Rio Americano High School Physics
Course Information

Course Descriptions Outlines Equipment

Parent Information Phyz Home

1. Mr. Baird Says... Anyone interested in understanding the universe and everyone planning to continue their education beyond high school should take high school physics.

2. California Colleges and Universities Say... All students preparing for a baccalaureate education should take one year of biology, one year of chemistry, and one year of physics at the secondary level. [Emphasis added.] From the Statement of Preparation in Natural Sciences Expected of Entering Freshmen, prepared by the Academic Senates of the UC, CSU, and CCC universities and colleges.

Jump to parent information to find out more.


Grades: 9-12 Prerequisite: Algebra 1 must be completed with a "C" grade or better. Chemistry is not a prerequisite.

DESCRIPTION: Physics begins with an M as we explore the mysteries, magic, and myths surrounding motion, Newton's laws, momentum, energy, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, sound, light, and wave optics. Hands-on laboratory work, demonstrations, and classroom discussions are the core of the course. Some math is used, but the emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding and real world applications. This course should be elected by anyone planning to go to college. It must be completed successfully by anyone wishing to enroll in Advanced Placement Physics. The current textbook is Conceptual Physics: The High School Physics Program by Paul G. Hewitt, 2nd Edition, 1992, Addison-Wesley.

Grades: 11-12 Prerequisites: "B" or better grade in Physics I, completion or enrollment in. Pre-Calculus. Chemistry is not a prerequisite.

DESCRIPTION: Physics continues with more M's as we continue our exploration of the mysteries, magic, and myths surrounding projectiles, forces, harmonic motion and resonance, rotation, thermodynamics, electricity, circuits, electromagnetism, ray optics, and modern physics. Hands-on laboratory work, demonstrations, and classroom discussions are the core of the course. The course work and expectations match those of an introductory college-level trigonometry-based physics course. Students will be prepared to take the AP Physics B Exam (non-calculus), which is optional. This is considered an honors course for admission to most universities. Upon passage of the AP Exam, students may receive from 5-10 units of credit from most universities. The current textbook is Physics by Eugene Hecht, 1994, Brooks/Cole. (It's now called Physics: Algebra/Trig.)

1. Scientific Calculator. Nothing fancy; I like the TI-30X or TI-30Xa Solar (both less than $20), but there are many on the market that do what we need them to. If you only have a graphing calculator, you should get a scientific calculator as well. Scientific calculators are allowed on tests, graphing calculators are not..

2. Three-ring binder(s), Two 1-inch (one for each semester) or one 2-inch. You will need a binder reserved only for physics each semester. These binders need to be as sturdy as possible: you bring your physics binder to class every day.

3. A small ruler and protractor. I recommend the ruler-protractor combination. You would be wise to get a one of those little zippered pencil pouch things that can be attached in the 3-ring binder. Those ruler-protractors can be pretty fragile.

4. Paper and Pencils. Paper for taking notes; pencils for doing work. If you are perfect, pen is acceptable. If you ever make mistakes, use pencil. Take notes with whatever makes you happy, but complete labs and other physics work with pencil.

5. AP Physics 2 ONLY: Complete Physics 1 Binder.


PHYSICS I (Aligned with California Academic Content Standards)
This information is in the form of a portable document file (PDF).

This information is in the form of a portable document file (PDF).

POLICIES (Subject to Change)
This information is in the form of a portable document file (PDF).

This information is in the form of a portable document file (PDF).

The Book of Phyz by Dean Baird is a series of informational pages, labs, homework assignments, demonstration sheets, and video sheets prepared by the instructor for use by physics students at Rio Americano. It is the de facto textbook for our physics courses. This 800+ page project began in 1986; The Book of Phyz has undergone substantial revisions each year since then. Such a "loose-leaf" textbook allows the author to make immediate revisions based on in-class experiences and to incorporate the latest research in physics education.

All documents included in The Book of Phyz were realized on a Macintosh computer-the only system up to the task when the project began and the only system the author would choose to use since then.

"When I work on a PC, I feel like I'm working; when I work on a Mac, I feel like I'm getting something done."

Equipment Course Descriptions Outlines Policies Parent Information Phyz Home

Comments? E-mail me at
Revised August 2002 by Dean Baird