AP Physics C (Mech and/or E&M) Full Year or Single Semester


Online for the 2023-2024 School Year

Teacher: Jeff Lanctot

Email: jlanctot@chicagobooth.edu

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The following course information is for both, the Physics C: Mechanics course, as well as the Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism course.  These are calculus based physics courses each culminating with 1.5 hour Collegeboard AP Exams in early May.  Based upon the AP curriculum, Physics C is two courses: Physics C Mechanics and Physics C Electricity and Magnetism.  The Mechanics course offered here can be taken as an academic year-long course OR as a one (1) semester course that permits students to enroll in the Physics C Electricity and Magnetism in the spring semester. 

Class Tuition Fee (register for only one of the following):

  • For Physics C: Mechanics:  EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: $675.  After June 30, $725.
  • For Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism: (Spring semester only):  $395.

The year-long Mechanics course begins the week of Labor Day (approximately the 1st week in September) and concludes with the 1.5 hour AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam in May while the 1 semester Mechanics course begins the last week in August and concludes with a Final Exam at the end of December. The Electricity and Magnetism course begins the first week of January and concludes with the 1.5 hour AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exam in early May.

Mid-year course change:  While not required, it is envisioned that any student that enrolls in the fall semester Mechanics course will be planning to enroll in the spring semester Electricity and Magnetism course.  However, if the student finds the 1 semester Mechanics course to be too intensive, the student can switch into the year-long class Mechanics course any time before November 15 or after completion of the 1st semester at no cost.  At that time, students will continue with the Mechanics material in more of a review and reinforce mode of learning to better master the mechanics material and prepare the student to take the Mechanics AP Exam in May.


  • A free pdf version of the entire book covering both courses will be available at the beginning of the course.
  • If you prefer a hardcover version of the book, for Physics C: Mechanics:  Physics for Scientists and Engineers (Vol 1), 4th edition by Giancoli, ISBN# 9780132273589 covers just the Mechanics course.  This book lists for about $100, but other versions of this book, such as used copies, an e-book version, or the international paperback* version, may be significantly less expensive. If planning to take the E&M course, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 4th edition by Giancoli, ISBN# 9780132275590 or 9780131495081 covers both the Mechanics course as well as the E&M course.  Whichever version you choose, it must be the 4th edition.
  • For Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism:  Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 4th edition by Giancoli, ISBN# 9780132275590 or 9780131495081 covers both the Mechanics course as well as the E&M course.  This book lists for over $200, but other versions of this book, such as used copies, the e-book version, or the international paperback* version, are significantly less expensive. Whichever version you choose, it must be the 4th edition.

*  Note: the international edition is identical to the full hardcopy version except for page numbers.  I will provide a complete page number conversion table at the beginning of the course for anyone who purchases the IE version.

Lab Materials: A lab kit containing all the material required for the course will be available at the beginning of the course.

  • For Physics C: Mechanics OR Electricity and Magnetism:  $110 (free shipping within the USA).
  • For Physics C: Mechanics AND Electricity and Magnetism: $175 (free shipping within the USA).

Tech needs: High speed Internet access, email, graphing calculator, and (very importantly) a scanner to submit multiple handwritten pages as a single PDF file.

Who Should Apply: Both courses are open to students in 10th through 12 grades.  Physics C is calculus-based physics designed for students interesting in majoring in engineering or physics in college.  Perspective students of this course should review their targeted college or university websites for specific expectations.

The one (1) semester Mechanics course is a fast paced, intensely rigorous course in university level physics, while the year-long Mechanics course is just as rigorous but has a slower pace.  Math is a significant component of both the Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism courses, so students must have completed Algebra 2 with a thorough understanding of and confidence with algebraic (equation) manipulation and trigonometry through radian measure and periodic functions and must have completed or must be concurrently enrolled in a calculus course (not necessarily AP calculus).  Mastery of these mathematical prerequisites is essential in allowing students to focus on necessary physics concepts.

Should Students take Physics 1&2 before Physics C?: Of course having some physics experience is valuable for being successful in Physics C, but it is by no means necessary.  On the other hand, taking 1 (or 2) years to complete Physics 1 & 2 (these courses were designed by CollegeBoard to each be year-long courses, each having a 3 hour AP Exam), and then another 1 (or 2) years to complete Physics C (the Physics C Mech, Elec & Mag course is an intensive course where both Physics C courses are completed in 1 year), is an exorbitant amount of physics for any student. To put it simply, CollegeBoard (under the guidance of colleges and universities) want students to take either Physics 1&2 or Physics C depending on their long term interest in college (general studies versus engineering/physics), and if a student goes the Physics C route, they recommend (but it is not necessary) completing a high school level physics course beforehand. Most of my students in the past have not had any physics background.

Course Descriptions:

Physics C: Mechanics covers all of the topics of Newtonian mechanics, including kinematics (vector motion in one and two dimensions), Newton’s laws of motion (linear and circular motion), work, energy and power, linear momentum, oscillations, and gravitation.  This course ordinarily forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering.  Calculus is used wherever appropriate in formulating physical principles and in applying them to physical problems. Consequently, students should be simultaneously enrolled in calculus (either AP Calculus or Calculus).  Use of calculus in problem solving and in derivations is expected to increase as the course progresses.  In addition, laboratory investigations that explore these physics concepts are an important part of this course in order to build understanding and critical thinking skills.

Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism course: This course is only available to students who have taken the fall semester Mechanics course - no exceptions. This course covers electrostatics, electric circuits, magnetic fields, and electromagnetism.  In addition, it will provide continuous review of the Mechanics material covered in the fall semester so that students can reinforce their knowledge of Mechanics and remain prepared for the Mechanics AP Exam in May. When taken together with the Mechanics course, these two courses are equivalent to a full year of calculus based physics at a major college or university.

Both courses have a significant laboratory requirement, underscoring the reality that experimentation is the source of all accepted scientific knowledge in Physics.  Laboratories are important to not only help students understand the topics being considered, but also to expose the student to the non-idealized situations of “real” life.  Lab experiments will allow you to compare results with idealized or expected outcomes and creatively interpret and present your results.

Students are expected to spend 8-10 hours weekly in the year-long Mechanics class, and 10-12 hours weekly in the one-semester class.  This will include reading, completing practice problems and laboratory investigations, simulated AP multiple choice questions, and free response problems.

While there are no required live components in these classes (i.e., there are no required weekly “chats” or live lessons), students utilize the online discussion boards to interact with classmates and me, to post any questions they have from the reading material and homework assignments, and to answer classmate’s questions.  The class operates asynchronously and I am always available via email and for live chats on an as-needed basis.  Live weekly Office Hours for clarification and extra help are available, but I have found that the vast majority of students find the structure of the course to be extremely effective for mastering the material and rarely require live communications.

For additional information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

How to register:  Assuming you have met the Algebra II and (concurrent) Calculus prerequisite and will be in 10th, 11th or 12th grade, simply click on the link below, download the MSWord document to fill out and submit via email.  I will review the application and get back to you within a few days.  If accepted, you may register and pay the course tuition through the PAHS Online Store.


Instructor Qualifications: I have a B.S. and an M.S. in Engineering from the University of Massachusetts and Cornell University, respectively as well as an MBA from the University of Chicago.  Starting my engineering career at Bell Laboratories, I helped develop voice and data communication systems, including fiber optic systems, cell phone technology and satellite systems for numerous companies including Alcatel, Motorola, and Verizon, and optical components at Corning Incorporated.  I retired from teaching high school physics and mathematics on Cape Cod in June 2022.  In 2017, I was given the Partners in Excellence Award as one of the top AP teachers in the State of Massachusetts. The 2023-24 academic year will be my 14th year teaching AP Physics and 12th year teaching AP Calculus with PAHomeschoolers.  My wife, Mary, and I homeschooled our three children through high school.

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