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Honors Physics

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math score required

Prerequisites: Completion of Trigonometry

Course Format: Individually paced

Course Length: Typically 6 - 9 months

Recommended School Credit: One academic year

Course Code: HPY

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 also includes an optional survey of thermodynamics and more modern work in physics, including an introduction to quantum mechanics. Throughout the course, students learn to apply the concepts from the reading and lessons to the world around them through homework problems that adapt to the students’ performance and laboratories.

The format and structure of the course is designed for students to gain experience as independent, self-motivated learners as they learn content from lessons and reinforce their understanding of the concepts through simulations, activities, quizzes, laboratories, problem-solving exercises, and exams.

Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in this course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations.

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 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. This course does not have any synchronous class meetings, but students may schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Materials Needed

A textbook is used with this course.

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

ISBN-10: 0321625927;
ISBN-13: 9780321625922

Honors Physics Lab Equipment List

A lab kit is available and recommended for this course: Purchase an Honors Physics Lab Kit from Quality Science Labs. You may source all of the materials on your own if preferred. Additional materials you provide are also required (listed below).

List of material included in Lab Kit:

  • Card holder
  • Cart
  • Clear plastic tube 20 ml with scale
  • Double Concave lens, 150 mm focal length
  • Double Convex lens, 50 mm focal length
  • Double Convex lens, 150 mm focal length
  • Compass
  • Graduated cylinder, 100 mL
  • He-Ne Laser
  • LED light
  • Bar magnets (2)
  • Mass set, slotted 250 grams
  • Metric tape measure
  • Lens holders
  • Large paper clip
  • Spring scale
  • Steel sphere
  • Stopwatch
  • String
  • Support board
  • Tuning fork, 1024 Hz
  • Steel washers (10)
  • White notecard for screen
  • Modeling clay
  • String lights without plug
  • 3 inch nail
  • Insulated copper wire
  • 2 D-cell batteries
  • 2 battery holders

Supply your own - These materials not included in Lab Kit:

  • Graph paper
  • Large books
  • Paper towels
  • Masking tape
  • Ruler
  • Cardboard box
  • Colored pencil
  • Two surfaces (to test for friction)
  • 1” x 6” x 3’ board for ramp
  • Paper towels
  • Protractor
  • Something to record a short video
  • Other materials self-chosen for design projects
  • Container of water (ex. bowl, sink, or tub)
  • Coins
  • Phone or something to download apps
  • Sunglasses (recommended)
  • Cylindrical tube such as paper towel roll
  • A non 1.5V battery (ex. 9V)
  • Paperclips or staples
  • Scissors
  • Tape or rubber bands

Detailed Course Information

Measurement and Estimating

  • Relation of Physics to Other Fields
  • Measurement and Uncertainty
  • Significant Figures
  • Units, Standards, and the SI System
  • Converting Units
  • Order of Magnitude and Scientific Notation

Kinematics in One Dimension

  • Reference Frames and Displacement
  • Average Velocity
  • Instantaneous Velocity
  • Acceleration
  • Motion at Constant Acceleration
  • Falling Objects

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

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

  • Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
  • Geophysical Applications of Gravity
  • Satellites

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

Linear Momentum

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

Rotational Motion

  • Torque

Static Equilibrium, Elasticity, and Fracture

  • The Conditions for Equilibrium


  • 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

Oscillations and Waves

  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Energy in the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
  • The Simple Pendulum
  • Forced Vibrations and Resonance
  • Wave Motion
  • Transverse and Longitudinal Waves
  • Reflection and Transmission of Waves
  • Superposition of Waves
  • Standing Waves
  • Refraction
  • Diffraction


  • Characteristics of Sound
  • Intensity of Sound
  • Vibrating Strings and Air Columns
  • Beats
  • Doppler Effect
  • Shock Waves and the Sonic Boom

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

Electric Charge and Electric Field

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

Electric Potential

  • Electric Potential Energy and Potential Difference
  • Relation between Electric Potential and Electric Field

Electric Currents

  • The Electric Battery
  • Electric Current
  • Ohm’s Law
  • Resistivity
  • Electric Power

DC Circuits

  • EMF and Terminal Voltage
  • Resistors in Series and in Parallel


  • Magnets and Magnetic Fields
  • Force on an Electric Current in a Magnetic Field
  • Force on an Electric Charge Moving in a Magnetic Field

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.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.