SEA Physics

Overview

SEA Physics is the first-year science course for students in the Space and Engineering Academy. Physics is a foundational science course for studies in space science and engineering. Physics is the study of energy and the interactions between matter and energy. Physics is about asking fundamental questions about the world around us, and trying to answer them by observing and experimenting. SEA Physics gives students a good foundation in Physics with related Earth Science phenomena. Engineering practices are integrated through team design projects, one for each unit of study. The application of physics to space science is also a theme. SEA Physics also provides students with skills and content necessary for additional study in science and engineering. The following topics will be covered: motion, laws of motion, mechanical energy, momentum, gravity and motion in space, fluids, waves, light and optics, electricity and magnetism, nuclear energy, and electric power. This course meets all California State Science Standards for Physics and Engineering Design, and many California State Science Standards for Earth and Space Sciences. This is one of three science courses that are required for high school graduation. SEA Physics also meets UC and CSU admission requirements for lab science. For more information, see the Course Syllabus.

Projects

SEA Physics emphasizes the applications of physics through special team projects that accompany each unit. They are competitions between teams to see who can design the best projects. We keep an SEA Physics Hall of Fame showing the top all-time teams for each project.

WebAssign

WebAssign is an online assignment delivery service that students use in SEA Physics for all of their homework, labs, and in-class problem sets. Students get their assignments, submit them, and have the immediately graded on WebAssign. They also have on-demand access to their current grades on WebAssign.

Units

Unit 1: Science and Engineering In this unit students learn the basic scientific skills they will need throughout the course, such as measurement, graphing, and the scientific method. The unit's project is a homemade mechanical timer contest, which is an application of the Scientific Method – coming up with ideas, experimenting and testing. The timer must be homemade, it must be mechanical (no electricity or electronics), and it needs to have a specific period of motion given to the team at the start of the project.
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Contest Scores

Timer Photos

Unit 2: Describing Motion In this unit students learn how to describe and measure linear motion and projectile motion, in terms of distance, speed, velocity, and acceleration. The unit's project is a catapult, which is an application of projectile motion. Students build a catapult that can throw a tennis ball 15 meters away and hit a 1-meter target.
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Catapult Photos

Unit 3: Laws of Motion In this unit students learn how to explain why objects move the way they do, using an understanding of forces and Newton's three Laws of Motion. The unit's project is a wooden tower, which is an application of combining forces. Students build a wood tower that meets specific dimension requirements and can support the most downward force without failing.
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Tower Photos

Unit 4: Mechanical Energy In this unit students learn how to describe motion in terms of forms of energy - kinetic energy (energy of motion) and potential energy (energy of position). They also learn how to explain motion using the Law of Conservation of Energy. The unit's project is a mousetrap-powered car, which is an application of energy transfer in simple machines. Students build a toy car which can travel the farthest and fastest while propelled only by a single standard mousetrap.
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Mousetrap Car Photos

Unit 5: Momentum In this unit students learn how to describe motion in terms of momentum and the changes in momentum that objects experience due to forces acting on them., They also learn how to explain motion using the Law of Conservation of Momentum. The unit's project is a Mars landing craft, which is an application of impact forces. The craft is a container that can hold two eggs and protect them from breaking when dropped a distance of 2 meters onto concrete. The container must also be as lightweight as possible.
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Mars Lander Photos

Unit 6: Motion in Space In this unit students extend the principles they have learned for linear motion to describe and explain circular motion. They also learn how to explain gravity using the Law of Universal Gravitation, and they apply these concepts to explain the motions of planets, satellites and other objects in space. The unit's project is a water bottle rocket, which is an application of center of gravity and stability. The rocket is made from a 2-liter bottle that is propelled by water and air pressure. The rocket must go as high as possible, and stay in the air as long as possible.
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Bottle Rocket Photos

Unit 7: Waves In this unit students learn about waves, a common form of energy transfer. They use wave concepts to explain sound, music, and earthquakes. The unit's project is a homemade musical instrument, which is an application of how sound is produced. Students must make a homemade mechanical device that can play an 8-note scale and also play a recognizable tune.
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Musical Instrument Videos
Unit 8: Light and Optics In this unit students learn about light energy - what it is, how it interacts with ma,, and the uses of light energy in our everyday lives (mirrors and lenses). The unit's project is a photo contest, which is an application of optics. Students make the best photo of a homemade U.F.O., a photo of an optical illusion that uses a property of light, and a "What Is It?" photo.
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Illusion Photos

UFO Photos

"What Is It?" Photos

Unit 9: Electricity and Magnetism In this unit students learn about electric energy and magnetic energy, and their use in electric circuits and devices. The unit's project is a magnet car, which is an application of electric circuits and electromagnets. The car is propelled by a DC electric motor and carries a homemade DC electromagnet that can pick up paper clips off of the floor. The goal is to pick up as many paper clips as possible while traveling a 5-meter distance as fast as possible.
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Magnet Car Photos

Unit 10: Nuclear Energy In this unit students learn about nuclear energy, radiation, fission, and fusion. The unit's project is a Star Wars Project, which is not directly related to nuclear energy, but instead is an application of concepts studied throughout the year. Students design and build a wind turbine that can generate the most electric energy in a short period of time when held in a wind stream.
Contest Rules

Contest Scores

Wind Turbine Photos