Enough Calculus to Get Started

A brief  introduction for AP Physics C Students

And anyone else who wants an overview of what we do when we “do calculus”

AP Physics C is a calculus-based course.  At my school, calculus is a co-requisite.  It would be good if we could use the language of calculus right from the start.  But most of the students have only seen a little calculus so far (or none at all).  So over the last few years, I have written these blog posts to try to get them off to a running start.  

Also, while it was not my intention, I think these posts would help anyone heading into their first calculus class to get an advance overview of what lies ahead.

Note to my students:  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! Or post them in our Google Classroom (which is already open).

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.

I hope you have a relaxing summer and that you are looking forward to another year of interesting physics.

— Mr. K

POST  TOPIC
1 Hairy Questions Slope and Rate of Change
2 Even Hairier Acceleration
3 Velocity NOW! Instantaneous Rate of Change
4 Slope-Finding Functions What a derivative tells us
5 Derivatives: The Building Blocks Some often-used derivatives
6 Derivatives: Combining Functions Sums, differences, and more
7 Simple Version of the Chain Rule Composition of Functions
8 Making the Best of Things Optimization
9 Exponential Decay – Part 1 1st Order Diff. Eqs.
10Exponential Decay – Part 2  Understanding time constants
11 A Magical Theorem, Part I Anti-derivatives vs. Areas
12  A Magical Theorem, Part II Areas via Anti-derivatives
13Part III: Areas the Hard WayRiemann Rectangles
14Part IV: Areas in Physics“Area” under a graph
15Part V: Adding Up the PiecesApplying the Magic Theorem

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