In with the new: AP Physics review


Mr. Wampuszyc teaches physics students about the misconceptions of light (Photo credit: Emma Mallon).

In previous years, the College Board recommended AP Physics B to be taken as a second-year physics course. Along with other schools, Mercy could not offer the program, as most students enrolled in physics classes are seniors.

This all changed during the 2014-2015 school year when AP Physics B was broken into two year-long courses: AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2. Mercy added AP Physics 1 to the science curriculum, giving first-year physics students a chance to take an AP.

“As soon as I heard they were changing the format, I suggested that we put the course in the curriculum,” said physics teacher Mr. Jan Wampuszyc.

The opportunity was readily accepted by students, as 28 girls took the class this year. Though the class stopped meeting after the AP exam on May 6, the students spent each morning prior to the exam studying and preparing.

“I like the dedication students displayed and I’m looking forward to an even better year next year, thanks to the students,” said Mr. Wampuszyc.

The class covered the following topics: one and two dimensional motion, forces and laws of motion, friction, uniform circular motion, work and energy, linear momentum, rotational motion, vibration and waves, electric forces and fields, and voltage.

“I think all of the topics have their difficulties, but a lot of the problems come in with undoing preconceived notions,” said Mr. Wampuszyc. “For example, the idea of a water bottle pulling on the Earth with it’s gravity is hard to explain, as I have to undo what a student knows to be true.”

The class was challenging for students because new concepts were introduced at a fast pace and were accompanied by difficult problems. Mr. Wampuszyc and students agree that the section on rotational motion was exceptionally difficult for students to understand.

“I wish we had more review time at the end of the year,” said senior Mariam Aoun.

A surely unforgettable moment occurred during Mr. Wampuszyc’s favorite demonstration, which displayed the power of centripetal force. In the demonstration, Mr. Wampuszyc places a cup of water on a frisbee and swings it from a string so that the cup flips upside down. Though upside down, the water does not fall out of the cup due to a force called centripetal force. This was the first year water was lost from the cup because the frisbee stopped at an inopportune time.

Due to the success of this year’s class, AP Physics 1 will remain in next year’s curriculum.

“It was always an entertaining class,” said Aoun. “I never got bored.”