AP Physics C Expands to Include Electricity and Magnetism

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Next year, the AP Physics C curriculum at M-A will transition from solely focusing on mechanics to also covering electricity and magnetism. Whereas before students could take AP Physics C with only the prerequisite of Calculus AB, after next year, students will need to complete AP Physics 1 before taking AP Physics C.

AP Physics 1 and C teacher Joseph Vanderway said, “While AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C Mechanics slightly differ in depth and math application, they basically still cover the same topic of mechanics, so taking both classes gets repetitive.” He added, “This new class not only prepares students for the mechanics exam, but also prepares them for the electricity and magnetism exam, which means that we’re essentially adding a whole new course.” Students who take this class will be able to take two AP exams: AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism.

Early in the first semester, Vanderway sent a survey to his physics students to assess their interest in taking a second year of physics. Vanderway explained, “The fact that students were interested in taking a second course indicated to me that we should make changes to AP Physics C so that it could become a second-year course that students could take.”

He said, “In the future, everybody who’s taking AP Physics C will take AP Physics 1 first.” However, Vanderway explained that next year will be a transition year, where AP Physics 1 won’t be a prerequisite for AP Physics C. However, he said that students who have not taken AP Physics 1 might have a more difficult experience with this class. He explained, “There will be some labs that they will have missed because they wouldn’t have taken it in AP Physics 1.” Nonetheless, he said, “For this coming year, there’s going to be some accommodations made for that situation. Some students are going to be in for an interesting ride with the transition year, but there’ll be a lot of support to make sure that they can get through it.”

Vanderway encouraged students to take a physics class, adding, “Physics courses are a great preparation for going into any of the sciences for college.” He explained that the courses also are great for college preparation as “This sequence of classes would be taken by any physical science and engineering major.” 

Junior Annie Pflaum, a current AP Physics 1 student who signed up for AP Physics C next year, commented, “Learning the AP Physics C content will set me up for college. It’s cool that this class counts for two college credits because there are two AP tests.”

Vanderway expressed his enthusiasm for this new course, stating that students who are interested in how the world works should take this class. He said that after taking this class, students will be able to answer questions such as, “How do things happen? How do things move? What makes the world go ‘round?” He also added, “AP Physics C should be lots of fun,” and explained some of the interesting labs the new class will conduct. “One thing we’re going to be doing is a lab on electrostatics. There’ll be labs on electric potentials and circuits and we’ll use two dimensional planes to visualize electric and magnetic fields,” he said. 

He concluded, “Students would say that my classes may be difficult, but they’re also fun. I would encourage people who are thinking about taking either one of the AP physics classes to give it a go.”

Jolene is a senior at M-A and this is her second year in journalism. She looks forward to writing more opinion pieces about controversial topics this year. In her free time, she enjoys running track and listening to music.

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