Course Web Site and Preliminary Syllabus

Introductory Physics Calculus-Based

Physics 210 (Sections 1 and 2): University of Evansville: 2012 Spring

        In science, we are slaves to the truth---only error can set us free.


  1. Instructor Information and Preliminary Schedule
  2. Syllabus Items
  3. Tentative Schedule I: This is for intro physics semester I: AKA Physics 210.
  4. Tentative Schedule II: This is for intro physics semester II: AKA Physics 211.
  5. Section 1 grades posted with anonymous aliases
  6. Section 2 grades posted with anonymous aliases
  7. Example grades posted with anonymous aliases
  8. University Sites of Relevance
  9. Teaching & Learning Strategies
  10. Course Mottos

Warning: This syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class as well as made on this page.

The syllabus is ALWAYS preliminary.

  1. Syllabus Items
    1. Jump in with QUESTIONS? at any time, of course---this applies to the whole course.

    2. Course Web Site: The course web site URL is

    3. Place and Time:

      1. Intro physics Section 1: Koch Center for Engineering and Science, Rm 102, MWF 12:00--12:50 pm.

      2. Intro physics Section 2: Koch Center for Engineering and Science, Rm 102, MWF 1:00--1:50 pm.

      3. Labs as specified in student schedules.

        Labs begin in week of Jan09: i.e., in the FIRST week of classes.

    4. Tutoring Help Available: There's me during office hours or whenever you can catch me.

      Also there is Supplemental Instruction (SI).

              Every Thursday, 7--9 pm, Koch 133
              SI leader: Alex DiBenedetto, email:

    5. Prerequisites/Corequisites: As specified in the online at physics Courses.

    6. Textbook: Jearl Walker, Halliday & Resnick: Fundamentals of Physics, 9th edition (AKA HRW).

        HRW is a pretty good book.

        The earlier editions of HRW set the standard and template for almost all modern calculus-based intro physics books.

        In fact, there is not much to choose between intro physics. They are all much the same in content and organization.

        There are new editions just so that publishers can make money.

        For the course as I teach it, any standard calculus-based intro physics textbook would do with enough adjustments on the part of the students.

        So at your discretion, you may use another, possibly much cheaper edition of HRW or another book.

        I do NOT recommend buying study guides---the textbook is the study guide.

        If you use another book, you do have to make adjustments. Also recall that HRW is used for two semesters (Physics 210 and Physics 211) and the instructor of the other semester may be much more closely tied to HRW.

        So to buy HRW or another book is a choice with trade-offs.

        Note the following.

        I use all my own questions for homeworks and do NOT use HRW problems directly.

        I do assign readings and so students without HRW will have to find the equivalent readings in their books.

        For Physics 210, we cover HRW chapters 1--13,15--20 and for Physics 211, chapters 21--36???.

        There are lots of online physics sources:

        1. Yours truly has written an online book Introductory Physics Lectures.

          But it's NOT complete for semester I (as we teach the course at UE) and is negligible for semester II.

          So it cannot be recommended for use with Physics 210 and Physics 211.

        2. PhET physics simulations for free: For example:

          1. blackbody spectrum OK.
          2. calculus grapher Doesn't work for my browser.
          3. collision lab

    7. Nature of the Course: This is a course of calculus-based intro physics.

        We will learn some physics.

        At this level, physics is rather abstract and idealized.

        We deal with ideal motions, ideal point particles, ideal surfaces, ideal monkeys, ideal systems, ideal charge structures, ideal electric field structures, ideal circuits, ideal optical systems.

        Many real everyday motions and systems are much more complex than the cases we deal with: just think about walking, bike riding, skipping rope.

        In particular, real everyday motions usually involve resistive media and surfaces. We will consider friction and maybe drag (AKA fluid resistance).

        The point of studying such ideal systems is to understand them in terms of the very basic laws of classical physics---pre-20th century physics in terms of discovery, but still very useful in practice.

          Those basic laws are NOT obvious---they are usually hidden in the complexity of everyday motions and systems that we deal with empirically---we learn to deal with them by trial and error to oversimplify---and usually very effectively.

          You don't need know intro physics to walk, ride a bike, or play catch---or to turn on your lights.

          Moreover, the oceans were sailed west by Christopher Columbus (c. 1451--1506), east by the Polynesians, and pyramids and cathedrals were build and all without knowing intro physics.

          But you do need to know it---and whole lot more---to design a spacecraft or a CD player.

          You can only get so far by empirical means alone.

          Note the ``alone'': empirical means are still essential.

        Using these basic laws, systems much more complex than ideal ones can be analyzed---they can be analyzed from first principles---or at least basic principles.

        But first we do the ideal problems---how can you do the real problems, if can't do the ideal ones?

        Now some people in his course may not go on to advanced physics or engineering.

        But you will go on to advanced something---and an improved understanding how to analyze and predict from basic principles will be a boon---for many students, it may be the most important feature of this course.

        That is the empowerment of intro physics.

        Of course, studying intro physics is enlightening.

        It helps understanding eternity and infinity.

        There is some math in this course.

        Quite a bit actually---but that's good.

        You-all are all in programs that need math skills.

        Many of you already know some calculus.

        But since some people semester I anyway are taking calculus as a corequisite, the tools of calculus are introduced gradually into our developments and problems.

          Beware---sometimes we get a little ahead of the calculus course. We will give introductions to techniques when it seems necessary.

          Calculus courses tend to start off doing limit theorems, and what we need in physics are derivatives and integrals.

        For semester II , the necessary tools of calculus are considered known although short reviews will occur as needed.

        It's no surprise to you that this is a pretty hard course.

        But as I always say, it's nothing like organic chemistry.

        But there are no essays and no term-length projects.

        The math is really never more than simple algebra and calculus---if you find yourself doing a page of calculations, you are way off the path.

        The hardness is conceptual---and with applying logic.

        When confronted with a problem, recognize the concepts needed for a solution, and then you should know or be able to find the right equation and then do the algebra in usually just a couple lines.

        There will a fair number of DERIVATIONS in this course---no apologies.

        And usually the DERIVATIONS won't be tested in a direct sense---but I've been known to throw a derivation question onto a exam.

        But the DERIVATIONS are part of the course and you are expected to understand them---you should review them as they are presented to make sure you do---and understanding them will help with the tested material.

        I am trying to convince you NOT to take the seemingly easy path of just trying to memorize a trick for every problem you see.

        I am trying to convince you to understand the general approach---that's the way to prepare to deal with problems you've never seen before.

        You should put in TWO HOURS of study for every hour in class:

          ``The art of studying is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the chair.''

                          ---Richard Nixon (1913--1994): quoted approximately from memory.

    8. Active Learning:

        It's well known that lectures are overly passive.

        For anyone, lectures are hard to follow for more than 20 minutes.

        There is lots of evidence that active learning methods work better. For example, peruse Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative.

        In such methods, there is well organized mix of lecture, group work, laboratory work and individual work.

          Learning is literally forming neural connections in the brain.

          It takes practice and repetition to develop those---just like lifting weights to develop muscles.


        Someday we may fully implement that here.

        But at present, we will do what we can.

        There is an associated lab.

        In class, we will usuaully lecture for 20 minutes or so and then break for 10 minutes or so of group work on an example problem.

        Students should be in groups of 2 or 3. Not 4 or more.

        The group work should be intense.

        The students should really try to get the problem done and to teach each other.

        The instructor will circulate in TA mode.

        After the lecturing the instructor will resume lecturing to finish up the day.

    9. Readings: Almost every day there will be a reading from HRW (or equivalent) assigned for the next day.

        The exact specifications will be given daily in class as the course procedes. But approximately, the readings are the chapters or chapter parts specified on Tentative Schedule I/Tentative Schedule II.

        Students will usually report the readings on a slip of paper handed in before/after class.

          You say you've done the reading---if you have done the reading.

          PRINT your name.

          Just slap the slip on the front table, entering or leaving.

        If you miss a class, you can report by email.

        The readings are vital.

        There is not enough lecture time to lecture on every aspect that the course will cover.

        Quite frequently, yours truly will just omit to lecture in class on the intro or last topics of a chapter.

        They still have to be known---unless explicitly ruled out.

        So the readings are vital.

        There will be about 40 readings collectively worth 9 % of the course grade.

        There are three drops.

        Special drops for illness, university efforts, or personal necessities will given. You should ask for them reasonably promptly.

    10. Homeworks: There are homeworks for each chapter.

    11. Interview: There is 1 % of the final grade for doing an interview with me in my office.

        Typically, the interview is about 10 minutes. You should come prepared with a physics-related question for me and I'll have some questions for you.

        The interview is intended to break the ice.

        It is due by Feb17, Friday.

    12. Labs:

        The labs are adjuncts to the course.

        The course instructor supervises two lab sections himself: sections 3 and 4.

        However, the course instructor is NOT responsible for marking and compiling lab grades.

        Mr. David Fentress (Koch Center, Rm 237, email handles marking and compiling lab grades.

        So any queries about lab marks should be addressed to him.

        Yours truly can't become a regular middleman taking queries to Mr. Fentress and bringing back replies.

        Labs count for 20 % of the final grade.

        How labs work is discussed in the lab.

        The labs begin in the week of Jan08, starting on Tuesday.

        You'll need to buy the Physics 210/211 lab manual at the bookstore.

    13. In-Class Exams:

        There will be 3 or 4 in-class tests as posted on Tentative Schedule I/Tentative Schedule II.

        The 4th test may be omitted if we are a bit pressed for time.

        The in-class tests count for 40 % of the final grade.

          Nosta bene: Even though exams are formally restricted to set exam topics, intro physics is intrinsically cumulative and earlier topics are assumed known insofar as they are needed for the exam topics.

          If you are in semester II, then earlier topics includes all topics from semester I.

        Guidelines for tests:

        1. Tests are closed-book.

        2. An equation sheet will be provided. It is the same one that comes with the homeworks. No cheat sheet allowed.

        3. Calculators are to be used only for calculations. No storing formulae, solutions, etc.

        4. Cell phones MUST be turned off and be out of sight.

        5. Section 1 students on their way out should NOT talk to section 2 students on their way in---shun each other.

        6. There are NO in-class reviews for tests. You can ask the instructor questions on day before. Some might get answered.

        7. Make-up exams are possible, but students must ask for them promptly and AVOID knowing anything about given exams and all students must AVOID revealing anything to students have not taken a given exam.

    14. Final Exam:

        The final exam is comprehensive and two hours.

        It counts for 20 % of the final grade.

        It is NOT at the regular university-scheduled time (see 2012 Spring Final Schedule), but instead on Apr27, Friday, 10:15--12:15, in Koch 100---NOTE this is NOT the regular classroom.

        All three sections of Physics 210 write the final at the same time.

        Guidelines for the final:

        1. Tests are closed-book and closed-notes.

        2. An equation sheet will be provided. It is the same one that comes with the homeworks. No cheat sheet allowed.

        3. Calculators are to be used only for calculations. No storing formulae, solutions, etc.

        4. Cell phones MUST be turned off and be out of sight.

        5. There are NO in-class reviews for the final---unless a miracle occurs and we finish early. You can ask the instructor questions on day before. Some might get answered.

        6. Make-up final exams are possible, but students must ask for them promptly and AVOID knowing anything about given final exams and all students must AVOID revealing anything to students have not taken a given final exam.

    15. Evaluation and Grading: The grading categories, their weightings, and their drops are:
                  readings                     9 % or less     3 drop
                  homeworks                   10 % or less     1 drop
                  interview                    1 %             no drops 
                  lab                         20 %             no drops 
                  in-class exams              40 % or less     no drops 
                  1 comprehensive final exam  20 % or more     no drops
        A few other points about evaluation and grading can be mentioned:

        1. Attendance is kept not kept, though reporting readings often serves a proxy for attendance.

          Students are encouraged to keep good attendance.

            Like any course, just showing up 3 times a week for physics keeps us moving forward in the course.

            So 3 in-class hours and at least 6 out-of-class hours should be spent on physics.

        2. There are absolutely NO extra credits.

        3. Letter grades will be assigned per the UE catalog (grading system, p. 52)---which allow instructors some freedom of interpretation.

        4. The instructor uses a curve to automatically assign letter grades during the semester---if there are enough students to make a curve meaningful---if there arn't, the instructor just decides on letter grades.

          There is NO fixed scale.

          Nosta bene: The instructor decides what GPA the curve gives. Yours truly can move it up or down depending on the overall performance of the class in relation to yours truly's expectations.

          The final grades are decided on by the instructor directly---the curve is NOT used---except as a guide.

          There do NOT have to be any Ds or Fs if everyone comes up to the yours truly's expectations---which is sort of the standard in the back of my mind.

          There is special consideration for those who improve on the final. But how much depends on how things look to the instructor at the end of the semester.

        5. The instructor will submit MIDTERM GRADES and FINAL GRADES as scheduled at ????.

          Remember that after an instructor has submitted FINAL GRADES, any adjustments (except for purely clerical errors) are very difficult. Reweightings are frowned on or just not allowed.

          Students should make any queries about their final grades before the instructor submits them.

    16. Posted Grades:

  2. Tentative Schedule I
  3. The tentative semester I schedule is below.

    There might be a little variation, but not much actually.

    Any material not covered by in-class lecture is a reading and expected known.

    It is a jam-packed course.

    1. Week of Jan08 1 Jan09 M Course Intro website, syllabus 2 Jan11 W Ch. 1 & 2 measurement, 1-d kinematics homewk 1, due Jan18 W, solution 1 3 Jan13 F Ch. 2 1-d kinematics homewk 2, due Jan20 F, solution 2
    2. Week of Jan15 4 Jan16 M MLK Day recess 5 Jan18 W Ch. 2 1-d kinematics 6 Jan20 F Ch. 3 vectors homewk 3, due Jan27 F, solution 3
    3. Week of Jan22. See 2-d kinematics 7 Jan23 M Ch. 4 multi-dimensional kinematics (guest lecturer) 8 Jan25 W Ch. 4 multi-dimensional kinematics, vectors 9 Jan27 F Ch. 4 multi-dimensional kinematics homewk 4, NOT HANDED IN, solution 4
    4. Week of Jan29 10 Jan30 M Ch. 5 Newton's laws 11 Feb01 W Test 1 (Ch. 1--4) Exam 1 solutions 12 Feb03 F Ch. 5 & 6 Newton's laws homewk 5, due Feb10 F, solution 5
    5. Week of Feb05 13 Feb06 M Ch. 5 & 6 Newton's laws 14 Feb08 W Ch. 5 & 6 Newton's laws 15 Feb10 F Ch. 5 & 6 Newton's laws homewk 6, due Feb17 F, solution 6
    6. Week of Feb12 16 Feb13 M Ch. 7 kinetic energy and work homewk 7, due Feb22 W, solution 7 17 Feb15 W Ch. 7 kinetic energy and work 18 Feb17 F Ch. 7 kinetic energy and work
    7. Week of Feb19 19 Feb20 M Ch. 8 conservative forces homewk 8, NOT HANDED IN, solution 8 20 Feb22 W Ch. 8 potential energy and conservation of energy 21 Feb24 F Ch. 8 potential energy and conservation of energy
    8. Week of Feb26 22 Feb27 M Ch. 9 center of mass homewk 9, due Mar16 F, solution 9 23 Feb29 W Test 2 (Ch. 5--8) Exam 2 solutions 24 Mar02 F Ch. 9 momentum
    9. Week of Mar04, Spring Break
    10. Week of Mar11 25 Mar12 M Ch. 9 collisions 26 Mar14 W Ch. 10 rotational kinematics homewk 10, due Mar19 M, solution 10 27 Mar16 F Ch. 10 rotational dynamics
    11. Week of Mar18 25 Mar19 M Ch. 11 angular momentum homewk 11, NOT HANDED IN, solution 11 26 Mar21 W Ch. 11 angular momentum 27 Mar23 F Ch. 12 torque & equilibrium homewk 12, NOT HANDED IN, solution 12
    12. Week of Mar25 28 Mar26 M Ch. 12 torque & equilibrium 29 Mar28 W Test 3 (ch. 9--12) Exam 3 solutions 30 Mar30 F Ch. 13 gravitation homewk 13, due Apr09 M, solution 13
    13. Week of Apr01 31 Apr02 M Ch. 15 oscillations homewk 15, NOT HANDED IN, solution 15 32 Apr04 W Ch. 15 oscillations 33 Apr06 F Easter recess
    14. Week of Apr08 34 Apr09 M Ch. 16 waves I homewk 16, NOT HANDED IN, solution 16 35 Apr11 W Ch. 17 waves II homewk 17, NOT HANDED IN, solution 17 36 Apr13 F Ch. 18 heat & temperature homewk 18, NOT HANDED IN, solution 18
    15. Week of Apr15 37 Apr16 M Ch. 19 kinetic theory of gases homewk 19, NOT HANDED IN, solution 19 38 Apr18 W Ch. 20 entropy & 2nd law homewk 20, NOT HANDED IN, solution 20 39 Apr20 F catch-up/review
    16. Week of Apr22 40 Apr23 M Test 4 (Ch. 13,15--20) (may be omitted if we need more catch-up) Exam 4 solutions 41 Apr25 W Reading Day, no classes 42 Apr27 F Joint final for all sections, 10:15--12:15, sections 1 and 2 write in Koch 100

  4. Tentative Schedule II
  5. No dated schedule has ever been adhered to by the instructor---except for summer courses.

    So there are no dates for chapters in this tentative schedule.

    However, we have 16 weeks in the semester (not counting spring/fall recess) and we may lose about two weeks of classes for in-class exams and holidays: e.g., in the fall, Labor Day and in the spring Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

    So about 14 weeks and 42 lecture class hours.

    Since we are planning on 12 chapters (chapters 23--34), we will be covering about a chapter per week on average.

    In sense, this course covers an awful lot.

    But that's why we have courses, to yoke ourselves together like mule team and just drive forward to the the end in a finite time.

    And it's all great stuff: intellectually exciting, vital for education and career.

    Some parts of chapters may be omitted.

    Some parts of chapters may be assigned as readings with NO in-class lecturing on them.

    1. Electric Charge, Electric Force, and Electric Field

    2. Gauss's Law

    3. Electric Potential Energy and Electrical Potential:

        Notes Handwritten.
        Notes Latex-ed, but incomplete or non-existent.
        Homework 25: Due: Jun26, Friday, 4:00 pm.
        Solutions 25:

        1. Electrical Potential Energy and Electrical Potential
        2. Potential in a Uniform Field
        3. Proof that the Electric Force is Conservative
        4. Electric Field From Electrical Potential
        5. Potential and Continuous Charge Distributions
        6. Potential and Conductors
        7. Online references, images, and animations

    4. Capacitors, Capacitance, and Dielectrics

    5. Current and Resistance

    6. Direct Current Circuits

    7. Magnetic Fields (B-Fields)

        Notes Handwritten.
        Notes Latex-ed, but incomplete or non-existent.
        Homework 29: Due: Jul16, Thursday, 4:00 pm.
        Solutions 29:

        1. Magnetic Fields and Forces
        2. Motion of a Charged Particle in a Uniform Magnetic Field
        3. Cases of Charged Particle Motion in B-Fields
        4. The Magnetic Force on Current-Carrying Conductor
        5. Magnetic Torque on Current Loop (a Magnetic Dipole)
        6. The Hall Effect
        7. Online references, images, and animations

    8. Sources of Magnetic Fields

    9. Faraday's Law of Induction

    10. Inductance

    11. Alternating Current (AC) Circuits Omitted if necessary.

    12. Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)