HSC Physics

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21 Lessons

Introduction to HSC Physics

HSC Physics Continuum of Learning

  • HSC Physics in Science Stage 6 provides students with a contemporary and coherent understanding of energy, matter, and their interrelationships.
  • It focuses on investigating natural phenomena and then applying patterns, models (including mathematical ones), principles, theories and laws to explain the physical behaviour of the universe.
  • It uses an understanding of simple systems (single particles and pairs of particles) to make predictions about a range of objects from sub-atomic particles to the entire universe and aims to reveal the simplicity underlying complexity.

The Study of HSC Physics

  • The study of HSC Physics relies on the understanding and application of a small number of basic laws and principles that govern the microscopic and macroscopic worlds.
  • The study of physics provides students with an understanding of systems that is the basis of the development of technological applications.
  • The interplay between concepts and technological and societal impacts embodies in the history and philosophy of science and forms a continuum relating our past to our future.

HSC Physics Stage 6

  • HSC Physics Stage 6 draws upon and builds on the knowledge and understanding, skills and values and attitudes developed in Science Stages 4–5.
  • It further develops students’ understanding of science as a continually developing body of knowledge, the interdisciplinary nature of science, the role of experiment in deciding between competing theories, the provisional nature of scientific explanations, the complex relationship between evidence and ideas and the impact of science on society.

Theoretical Concepts

  • The study of HSC physics involves the students working individually and with others in active, practical, field and interactive media experiences that are related to the theoretical concepts considered in the course.
  • It is expected that students studying Physics Stage 6 will apply investigative and problem-solving skills, effectively communicate the theoretical concepts considered in the course and appreciate the contribution that a study of physics makes to our understanding of the world.

HSC Physics Stage 6 course

  • The HSC Physics Stage 6 course is designed for those students who have a substantial achievement level based on the Science Stages 4–5 course performance descriptors.
  • The subject matter of the Physics course recognises the different needs and interests of students by providing a structure that builds upon the foundations laid in Stage 5 yet recognises that students entering Stage 6 have a wide range of abilities, circumstances and expectations.
  • There are 3 core mudules: Space, Motors and Generators, From ideas to Implementation and an optional elective of From Quanta to Quarks.


  • Scientists have drawn on advances in areas such as aeronautics, material science, robotics, electronics, medicine and energy production to develop viable spacecraft.
  • Perhaps the most dangerous parts of any space mission are the launch, re-entry and landing.
  • A huge force is required to propel the rocket a sufficient distance from the Earth so that it is able to either escape the Earth’s gravitational pull or maintain an orbit.
  • Following a successful mission, re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere provides further challenges to scientists if astronauts are to return to Earth safely.
  • Rapid advances in technologies over the past fifty years have allowed the exploration of not only the Moon, but the Solar System and, to an increasing extent, the Universe.
  • Space exploration is becoming more viable.
  • Information from research undertaken in space programs has impacted on society through the development of devices such as personal computers, advanced medical equipment and communication satellites, and has enabled the accurate mapping of natural resources.
  • Space research and exploration increases our understanding of the Earth’s own environment, the Solar System and the Universe.
  • This module increases students’ understanding of the history, nature and practice of physics and the implications of physics for society and the environment.

Motors and Generators

  • Modern industrialised society is geared to using electricity based on Motors and Generators.
  • Electricity has characteristics that have made it uniquely appropriate for powering a highly technological society.
  • There are many energy sources that can be readily converted into electricity.
  • In Australia, most power plants burn a fuel, such as coal, or use the energy of falling water to generate electricity on a large scale.
  • Electricity is also relatively easy to distribute. Electricity authorities use high-voltage transmission lines and transformers to distribute electricity to homes and industries around each state.
  • Voltages can be as high as 5 x 105 volts from power stations but by the time this reaches homes, the electricity has been transformed to 240 volts.
  • While it is relatively economical to generate electric power at a steady rate, there are both financial and environmental issues that should be considered when assessing the long-term impact of supplying commercial and household power.
  • The design of a motor for an electrical appliance requires consideration of whether it will run at a set speed, how much power it must supply, whether it will be powered by AC or DC and what reliability is required.
  • The essentials of an electric motor are the supply of electrical energy to a coil in a magnetic field causing it to rotate.
  • The generation of electrical power requires relative motion between a magnetic field and a conductor.
  • In a generator, mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy while the opposite occurs in an electric motor.
  • The electricity produced by most generators is in the form of alternating current based on Motors and Generators.
  • In general AC generators, motors and other electrical equipment are simpler, cheaper and more reliable than their DC counterparts in Motors and Generators.
  • AC electricity can be easily transformed into higher or lower voltages making it more versatile than DC electricity.
  • This module increases students’ understanding of the applications and uses of physics and the implications of physics for society and the environment based on Motors and Generators.

From ideas to Implementation

  • By the beginning of the twentieth century, many of the pieces of the physics puzzle seemed to be falling into place. This is where from ideas to implementation.
  • The wave model of light had successfully explained interference and diffraction, and wavelengths at the extremes of the visible spectrum had been estimated.
  • The invention of a pump that would evacuate tubes to 10–4 atmospheres allowed the investigation of cathode rays based on From Ideas to Implementation.
  • X-rays would soon be confirmed as electromagnetic radiation and patterns in the Periodic Table appeared to be nearly complete. The nature of cathode rays was resolved with the measurement of the charge on the electron soon to follow for ‘From Ideas to Implementation’.
  • There was a small number of experimental observations still unexplained but this, apparently complete, understanding of the world of the atom was about to be challenged.
  • The exploration of the atom was well and truly inward bound by this time and, as access to greater amounts of energy became available, the journey of physics moved further and further into the study of subatomic particles.
  • Careful observation, analysis, imagination and creativity throughout the early part of the twentieth century developed a more complete picture of the nature of electromagnetic radiation and matter.
  • The journey taken into the world of the atom has not remained isolated in laboratories. From Ideas to Implementation is there for implement this.
  • The phenomena discovered by physicists have, with increasing speed, been channeled into technologies, such as computers, to which society has ever-increasing access.
  • These technologies have, in turn, often assisted physicists in their search for further knowledge and understanding of natural phenomena at the sub-atomic level.
  • This module increases students’ understanding of the history, nature and practice of physics and the applications and uses of physics, the implications of physics for society and the environment, and the current issues, research and developments in physics.

From Quanta to Quarks

  • In the early part of the twentieth century, many experimental and theoretical problems remained unresolved. This is the From Quanta to Quarks.
  • From Quanta to Quarks Attempts to explain the behaviour of matter on the atomic level with the laws of classical physics were not successful.
  • Phenomena such as black-body radiation in ‘From Quanta to Quarks’, the photoelectric effect and the emission of sharp spectral lines by atoms in a gas discharge tube could not be understood within the framework of classical physics.
  • Between 1900 and 1930, a revolution took place and a new more generalised formulation called quantum mechanics was developed by ‘From Quanta to Quarks’.
  • This new approach was highly successful in explaining the behaviour of atoms, molecules and nuclei.
  • As with relativity, quantum theory requires a modification of ideas about the physical world based on From Quanta to Quarks.
  • This module increases students’ understanding of the history, nature and practice of physics and the current issues, research and developments in physics.
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Space > Weight and Gravity

Space > Rockets, Projectiles and Orbits

Space > The Solar System and Gravity (Free)

Space > Time and Space

Space > Exam Preparation Papers

Motors and Generators > Current-carrying Conductors

Motors and Generators > Generating Electricity

Motors and Generators > Generator

Motors and Generators > Transformers

Motors and Generators > Motors and Energy Changes

Motors and Generators > Exam Preparation Papers

From Ideas to Implementation > Cathode Rays

From Ideas to Implementation > Hertz

From Ideas to Implementation > Electrons and Atoms

From Ideas to Implementation > Metals and Superconductors

From Ideas to Implementation > Exam Preparation Papers

From Quanta to Quarks > The Atoms

From Quanta to Quarks > Quantum Physics

From Quanta to Quarks > Nuclear Physics

From Quanta to Quarks > Applications of Nuclear Physics

From Quanta to Quarks > Exam Preparation Papers