Physics 251 Physics I
Warren Wilson College

Fall, 2011 Section F00 8:00 MW, Collins

Section F01 9:30 MW, Zumstein

Note: There are two laboratory sections with Physics I.  Each student must be enrolled in either
Lab Section A (Phy 253 FLA - Tu Th 8:00 am – Collins)

Lab Section B (Phy 253 FLB - Tu Th 1:00 pm - Collins)

Objectives and Expected Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn Newtonian physics concepts and extend to physics learned in the 20th century.  The main thrust will take place through activity-based learning with a minimum of lecturing.

  2. Learn a substantial amount of electric principles and electronic techniques early in the course

  3. Learn skills valuable in other scientific disciplines.  These "transferable skills" include computational skills with analysis packages, problem solving skills, and laboratory analytical skills

  4. Practice substantial writing with the idea of good communication.

  5. Develop a lifelong ability to find solutions and applications of physics in many daily examples.

Pre-requisite/co-requisite.  Because physics uses extensive mathematical tools, students must have completed or be currently studying Precalculus (Mat 150), or a higher level mathematics course.

Text for Physics I and Physics II: 
Fundamentals of Physics - 9th Ed, Extended, by Halladay, Resnick, and Walker.  (This is a change in textbooks from 2009).

    The first major goal for Physics I is for students to become competent with the fundamental concepts of motion and force and to progress to the point of describing motion in terms of mathematics.  The description of motion will be extended to describe a number of phenomena characteristic of the 20th century: weird effects of objects when they approach the speed of light; the physics of sub-nuclear particles; the wave-like behavior of particles; the particle behavior of waves; superconductivity; microscopes which can "see" individual atoms; massive instruments of destruction; space travel;...

    The second major goal is to learn fundamental electrical principles as they relate to transducers for detecting motion, forces, sound, and light, and especially to learn how to use the Nobel winning device of the middle 20th century - the transistor.  These electronic devices will be used in the laboratories - to enhance the learning of modern physics as well as traditional physics.

    The third major goal concerns skills useful to students in other scientific disciplines.  Computers will be used for data acquisition, data analysis, and simulation.  The physics laboratory is well-equipped with computers for data acquisition and analysis.  Instruction will be given on how to use spreadsheets and analytical packages for scientific work.  These "tools" are available in the Warren Wilson College Computer Network as well as in the computerized physics laboratory in Spidel.  The other parts of the transferable skills involve problem solving ability and laboratory skills.

    The fourth major goal concerns communication skills, primarily through writing.  Much writing will be done in class describing physical phenomena.  Writing about physics enhances and promotes one's understanding about physics by formulating the concepts into words.  Writing assignments will consist of several types:  peer-writing in class (ungraded), commenting on peer writing, lab reports, and writing extensively on exams.  The extensive writing for physics class will enhance the learning of physics - the primary goal.

    Finally, students will learn how to find solutions and examples of physics applications in daily situations.


Required Textbook:  See above.

Lab Notebook: Each student must also possess and use a hard-bound (no spiral bindings) laboratory notebook for entering laboratory descriptions, data, graphs, brief lab discussion, and peer writing.  These laboratory notebooks will be needed for every class and laboratory sessionStudents arriving to class without the lab notebook will be required to retrieve them before beginning laboratory work.

Internet Account:  Each student will be required to use his/her internet account on a regular basis.  This includes e-mail with the instructor and a place to store data acquired in the laboratory.  In laboratory sessions that require data acquisition, the data may be stored in a temporary directory on the laboratory computer, but each student in the lab group will be required to log onto the laboratory computer to copy the data files into his/her own server account.  This is much more secure than flash drives.  If the student cannot access his/her account, the Computer Services Center will gladly help, but the student must take the initiative the first week of class and persist until any problems are fixed.  It is also very important that the students save all their original laboratory data files for the duration of the semester for possible later use.  Satisfactory graphics can only be created from the original data files, not from wordprocessor graphics.

E-mail address:  Announcements will often be sent to the class using e-mail and the students' email listed in Campus Web.  The student should make sure his/her e-mail address in the Campus Web is correct.  If not, the student should initiate the corrctive action with the Registrar.  It is imperative that students access their campus e-mail on a regular basis.  If you use a non-WWC e-mail service (g-mail or hotmail for example) it is the student's responsibility to see that the wwc mail is forwarded to the non-wwc account or to check the wwc e-mail regularly.

MOODLE registry.  Many assignments will be on-line assignments and simulations done on the College Course Management system: MOODLE.  In order for students to be properly enrolled in the Physics I MOODLE account, they must enter their name and WWC e-mail address into MOODLE.  This is done only once: 1) go to the MOODLE page: ; 2)login with your e-mail ID and password.  You may then enroll in the MOODLE Physics I class with the enrollment key given in class:  _____________.  Some activities will be done totally on-line using MOODLE.

Physics Activities and Evaluation

Each week the class activities will be centered around a particular laboratory concept.  The whole class meets as a single group on Monday and Wednesday.  Smaller groups meet for "lab" on Tuesday and Thursday.  Class time (M, W) will be spent on Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs), making predictions, peer writing and tutorials, illustrating concepts, and assignments.  (Peer writing will taper off in the final third of the course).  Lectures will be minimal, and the lab notebook will be needed at every class meeting.  Because of the major amount of time spent with activities relating to the physics concepts, many parts of the textbook will not be discussed in class at all.  The student should read all the assigned chapters.

Evaluation for Physics I follows the following formula:

32% - Labs

12% - Notebooks.  All 12 experiments will have an "instant" notebook evaluation
20% - Lab reports.  5 of the experiments will be written up as word-processed lab reports.

20% - Homework problems - due Mondays and Wednesdays
48% - Exams

Labs - 32%  Lab time (T, Th) will involve written instructions for each week's experiment.  All the data, calculations, computer output, graphs, etc. will be entered in the lab notebooks.  Many experiments will use the computer to record and graph the data.  The computer data must be fastened (tape or staples) into the laboratory notebook (No loose papers).

12 experiments will be conducted during the course.  For the lab grade in the course, each student must have sufficient entries in the lab notebook for each lab (12%).  Each student will write a lab report for 5 of the experiments. (20%)

Lab notebooks - 12%.  Each student must present the laboratory notebook to the professor for instant evaluation.  The notebook will be rated "acceptable" or "unacceptable", and the student may re-submit the book after making the adjustments.  The notebook should be acceptable by the end of the Thursday lab session.  If not, the student must complete the notebook by 4:00 pm on Friday at the professor's office.  The criteria for acceptibility include:

The rationales for the notebook grading are that science students must learn the importance of retrievable laboratory records; lab notebooks are sometimes regarded as legal documents in a professional setting; the students need to learn the value of preventing losses of loose papers.  About 90 percent of quality research work is documentation and record keeping.

Lab reports - 20%.  5 of the lab experiments need to be reported as written, word-processed reports (as chosen by the student).  (All laboratories require a notebook instant evaluation, however).  Each student chooses which experiments for which he/she will write reports.  If the student submits 6 reports, the best 5 will be counted.  More than 6 reports from any student will not be evaluated.  It is important that each student be diligent in keeping up with the necessary lab reports.

Everyone will be required to write a written report for the first experiment ("Pitching and Bowling") for practice in the report standards due at lab time on Tuesday of Week 2.  This report will receive no credit, but comments and a score will be marked on it in order to learn the standards required. 

After the first experiment, each student must write a report on either Lab #2 (1-D motion, velocity, acceleration
) or Lab #3(motion II - kinematics ).  For the second written report the student will be allowed to write a draft and revise the draft of the report.  The draft will be due Tuesday of the following week with the final report completed by Tuesday of the succeeding week.  Please see the LabGradeRubric.html
If the "dummy" report for the first experiment is not turned in by its due date or neither Lab #2 nor Lab #3 are drafted on time, only 4 reports will be allowed (i. e. the student will automatically lose 4 points or about half a letter grade.  A similar action will occur if more than 4 weeks lapse without any lab reports before all five are completed.

Late reports.  If a written report is late (between 1 day and 1 week) it will suffer a 10% lateness penalty (10 points).  Reports more than one week overdue will not be evaluated unless there is a valid medical excuse or family emergency.  Any excuse must be documented by medical provider or Student Services.

Homework Problem Assignments - 20%.  Several homework problems will be assigned for each class period.  The assignments will be published on MOODLE. These solutions are due each Monday and Wednesday at class time.  Same lateness policy as with the lab assignments.  All homework assignments are expected to be completed for the full 20% contribution to the grade.

Computer graphics in reports 
At least one laboratory report will be totally electronic - all materials including schematic diagrams of the apparatus, graphical results, will be electronically included in the report - not paper-pasted onto the paper.  At least one diagram must be drawn with computer vector drawing tools (not "Paint").  Excellent drawing tools are available in Open Office - a free multi-platform program and maintained on the WWC computer labs.  The Open Office drawing tools are considered superior to the Microsoft drawing tools, although either may be used.  A workshop on computer schematic drawings may be held late in the course.

Exams - 48%  The four hour exams are scheduled:

Wed. Sep. 14,  2011
Wed. Oct. 12,  2011
Wed. Nov.16,  2011
Wed. Dec. 14, 2011

The exams will consist of written description of the physics concepts, problem solving, questions similar to the MOODLE tutorials, and material learned in the laboratory.

If a student misses an exam due to alarm clock failure (including electrical failure), he/she may take a make-up for the test within 24 hours for 50% maximum possible credit.  The student should have a back-up alarm clock (battery or wind-up).  Documented legitimate absences (sickness, family emergency, pre-arranged athletic events) will be allowed full make-up, but the absences will be counted.

Simulations and tutorials.  About once a week the class will engage in a peer writing or on-line tuturial/simulation (these are "quizzes" in MOODLE).  Students will work in pairs on the tutorials and simulations during classtime.  These "quizzes" will be left on-line for the students' practice outside of classes.  The scores will not be calculated into the students' grades, but similar questions will appear on the exams.  Students have indicated that the MOODLE "quizzes" help greatly in their learning physics.

Class attendance.   Because a substantial amount of physics learning takes place in the classroom, regular attendance is required.   Three absences are allowed with no penalty (excused or otherwise).  After three absences, additional absences (excused or otherwise) will result in half a grade penalty (2 points out of 100 points) in the final course score.  Extended illness (more than two consecutive classes) will be granted special consideration if adequately documented by attending medical personnel.  Lateness to class (between 1 and 30 minutes according to the classroom clock) will be counted as half an absence.  Students arriving beyond 30 minutes late will be counted as absent.  If the professor is late, each student arriving before the instructor will have one lateness (or half an absence) canceled.  The late professor rule holds only for Monday, Wednesday sessions.

Extra credit.  There will be several opportunities to attend special lectures or special astronomy observation sessions.  These events will be announced to qualify for credit.  If the student attends these events, he/she must write a brief summary and submit it to the instructor.  Each pre-approved event that is adequately summarized will receive one 50 pt HW assignment (about 1% of the course grade) up to a maximum of 5 points.

Classroom Protocol.  Students are expected to arrive on time and stay in class until the class period ends.  If a student knows in advance that she/he will need to leave early, she/he should notify the professor before the class period begins.  Students are expected to treat the professor and fellow students with respect.  For example, students must not disrupt class by leaving and reentering during class, blatantly falling asleep in class, or by eating during class.  Shoes must be worn at all times.

Special Needs.  A student with a diagnosed learning handicap may request special arrangements such as additional time for exams, taping class sessions, taping exam answers, using classmates' notes, etc. To request academic accommodations due to a disability, the student must arrange with Ms Deborah Braden - the Educational Access Coordinator, (Dodge) during the first 2 weeks of classFor the legal protection of all parties, faculty may not grant the accommodations without the written approval of the Educational Access Coordinator. Ms Deborah Braden may be reached at ext. 3791 or in addition to Dodge House.  Students are encouraged to develop ways of coping with special learning needs, but special requests for accommodations for special needs must be made at the beginning of the semester (first 2 weeks) with the Educational Access Coordinator.  Do not make requests to the professor until the special needs have been documented.  A learning-handicapped student is still responsible for learning the material in the course.  The methods of testing and evaluation may be varied to accommodate the handicapped student.

Academic Honesty.  Any cheating on tests (copying, writing info on body or other means), or cheating on labs or homework (copying from external sources or other students without acknowledgment) will result in failure on the assignment for the first offense  and may result in failure or suspension from the course for the second offense.

Schedule of main topics (Fall 2010):  See on-line schedule. 

Donald F. Collins, Spidel 205, WWC: 771-3702, Home: 298-4131,
Collins Office hours
Jason Zumstein , Spidel 205, Mobile: (828) 553-9419;