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19 October 2013

Mail Time: Does electrostatics show up on AP Physics 1 or AP Physics 2?

Erika Sherger of New Jersey writes in with a question I've been asked before:

Is electrostatics in AP Physics 1 or 2?  The website lists it as a 2 topic but the two sample curricula for AP Physics 1 contain it.

Electrostatics in some form is on both exams.

In AP Physics 1, Coulomb's Law for the force between two electrical point charges will show up -- but that's it.  No mention of electric field, no electric potential, no vector addition for the force exerted by multiple point charges.

AP Physics 1 will also cover simple DC circuits.

In AP Physics 2, all of the algebra-based electrostatics you can think of will show up: fields and potentials due to multiple point charges, due to parallel plates, due to a dipole, electric field mapping (with vector fields, NOT with traditional field lines), capacitors, problems including electrostatics in combination with magnetic fields or other forces, more complicated DC circuits even sometimes including steady-state capacitor behavior...

I know it's a pain in the Dan Snyder to parse, but try searching the electronic copy of the curriculum framework for "point charges" or "Coulomb's Law."  The learning objectives are pretty clear as to what is expected in each course.

And, of course, buy McGraw-Hill's "5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1" when it comes out this summer!  :-)


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