Affiliated to CAIE

Candidacy School for IB – PYP, MYP & DP

"Physics is a tortured assembly of contrary qualities: of scepticism and rationality, of freedom and revolution, of passion and aesthetics, and soaring imagination and trained common sense."

Leon M Lederman (Nobel Prize for Physics, 1988)

Physics Department

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself from the very smallest particles – currently accepted as quarks, which may be truly fundamental – to the vast distances between galaxies. Essentially, it is the study of the four fundamental forces or interactions in the universe.

Classical Physics, encompassing areas of Physics such as Newtonian Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism continue to be taught, and form the foundations of the subject. Topics in Modern Physics, such as Quantum Physics and Particle Physics, are introduced at higher levels.

IBDP course

Recent Trends in Physics Education

Previously

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself from the very smallest particles – currently accepted as quarks, which may be truly fundamental – to the vast distances between galaxies. Essentially, it is the study of the four fundamental forces or interactions in the universe.
Classical Physics, encompassing areas of Physics such as Newtonian Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism continue to be taught and form the foundations of the subject. Topics in Modern Physics, such as Quantum Physics and Particle Physics, are introduced at higher levels.

Recent Years

There has been a shift towards a more qualitative approach. Students are required to understand concepts and apply them when solving authentic real-world problems. Command terms such as Explain, Suggest, or Predict require students to analyse the given contexts, dissect them, and make sense of them. There is a reduced focus on tedious mathematical manipulations. While the physics concepts that students are required to learn are clearly stipulated in the syllabus, no syllabus can limit the application of these concepts, hence students need to have a flexible and analytical mind in order to do well in the subject. Repetitive drill and practice serve little to help students improve, but the aim of practising a wide range of problems is to expose students to the multitude of applications that physics concepts can be extended to.

PHYSICS

CURRICULUM

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies.
Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of physics, observations remain essential to the very core of the subject. Models are developed to try to understand observations, and these themselves can become theories that attempt to explain the observations.
Through studying a science subject students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, the emphasis is on a practical approach. In addition, through the overarching theme of the “Nature of Science,” this knowledge and skills will be put into the context of the way science and scientists work in the 21st century and the ethical debates and limitations of creative scientific endeavour.
The sciences are taught practically. Students have opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings. The investigations may be laboratory-based or they may make use of simulations and databases. Students develop the skills to work independently on their own design, but also collegiately, including collaboration with schools in different regions, to mirror the way in which scientific research is conducted in the wider community.

Key features of the curriculum and Assessment Model

Physics syllabus outline

 Higher level (240 hours)

Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20% External assessment: 80%

 Standard level (150 hours)

Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20% External assessment: 80%

The external assessment of physics consists of three written papers. In paper 1 there are 30 (at SL) or 40 (at HL) multiple-choice questions. Paper 2 contains short-answer and extended-response questions on the core (and Additional Higher Level (AHL) material at HL). Paper 3 has two sections; Section A contains one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work on the core (and AHL material at HL). Section B contains short-answer and extended-response questions from each of the four options.

SCIENCE RESEARCH CHALLENGE

The science department realises that we do have a huge pool of talent among our students, who excel in other areas of science outside the academic curriculum.  These are students who enjoy participating in olympiads, science competitions and science fairs.  For this, we have the Science Research Challenge to help groom these talents.

Useful Links

Useful Websites for Physics Enrichment

How Stuff Works 

 Useful and easy to understand explanations for everyday phenomenon and applications of science.

The Physics Classroom 

A site with several simulations and multimedia tools for the learning of science concepts.

The Physics Hypertextbook 

Useful site for senior students.

HyperPhysics 

A Succinct description of several physics concepts.

Physics4Kids

Physics content made it simpler for younger students.  Suitable for lower secondary Physical Science.

Chem4Kids

Chemistry content made it simpler for younger students.  Suitable for lower secondary Physical Science.

PhET Simulations

Physics simulations help students to experience and visualize physics concepts without a physical lab.

Much of this information is taken directly from the physics subject guide, available to all IB teachers on the programme resource centre.

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