PhysicsLAB has been redesigned to integrate with the classroom management system LearningXchange. PhysicsLAB's instructional materials are categorized into three course levels within 26 topic areas and the following curriculum groups: Our search engine will allow you to locate curriculum by course, curriculum group, topic, skill, and keyword.
When using the search engine, if you are just generally exploring our available resources, your search should start as general as possible. The more "criteria" you specify, the narrower the results.

To further assist students and teachers with the mathematics needed to work problems within each topic area, a topic search will produce not only a listing of content in PhysicsLAB but also a link to lessons, StudyAids, and practice pages in AlgebraLAB that might be useful in reviewing or reinforcing essential math skills.
An all-inclusive listing of PhysicsLAB's original curriculum can be reached through CurriculumGuide, a companion website to the first edition.

To assist you will locating supporting materials, at the bottom of each page you will find a listing of Related Documents Related Documents. When clicked, this list presents labs, resource lessons, worksheets, and review sheets that share the same topic(s) as the content being studied on the current page.

Directions for Resource Lessons
Over 180 resource lessons are available spanning the content in the 26 topic areas. Within a lesson, the right arrow-button Example signifies that an interactive example follows.

Most examples not only have answers Answer provided, but also include a complete solution Solution. If a textbox follows the question, then you must first supply your own answer prior to being able to view the correct answer.

When a question asks for information that is difficult to enter into a text box, it is not necessary to input an exact answer to be able to check the correct answer. You just need to enter a partial answer in the blank to trigger the answer being posted back to the page.

Interactive examples are critical to the development of each lesson's topic. Therefore it is important that all examples within a lesson be completed as the lesson is being studied. Often information that will make the difference between understanding versus confusion is provided within each answer and solution.

Resource lessons have unrestricted access.
Directions for Worksheets
Over 350 worksheets are available in PhysicsLAB. In addition to worksheets specifically designed to accompany each resource lesson, worksheets from the following compilations are also included: Amusing Problems in Physics, Conceptual Physics Workbooks and NextTime Questions, AAPT exams, and the New York Physics Regents exams.

Beginning in the fall of 2009, a new type of worksheet is being introduced - random number practice problems. Students often need and want additional practice on classic problem types. To address that need, PhysicsLAB has introduced a new application that involves a series of practice problems with randomly generated values. Unfortunately the content of these pages is not searchable. They can be reached through this index and on the sidebar under Practice Problems.

Worksheets come in various degrees of accessibility. Since PhysicsLAB was rewritten to integrate with LearningXchange, participating teachers will be able to make assignments from PhysicsLAB's content in LearningXchange and track their students' submissions. Subsequently, although the questions on all worksheets are always viewable, access to answers is sometimes restricted when a worksheet has the requirement that only those students whose teachers are enrolled in LearningXchange have the ability to make submissions and check their answers.

On a worksheet, the hint button Hint signifies that a hint is available to help the student start the problem.

Worksheet problems come in three varieties:
  • If the question is fill in the blank, the answer Answer is available as soon as the student submits his first answer.
  • If the question is multiple choice, the student must continue answering the question until the correct answer Correct Answer has been selected.
  • If the question is comprised of check boxes, the student must continue answering the question until all of the correct answers Correct Answer have been selected.
As in resource lessons, most problems not only have answers Answer provided, but they also include a complete solution Solution.

Answers can be checked at any point in the student's progress through the exercises. They do not need to wait until the entire set is finished. In fact, the interactivity of the page is specifically designed to instantaneously allow them to know if they are correctly answering each question. As long as the student has supplied an initial answer, "View Correct Answers" may be clicked at any time.

When questions are presented in question groups they either share a common set of directions or a common piece of background information - for example, a graph or diagram. Students should be warned that in the second type of question groups, their ability to complete subsidiary questions often involves knowing the correct answer to previous questions. It is therefore encouraged that they "View Correct Answers" as often as necessary to insure that they are comprehending the material.

When a question asks for information that is difficult to enter into a text box, answering conventions must be agreed upon between the assigning teacher and their students. As far as the programming is concerned, it is not necessary to input an exact answer to be able to view the answer. You just need to enter a partial answer in the blank to trigger the answer being posted back to the page.

Interactive examples are critical to the mastery of each worksheet. Therefore it is important that all examples within an assignment be completed. Often information that will make the difference between understanding versus confusion is provided within each answer and solution.
A Message "To the Teacher"


Whenever I go to choose a new textbook, I look for completeness and depth of content. Realistically, we all know that no one can cover an entire textbook in one academic year. However, I look for a text in which the topics I do want to cover have explanations, developmental exercises and sufficient practice problems. It is along these lines that I have developed PhysicsLAB. The philosophy of PhysicsLAB is to provide you with content from which you can choose those activities that will best suit your program's needs. Content that, while being flexible and easy to access, contains instructional lessons, labs, developmental and conceptual exercises as well as worksheets that will allow your students to become accountable for their own learning.

While at Mainland, physics was considered to be a Junior/Senior course, although more and more Sophomores joined the program since Mainland started its Academy of Scientific Inquiry and Academy of Robotics and Simulation. After retiring from public school, I am now teaching three periods at Father Lopez Catholic High School, my recommendations are that students who have a C average or better in Algebra I and Geometry and are concurrently enrolled in Algbera II should enroll in Physics I Honors and those who have an A/B average in Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry, as well a concurrent enrollment in a Trig-based math class, take AP Physics 1. Students who have completed AP Physics 1 can then take AP Physics 2 the next year. AP Physics C (Mechanics and/or Electromagnetism) should only be taken by students who have passed Calculus I. At Father Lopez my courses are year-long classes, meeting for 50 minutes, 3 days a week, and 80 minutes on the 4th day. In general, my classes complete an average of one lab every week and have three major exams each semester along with a cumulative final. You can follow my progress through any of this year's courses by going to LearningXchange and clicking on the period of your choice and viewing its daily schedule, calendar, or syllabus.

The web-based delivery of PhysicsLAB's curriculum readily allows students to set their own pace as they take the time required to complete each activity. Well over 90% of the activities have some type of interactivity: pages that supply correct answers when students input their own initial answer, that provide help windows and hints, that have physlets, animated gifs, or flash animations, that have clear, diagrams and solutions. The student now has a personal repository of resources he can reference to either learn a new physics concept or to review for tests or national exams. Your job now is to facilitate his learning, to envision the course's content, its implementation timeline and to teach your students from a wide assortment of types of content. These include resource lessons, mathematical worksheets, labs, Conceptual Workbook pages and NextTime Questions. In addition, there are online, interactive, tests from AAPT, the New York State's Regents Physics exams, the Massachusetts Introductory Physics Exams, as well as the clever situations found in the Amusing Problems. For AP teachers, the search engine provides a keyword search of past AP free-response questions. The questions themselves can only be accessed on-campus by Father Lopez students enrolled in my courses, although AP teachers can obtain copies by attending an sanctioned AP Institute.

To assist you in finding materials in PhysicsLAB's first edition, the CurriculumGuide site was developed. Through its pages, you can locate curriculum either by a Unit of Instruction or by Content Type. In addition to a comprehensive listing of PhysicsLAB's original curriculum, each unit of instruction was correlated to (1) content standards from the Florida Sunshine State Standards, Volusia County Science Standards, and the Advanced Placement Acorn Guide for Physics-B, and (2) textbook alignments for Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics (3rd High School edition; 8th College edition), Principles and Problems (1995 edition) and Giancoli’s Physics: Principles with Applications (6th edition).

The units of instruction are presented in the classic order: mechanics, optics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and modern. I actually teach them in a totally different sequence. With the advent of AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, I begin my first year's course with an overview of the metric system and the concept of "What is Mass," followed by gravitation, kinematics in 1-dimension integrated with dynamics as well as work-energy ad momemtum. I do not see the need to not introduce other properties of force and motion simulatneously. Then I reemphasize projectile motion in 2-dimensions. Followed by a thorough study of kinematics graphs for uniformly accelerated motion incorporating, once again, the principles of dynamics, energy, and momentum. Then we look at states of equilibrium vs accelerated motion with systems of bodies, frictional forces, and inclined planes. uniform circular motion and vertical circular motion satellite motion until later. Rotational motion is not covered in the Honors Course but I do include springs and SHM motion leading to waves and vibration. My second year course is spent on sound and geometric opticse, physical optics, electromagnetism: electrostatics, DC circuits, magnetism and induction followed by atomic, nuclear, and modern. PhysicsLAB supports both mathematical and conceptual programs throughout all of these units of instruction. PhysicsLAB's curriculum complements any general high school physics text or recommended Advanced Placement Physics 1, 2, and C-level texts.

Upon completion of the curriculum in PhysicsLAB, students are qualified to take additional physics courses beyond the introductory high school, college (AP) level. Students will also master skills for completing on-line courses. Many of my former students have returned from college with statements about how comfortable they are with taking online courses at their universities because of the skills and confidence they gained from completing my online curriculum while in high school. This confidence is especially important since more and more courses are going online as the ratio of students to teachers grows throughout every level of education. Moreover, if you choose to implement PhysicsLAB in your curriculum, the online resources facilitate student learning while the physical classroom, with a teacher present, students learn how to cooperatively complete assignments and laboratory experimentation as they interact with earning partners. All in all, the students walk away richer from the experience. Students have told me that their computer skills have increased dramatically as a result of using the online tools in PhysicsLAB: forms, spreadsheets, word-processing. To investiage some of their reactions during the first 5-years of PhysicsLAB's inception as part of the evaluation of Mainland's US DOE Technology Challenge Grant please take a moment to look over the student surveys that were administered and analyzed between 1998 and 2002.

In order to use PhysicsLAB there are no special technical requirements beyond having a computer with Internet access and a web browser with the exception that many of the JAVA physlets will need security settings adjustments to allow their operation.

Usage and Copyright

Catharine H. Colwell retains full ownership rights on PhysicsLAB including, but not necessarily limited to, all text passages, images, animations, and videos unless otherwise credited to other sites.

You are allowed to link to any part of this site as long as the ownership and authorship of this site and its contents are credited to Catharine H. Colwell.

You may not download this site for presentation as your own material, nor may you mirror or frame this site or hotlink its content in any manner. No PhysicsLAB resource lessons, worksheets, drill and practice pages, labs, videos, animations, or images may be installed on any server other than that contracted by Catharine H. Colwell without express prior written permission.

Catharine H. Colwell retains all rights to derivative works, whether in English or in any other language, and to any profits to be derived from this or its derivative works.

* The following special resources have been included with either the permission of the author or publisher: CP Workbook pages, NextTime Questions, Amusing Problems, physlets, Direct Measurement Videos, NY Regents Exams, MCAS Introductory Physics Exams, and AAPT tests.
Copyright © 1997-2017
Catharine H. Colwell
All rights reserved.
Application Programmer
    Mark Acton
Copyright © 2003-2017
All rights reserved.
Application Programmers
    Mark Acton
    Jeremy R. Blawn
Project Director
    Catharine H. Colwell

Copyright © 2003-2017
All rights reserved.
Application Programmer
    Jeremy R. Blawn
Project Director
    Catharine H. Colwell
USDOE Challenge Grant
Copyright © 1997-2003
All rights reserved.
Project Director
    Marshall Ransom