Physics at Mass Academy is taught by Mr. Ellis. In physics class, students have the option to choose between one of two tracks for the curriculum. Students are able to choose between the algebra track and the calculus track. Students who choose the algebraic track are expected to solve homework and test problems using algebra while students on the calculus track are required to complete some of the algebraic problems in addition to the calculus problems. With physics, students are also able to sign up for any one of the AP physics tests offered, as the curriculum aligns with them. Over the course of the year, students learn to take notes, complete challenging problems (Über problems), work their way through sample tests from past years, learn how to write and conduct lab reports, and enjoy/participate in fun demos.
The first Über problem that we completed was called “Über Rocket” This problem was a multi-stage, challenging problem that culminated many of the key concepts from the unit. Über Rocket was a part of the first unit on kinematics. At this time, I wanted to experiment with the calculus track, so I tried to solve this problem using calculus concepts. The problem is about a rocket with non-constant net acceleration which behaves in a certain way during different parts of its journey. By splitting the problem up into stages, I was able to effectively gather all the sub answers I needed to find the elapsed time for each stage. I think that even if you do not plan on taking the calculus track, it is still worth it to try it on a problem such as this one since there is no risk, high reward.
The second Über problem that we completed, we were not required to type it up. However, Mr. Ellis gave us the option to do so for extra credit as it allows you to work on effectively communicating your thought process to an audience. This Über problem was titled “Über Pulley” and it focused on a pulley system up a ramp, which launched an object as a projectile until it came to rest. I chose to do the algebra version of this Über problem. I enjoyed being able to work sequentially through the problem and it is so satisfying when you finally come up with your solution.