AP Physics 1: Learning about everything under the sun and beyond

Ramya Subramaniam, Student Life Editor

When students hear the word physics many turn away in horror and avoidance. The end of the honors science path at PVHS stops many in their honors journey before it has even begun.

AP Physics 1, taught by Ian Spangenberg, is an advanced placement class that most students at PV take during their junior year. The way this class teaches students about complicated phenomena that appears in the real world makes it one of the most fun and interesting courses PV has to offer.

The honors science path at the high school begins with Honors Biology, followed by Honors Chemistry and ends with AP Physics 1. If a student opts out of taking Earth Science separately, they have to follow through with all three classes in order to get the full curriculum of earth science, which is distributed among the three courses. This requirement is mandated by the Iowa Department of Education.

Junior Will Fairman is currently taking the AP course and is preparing to take the exam. Before he started the course, he heard many rumors from upperclassmen. “The biggest rumor I heard was that the subject matter was impossible to learn. While the class was the most challenging I’ve ever taken, with hard work, focus and some enjoyment it becomes fun and easier to do well,” Fairman commented.

Physics is difficult in general because of its math based curriculum. The world of physics brings science and math together, and, for many students, it is their first experience with this. While physics is difficult to conceptualize, if a student puts forth the effort to understand why each equation works the way it does, it is definitely possible to have a little bit of fun in the class.

Spangenberg fills his class with fun demonstrations and labs. Students are able to visualize physics in motion. As time goes on though, the students are able to see physics in the world around them.

It goes without saying AP Physics 1 is a difficult course, but the reason students join the honors path is to be challenged. Students take this course at a time when they have either already learned algebra or are currently learning it, equipping them with all the tools needed to learn physics. 

Fairman has taken up the course as a challenge and has found success because of his hard work. “I just studied and asked questions. 8th periods were key for me,” he reflected. “Mr. Spangenberg is one of the greatest teachers I’ve had because of his passion for the subject and his willingness to help students learn. He was always there for me to make sure I learned the topics and did well on exams.”

Senior Aditi Nachnani took the class last year. “AP Physics 1 was not that hard but since it was like any other class that I have studied, it took me a while to get used to the concepts. To get past this difficulty, I would go in during 8th a couple of times before test day to ask questions and review with him,” Nachnani explained. “This helped by grade tremendously.”

Spangenberg is well known for his teaching abilities for the AP Physics 1 and 2 courses. He has an overflowing passion that is contagious to his students. Sometimes students will feel overwhelmed with the information learned in class, but it is worth it for the excitement of learning about the world around them. 

Physics essentially covers everything under the sun and beyond. Students will find answers to questions they never knew they had. Though AP Physics 2 is not a mandatory course, many students find themselves back in Spangenberg’s room for a second year, looking to gain more knowledge about the wide world of physics.

AP Physics 1 is difficult, but many of the students who take the honors path want to go on to college or further education to gain a degree. AP Physics is only a small taste of what college is going to be like. Students have to study outside of class and take their education into their own hands. Spangenberg is very helpful and understanding towards students, but if students do not take action and ask for help, there is nothing the teacher can do for them

Two of the main science tracks are physics and life science. Biology covers life science while chemistry covers both aspects of science.  AP Physics 1 covers the majority of physical science. With the eye-opening experience AP Physics 1 provides, students are able to explore possible career paths for their futures.

AP Physics 1 pushes students to think in new ways and be curious of how the world works. Honors students join the path to get challenged, and AP Physics 1 is the perfect way to round it out.