College Board splits one big physics course into two small ones

Instead of AP Physics B, students will now take AP Physics I—one of the two courses with which the College Board has replaced AP Physics B.

Each of the two new courses, AP Physics I and AP Physics 2, runs over two semesters and simulates a college-level, algebra-based introductory physics course. The courses also cover material form AP Physics B, but in more depth.

Since the classes are each a year long, it will give more time to cover the material sometimes lost in AP Physics B.

“A College Board workshop recommended that teachers skip a topic of our choosing when teaching AP Physics B,” physics teacher Glenn Mangold said.

Nonetheless, Mangold was usually able to teach all the topics set by the College Board.

Mangold plans on using the same material he wrote for AP Physics B as a foundation for the new course, supplementing with new material to fill the in-depth requirements.

According to the College Board’s website, the new courses will help students develop the critical thinking and reasoning skills requires for a college-level physics course.

The key concepts of AP Physics 1 and 2 are based on seven big ideas that “encompass the core scientific principles, theories and processes of physics that cut across traditional content boundaries and provide students a broad way of thinking about the physical world.”

However, Mangold said he will teach the course with the seven ideas in the background, as he believes that the seven ideas don’t directly help students do well on the exam.

His own method will include instructions on mechanics, gravity, oscillations, simple circuits and basic waves.

Both AP Physics 1 and 2 will have their own exams.

“The new AP (Physics 1 and 2 exams) will test students’ understanding of the topics, not just if they can plug numbers into a formula,” Mangold said.

“This is also the first time they’ll have to write in complete sentences on a physics exam.”

These sentences will be used to justify and defend students’ problem-solving methods, Mangold added.

However, Maya Kupperann, ’14, and senior Maxwell Shukuya, both of whom took AP Physics B last year, don’t like the changes. “I thought one year was enough time,” Kupperman said. “I wouldn’t have been able to take other science classes if I took two years of AP Physics.”

Shukuya agrees that he wouldn’t have wanted a second year of physics.

“It was a great exposure to a ton of different topics,” Shukuya said. “Even though we only got a basic understanding, i think it was important to be exposed to everything really quickly.

“For someone who was interested in getting a general overview and not a ton of information about a few topics, being quickly exposed to everything was good for me.”

Country Day is offering only AP Physics 1 and C in 2014-15; it is uncertain whether both AP Physics 1 and 2 will be offered next year.

Previously published in the print edition on Sept. 16, 2014.

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