October 31, 2019
Physics 9 represents a change to the science curriculum starting in the 2019-2020 school year at MPA. For the first time, ninth graders are taking physics, and this adjustment to the science sequence at MPA allows for a variety of electives in the twelfth-grade year.
“By moving physics to the ninth grade, we are creating a foundational science course for all ninth graders that will introduce them to both the essential principles of physics and the core skills need for success in Upper School science courses,” says Hannah Sullivan, Upper School science teacher. “We’ve moved many of the core skills formally developed in the ninth grade science and engineering course to this new ninth grade course, while at the same time covering the topics typically covered in a high school physics course with a conceptual approach geared to the ninth graders.”
Physics 9 is experimentally based and introduces students to the principles of physics that make up our everyday experiences. Students discover some of the ways the physical world operates, as well as investigate motion, forces, energy, waves, optics, and electricity. Engineering and problem-solving principles are incorporated through several project-based design challenges. The egg drop project is one of the challenges that students undertake as part of the course. Students design a device under specified weight and volume that would protect an egg in fall from 11 meters. This was related to their unit studying Falling Objects, Newton’s Laws, Force, Impulse, and Momentum.
Other Engineering Design Challenges involve designing and building a mousetrap car following their study of work, simple machines, and mechanical advantage. Students will also participate in several group challenges through the course, including an optimized wind turbine and the creation of a solar powered town. These challenges engage students in the creative application of the physics principles explored in the course to solve relevant real-world problems.
The new science sequence will lead to a rich offering of innovative twelfth-grade science electives that allow students to explore cutting edge science topics that interest them, with possibilities like advanced physics and chemistry, anatomy, environmental science, environmental chemistry, astrophysics, geology, biotechnology, astrobiology, genetics, and scientific research methods. We can’t wait to see what these students are capable of discovering in the world of science.