During the 1985 - 1986 school year (that was the year I graduated from high school), I took high school level Physics. It was the first science course I took that really came alive for me and interested me. In fact, it interested me so much that when I went to college I decided to major in Engineering Physics. Of course, it only took one semester to realize that there were no college professors who could make the subject come to life like my high school teacher did. In his class, we did crazy, disturbing problems like this:
...and like this:
Who wouldn't love Physics when it was taught like that?
My high school Physics teacher taught from the mid 60s until the late 90s. He had a passion for the subject, and it rubbed off on his students. He also wasn't content with any of the Physics textbooks that he used; they never covered subjects in the order and manner in which he wanted them covered.
So in the 80s, he began composing his own Physics study guide to use in his classes. He spent many summer hours seated in front of a TRS-80 (anyone remember those computers?) typing his own explanations for every subject he intended to cover, along with many sample problems and detailed solutions.
The result was a fourteen-chapter study guide which fills a massive three-ring binder full to overflowing. Every year students would say, "Can I keep my copy to take to college with me?" The answer was always "Of course!"
Students from his classes started to get a reputation at the college level. The general rule of thumb was that a high school Physics course would cover one semester of college Physics. But students from our school never saw anything we didn't already know in college Physics until about the time of spring break. And college Physics professors, when they found out who a student's high school Physics teacher was, would say, "Oh, you're going to do just fine here."
He was just that kind of teacher.
Oh...and he's also my father.
"But what happened to that study guide, typed into obsolete computers like 'trash-80s' 30 years ago?"
It's been sitting in a massive three-ring binder overflowing with explanations, diagrams, problems, and solutions. And the digital files have been sitting in folders on Mr. Physics' computer. Until now. He has graciously agreed that it's time for all that work to be shared, so other teachers and students can make use of it.
Converting those old files is a time-consuming process, and many of the images are being recreated from scratch, so we're going to be posting units from the Physics Study Guide one chapter at a time over the course of several months. Not all units are being published in order. For example, Unit Six was the first unit published. You can find them here:
Unit One contains a great list of advice for problem solving in Physics, as well as a large collection of solved and unsolved kinematics problems. My honors physics students will be doing a unit on torques later on this year (a topic that many high school curricula do not cover), and they will be using this page as part of their curriculum: Rotational Equilibrium and Torques.
Oh...and by the way...happy birthday, dad!