Just started Year 11 Physics with Module 1: Kinematics and have no idea what’s going on?
Don’t freak out! We’ll give you an overview of the module, assessment patterns, PLUS How to prepare, use class time and knock this module out of the park towards your Band 6.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!
What is Year 11 Physics Module 1: Kinematics about?
Theoretically, kinematics is the mathematical description of observed motion (without dynamics, the analysis of underlying forces, inertia and energy, which is covered in Module 2).
But what can you expect in this module?
Firstly, discussions of force, energy and inertia are relegated to the second module – Dynamics. In Kinematics, we’re just focussing on motion. This also involves more vectors and more maths than the mechanics module.
Secondly, vector and qualitative descriptions of motion under constant acceleration are in! Previously, the syllabus only covered average velocities, and now it covers velocities at any moment under acceleration.
This is extended to the mathematical description of falling objects (lifted from the old year 12 projectile motion unit). Teachers tended, smartly, to introduce students to this in year 11 anyway, so there shouldn’t be anything too new.
Lastly, “Describe the motion of one body relative to another” has become “Analyse the relative motion of objects in two dimensions in a variety of situations” (with vectors). This is great news as a proper treatment of the vectors and maths of physics gives a stronger foundation for Year 12 and university-level physics and maths!
How do I get a Band 6 in Year 11 Physics: Kinematics?
Here’s a breakdown of the knowledge and understanding this module targets for mastery.
The two main things you need to be able to do are use vectors and maths to analyse 2D motion under uniform acceleration and analyse graphed data collected by experimentation and reflect on the experimental processes.
Step 1: Understand Velocity and Displacement
The name of the game in this module is to become expert at describing the velocities and displacements that result from a force (with math and vectors).
We don’t care so much about understanding the forces causing all this motion yet (the why of the acceleration); just at getting good at physics descriptive power of observations. Get your hands on as many practice questions as you can.
This is a new skill; vectors are a new language. You want to consume as much graphs, simulations and practice questions as you can.
Seek them out everywhere, break through the confines of your class textbook and be hungry to locate as many vector motion questions as you can scope out (every introductory physics course textbook around the world includes this topic). It’s like learning to ride a bike – you do it until it sticks.
Part of the challenge of Physics that lingers from the outset (until things click–in later) is the shift to a new mode of thinking about, and tackling, problems. Embrace this and consume as much as you can.
There are two topic areas you need to be able to understand:
Topic 1: Motion in a Straight Line
Inquiry Question: How is the motion of an object moving in a straight line described and predicted?
This seems pretty straight-forward in theory. How complicated could movement in a straight line be? Maybe not complicated, but there are a lot of factors in play here.
You need to be able to describe straight line and uniformly accelerated motion qualitatively and quantitatively using scalars and vectors. You’ll also need to be able to use vector analysis to calculate the relative velocity of two objects moving along the same line.
You need to be able to analyse instantaneous and average velocity from experiments. This can be experiments that you conduct first-hand, or experiments you observe (more about how to do that a little later in the article).
You need to understand and be able to calculate (in a variety of situations) time, distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration.
And finally, you need to analyse and derive relationships between the dimensions of movement in a straight line.
Topic 2: Motion in a Plane
Inquiry Question: How is the motion of an object that changes its direction of movement on a plane described?
Here’s where it gets a little bit more complicated. It’s important that you have a really strong understanding of Topic 1: Motion in a Straight Line as this content will become the foundation for Topic 2.
In Topic 2, you will need to be able to analyse vectors in one and two dimensions and resolve a vector into two perpendicular components and add two perpendicular components to obtain a single vector.
Using vector addition and resolution of component vectors, you will represent the distance and displacement of objects in a horizontal plane.
Use algebra, graphs and vector diagrams to describe and analyse the way in which the motion of an object changes with respect to velocity and displacement. You also need to use vector analysis to describe and analyse the relative positions and motions of one object relative to another object on a plane.
Finally, you need to analyse the relative motion of objects in two dimensions in a variety of real-world situations. These situations could be a boat on a flowing river relative to the river bank, two moving cars or an aeroplane in a crosswind relative to the ground.
Step 2: Become a Graph Master
This is a seriously important skill for Kinematics. There are many applets online that can generate kinematics graphs for you.
Now that you’ve checked out those awesome resources, it’s time to use them!
Step 1: Use the displacement graph to generate your own pen-and-paper velocity and acceleration graphs, which you can then easily check using the graphs on the site.
Step 2: Apply the uniform acceleration equations to predict the velocity at later times and see how it compares to your pen-paper graphs (using facts like that displacement is the area under the velocity graph on the same time interval).
Step 3: Using the acceleration setting in the applet, generate “perfect” velocity and displacement graphs in excel using the uniform acceleration equations from the syllabus as your excel functions. Compare these to your pen-paper graphs!
Step 3: Learn to Love Experiments
Here’s our #1 tip: be super serious and committed to doing your own experiments.
You can easily create your own primary data at home to practice for the specific investigations at school (and practice the art of experimenting in general, as it keeps cropping up for the next 2 years!)
Step 1: Use a tape measure up against a wall and a phone (that can replay time-stamped videos in slow-mo) to self-generate pen-n-paper displacement-time graphs of a free-fall object.
Step 2: Analyse your displacement-time graph yourself to generate pen-n-paper velocity and acceleration graphs.
Step 3: Use the SUVAT equations to find predicted velocities at specific times and compare the numbers to graph read-offs at the same instances
You can also repeat the kinematics experiment using recordings of other people doing it on YouTube – for example:
Check out each of the following two videos…
Step 4: Then, tabulate time and displacement data by pausing the slow-mo videos.
Step 5: Pen-n-paper graph the data and then graph it in excel.
Step 6: Use the SUVAT equations as excel functions to overlay the perfect theoretically predicted relationships.
One skill NESA is looking for is data evaluation in light of theory (summed up by the equations). You want to get practiced at giving physics reasons that would produce deviations of the same size and direction observed!
So it’s important to research the physics reasons that the theory (equations) are not exactly modelling reality.
How to Prepare for Year 11 Physics Module 1: Kinematics
Step 1: Gather your resources
Get textbook suggestions from your teacher and locate them (ones with worked solutions are better). Grab future class worksheets off your teacher and use the web to guide you on how to do them. Your weak spots will be covered in class while everyone else is learning how to do them for the first time!
Crunch through as many questions as it takes to feel confident (present challenging ones to your tutor and teacher).
Step 2: Start working ahead
You don’t have to wait until class; there’s a trove of teaching on how to nail this topic all over the web – including YouTube videos from other teachers and science educators.
Pre-learn the topic: Stay at least a week ahead of your class teacher. Enter those lessons with clear questions already formulated in your mind waiting to be answered. Treat your class-time as revision of your pre-learning.
Then when you actually do revision at school, it’s actually a third pass through the same content!
To help you work ahead, here’s our number one Year 11 Physics study tip:
Use the syllabus inquiry questions to create your own study questions!
Because this module is so new there aren’t a whole lots of questions or resources out there for practice and revision. So make sure you grab a copy of the Year 11 Physics syllabus here, and take a look at your inquiry questions and syllabus dot-points.
We’ve outlined most of them in the article above, so here’s an example to get you started:
For Topic 2 of Kinematics, Motion in a Plane, the inquiry question is: “How is the motion of an object that changes its direction of movement on a plane described?”
Now that’s pretty broad, but you can apply this question to a particular situation or example and use it to practice during your revision.
Step 3: Use class time well
Learn how to master note-taking!
Re-read your notes you took in class. Re-write them as if you had to explain the same concept to a much younger person with no physics training. Re-write them without physics-specific, or complicated vocabulary.
If there’s anything you can’t re-phrase in to simple language highlight it – you’ve just ID’d a concept that has some holes you need to plug.
To Become a Band 6 Year 11 Physics Kinematics Student:
Locate as many practice questions on vectors and equations as you can. Use the web and Youtube to guide you. Stay a week ahead of your class and use class-time as a revision session with a teacher.
Perform experiments yourself to obtain primary data and use others’ secondary data to generate a pen-paper graph of your own. Generate the other graphs from the first. Transfer over to excel and overlay graphs of the SUVAT equations. Practice comparing the theoretical and experimental and accounting for deviations using physics reasons.
Use your notes as a device to identify knowledge-gaps.
Check out the other module breakdowns we’ve created for Year 11 Physics below:
- Guide to Year 11 Physics Module 2: Dynamics
- The Ultimate Guide to Year 11 Physics Module 3: Waves and Thermodynamics
- The Guide to Year 11 Physics Module 4: Electricity and Magnetism
Are you looking for some extra help with Kinematics?
We pride ourselves on our inspirational Year 11 Physics coaches and mentors!
We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at one of our state of the art campuses in Hornsby or the Hills!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!
Adrian Wendeborn is a qualified science and maths teacher with a physics/chemistry double-major degree from USYD and a GDipEd from UQ. Adrian has taught in QLD and NSW and has worked with Art of Smart Education as a campus teacher, tutor, resource developer and Head of Faculty.