New Physics Curriculum at PHS
These newly adopted physics courses are the end of the three course sequence adopted in 2016. Both physics courses follow the California Next Generation Science Standards as delineated by the three course model in Chapter 7 of the California 2016 Science Framework.
To this end, the focal discipline is physics with disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) from earth and space sciences are integrated to ensure that, over the three years of science, Piedmont High School students will have had the opportunity to learn all of the disciplinary core ideas described in the standards while developing proficiency in the science and engineering practices (SEPs) in the context of the crosscutting concepts (CCC).
Throughout these courses, students will engage with phenomena and design challenges to make sense of abstract physical principles, such as wave/particle duality and electromagnetic fields, and complex earth and space science phenomena, such as stellar evolution and Earth’s internal structure. The rigor will prepare students for collegiate studies in physics and for engaging in civic discourse around socio-scientific issues, such as human impacts on the environment. Students will demonstrate their ability to use this knowledge in a wide range of formative and summative assessment tasks including laboratory experiments, discussions, debates, quizzes, individual and group projects, essays, and exams. The Honors Physics of the Universe course includes the foundational phenomena and themes of the standard Physics of the Universe course but increases the conceptual demand on students. For example, the California NGSS clearly state in the assessment boundary that calculations using Newton’s first law are “limited to one-dimensional motion and to macroscopic objects moving at non-relativistic speeds.” This guideline is followed in the standard Physics of the Universe course, while in the the Honors Physics of the Universe course, students calculate forces in two dimensions and explore the meaning of Einstein’s famous equation describing special relativity. Honors students will receive less scaffolding for concepts that are taught than students who take the college prep Physics of the Universe course. Students in Honors Physics will learn the content at an accelerated pace in order to achieve a deeper level of conceptual understanding and engage at a more sophisticated level in the science and engineering practices.