Time to Get Physical with AP Physics 1!

I heard you were thinking about taking AP Physics 1. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to your very own survival guide for AP Physics 1! Have fun (because you will never reach the velocity needed to escape the orbit). 

Unit 1: Kinematics

Unit 1 was a lot of fun because we started the year off with things like “what is displacement?” and “what is velocity?” and my ego got all inflated and I started thinking that I was actually going to ace the class. Then I took the first test and the next thing I know, my grade was in freefall accelerating towards the depths of hell at a rate of 9.8 m/s^2. When report cards started rolling out and my mom saw my abysmal grade in physics, she got so mad that she launched my report card at my face and when I opened my eyes again, the report card was freefalling at 25 m/s^2 on Jupiter. I tried to gaslight myself into thinking that I could save my grade but I was too weak to overcome the gravitational force exerted by Jupiter. With no choices left, I turned to cars instead, trying to calculate my acceleration as I drove into a lamppost with an initial velocity of 69 mph. It took me 30 seconds to cover the 278 feet from my driveway to the lamppost. Maybe if I hit the lamppost hard enough, I wouldn’t have to do physics anymore 🙂


Unit 2: Dynamics (Newton’s Laws)

Let’s say I am in a cannon. What would be my velocity at the peak of my flight if I was launched at a 69 degree angle with an initial velocity of 1000 m/s? Can you solve it? Great job! Let’s perform the experiment with multiple trials to reduce experimental uncertainty! Newton’s Laws may seem like an easy unit, but, just like vertical velocity at the peak of a projectile, your grade will be at 0. The coefficient of static friction must be pretty low for my physics grades because they’re always slipping! You may excuse your lack of studying by saying that physics is just “common sense”, but you’ll regret it when you see your grades in freefall. Overall, Dynamics seems like an innocent unit, but you might get an FRQ with friction on an inclined ramp and, at that point, you’ll want to climb in the cannon with me. 


Unit 3: Gravitation and Circular Motion

Despite common belief, Isaac Newton didn’t discover gravitation when an apple fell on his head. He discovered gravitation because he hates children and wants to watch them suffer. The gravitational field of the physics classroom must be pretty strong because everyday I watch my physics grade accelerate in freefall towards McDonalds where I will be frying burgers for the rest of my life because I failed out of physics. I swear, I study so hard but trying to understand Newton’s insanity is like running circles around the track: I’m constantly accelerating towards the center, but I’m getting absolutely nowhere. It’s like that one stupid FRQ where we had to increase the radius of a satellite’s orbit by exerting a force in the same direction, the opposite direction, or perpendicular to the satellite’s velocity. I answered this question correctly on the test, but 5 months later, I was back at the same point, at a complete loss at how to solve this debacle. So be ready to be dizzy or you’ll be throwing up until your brains fall out. 


Unit 4: Energy

If my grade started at 300 m above the ground and fell to -675 m below the ground, how much work did the weight of my stupidity do? Answer: too much work for me to salvage my grade. Even a 350 horsepower donkey wouldn’t be able to do all the work necessary to save my grade in the one week I had before the marking period ended. Energy was such an energy-intensive unit (pun very much intended) that I barely had the strength to complete my scheduled crying session after the test. My friend tried to power through the energy unit by downing 4 shots of espresso and 2 cans of Celsius (hi Jade!) in one day, but alas, even that wasn’t enough energy to sustain them through the perilous journey through joules. The unit seemed simple enough ⸺there were just 4 types of energy we needed to learn. But these 4 types of energy sent me through the 4 stages of grief (I never made it to 5th stage, acceptance, because I got stuck in the depression stage. The difference in gravitational potential energy between the 4th and 5th stages was simply too much for me to overcome). Your teacher may seem really energetic about the energy unit, but don’t be fooled ⸺it only took one problem about spiderman swinging off a ledge before I turned into a walking zombie. 


Unit 5: Momentum

 Let’s return to the car in Unit 1. If the car has an initial velocity 69 mph and a mass of 420 kg, how much impulse would it take to stop the car and end my downfall? Total momentum may be constant in an isolated system, but my physics grade is constantly decreasing! I may have begun physics with initial momentum, but all my velocity (and confidence) was lost after the impulse of the first physics test. You may feel confident that you can conquer your momentum test with enough initial velocity, but don’t underestimate the mass of your test. The collision will be as elastic as your brain exploding into a million pieces. Oh well, you tried! Momentum seems like a fun unit, but just like an inelastic collision, you will lose both energy and braincells. 


Unit 6: Simple Harmonic Motion (aka Vibrational Motion)

If I get a 100% on one test and a 10% on the next, what is the amplitude of the oscillation of my grades? I would answer that question, but I cannot for the life of me, seem to remember what amplitude is, even though I took the simple harmonic motion test 2 weeks ago. My memory oscillates more than a dead goldfish bobbing up and down in a tank. Despite its name, simple harmonic motion is not simple, nor is it satisfying like a perfectly intonated harmony sung by a choir. For all of my calculus nerds out there, simple harmonic motion is not nearly as clean and beautiful as the harmonic series either. One look at the gorgeously simplistic n=11n and you know the series diverges by the p-series test, but just one glance at a pendulum in simple harmonic motion will send you swinging into the bag of rice to be fixed like an iPhone that fell in the toilet (no, that was definitely not from personal experience). So, if you’re looking to set yourself back into harmony with the flow of life, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re at the wrong displacement. 


Unit 7: Torque and Rotational Motion

How much torque does it take to stop the world from spinning so that I don’t have to take the physics test anymore? Certainly an asteroid with the weight of my failure and the speed of my impending doom would be fast enough. Rotational motion may seem like an easy unit after being freed from the chains of energy and momentum, but rotational kinetic energy and angular momentum come back to haunt you. This unit teaches you that physics is interconnected and doom is omnipresent. Even when you think you’re safe, physics will find a way to exert a torque to send you spiraling again. You may think the pain is over after your angular velocity slows down, but, unfortunately, angular acceleration is constant due to the torque of your failure and you will simply start speeding up again in the opposite direction.


 Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of your crash course in physics! This is all you need to know and all you will ever know about AP Physics 1, because everything in that class enters one ear and comes flying out the other before even before it can reach the peak of its flight.