Open Educational Resources and Physics

Algebra/Trigonometry-Based Physics

College Physics (OpenStax, 2020); College Physics (OpenStax, 2020) – LibreTexts (CC BY 4.0)
Adapted for a two-semester introductory algebra-based physics course.

Light and Matter (Crowell, 2020)  (CC BY-SA 3.0)
 “This is an introductory text intended for a one-year introductory course of the type typically taken by biology majors, or for AP Physics 1 and 2. Algebra and trig are used, and there are optional calculus-based sections.”

Spiral Physics (D’Alessandris) (CC BY-NC-SA)
“Spiral Physics is a research based introductory physics curriculum developed at Monroe Community College. There are several important features of this curriculum. It integrates text and workbook activities in a modular fashion, and arranges topics so that students receive repeated exposure to concepts with increased complexity. It makes use of alternative problem types, including goal-less problem statements, ranking tasks, and critical analysis tasks. It restricts the equation set available for student use and is designed to facilitate active learning.”

Survey of Chemistry and Physics (C-ID PHYS 140)

Each of the resources listed has been identified as one that could provide the physics component of this survey course and would be appropriate for a course that focuses on conceptual physics. If you have found – or developed – an OER that can be used for a course aligned to C-ID PHYS 140, please let us know.

  • Introduction to Physics (Park, 2018) – OpenStax; Introduction to Physics (Park, 2018) – LibreTexts (Coming soon, curation requested) (CC BY 4.0)
    Companion resources available in MyOpenMath – directions forthcoming. Introduction to Physics is an adaptation of Concepts of Physics, itself an adaptation based on modules from OpenStax College Physics. Some of the modules removed from College Physics have been put back in, most notably modules on momentum, rotation and special relativity. Sections on linear momentum has been added from James Rittenbach’s derived copy of Concepts of Physics. This textbook is intended for a one-semester introduction to physics course, requiring as little mathematics as possible. Students are expected to have taken some algebra and geometry at high-school level, but no higher level of mathematics is required (and use of algebra and geometry is minimized as much as possible, in order to emphasize the concepts of physics). The courses this textbook is intended for often go by the name of “conceptual physics,” “descriptive physics,” or “introduction to physics.”

Calculus-Based Physics for Scientists and Engineers

Calculus-Based Physics for Scientists and Engineers: ABC (C-ID PHYS 200S)

The resources here can be used for all content covered in C-ID PHYS 200S, a descriptor that represents a 3-term series of courses. Please see below for resources specific to courses aligned with each of the term-based descriptors in the series.

Calculus-Based Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A (C-ID PHYS 205)

Classical Mechanics with Numerical Methods (Budarz) (Terms of service) A book on introductory mechanics and numerical methods for lower-division undergraduate students in engineering or physical sciences. This resource was last updated in 2019.

University Physics Volume 1 (OpenStax, 2020) (CC BY 4.0)

Mechanics (Crowell, 2019) (CC BY-SA 3.0)
This is a calculus-based book meant for the first semester of the type of freshman survey course taken by engineering and physical science majors. A treatment of relativity is interspersed with the Newtonian mechanics, in optional sections. The book is designed so that it can be used as a drop-in replacement for the corresponding part of Simple Nature, for instructors who prefer a traditional order of topics. Simple Nature does energy before force, while Mechanics does force before energy. Simple Nature has its treatment of relativity all in a single chapter, rather than in parallel with the development of Newtonian mechanics.

Calculus-Based Physics I (Schnick) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Calculus-Based Physics is an introductory physics textbook designed for use in the two-semester introductory physics course typically taken by science and engineering students. This is the first of two textbooks for this course.

University Physics I – Classical Mechanics (Gea-Banacloche) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
This is a textbook for the first semester of University Physics for scientists and engineers. It covers classical mechanics, and a brief introduction to thermodynamics. The presentation and approach are similar to Mazur’s “The Principles and Practice of Physics,” in that conservation laws are introduced before forces, and one-dimensional systems are thoroughly covered before moving to two dimensions. Although the course is “calculus based,” the book has been written with the understanding that many students may be taking calculus simultaneously as a corequisite, so the use of calculus is relatively sparse.

Book: Introductory Physics – Building Models to Describe Our World (Martin et al.) (CC BY-SA)
This is an open-access textbook for calculus-based introductory physics courses. The textbook is specifically intended for a flipped-classroom approach, wherein students complete readings at home and the material is then discussed in class. The textbook thus contains questions and activities to engage readers. This text also includes a curriculum in experimental physics, detailing the scientific method and process, suggesting experiments to perform at home and in the lab, and has chapters that cover: writing and reviewing proposals, writing and reviewing reports, analyzing data, as well as an introduction to python. Finally, this textbook was written with many contributions from students! We hope that you may find it useful, and we are interested to know if you are using it!

Calculus-Based Physics for Scientists and Engineers: B (C-ID PHYS 210)

University Physics Volume 2 (OpenStax, 2020) (CC BY 4.0)

Fields and Circuits (Crowell, 2020) (CC BY-SA 3.0)
In this book, each of the first 5 chapters is short and includes a laboratory exercise that can be completed in about an hour and a half. The approach I’ve taken is to introduce the electric and magnetic field on an equal footing (which is in fact the way the subject was developed historically). As empirically motivated postulates, we take some primitive ideas about relativity along with the expressions for the energy and momentum density of the fields.

Another goal is to introduce the laws of physics in their natural, local form, i.e., Maxwell’s equations in differential rather than integral form, without getting bogged down in an extensive development of the toolbox of vector calculus that would be more appropriate in an honors text like Purcell. Much of the necessary apparatus of div, grad, and curl is developed first in visual or qualitative form.

Calculus-Based Physics II (Schnick) (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Calculus-Based Physics is an introductory physics textbook designed for use in the two-semester introductory physics course typically taken by science and engineering students. This is the second of two textbooks for this course.

Calculus-Based Physics for Scientists and Engineers: C (C-ID PHYS 215)

University Physics Volume 3 (OpenStax, 2020) (CC BY 4.0)

Modern physics: With waves, thermodynamics, and optics (Crowell, 2019) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Modern Physics with Numerical Methods (Budarz) (CC BY-NC-SA; website terms of service)
This is an open-source, modern physics textbook typically for the third-semester students majoring in engineering, physics, or chemistry. An emphasis is placed on fundamental principles as well as numerical solutions to equations where no analytical solutions exist. The content begins with optics and uses that as a stepping stone to wave phenomena and quantum systems.

Additional Physics Resources

  • ComPADRE is the Digital Library for the educational resources used by educators, researchers, and students in physics and astronomy. This service of the American Association of Physics Teachers is designed to help teachers and learners find, and use, high quality resources through web-based collections and services tailored to their specific needs.
  • The Physics Classroom is an online, free to use physics website developed primarily for beginning physics students and their teachers. The website features a variety of sections intended to support both teachers and students in the tasks of learning and teaching physics.
  • PhysicsLAB (Cathatrine H. Colwell) is a collection for introductory physics which integrates lessons, labs, practice problems, assessments, AP review exercises, simulations, and quizzes in one easily-searched location. Although there is no fee to access these materials, PhysicsLAB sage and copyright requirements are provided on the site’s PhysicsLab Directions page.
  • MyOpenMath (MOM )is an open platform for developing assessments. It has been used extensively to create homework sets for many math and physics courses. Most of the physics resources accessible in MOM were developed as part of an ASCCC OERI RFP II project.
    Online Question Banks and Course Templates for CCC Lower-Division Physics Courses (C-IDs: 105, 110, 205, 210, and 215) that Utilize OER Textbooks by OpenStax are as follows:
  • PHYS 105 – Course ID: 77794, Enrollment Key: CollegePHYS1
  • PHYS 110 – Course ID: 86217, Enrollment Key: CollegePHYS2
  • PHYS 205 – Course ID: 93601, Enrollment Key: cid.205.template
  • PHYS 210 – Course ID: 93976, Enrollment Key: cid.210.template
  • PHYS 215 – Course ID: 75880, Enrollment Key: cid.215.template

These are the new Course IDs, following the last round of updates from the ASCCC OERI grant (RFP III)

  • PHYS 105 – Course ID: 113568, Enrollment Key: CollegePHYS1.2
  • PHYS 110 – Course ID: 127338, Enrollment Key: CollegePHYS2.2
  • PHYS 205 – Course ID: 138465, Enrollment Key: cid.205.template
  • PHYS 210 – Course ID: 138466, Enrollment Key: cid.210.template
  • PHYS 215-OpenStax – Course ID: 138468, Enrollment Key: cid.215.template
  • General Astronomy Template – Course ID: 127799, Enrollment Key: GeneralASTR1

This page last updated on April 28, 2022.