Honors Physics Syllabus

Course Syllabus 2010 - 2011
Ms. Taylor
Room B106
Voice Mail: 823-8700 ext. 2106


Honors Physics is a survey course in high school physics.  The topics covered include the study of forces, laws of motion, basic mechanics, electricity, magnetism, waves, optics, and light.  The course requires Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry (can be taken concurrently); chemistry is also recommended.  The course is designed for college bound students who may consider taking physics at the college level.  Emphasis is on problem solving, with some independent research.


You need a 3-ring notebook for the class, spiral binder for homework and a calculator with scientific notation and trig functions (a graphing calculator is not required). It will be helpful to have a metric ruler, protractor and graph paper.  It is important that you have your own calculator; I will NOT supply them in class.  If you are unable to obtain one, the science department can supply one for your use for the year just as the mathematics department does.  Detailed supply list can be found here

This year every student who is taking physics will receive a Dell mini netbook running Windows and a 4 GB SD memory card from the county. This computer is more powerful than a smart phone but slower, smaller, and not as powerful a laptop computer. As with any notebook computer, the mouse pad can be a bit difficult to use. Personally, I prefer to use an external mouse. I have a wireless mouse that I use with my laptop and the netbook. It has significantly reduced my frustrations. Many mice are on sale in August and September for about $10-20. Logitech makes an inexpensive ($20/$30) mouse with a battery that lasts about 6 months.

You are expected to bring your netbook, homework notebook, index cards and your calculator to class each day.  The county uses Cutnell Johnson Physics for honors physics.  No textbook will be assigned to the students this year unless a student specifically asks for it.  The netbook contains textbooks and problems in the document directory.


A typical class will start with a homework check and lead-in.  This will be followed by a review of the homework from the previous class.  Next, any new material for that day will be covered in class.  After that, there will be a group/individual problem solving session or lab activity. 

We will cover approximately 3-4 chapters each nine-week marking period.  Each chapter will be followed by a test on the material.  Tests consist of both conceptual questions and mathematical problems.  Over the course of the year we will be covering the following subjects in approximately this order:

Unit I - Introduction
Scientific Method
Mathematical Tools

Unit II - Mechanics
Linear Motion
2-D Motion
Projectile Motion
Newton’s Laws
Energy & Work
Simple Harmonic Motion
Circular Motion
Universal Gravitation

Unit III - Electricity and Magnetism
Electric Fields and Potential
Electric Current
Electric Circuits
Electromagnetic Induction

Unit IV- Sound and Light
Vibrations and Waves
Reflection and Refraction
Mirrors & Lenses
Diffraction and Interference


The depth covered in individual classes depends on the skills the students bring to that class.  Needed mathematical skills are reviewed as a part of the specific unit.  Methodologies to enhance understanding are shown whenever possible.  Most of the materials that you will need for the class will be at the website http:\\www.taylorphysics.org.  Select the Honors button and then select the unit we are currently working on.  The website will be updated on a regular basis.


If you are absent from this class for any reason, it is your responsibility to seek the information necessary to make up your work as soon as possible.  If you miss a test or lab, you must schedule a time within one week to complete the missed work upon your return.  If you miss ONLY the day of a test, you will be expected to take the test during the next class period.  All other make-up tests or labs must be taken at a time other than our normal class time. 


Chapter tests, quizzes, labs, projects, homework, and in class assignments determine grades in this course.  Tests and/or quizzes are given at the end of groups of related material covered.  Although given rarely, quizzes will be given, when deemed necessary, and will be approximately the size of half a test. The following table identifies the weight of each type of assignment to your overall class grade


Grade Percentage

Chapter Tests and Quizzes


Labs and projects


Homework, In-class assignments and problem solving


In general, there will be about 2 labs per unit, which will be performed in groups during class, and then written up individually.  You may seek help with labs from your classmates or me; however, the lab report itself must be YOUR OWN work.  Lab reports later in the year may be collaborative. Your lab grade will be based both on your in class performance on the lab and the lab report.  Each lab will have different requirements for the lab report and those requirements will be included in the lab write-up. 

You will have reading and/or problem assignments each night that class meets.  We cover a great deal of material during the course; therefore, keeping up with the homework assignments is crucial for this course.  You are expected to do the homework.  It will be checked every class prior to being reviewed.  Assigned homework will require you to solve problems, discuss concepts and complete simulations.

Assignments are late if they are not turned in when asked for in class.  You will lose one point for each school day the assignment is late.  Assignments are generally work 20-30 points; this means if you turn in a 20 point assignment 2 days late, the highest grade you can get is a 90%.

This class follows the school’s grading system.  90-100% is an A; 80-89% is a B; 70-79% is a C; 60-69% is a D and anything below 60% is an F.  All students start each quarter with a grade of 100%.  I make myself available to help my students; however, I expect them to come for help as they become confused and not wait until just before a test to come for help.


There are only a few, simple rules in this class. 

  • Ask questions.  If you don’t understand something, you are probably not the only one.  I am not a scary person and will do my best to help you learn the material. 

  • If I am talking, you shouldn’t be.  This is an important rule in my class and I am very strict about maintaining it. It is rude and disrespectful to me and everyone else in the class.

  • If it isn’t yours, don’t touch it! Many of the demonstrations and lab equipment we use are expensive and I don’t think you want to pay to replace it.


I am here to help you learn not learn for you!  I am available to help you at many different times during the week. 

  • I usually arrive at school by 8:15 A.M. everyday, come by and see me in the science office or my classroom. 
  • I will be available most days during lunch in my classroom, come find me.  I have formal office hours on Wednesdays and Thursday during the first half of lunch.
  • I am available during my planning periods.  I will either be in my classroom, in the science office or in the cafeteria during those periods.  Come and find me.
  • I will meet with you after school by appointment.
  • I am available via email if you are having a problem during the evening or weekend.  I check my email regularly; however, I cannot guarantee that I will get back to you that same day.  Please feel free to write me at ctaylor@k12albemarle.org.  If you don’t remember my email, you can always reach me by sending me a message from my class web page, http://schoolcenter.k12albemarle.org/education/staff/staff.php?sectionid=740.
  • I have an Instant Messenger Account on AOL, Yahoo and MSN.  You can reach me through WAHSPHYSICS.  I am typically online on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-10 pm.  You don’t have to have a question to IM me.  I enjoy chatting with my students online.  I have been known to IM my students as well if I think they are struggling.  Please do not email me at WAHSPHYSICS, as I never check it. 
  • I am on Skype at carrie.w.taylor if you want to contact me via voice.
  • You can find the latest homework on Twitter.

Please don’t wait until the day before a test to ask for help.  By doing this, both you and I will end up frustrated.  Come and get help when you start to get confused and frustrated not afterwards.