Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

8.5 Organization of the Physics Curriculum

The term physics is derived from the Greek word φύσις (physis), meaning “nature”. Today we define physics as the natural science of that studies the properties, changes and interactions of matter and energy – from subatomic particles to the Universe (see powers of ten, section 8.2). Although physics is a very large and diverse field of study, most textbook authors and physics teachers organize it in a manner similar to that shown in table 8.8.  The outline of your book or class will be your "road map" for physics.  Study the outline that follows (or the one used by your teacher or textbook) and review it throughout the course. 

Table 8.8  Organization of the physics curriculum

I.    Newtonian Mechanics
A.  Kinematics
B.   Laws of motion
C.   Work, energy, power
D.  Momentum
E.   Circular motion and rotation
F.   Oscillations
G. Gravitation

II.  Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Physics
A.  Fluid mechanics
B.   Temperature and heat
C.   Kinetic theory and thermodynamics

 III.      Electricity and Magnetism
A.  Electrostatics
B.   Conductors, insulators, capacitors
C.   Electric circuits
D.  Magnetostatics
E.   Electromagnetism

IV. Waves and Optics
A.  Waves
B.   Sound
C.   Optics

V.  Modern Physics
A.  Atomic physics
B.   Nuclear physics
C.   Relativity