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June 25, 2019, 07:31:56 pm

Author Topic: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4  (Read 39661 times)  Share 

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pi

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[Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« on: January 04, 2013, 04:11:52 pm »
+52
This is an honest review of VCE Physics Units 3 and 4, with my trademark minimal bias and high accuracy.

Succinctly the subject and its contents can be summarised by this gif:


There are a number of reasons I chose that gif, and I don't think there's any need to go into all of them. So I'll go over the main issues.

The false lure...
If you asked a normal non-VCE-keen yr10 what they expected physics to be about, they would include: explosions, fire, calculus, black holes, and the list of exciting features goes on, culminating in what many would expect to be an exciting and challenging subject to get a 40+ raw in.

What they get in reality: 300kg cyclists, significant figures, counting squares, electric circuits that don't work all the time, a textbook with a skateboard on the front cover, and the list of disappointments goes on, culminating in what in reality is a dull and disappointing curriculum.

The fabled cheat cheat
This course is the only one in the VCE curriculum that has a cheat sheet. Now many would say in outrage: "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOUND REFERENCES AND STUFF, AREN'T THEY, LIKE, CHEAT SHEETS BUT BIGGER?", to which I would answer "no". This is because VCE Physics has a *lot* of theory compared to the VCE maths subjects and Further "Maths". Having said that, it has a *lot* less theory than Bio or Psych, and arguably Chem too.

Hence, the question needs to be asked: "Is there a need for a cheat sheet?". Again, my answer would be "no".

Not only does the cheat sheet make it very easy to hit a good study score (just dump all the theory, formulas, pics, examples on it with size 1.5 font and done!) but it also adds to the disappointment of the subject. I mean, what's the point learning so much theory when it's going to be chucked on a cheat sheet and copied off it word-for-word anyway if it comes on the exam?

An argument put forward against this might be: "the questions the majority of the cohort struggle with are conceptual, rather than calculator-based". Sure, I can't deny that and looking at the assessor's reports will tell you that's true. What does that mean? The majority of students aren't being taught how to make good cheat sheets with model answers. It's that simple.

Sure, if you're aiming to be in the top 2% of the state, having *some* understanding of what's going on is important to get those conceptual marks, but let's be honest, at least 90% of the state aren't aiming for 45+ raw, so that's not really an excuse to have the cheat sheet.

If VCAA wanted to give the subject some respect, they'd remove the cheat sheet. But clearly, they also think the subject is a bit of a joke.

Physics has loads of maths... Right..? >.>
Nope.

The only maths VCE physics has are:
- Rearranging formulas (which can all be pre-done on your cheat sheet)
- Converting units (which can all be pre-done on your cheat sheet)
- Counting squares
- Plugging numbers into formulas (aided by scientific calc)

Wikipedia says:
Quote
Mathematics is the language used for compact description of the order in nature, especially the laws of physics. This was noted and advocated by Pythagoras, Plato, Galileo, and Newton.

I wonder if those big names would be impressed to see what the highest level of physics VCAA has to offer in terms of maths.

But alas, the comment might come up: "VCE Physics is designed to ensure one does not need to take Methods or Spesh in order to go through the content". Sure, but then don't call it Physics. Physics has maths, do it properly or not at all imo.

So again, VCAA provides another disappointment. A distinct lack of maths.

Units 1 and 2 will surely be helpful for Units 3 and 4, that's the way VCE works right?
That's the way most subjects work, but again, VCE Physics fails here too.

Essentially everything your do in Units 1&2 that is relevant you do in Units 3&4 is covered again, and in largely the same pace too (much like Methods, but with no maths).

Some might argue that the role was to provide a "broad overview of all areas of physics". But in reality, does it actually do that? Most of the chapters are covered in next to no depth (in comparison to the supplementary material in Unit 1&2 Bio for example). How is a student supposed to get that broad grasp when they don't even know what they're doing half the time.

The "flow" between units is very poor in this regard.

The "plug and play" nature of the subject
To get a 40+ in this subject is simple, you need 1) a good cheat sheet 2) be handy with a calculator. That's it.

Calculation questions are usually very straightforward, with the majority of marks being lost on 1) units 2) plugging things in wrong. Now, again, some might say: "But isn't VCE Maths similar, careless errors blah blah blah?". Well, yes it is similar, but VCE Maths is far form plug-and-play. There is a lot of application of concepts, not just subbing things into V=IR or v=u+at to get an answer.

What's more, is that from most accounts, physics in uni is completely different. Good one VCE Physics!

The textbooks are huge, surely they're good quality?
Again, the subject disappoints.

The Heinemann text is a good 600-odd pages, and in all honesty, is best used as a paper-weight or a door-stopper. The texts did not at all prepare you for the exams, not in terms of questions or theory.

In the chance that your teacher wasn't great and you didn't have access to any help, you'd be in a fair bit of trouble with just the textbooks.



So there we go, some very unbiased points regarding the subject that is "VCE Physics".

If I were to provide an overall rating, I'd probably have to give it a lowly 0/5 for reasons that are aforementioned.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 05:39:05 pm by pi »

HighLatency

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 04:13:30 pm »
+5
tl;dr: VCE Physics sucks.

Hancock

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2013, 04:14:16 pm »
+8
It looks like I'm the only one who enjoyed VCE Physics: maybe it was because of the beast teacher...
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 04:32:37 pm »
0
I never did units 3&4 physics, but I did units 1&2 and I HATED it. Part of the reason was the subject, how it had so many formulas yet not enough real maths and no calculus. The other part was the laziness of the teacher, but that is different in all schools, so I can't really use that against VCE physics.

I love astrophysics, astronomy and calculus, but there was hardly any of that in VCE physics, especially when the only thing my teacher knew how to teach was electricity (arguably the most boring physics topic ever).
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 04:41:17 pm »
+7
You can't really do astrophysics without some proper calculus (talking uni calc here). Soooooo doing it in VCE is a bit far fetched.

edit: spelling
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 04:44:36 pm by Hancock »
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 04:51:07 pm »
+1
There are quite a few interesting topics in Physics (Motors, Generators, Photoelectric effect, Photonics etc), but the Jacaranda textbook is shit.
The Physics in Specialist Maths is better.

pi

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2013, 04:53:13 pm »
0
The Physics in Specialist Maths is better.

Exactly.

It's like they've just gone: "Lets make a physics subject with pretty much just basic theory and then makes let them have a cheat sheet so they don't have to remember the theory, plus we'll add in a few equations".

-_-

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2013, 12:04:44 am »
+6
i believe this review of physics understates how atrocious it is
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2013, 09:53:48 pm »
0
I agree with the textbook part. They are so horrible :(

thushan

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2013, 10:20:54 pm »
+9
Exactly.

It's like they've just gone: "Lets make a physics subject with pretty much just basic theory and then makes let them have a cheat sheet so they don't have to remember the theory, plus we'll add in a few equations".

-_-

Just go in without a cheat sheet.
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2013, 02:30:57 am »
0
Just go in without a cheat sheet.
Absolutely ferocious. Good suggestion #fuckthepolice
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pi

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2013, 01:57:02 pm »
+1
Just go in without a cheat sheet.

Why would you if everyone else has one?

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2013, 02:57:29 pm »
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Why would you if everyone else has one?


You just go around saying 'cheat sheets are for babies' and this psyches out the opposition :)

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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2013, 04:35:53 pm »
+3
May be VCE Physics course is not fulfilling all the excitements and expectation of a novice but it gives some exposure to very basics that necessary from Engineering perspective. Some of the basics behind the course structure will deepen students understanding in your day to day activities which you never ever pay attention until you study some basics concepts in year 12 Physics. True that there is no up market or trendy topics are involved, but still give a insight on what Physics is...
Good teacher or tutor is always helpful to create a passion on Physics..
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 03:16:00 pm by wanigara »
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Re: [Review] VCE Physics 3/4
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2013, 05:16:20 pm »
+5
Personally i found Unit 4 Light and Matter as well as some of the electricity stuff to be very challenging to grasp initially and thus enjoyable. Some of the material delved into in Unit 4 isn't basic number plugging but relatively advanced conceptual understanding that can give a basis for further learning of Light, Matter and Quantum mechanics which i personally find incredibly intriguing. If you like physics don't let the (admittedly) sometimes basic material put you off as there is some challenging and exciting concepts to discover throughout the course.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 05:20:09 pm by Yellow_ »