Enough Calculus to Get Started

An intro for AP Physics C

AP Physics C is a calculus-based course.  At my school, calculus is a co-requisite.  Some of the entering students have already had one quarter of calculus but others will just be starting their first calculus class in September as they start our physics class as well.   I have put together a collection of posts to give everyone an introduction so that we can use calculus from day one.  These posts are their summer reading assignment for AP Physics C.  

AP PHYSICS “Summer Reading”

AP Physics-C is a college-level introduction to Mechanics and E&M (Electricity and Magnetism).  As you will see, many of the ideas of physics are expressed in the language of calculus.  This may sound intimidating but the use of calculus actually makes things easier.  After all, much of calculus was invented for the specific purpose of doing physics.

To help you to a smoother start in physics, I have prepared a series of blog posts that I would like you to read over the summer.  For some of you, most of this will be a review – but definitely not all of it!  But for others, this will all be new. Just take your time, read slowly, and feel free to ask lots of questions — you can save them for September or email me as you think of them!





Hairy Questions

Slope and Rate of Change


Even Hairier



Velocity NOW!

Instantaneous Rate of Change


Slope-Finding Functions

What a derivative formula tells us


Derivatives, Part I: The Building Blocks

Derivatives of common functions


Derivatives, Part II: Combining Functions

Sums, differences, constant product


Simple Version of the Chain Rule

Composition of Functions


Practice Set #1



Making the Best of Things

Using derivatives for optimization


Exponential Decay – Part 1

1st Order Differential Equations


Exponential Decay – Part 2 

Understanding time constants


Practice Set #2

 (Will be emailed to you directly)


A Magical Theorem, Part I

Anti-derivatives vs. Areas


A Magical Theorem, Part II

Areas via Anti-derivatives


 What’s so great about finding area?

Coming soon – I hope 

One other note:  we will be talking a lot about rotational physics this year.  It would be helpful to have a clear understanding of radian measure.  If you feel at all shaky, you should review these two posts:  Angle Measurement for Pizza Crust Lovers and That Radian Feeling.Students who have successfully completed the two practice sets will have an easy time of it on our first test of the year.  And I believe that you will find that the information will also help you in your calculus class.

If you have any questions about any of these posts, please feel free to email me.  I hope you have a relaxing summer and that you are looking forward to another year of interesting physics.

— Mr. K