Subject Details - Stage 1 Physics

SACE StageSACE Stage 1
SACE Credits20 credits
Curriculum AreaScience
Subject Length2 semesters
Contact PersonMs. Felicia Harding
DescriptionPhysics is the study of the laws and forces that govern how objects (from sub-atomic particles to planets in orbit) move individually and in relation to others. Through exploring the processes that shape the universe, physicists debate and advance understanding of its workings and of the ways in which actions may affect the future of the Earth.

The following topics provide the framework for learning in Stage 1 Physics:
 Topic 1: Linear Motion and Forces
 Topic 2: Electric Circuits
 Topic 3: Heat
 Topic 4: Energy and Momentum
 Topic 5: Waves
 Topic 6: Nuclear Models and Radioactivity
TopicsThis subject focuses on the rules by which nature operates. The course takes a conceptual approach, in that it deals with ideas firstly complemented by a mathematical component where possible at this level.

Linear Motion and Forces
In the first part of this topic, students acquire the skills and understanding to describe and explain motion in a variety of formats, including algebraic and graphical representations. They use the equations of motion and various graphical methods to elicit quantitative and qualitative information about moving objects that undergo constant acceleration and hence further build their literacy and numeracy skills. Following the study of motion under constant acceleration, students consolidate their understanding of forces and the effect that forces have on the motion of objects, using
Newton’s Laws of Motion. Throughout this topic the importance of the concepts and laws in explaining physical
phenomena is emphasised and their role in providing a foundation for contemporary applications is also highlighted. Students explore the limitations of the models and ways in which concepts can inform and explain existing, developing, and emerging technologies. Critical thinking and an understanding of linear motion and forces enables students to devise solutions and make reasonable predictions.

Electric Circuits
This topic extends students’ knowledge and understanding of the concepts of circuit electricity. It explores the concept of electric charge and the requirements for electric current and introduces the concepts of potential difference, current, resistance electric power, and efficiency. These concepts are applied to direct current (DC) electric circuit and form the essential understanding for Stage 2, Topic 2: Electricity and Magnetism when discussing the production of magnetic fields and the generation and transmission of electricity.

In this topic, students extend their understanding of the concepts of energy, its transformations, transfer, and conservation by focusing on heat. Students explore the concepts of heat, temperature, thermal energy, and the different methods through which heat is transferred within a system. They study the change of state and the increase in temperature of a substance when heated from both qualitative and quantitative ways, extending their literacy and numeracy skills.

Energy and Momentum
This topic draws on content covered in Stage 1, Topic 1: Linear Motion and Forces and extends the study of motion to include energy and momentum. Conservation laws form the basis of many fundamental principles in physics, and a sound understanding of what these laws mean, and their implications, are essential to understand the physical world. This topic emphasises the law of the conservation of energy and the law of the conservation of momentum.
The concept of Energy is used as a means to explain and predict the behaviours of different objects under different physical conditions. Students should be familiar with energy processes and transformations from previous learning in science. The first subtopic begins by exploring energy, work, and the relationship between the two. Students discuss abstract scientific definitions and how they might be used in the physical world. They consider different forms of energy, with a number of these forms suitable for quantitative analysis. Students also study the rate at which energy is used.

In this topic, students understand how the wave model can be used to describe, explain, and predict the transfer of energy through matter and space. Students investigate a range of mechanical waves, and compare them with light waves. This leads to an understanding of a number of wave-related phenomena, including reflection, refraction, resonance, diffraction, polarisation, dispersion, and interference. Students also learn about the electromagnetic spectrum.

Nuclear Models and Radioactivity
In this topic, students build on their understanding of the basic structure of the nucleus and the uses of radiation to develop an understanding of the concepts involved in the complex structure of the nucleus, stable and unstable nuclei, radioactivity, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. This includes the concepts of nuclear force, nuclear reactions, radioactive decays, and mass-energy equivalence.. They recognise that science is a global endeavour with significant contributions coming from many people.

AssessmentThe following assessment types enable students to demonstrate their learning in Stage 1 Physics :

Assessment Type 1: Investigations Folio
Assessment Type 2: Skills and Applications Tasks.

Students provide evidence of their learning through five assessment pieces, at least one of which involves collaborative work. Students undertake:

• at least one practical investigation for the folio
• at least one SHE investigation for the folio
• at least one skills and applications task

Practical Investigations
In practical investigations, students develop and select investigable questions and measurable hypotheses, collect data using appropriate methods, display and analyse data, and present conclusions appropriate to the initial question or hypothesis. They learn to critically evaluate the outcomes and consider a range of explanations for their observations.

Issues Investigations
In issues investigations, students use information from different sources, which may include data they generate themselves. They develop questions for investigation, collect evidence to inform their investigations and learn to think critically and reflectively when relating their evidence to the issue under investigation.
Relationship To Further StudyStudents contemplating studying Stage 2 Physics will be expected to have satisfactorily passed both semesters of Physics at Stage One level. Physics may be a prerequisite for many Science courses at university including Engineering and students are strongly encouraged to discuss their pathway with a counsellor. Stage 1 Physics is also recommended for some VET courses and trade pathways.
PrerequisitesSatisfactory achievement in both Year 10 Science, Mathematics and an interest in Physics are recommended for students wishing to enrol in Stage 1 Physics. Students will be expected to have passed Semester 1 Physics in order to continue enrolment in Semester 2 and may need re-counselling.
Special ConditionsAccess to a graphics calculator is required.