PHYSICS: 2nd Semester Modules

Each curriculum module begins with a description of an interesting phenomenon or problem that drives the lessons. The relevant physics is introduced to explore the phenomenon or problem. The curriculum emphasizes the development of mathematical models that can be used to describe,and understand these systems. Each module includes short readings for students, tutorials, activities, and case studies. 

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Solar Cookers

This modules uses solar cookers as a context to explore solar energy, energy conservation, and heat transfer. Tutorials guide students through the development of mathematical and computational models to describe the energy gained by the system. As a final project, students engage in the engineering design process to design and test their solar cookers. 

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Optical Instruments


This unit includes tutorials on optical instruments, including cameras, telescopes, microscopes, and the eye that teach students the basics of optics (e.g. refraction, thin lens equation). The unit concludes with a case study of Manchester's Magiscope, a "telescope" that enabled children to see Santa working at the North Pole. In this case study, students use their understanding of optics to backwards design the device. 



Solar panels have the potential to revolutionize electricity generation. To understand how photovoltaics work, we introduce students to some important ideas from modern physics, namely the photoelectric effect, blackbody radiation, and semiconductors. In this unit, students learn the basics of series and parallel circuits. In the final project, students design a solar lighting system for a villiage in a developing country and write a grant proposal for their design.

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Power Generation

This module explores electricity and magnetism through the lens of power generation. Readings and tutorials focus on applications of Faraday's Law of Induction and introduce students to electric and magnetic fields. The final project requires students to design a tiny generator to meet certain specifications. 

Medical Imaging


Many introductory physics students are interested in careers in health care. This module explores applications of introductory physics to biological applications, with a particular focus on imaging. Students will learn more about how devices are designed to see inside the human body. 

Diagnostic Model Data Set

Paint by Numbers Spreadsheet  (.xls)