Luku 1.1 (High School Physics (FY1))

Physics as a natural science

The goal of a high school education is to supply you with well-rounded knowledge on a large variety of different subjects. The things taught in Finnish upper secondary schools are outlined in the national curriculum. The national curriculum divides these things into subjects and smaller modules. This learning material covers the first module for Finnish upper secondary school physics, but its contents can be applied to any introductory physics course at the high school level.

Physics is an experimental natural science that seeks to understand the universe and the natural phenomena that take place inside it. Everything we know about physics is based on experiments and measurements. The primary tool of every physicist is mathematics. Mathematics allows us to use our knowledge of physical phenomena to create calculated predictions and reliable practical solutions. Studying and modeling natural phenomena with the help of mathematics to has made it possible for humans to build various technical solutions to the problems societies have faced over the course of history.

Because the natural sciences are connected in many ways, the Physics as a natural science module can be incorporated into a larger study module, together with introductory modules from the other natural sciences. As a subject, physics develops many kinds of skills. These include planning and conducting scientific experiments, as well as analysing and presenting the results of these experiments. These skills are central to all natural sciences. In addition, the skills taught by physics are an important part of a well-rounded education. Knowing these skills is beneficial in many professional fields.

The contents and goals of the module as outlined in the curriculum

The Physics as a natural science module introduces the student to the experimental nature of physics. The study module also familiarises the student with the world of quantitative modelling. The module investigates the ways in which physics produces new knowledge based on experiments, measurements and observations. The module also develops the students’ communicative and cooperative skills and provides the student with a foundation to the world of multidisciplinary and creative scientific projects.

General goals

In this module, the student will

  • familiarise themselves with physics as a systematic, experimental natural science
  • gain a perspective on the orders of magnitude of matter and the universe
  • familiarise themselves with the methods of data acquisition used in physics
  • learn how to plan and conduct simple scientific experiments
  • gain inspiring experiences that deepen the student's appreciation for physics and the natural sciences.
Central contents
  • quantities, units and the International System of Units (SI)
  • making measurements, collecting results, creating graphical presentations and examining the validity of a scientific study
  • graphical and linear models
  • planning and completing a simple scientific experiment

The central contents of the module can be examined for example in the following thematic contexts: motion, density and gravitational acceleration.

Compulsory and advanced modules in upper secondary school physics

FY1 - Physics as a natural science (compulsory, 1 op)

FY2 - Physics, society and the environment  (compulsory, 1 op)

FY3 - Energy and heat (advanced, 2 op)

FY4 - Force and motion (advanced, 2 op)

FY5 - Waves and oscillation (advanced, 2 op)

FY6 - Electricity (advanced, 2 op)

FY7 - Electromagnetism and light (advanced, 2 op)

FY8 - Matter, radiation and quantisation (advanced, 2 op)

Using the learning material

This learning material is divided into three main units, each of which is divided into smaller chapters. The electronic learning material seamlessly incorporates videos, simulations and interactive applications into its theory sections. The learning material also contains large amounts of additional content, including different exercises, additional information on the subjects and themes covered in the text, as well as links to online resources.

About the exercises

The book’s exercises are divided into three categories. These categories correspond to the three task types used in the Finnish matriculation exam.

  • Multiple-choice exercises are used to test the student’s knowledge of the chapter’s central concepts and contents.
  • Basic exercises help the student to gain a better understanding of the chapter’s contents.
  • Applied exercises include all the exercises that are either longer or more demanding than the basic exercises. These exercises help the student to apply the skills they have learned into new kinds of problems. At the same time, the exercises help the student to prepare for the matriculation exam.

Many of the book’s exercises contain measurement data. These data are accessible in three different formats, from which you can choose the one that is used in your high school. Each of the formats contains the exact same data. The three file formats in which the measurement data are accessible are

  • .cmbl, for use with Logger Pro
  • .cap, for use with Capstone
  • .ods, for use with LibreOffice.

If you do not use any of the applications listed above, it is advised that you download the .ods file and copy its data into your preferred application.

Elements of the learning material

In order to help the student get a better overall picture of the themes discussed, each unit also contains a dedicated Summary and self-evaluation section. The latter consists of multiple-choice questions, which give the student instant feedback about their performance. Some of the self-evaluation sections also contain problems with graded example answers.

In addition, each of the book’s chapters contains a Pause and reflect section that consists of automatically checked exercises. These sections help the student to test their knowledge of the chapter’s contents.

The learning material contains links to external websites, for those who are interested in additional information and resources. These links are found in the form of blue buttons:

The International System of Units (Wikipedia)

Smaller Quick facts boxes can also be found in some of the book’s chapters. These boxes contain additional information about the concepts discussed in the main text.

The authors wish that you will have inspiring and fulfilling moments with this learning material!

Physics in higher education and working life

Physics is a science that studies natural phenomena and the laws that govern them. All other natural sciences are connected to physics. For example, chemistry studies substances and their reactions, which are based on the physical theories concerning the structure and features of matter. The same thing holds true with a field like microbiology. Applied sciences, such as medicine, usually make use of knowledge produced by many different fields of the natural sciences, including physics.

When students are selected for higher education programmes in the natural sciences, the applicant’s knowledge of physics is usually an important factor in the selection. This is true both with pure natural sciences (such as chemistry) and applied natural sciences (such as medicine or engineering). Therefore, a good understanding of physics is important in order to be selected into these programmes. Physics also develops your problem solving and information processing skills, which are important in all studies at the higher education level.

Physicists can have many kinds of careers. Research physics is conducted by universities and other institutions. Physics is also a compulsory subject at many school levels. Researchers usually specialise in a certain field of physics, such as particle physics or atmospheric science. Physicists can also be employed as experts in the industrial and health care sectors.

  • radiography
  • space blanket
  • hydro-electric power plant
  • wireless phone charger
  • solar panel
  • GPS tracker
  • x-radiation
  • heat transfer
  • mechanical energy
  • electromagnetic induction
  • semiconductor
  • theory of relativity