Problem Solving for Conceptual Physics – Year-long Course


    “My son…really enjoyed the classes and learned a great deal. The classes, specifically the Calculation class, is best for students who have already covered Algebra and some Trigonometry, though students may learn on the fly as the calculations are discussed in class and related to the core Physics class itself. Students who are not yet at these math levels can still get a lot out of the core Physics class and may still find it helpful to be exposed to the calculation discussions to get some familiarity to the math involved. Overall, I thought the classes were well taught, maintained my son’s interest, and gave a good overview of all of the main branches of Physics and what’s involved in solving actual problems in Physics.” – Parent Ruby P.



    Step 1: Register Your Student

    Step 2: Enroll Your Registered Student

    Roller coaster illustrating physics for the Physics course at Athena's Advanced Academy
    InstructorDr. Valerie Nandor
    Content LevelsGrades 7-8 • Junior High
    Grades 9-10 • Lower High School
    Course Length32 Weeks - Year-long
    Live Webinars Held OnTuesdays, 4 PM Pacific - 8/13/24 - 5/17/25 - year-long class, 25-minute webinars every other week

    This optional calculations webinar course (consisting of eight 25-minute sessions each semester) will cover mathematical skills for students who want to work on physics calculations and develop a deeper understanding of the equations presented in the main physics webinar. Topics will be drawn largely from the material presented in that day’s Physics webinar, although the problem-solving skills explored go beyond what is covered in the textbook or physics webinar.

    Along the way, reasoning from graphs and equations, organizing work, and problem-solving skills will be emphasized. Mathematical topics covered will include dimensional analysis, algebraic manipulation, exponents, logs, graphing, and right angle trigonometry – sometimes used in limiting cases or solved graphically, allowing even students who have not studied these topics formally to participate.

    This series of supplemental webinars will move students forward in their mathematical, computational, and problem-solving abilities; however, as proficiency develops with time and repeated use of skills, not all students will master each skill they are introduced to.

    Note to parents: 

    • This optional calculations class consists of a series of 8 sessions each semester. Each 25-minute webinar will be held immediately following a Physics webinar. The dates of the Physics Calculations webinars are selected to coordinate with the physics topics and will be posted at the beginning of the semester.
    • Before signing up: Be sure your child is ready for this course by reading through the prerequisites located on the Materials & More tab. 
    • Students must be concurrently enrolled in Conceptual Physics at Athena’s.


    • “Our son LOVED the mathematics problem-solving component to Dr. Nador’s Conceptual Physics course! Dr. Nador is patient and thoroughly explains all physics math concepts presented so students can thrive in her course. Our son feels very prepared and excited to take Advanced Placement Physics after Dr. Nador’s course!”
      ~ Conceptual Physics Parent
    • “I really enjoyed Dr. Valerie’s course! Dr. Valerie taught me so much about Conceptual Physics! I especially loved Dr. Valerie’s Physics Problem-Solving course! I understand the concepts and math because of Dr. Valerie’s clear instruction and patience in helping all the students in our course. I am so excited for AP Physics now, thank you for helping me to feel prepared!”
      ~ Blake the Coding Wizard

    What to expect in the Required section in the classroom each active week:

    • Two or three required problems, when the same skills will be built upon in future lessons.
    • A poll (results visible only to the instructor) to report how students did with the required material.

    What to expect in the Highly Suggested & Optional sections in the classroom each week:

    • Subheadings divide the week’s problem types from basic to more advanced.
    • Students are encouraged to start with the basic problems – students with more experience can continue on to the more advanced problem types.
    • Readings including worked example problems.
    • Practice problems with answers.

    What to expect during the weekly webinar:

    • Weekly webinars are 25 minutes long. Webinars are recorded and are available for students with schedule conflicts.
    • Primary instruction and guided discussions are provided during live webinars.
    • Explanation of the equations and variables related to that week’s material.
    • Discussion of problem-solving techniques.
    • A willingness to formulate and ask questions is essential.
    • Active Participation (via the microphone and chat) in online class discussions.

    What to Expect During the School Year:

    • Investigate relationships between force, mass, gravity, and motion.
    • Investigate the forms and transformations of energy.Evaluate the importance of curiosity, honesty, openness, and skepticism in science.
    • Use tools, instruments, and technology to test, record, and organize data.
    • Communicate information clearly, using data as evidence to support scientific arguments, and demonstrating an ability to seek alternative explanations.
    • Understand important features of scientific inquiry: controlled conditions, critical assessment, and peer review and publication (transparency).
    • Consider modern physics, including nuclear physics and relativity. The first 7 weeks of the spring semester is an introduction to lots of fun topics!  We spend a week each on nuclear physics, particle physics, quantum theory, relativity – all at an introductory level.
    • Apply understanding of forces and energy transformations to electricity, magnetism, waves, sound, and light in the last 9 weeks of the spring semester.

    Before taking this course, students should be able to:

    • Prerequisite:  Completion of algebra.
    • Completion of geometry with right-angle trigonometry is suggested, but not required.
      (Students who have not studied right-angle trigonometry should be aware that in a few webinars, they will be told how to solve an equation without being given a full explanation of why that function works.)
    • Students must be able to read non-fiction at a strong 7th-grade level.
    • A willingness to formulate and ask questions is essential.
    • Must be enrolled in Conceptual Physics at Athena’s.

    Students should be willing to:

    • Actively participate (via the microphone) in the class discussion.
    • Encourage class discussion by adding their ideas, strategies, and connections in the chat window during the webinar.
    • Ask questions or indicate their progress on a given question in the chat window during the webinar.

    Required books & materials:

    • Hand-held scientific calculator.
    • Ability to print posted formula sheets before each webinar.
    • Problem Solving in Conceptual Physics Hewitt and Wolf (please choose one of the editions below)
      • 10th ed. ISBN-13: 978-0805393774  OR
      • 12th ed. 978-0321940735