Organization of Models in AP Physics C: Mechanics

Dr. Nathan Belcher
2 min readSep 7, 2018

One of the most challenging — yet rewarding — aspects of teaching is reviewing a course to make improvements for the following year. This process requires an honest assessment of your teaching ideas and practices, which can feel like a personal attack; however, it is important to push through the negative feelings about your teaching ideas and practices to fully examine their impact on students.

During my three years of teaching AP Physics C: Mechanics, I have performed an analysis of my teaching ideas and practices each year. Last year, I made a significant shift to the order of topics; instead of focusing on linear models and repeating the information with rotational models, I interleaved linear and rotational models. Before the shift, students were overwhelmed with the rotational models due to the competing cognitive demands of the mathematics and physics. After the shift, students were much more comfortable with the rotational models because they were able to compare and contrast the linear and rotational models and slowly work through the new mathematics and physics. This year, I am continuing to interleave the linear and rotational models — the feedback from students has been positive so far!

Here is a list of the order of models for AP Physics C: Mechanics:

- Linear Constant Velocity

- Angular Constant Velocity

- Linear Uniform Acceleration

- Angular Uniform Acceleration

- 2-D Motion

- Linear Momentum

- Angular Momentum

- Balanced Force

- Unbalanced Force

- Balanced Torque

- Unbalanced Torque

- Energy, Work, Power (Including rotational energy)

- Oscillations

- Gravitation

Please use the comments if you would like to add any ideas or ask questions; I greatly enjoy discussing the teaching and learning of physics.



Dr. Nathan Belcher

Founder of "The Learning Engine" -- Helping people learn and grow through the principles of learning. W&M: B.S '08, M.A.Ed '10, U of SC: Ed.D. '17