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Honors Physics (NCAA Approved)

Prerequisites: Qualifying math score and completion of Trigonometry

Course Format: Session Based. See calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 30 weeks

Recommended School Credit: One academic year

Student Expectations: Students are strongly encouraged to work at least 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Course Code: HPYY

Course Description


Honors Physics expands upon the concepts introduced in Physical Science to help students understand the physical world around them. The course opens with a review of the mathematical skills needed in high school physics. Then, it quickly proceeds into classical physics, starting with mechanics, a mathematical interpretation of how the world works developed by Isaac Newton. Students then continue on to learn about waves, optics, and electromagnetism. The course concludes with a survey of more modern work in physics, including an introduction to quantum mechanics. Throughout the course, students learn to apply the concepts from the chapter readings and pre-recorded lesson videos to the world around them through application exercises and lab activities.

The format and structure of this 30-week session based course is designed for students to gain experience as independent, self-motivated learners, under the guidance of a CTY Online instructor. Their knowledge is reinforced and assessed through simulations, lab activities, exams, and problem-solving exercises.

To ensure that all work is completed by the session end date, and to help students pace themselves, a course calendar outlines the due dates for submitting all assignments each week. Students are required to adhere to this schedule of due dates.

Free, online placement testing is available to determine if the student has the math skills needed to enroll in this course.

Forums and Virtual Classrooms

In this course, participation in forums and synchronous online virtual classrooms are required as part of the final grade. Discussion forums are located within the course for each unit. Students will be required to respond to a given prompt and then comment on at least two responses by other students in the course. Online sessions, led by a CTY instructor, are held in Adobe Connect which allows for video, voice, text, screen sharing, and whiteboard interaction.

Materials Needed

A textbook is required for this course:

Physics: Principles with Applications, 7th edition, by Douglas C. Giancoli

ISBN-10: 0321625927; ISBN-13: 9780321625922

Additional supplies are required for the lab assignments:

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Unit 1: Introduction to Physics

Measurement and Estimating

  • Relation of Physics to Other Fields
  • Models, Theories, and Laws
  • Measurement and Uncertainty
  • Significant Figures
  • Units, Standards, and the SI System
  • Converting Units
  • Order of Magnitude
  • Rapid Estimating
  • Dimensional Analysis
  • Lab 1: Uncertainty in Measurements and Graphing Data

Unit 2: Mechanics

Kinematics in One Dimension

  • Reference Frames and Displacement
  • Average Velocity
  • Instantaneous Velocity
  • Acceleration
  • Motion at Constant Acceleration
  • Falling Objects
  • Lab 2: Determination of g

Kinematics in Two Dimensions; Vectors

  • Vectors and Scalars
  • Graphical Addition of Vectors
  • Component Addition of Vectors
  • Multiplication of a Vector by a Scalar
  • Projectile Motion
  • Lab 3: Projectile Motion

Dynamics: Newton’s Laws of Motion

  • Force
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Mass and Weight
  • Gravity and the Normal Force
  • Free-Body Diagrams
  • Friction
  • Inclined Planes

Circular Motion and Gravitation

  • Kinematics of Uniform Circular Motion
  • Dynamics of Uniform Circular Motion
  • Highway Curves, Banked and Unbanked
  • Nonuniform Circular Motion
  • Centrifugation
  • Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
  • Geophysical Applications of Gravity
  • Satellites
  • Kepler’s Laws and Newton’s Synthesis

Work and Energy

  • Work Done by a Constant Force
  • Kinetic Energy and the Work-Energy Principle
  • Potential Energy
  • Conservative and Nonconservative Forces
  • Conservation of Mechanical Energy
  • The Law of Conservation of Energy
  • Power
  • Lab 4: Roller Coaster

Linear Momentum

  • Momentum and Its Relation to Force
  • Conservation of Momentum
  • Collisions and Impulse
  • Conservation of Energy and Momentum in Collisions
  • Center of Mass

Rotational Motion

  • Angular Quantities
  • Constant Angular Acceleration
  • Rolling Motion
  • Torque
  • Rotational Dynamics
  • Rotational Kinetic Energy

Static Equilibrium, Elasticity, and Fracture

  • The Conditions for Equilibrium
  • Stability and Balance
  • Lab 5: Power
  • Units 1 and 2 Exam: Constructed Response

Unit 3: Fluids and Mechanical Waves


  • Phases of Matter
  • Density and Specific Gravity
  • Pressure in Fluids
  • Atmospheric Pressure and Gauge Pressure
  • Pascal’s Principle
  • Measurement of Pressure
  • Buoyancy and Archimedes’ Principle
  • Flow Rate and the Equation of Continuity
  • Bernoulli’s Equation and Its Applications
  • Surface Tension and Capillarity

Vibrations and Waves

  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Energy in the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
  • The Simple Pendulum
  • Damped Harmonic Motion
  • Forced Vibrations and Resonance
  • Wave Motion
  • Transverse and Longitudinal Waves
  • Energy Transported by Waves
  • Reflection and Transmission of Waves
  • Superposition of Waves
  • Standing Waves
  • Lab 6: Simple Pendulum


  • Characteristics of Sound
  • Intensity of Sound
  • The Ear
  • Vibrating Strings and Air Columns
  • Beats
  • Doppler Effect
  • Shock Waves and the Sonic Boom
  • Lab 7: Waves and Sound

Unit 4: Light and Optics

Geometric Optics

  • The Ray Model of Light
  • Reflection
  • Formation of Images by Spherical Mirrors
  • Index of Refraction
  • Snell’s Law
  • Total Internal Reflection and Fiber Optics
  • Thin Lenses; Ray Tracing
  • The Thin Lens Equation; Magnification
  • Combinations of Lenses

The Wave Nature of Light

  • Huygens’ Principle and Diffraction
  • Young’s Double-Slit Experiment
  • The Visible Spectrum and Dispersion
  • Diffraction by a Single Slit or Disk
  • Diffraction Grating
  • The Spectrometer and Spectroscopy
  • Interference by Thin Films
  • Polarization
  • Scattering of Light by the Atmosphere
  • Lab 8: Diffraction
  • Units 3 and 4 Exam: Constructed Response

Unit 5: Electricity and Magnetism

Electric Charge and Electric Field

  • Electric Charge and Its Conservation
  • Electric Charge in the Atom
  • Insulators and Conductors
  • Induced Charge
  • Coulomb’s Law
  • The Electric Field
  • Field Lines
  • Gauss’ Law

Electric Potential

  • Electric Potential Energy and Potential Difference
  • Relation between Electric Potential and Electric Field
  • Equipotential Lines
  • The Electron Volt
  • Point Charges and Electric Dipoles
  • Capacitance
  • Dielectrics
  • Storage of Electric Energy

Electric Currents

  • The Electric Battery
  • Electric Current
  • Ohm’s Law
  • Resistivity
  • Electric Power
  • Power in Household Circuits
  • Alternating Current
  • Microscopic View of Electric Current

DC Circuits

  • EMF and Terminal Voltage
  • Resistors in Series and in Parallel
  • Kirchoff’s Rules
  • EMF’s in Series and in Parallel
  • Capacitors in Series and in Parallel
  • RC Circuits
  • Electric Hazards
  • Ammeters and Voltmeters


  • Magnets and Magnetic Fields
  • Force on an Electric Current in a Magnetic Field
  • Force on an Electric Charge Moving in a Magnetic Field
  • Magnetic Field Due to a Long Straight Wire
  • Force between Two Parallel Wires
  • Solenoids and Electromagnets
  • Ampere’s Law
  • Magnetic Moment
  • Galvanometers, Motors, and Loudspeakers
  • Ferromagnetism
  • Lab 9: Electric Motor

Electromagnetic Induction and Faraday’s Law

  • Induced EMF
  • Faraday’s Law of Induction; Lenz’s Law
  • Magnetic Flux
  • Electric Generators
  • Transformers and Transmission of Power
  • Inductance
  • Energy Stored in a Magnetic Field
  • LR Circuits
  • AC Circuits and Reactance
  • Lab 10: Electromagnet

Electromagnetic Waves

  • Maxwell’s Equations
  • Production of Electromagnetic Waves
  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Measuring the Speed of Light
  • Energy in Electromagnetic Waves
  • Radio, Television, and Wireless Communication
  • Unit 5 Exam: Constructed Response

Unit 6: Modern Physics

Early Quantum Theory and Models of the Atom

  • Discovery and Properties of the Electron
  • Planck’s Quantum Hypothesis; Blackbody Radiation
  • Photon Theory of Light and the Photoelectric Effect
  • Energy, Mass, and Momentum of a Photon
  • Compton Effect
  • Photon Interactions; Pair Production
  • Wave-Particle Duality
  • Wave Nature of Matter
  • Early Models of the Atom
  • Atomic Spectra
  • The Bohr Model
  • De Broglie’s Hypothesis Applied to Atoms

Quantum Mechanics of Atoms

  • Probability vs. Determinism
  • The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
  • The Wave Function; The Double-Slit Experiment
  • Final Exam: Cumulative, constructed response


Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

The student will need the Java Runtime Environment.

This course uses an online virtual classroom for discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin, and also tablets or handhelds that support the Adobe Connect Mobile appStudents who are unable to attend live sessions will need a computer with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin installed to watch recorded meetings. The Adobe Connect Add-in, Adobe Flash plugin, and Adobe Connect Mobile app are available for free download. Students who do not have the Flash plug-in installed or enabled on their browsers will be prompted to download and install the Adobe Connect add-in when accessing the virtual classroom.


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