PHYSICS 150: Principles of Classical Physics
INSTRUCTOR: Megan K. Pickett
OFFICE: Youngchild 105
OFFICE HOURS: MWF 1:00-2:00; R 10am-11am; & by appointment
PHONE: (920) 993-6269
LECTURE TIMES: MWF 8:30-9:40 AM
LECTURE ROOM: YOU 121
LAB INSTRUCTORS: Megan Pickett and Adam Clausen LAB TIMES: M 1-4 OR T 8-11 OR T 1-4
LAB ROOM: YOU 115/118
CLASS WEBSITE: http://www.lawrence.edu/fast/pickettm/p150w10/
Welcome to Physics 150, Principles of Classical Physics! During the term, we will explore the physical principles of mechanics, gravity, electricity and magnetism, wave phenomena, optics and thermal physics. While the subjects are diverse, together they solidify our foundational understanding of how the Universe operates (ignoring, for the time being, more modern concepts such as relativity and quantum physics). It is my hope that this course will provide you with the tools and understanding to appreciate the physical Universe in which we live, as well as laying the groundwork for future careers in the natural sciences.
The course is designed for
natural science majors, particularly (though not exclusively) as preparation
for physics and engineering students. As such, a certain level of
mathematical sophistication and problem solving skills is expected.
The mathematical requirements include a basic understanding of
differential and integral calculus (specifically the material taught
in Math 140). I will motivate much of the math that we encounter,
either in lecture or in references to the text and handouts. Please
see me during the first week if you are uncertain about your
background preparation; I am more than happy to set aside time to
I will supply example problems throughout the term on the course website, and before each exam there will be a list of sample exam questions from a previous, similar course I taught at Purdue. There will also be weekly help/review sessions conducted by myself and staff from the CTL. These review sessions will be for an hour, some time in the evening. Details will be available in class.
My goals for the term are that:
The first goal is a rather standard expectation for a physics class. The second goal requires that you develop a sense of intuition regarding the problems you will face in this course. While I will of course want you to gain a facility with the equations presented, I think understanding the physics behind the equation is even more important. I will stress problem-solving techniques and tips on how to recognize when the answer to a question "seems" right or wrong. Conceptual learning is therefore key.
The last of these goals is perhaps the most important. One of the key ingredients to scientific exploration is skepticism. Note that there is a fine line between healthy skepticism and cynicism (which is not useful in science). If something seems wrong or confusing, or there seems to be little justification for an assertion made in lecture, I encourage you to call me on it! Without open and critical inquiry, science simply could not progress.
"Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all."
-Hypatia of Alexandria
University Physics, TWELFTH Edition, Young and Freedman (2008)
The Theory of Experiment, David Cook
Laboratory Instructions for Physics 150, David Cook
The last two items on the list are to be used in lab, and will be handed out in class. Your accounts will be charged approximately $15 for both. You should also buy a laboratory notebook--National Bound Notebook No. 43-648 (or a similar book with numbered quadrilled ruled pages) and have a calculator with trigonmetric, logarithmic and exponential functions.
READINGS: I expect you to read through the assigned reading prior to class. This will enhance your learning and make our class time more useful.
READING QUIZZES: Expect a short reading quiz at the start of every class.
Typically each quiz will consist of 2-3 short answer/multiple choice questions, based on
the reading FOR THAT CLASS. You'll have 5 minutes to complete each quiz.
These quizzes are NOT meant to be difficult; I assign them to reward you for
reading the text and coming to class prepared and on time. Barring extraoridnary circumstances,
these quizzes cannot be made up.
Your lowest quiz score will be dropped. I will drop your second lowest quiz score if you come to my office hours at least once during the term to ask a class- or physics-related question. This is my way to encourage you to use office hours sooner rather than later.
ASSIGNMENTS: Problem sets will be assigned about every week.
I encourage cooperation between fellow students; however, you must turn in
your own work. The problem sets are important drills for learning methods and concepts. They are also
an extremely useful study aid for the exams. That was a hint. There will be more.
MY INCREDIBLY COOL DEAL FOR YOU: I will drop your lowest homework score if you turn in EVERY assignment AND make an honest attempt to answer EVERY question. Again, barring extraordinary circumstances I will not accept late work. If you something does happen that you think falls into the extraordinary circumstance category, you must contact me before the deadline and provide appropriate documentation. Please see the schedule for the problems and when they are due.
CONCEPTESTS: "ConcepTests" are conceptual exercises during the lecture. The goal is to encourage interaction between students as well as between lecturer and student. Your answers to these are not graded, but many of my past students have found these exercises invaluable to understanding course material. I will discuss these in more detail during the first lecture.
TESTS AND FINAL: There will be two tests and a final in this
course. Much of the exam questions will be based on homework,
reading quiz, and ConcepTest questions. The final examination will be cumulative,
while emphasizing material covered since the third test. The cumulative
section of the final will be based on the questions in the first two
exams that gave the class the most difficulty. I design the final in
such a way in order to reduce the amount you need to study at the end
of the year as well as offer the class a chance at showing me that it
has mastered problems that caused difficulties earlier.
All exams are closed book and closed notes. You will be allowed to bring a single 3 x 5 inch index card to the exam, upon which you may write anything you like on one (1) side only. Unless I say something along the lines of "you won't need to remember this," assume that you will, in fact, need to remember it. You may use a calculator on exams, but ONLY FOR COMPUTATION. You are NOT allowed to store information or connect to the internet with devices such as PDA's.
LABORATORY EXERCISES: Each week you will meet in one of three separate laboratory sections (see schedule). We will discuss the labs in more detail when we have our first meeting.
Grades will be curved. At a minimum, I will guarantee the usual curve, i.e. A = 100-90%, B = 89-80%, C = 79-70%, D = 69-60%, F = 59% and lower. The average score in the course usually determines the lowest B grade. For example, if the course average is 75%, then the C's will run from 65% to 74%; B's will run from 75% to 84%, and the lowest A would be an 85%. If, on the other hand, the class average is a 94%, I will use the standard curve (C's run from 70 to 79%, and so on). I set no quota for the number of grades I hand out; I would be absolutely ecstatic and pleased beyond all reasonable measure to give all A's to a class that earned it. Surprised, to be sure, but ecstatic all the same.I will maintain a running estimated course grade for each student throughout the term, updated weekly. You should always have a fairly good idea of where you stand in class.
ATTENDANCE & MAKE-UP POLICY: Attendance is extremely important in this and all classes, given the 10 week pace of the term, and the extensive ground we will cover in that time. Attendance will be measured informally by the quizzes, which, as I mentioned above, will happen just about every day, and ConcepTest participation.
All assignments and lab reports are due on the day given in the class schedule. Make-up midterms will be possible ONLY if I am notified prior to the exam AND I approve the excuse.
ACADEMIC DISHONESTY: Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, cheating on exams, falsifying experimental data, and providing unauthorized aid to another student. You must write and sign the honor code on everything you submit to me for grading. When working with others, or receiving help from CTL tutors, you must include in your honor pledge an acknowledgement of those with whom you worked. That includes me.
ADA AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION STATEMENT: In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), all qualified students enrolled in this course are entitled to reasonable accommodations. It is your responsibility to inform me of any special needs you may need before the end of the second week of classes. I also believe firmly in the right for each student to be respected, both by a student's peers and his or her instructor. I am therefore strongly committed to ensuring that the antidiscrimination policy established at Lawrence will be honored in my class.Back to the Main Course Page