In Grade 12, students are offered a unique opportunity: AP Physics C. The content covered in this course is usually only taught in university. This course is open to the entire school, but is composed largely of TOPS students.
Many TOPS students consider university study in the physical sciences or engineering fields. AP Physics C, as it is taught in the TOPS program, allows a student the opportunity for advanced preparation through the curriculum and student-designed experiments. AP Physics C is the natural extension of the grade 11 TOPS Physics class taught the previous spring. This introductory class covers some of the simpler AP concepts permitting greater enrichment in the AP course.
This course is dense with calculus and even extends the calculus learned the previous year. Here, it and other mathematical concepts are used to solve problems and generate models of physical processes. The student of AP Physics C can expect to use 1st and 2nd differential equations, matrix algebra, and complex numbers, and write computer programs related to simulation and device management.
Furthermore, the teacher, Prime Minister Award-winning Mr. van Bemmel, includes an introduction to celestial mechanics, space science (emphasis on program management) and astrophysics (stellar processes, variables stars and cosmology). Students get to make scale models of 3D comet orbits, analyze variable stars, and personally assess how they might act when competing agendas press on decisions in the management of a program.
In order to obtain the required hours for an AP course, labs are held daily after school where students in groups of 4 or 5 perform five experiments throughout the year. These study complex subject areas such as fluid dynamics, semiconductors, black-body radiation, and electric fields around a solenoid. They also require extensive student design, error management, and analysis culminating in the production of a professional-style paper.