Newtonian Mechanics - Honors Physics

GWCS honors physics

Our approach to teaching Honors Physics at GWCS is narrow and deep.  We study only Newtonian Mechanics with the goal of achieving a significant conceptual impact on student mental models of how the physical world operates.

We use curricular materials developed by The University of Massachusetts’s Physics Education Research Group, which boasts experts in both physics and cognitive research.  The course is both conceptual and mathematical, requiring students to reason using the tools they’ve learned in their Geometry, Algebra I/ II, and Trigonometry classes.  Students primarily spend class time engaging in collaborative concept-based problem solving and discussion.  Through these activities, students develop an awareness of how they reason and build a conceptual framework for understanding the physical world. 


For our end of the year capstone project students are required to design a boat, build it out of cardboard, and enter it in the Lake Accotink Cardboard Boat Regatta (read about the 2015 GWCS Regatta Victory). People often think this must be a miniaturized model boat, but it is actually a human-scale water-craft built to accommodate anywhere from one to five people! Students not only build the boat, but they must test its sea-worthiness by boarding the craft, paddling out and rounding a buoy, and returning to shore without sinking.  This is an authentic experience for the students; they sink or float based purely on their own efforts.

GW Community School
Honors Physics - Newtonian Mechanics
Dr. Cox, Science Teacher
September 24, 2018