Course Syllabus

Syllabus: This brief syllabus is supplemented by additional details in the Course Orientation pages. In these pages you can find information on (to quickly navigate back to this information, click on Syllabus in the sidebar):


AP50 is a one-year, calculus-based introduction to physics focusing on the application of physics to real-world problems to teach scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills. The course is designed specifically for engineering and physics majors and is equivalent in content and rigor to a standard calculus-based introductory physics course.

Course content: AP50a (Fall Semester): Kinematics, conservation principles, Newtonian mechanics, rotations, oscillations and waves. AP50b (Spring Semester): Electrostatics, electric current, magnetostatics, electromagnetic induction, electromagnetic radiation, circuits and solid state electronics, and geometric and wave optics.

Prerequisites for AP50a: Physics: None. Prior physics at the high-school or college level not required. Math: Single-variable calculus at the level of Mathematics 1a (OK to take concurrently)

Prerequisites for AP50b: Physics: AP50a or equivalent. Math: Multi-variable calculus at the level of Mathematics 1b (OK to take concurrently)

Materials: All teaching materials, project materials, and platform subscriptions will be provided free of any charge. There are no additional costs associated with this course. 

Lectures: None! Your primary learning happens individually (asynchronously) and with your team, either during section with the instructor and other members of the teaching team, or any other times that work for the team. 

Class sections: Tu/Th 9:00 am ET (section 1) or 1:30 pm ET (section 2), depending on your preference. Each Section lasts a maximum of 75 minutes (once your team is done, you can leave). The rest of this class is asynchronous, at your and your team's convenience. You can switch between the two sections each time new teams are formed. There is no need to adjust your enrollment on my.harvard.

How class sections will be conducted: Apart from work you will do on your own (but still interacting asynchronously with others), you will regularly meet with your team at a time that works for your team; you can choose to meet in person or via Zoom. If needed, a member of the teaching team can join to help during these meetings. For the regular scheduled class activities, you can meet with your team and the TFs and me in the classroom in Pierce Hall 301 near the Science Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, either at 9 am or at 1:30 pm. Or you can meet with us via Zoom, ideally during those same time slots.

No matter how you participate, the experience will be the same, as we carry out all class activities on the same platforms in person and online. On Zoom, your team will meet in its own Zoom room and you will share your work with each other via Zoom. In the classroom your team will be seated at a table and also use Zoom to share work, but of course you won’t need to use a camera or microphone — you can just talk to each other. In both cases, whenever your team is ready to have its work checked by the teaching team (or if you have a question), you will notify us on Slack and one of us will visit your Zoom room or come to your table in person. Note that all project work and the project fairs will be in person, regardless of how you choose to participate in the other class activities. The fairs are scheduled for 6:30–8:30 pm on Thursday October 28  and 10 am –12 pm on Monday December 6.

You don’t need to commit to one format or the other in advance, and you can switch back and forth as you please, provided the entire team agrees to participate at the same time and in the same modality. To facilitate that process, we will ask you for your preferences before we form teams and match you with people who have similar preferences.

Location: Pierce Hall 301, AP50 Zoom Meeting Room (static link), or your team's Zoom Meeting room

Examinations: There are no examinations in AP50. See Assessment.

Enrolling: To register for this course, simply add one of the two sections to your Crimson Cart. Your selection of section (9 am or 1:30 pm) is not binding; you can adjust it during the term and there doesn't need to be an agreement between your registration on my.harvard and your actual participation in the class. There is no cap on enrollment and no lottery.

Continue to the Course Orientation pages.