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  • Physics 3&4

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What is it and why should I do it?

Physics seeks to understand and explain the physical world. It examines models and ideas used to make sense of the world and which are sometimes challenged as new knowledge develops. By looking at the way matter and energy interact through observations, measurements and experiments, physicists gain a better understanding of the underlying laws of nature.

In Unit 3 students examine the similarities and differences between three fields: Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic. They investigate how concepts related to field models can be applied to construct motors and generators, maintain satellite orbits and to accelerate particles.

The electromagnetic field concepts are then applied to explain how electricity is produced and delivered to homes. Students explore magnetic fields and the transformer as critical to the performance of electrical distribution systems.

Newton’s laws of motion are used to analyse relative motion, circular motion and projectile motion. At very high speeds, however, these laws are insufficient to model motion and Einstein’s theory of special relativity is studied. Students explore the relationships between force, energy and mass in both Newtonian and Relativistic environments.

In Unit 4, students look at the characteristics of mechanical waves, and then extend this knowledge to understand how waves can be used to explain the behaviour of light. Wave theory helps students understand various light phenomena including reflection, refraction, interference and polarisation.

When light and matter are probed they appear to have remarkable similarities. Students learn about the wave-particle duality and how light appears to exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties. Students explore the interesting aspects of the photoelectric effect and extend this into the fascinating world of quantum physics and interesting theories like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

As part of Unit 4 students will complete a student-designed practical investigation related to the course content. The investigation requires the student to develop a question, formulate a hypothesis and plan a course of action to answer the question and that complies with safety and ethical guidelines. Students then undertake an experiment that involves the collection of primary quantitative data, analyse and evaluate the data, identify limitations of data and methods, link experimental results to science ideas, reach a conclusion in response to the question and suggest further investigations that may be undertaken.

How much homework/study will I have?

All Unit 3 and 4 subjects require 3-5 hours of study per week.

While students receive some time to work on text book problems in class, the majority of the text book questions will need to be completed for homework. Additional problems are made available to students on the course wiki and Edrolo provides supplemental learning resources and questions as well. Revision activities will need to be completed in the lead up to the formal tests and SACs conducted throughout the year.

What contributes to my study score?

Unit 3

  • Area of Study 1 - 2 SACs
  • Area of Study 2 - 1 SAC
  • Area of Study 3 - 2 or 3 SACs

All Unit 3 SACs are test format similar to the exam structure with a mix of multiple choice and extended answer questions. Each area of study contributes equally to the student score for Unit 3 SACs, which represents 21% of the total Study Score.

Unit 4

  • Area of Study 1 - 2 SACs
  • Area of Study 2 - 1 SAC
  • Area of Study 3 - Extended Practical Investigation assessed through Logbook and Scientific Poster

The Unit 4 SACs represent 19% of the total Study Score.

The final end of year exam for Physics is assessed through a single exam that contributes the 60% balance of the study score.

How do I satisfactorily complete the unit?

To pass any VCE unit you need to demonstrate that you have met the Outcomes.

Students typically demonstrate the outcomes of the course through satisfactory performance on the SACs. Test scores above 50% demonstrate adequate understanding of the Outcomes and represent a satisfactory completion of the unit. Test scores below 50% will require students to complete further coursework in order to show sufficient understanding of the concepts covered in the course.

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