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Course Information

All Grade 12 courses

Physics - SPH4U

ILC Course Code: SPH4U-C

Grade 12, University Preparation, 1.0 credit

Physics (SPH3U-C)

Course Description

This course enables you to deepen your understanding of physics concepts and theories. You will continue your exploration of energy transformations and the forces that affect motion, and will investigate electrical, gravitational, and magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation. You will explore the wave nature of light, quantum mechanics, and special relativity. You will further develop your scientific investigation skills, learning, for example, how to analyse, qualitatively and quantitatively, data related to a variety of physics concepts and principles. You will also consider the impact of technological applications of physics on society and the environment.

Online Submission

Online submission of course work is required for this course using Microsoft Word © or OpenOffice Writer.

Supplementary materials

You will need a scientific calculator and access to the Internet.

Unit 1: Dynamics

The focus of this first unit is on forces and the motion of relatively large, visible objects. Over the last century, transportation has progressed from the rickety “horseless carriage”—an early term for an automobile—to the sleek, quiet, and very fast cars and planes that we enjoy travelling in today. Not only has our means of transportation changed for the better, but the way in which we power these machines has improved dramatically as well. These advances are the result of our knowledge of physics. Our ability to travel safely and quickly around the world depends on knowledge first discovered by scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. In this unit, you will learn about the physics that explain forces and motion, and govern transportation. In this unit you will solve problems involving projectile motion and research the role of friction in vehicles and the concept of artificial gravity in space. You will make free-body diagrams to describe a number of engineering and transportation situations.

Unit 2: Energy and Momentum

You may hear words like momentum, energy, and work spoken in everyday conversations or on the evening news during the sportscast. In physics, these words have more specific meanings and are used to analyze a wide variety of things. Engineers use their understanding of energy and momentum to design cars and highways that reduce traffic accidents and automobile injuries. Are these designs and effective? By the end of this unit, you should be able to form your own opinion on these, and other, physics-related topics. In unit 2 you will research the energy transformations involved in generating electricity. You will calculate the velocity changes that take place during various collisions such as one puck slamming into another at high speed.

Unit 3: Gravitational, Electric, and Magnetic Fields

In this unit you will study gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields. Why do astronauts in the International Space Station appear weightless, even though they are being pulled by the earth’s gravity? For that matter, why doesn’t the space station itself fall to the earth? What is the relationship between the forces that keep satellites in orbit and the science behind DNA testing? The answers to these questions can be found in the study of fields. Gravity, magnetism, and electrostatic forces can be studied as fields that act on objects at a distance. In this unit, you will study and solve problems related to fields.

Unit 4: The Wave Nature of Light

This unit considers light when it is described as a wave rather than as individual photons. Our understanding of light enables us to communicate in ways and at speeds that were barely imaginable a few decades ago. For example, a typical Blu-Ray Disc holds several libraries’ worth of information and brings high-definition video to your television while fibre optics carry audio, video, and vast amounts of information around the globe via the Internet. Another example of optical technology occurs in holograms, which help to control counterfeit currency and protect your bank cards. All of these technologies are possible because of our understanding of the properties of light. In this unit, you will study the physics phenomena that make this all possible: diffraction, interference, and polarization. In unit 4 you will make predictions about the interactions of waves such as two interfering sound waves. You will also research the educational path required for a Physics career that you are interested in.

Unit 5: Modern Physics

This unit focuses on quantum theory and the special theory of relativity, two of Einstein’s discoveries that went on to become the most successful theories in the history of science. Both of these theories have had an impact on the world and the society we live in. Albert Einstein’s discoveries, which have been proven over and over again, describe a world that is unpredictable and, in some ways, impossible to measure. A particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider has increased out knowledge of sub-atomic structure and our understanding of where the force of gravity originates. This unit explores these ideas and encourages you to do your own research on these topics. In unit 5 you will use Max Planck’s quantum theory to explain the behaviour of photoelectrons. You will also calculate the mass of microscopic particles based on their wavelength and speed.

This is the English version of the course.

Click here to view the French version of the course.