and horizontally constant velocity.
  5. Apply their knowledge of motion, forces, and vectors to mathematically predict the motion of objects pulled by centripetal force toward the center of a circle in an experiment.
  6. Comprehend work as the transformation of energy by applying a force over a distance and evaluating the final motion of an object.
  7. Solve problems using conservation of mechanical energy and analyze real-world situations as the transformation of energy from one form to another.
  8. Analyze the application of force over time to demonstrate their understanding of impulse and momentum change.
  9. Apply conservation of momentum and mechanical energy to collisions.
  10. Understand how mechanical waves transfer energy and compare transverse and longitudinal waves. Students will solve problems with the mathematical relationships between wave speed, wavelength, frequency, and the properties of the medium. Using demonstrations, students will explore standing waves and resonance in mechanical objects.
  11. Analyze vibrations in strings and air columns to demonstrate understanding of how wave motion and resonance create sound. Students will also examine musical instruments and apply wave equations to sound in problem solving and lab experiments.
  12. Explore properties of light, such as reflection, refraction, dispersion, scattering, polarization, and interference. Students will apply their knowledge of waves to show that some of these processes demonstrate light’s wave behavior and some do not.
  13. Create a series of electric circuits to explore voltage, current, and resistance. Students will apply their knowledge of motion, force, work, and energy to the movement of electrons in the circuit.

These are the Expectations for Student Learning for Physics Class.

Physics is everywhere and as the year progresses, you will see more and more of it!

Physics Circuit.jpg
Image created by a physics student with