Editor selections by Topic and Unit

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Conceptual Physics: Digital Collections: Physics and Physical Science Units

ComPADRE is a consortia of related physics and astronomy materials offered by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and supported through the National Science Foundation through an NSDL Pathways Grant. Please browse our collection and its many links or visit the PSRC and the other ComPADRE collections.

Units are not listed in a prescribed order.

  Physics Textbooks (5)

References and Collections:

This online textbook contains explanations, examples, and practice problems for many topics in introductory physics, including Mechanics, Matter, Thermal Physics, Waves & Optics, E&M, and Modern Physics.  It is especially appropriate for new and crossover teachers.

This is a freely downloadable physics textbook exploring mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, special and general relativity. Although conceptual and non-mathematical, the text uses some of the most modern research questions as examples. The three main sections of the book cover classical physics, quantum physics, and unification theories and spacetime.

This web site contains a free textbook for a non-mathematical Conceptual Physics course aimed at high school or beginning college students.   The author adopts a modern approach to understanding physics revolving around the concepts of symmetry and conservation laws.  Specific topics include Conservation of Mass and Energy, Conservation of Momentum, Relativity, Electricity and Fields, The Ray Model of Light, and Waves.

This collection includes a variety of resources for teaching both introductory physics and AP physics at the high school level.  It contains lesson plans, homework assignments, labs, lecture presentations, and classroom demonstrations in an easily navigable format.  Topics include classical mechanics, thermal physics, ray and wave optics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics.  Answers to the homework problems and sample tests are also provided.

free online textbook for algebra-based introductory physics that integrates concepts of modern physics into traditional subject areas. The book was designed especially for novice learners who have limited math proficiency.  Each unit begins with concepts in classical physics, gradually building to topics falling within modern physics. The five units are: 1) Space and Time, 2) Interactions and Forces, 3) Energy, 4) Waves and Particles, and 5) From Electricity to the Nucleus.

Item Type: Digital Textbook
Level: Introductory Physics

  Online Resource Collections (7)

Lesson Plans:

This website offers lesson plans on more than 70 demonstrations for use in introductory physics classrooms.  All demos have been fully tested in the classroom and were selected for inclusion because they are enjoyable, thought- provoking, and require minimal set-up.  Historical anecdotes and commentary add to the depth of this unique resource.


This collection, written by a high school physics teacher, contains detailed lesson plans for more than 50 hands-on labs on the topics of safety, measurement, mechanics, sound and light, and electricity.  Activities include reproducible data record sheets, student work assignments, and short-answer queries.   Labs are also organized into a week-by-week block plan to aid beginning teachers with a context for using each activity.

References and Collections:

This unique resource is a large collection of capsule reviews of material covered in introductory physics. The subjects are organized in flow charts that make it easy to move from one topic to a related one.

The TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) project at MIT merges lecture, cooperative learning, and computer simulations of electromagnetic phenomena.  Designed for teachers of introductory physics, it is the pedagogy currently followed at MIT for freshmen physics students.  Comprehensive course notes accompany the simulations.

This resource is an educator's guide that integrates the Learning Cycle pedagogical model with activities for the high school physical science classroom.  Each activity includes a series of questions with information and tips for the instructor. Topics range from mass and density through Newton's laws and electricity, to heat and light.

This collection offers well-organized sets of java simulations relating to physics for high school classroom use.  The subjects include mechanics, waves, electricity, optics, thermodynamics, relativity, atoms, and nuclear physics.  The simulations are designed to be easily manipulated by high school students.

This NSF-sponsored collection provides instructions for 24 inquiry-based high school physics labs available for free download.  Topics include Mechanics, Waves, E&M, and Optics.  The materials on Atomic Force Microscopy and Resistance of Atomic Wires are among the few web-based resources on nanophysics designed specifically for high school students.

  Curriculum Online (1)

Content Support For Teachers:

Lecture Materials, Problem Sets, Curriculum
Teachers who want to update content knowledge on waves will appreciate these illustrated lecture notes on wave motion and behavior, sound waves, boundary conditions, and the Doppler Effect.  Be sure not to miss the animated spreadsheets in Excel format, which can be customized and used in the classroom.  Also included are sets of printable student problem sets and study guides on wave essentials.

  The Scientific Process (2)

References and Collections:

Textbooks can never really convey the intensely human nature of the scientific enterprise, leaving students with little appreciation for the passion and excitement that often accompany the scientific process. This web site provides teachers and learners with activities designed to help them re-engage with science, as they learn about how to develop a sound hypothesis, collect data, and communicate their findings.

Want to get your students genuinely excited about how science is practiced by real people? The Physics Front editors highly recommend this set of modules for secondary science classrooms. The unit consists of 15 sections, including how to design a good experiment, manipulate variables, recognize bias, collect and interpret data, error/uncertainty, and how to clearly communicate findings.