Course Web Site and Preliminary Syllabus, Except for the Chemistry Component

Physical Sciences

PS 126: Washburn University: 2005 Spring

Don't Panic

The course motto: very reassuring I think.

Instructor: Dr. David Jeffery, Stoffer Science Hall (ST), Rm 108a, Tel: 785-231-1010, ext 2144, Email:, Office hours: MTWRF 2:30--3:30 p.m., MW 6:00--6:30 pm (If you need to see the instructor for sure, make an appointment. I'm usually happy to see students at any time that I'm relatively free.)

Classes: Places and times.

  1. Stoffer 112, MWF 1:00--2:15 pm (PS 126)
Warning: This syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class as well a made on this page.

M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and Moon

Current Course Sites
  1. Introductory Astronomy Web Lectures (IAWL) for the Solar System/Cosmology courses.
  2. Astronomy David Jeffery astronomy encyclopedia site: general physics, science, and technology are included too.
  3. Astronomy Links
  4. Marks and Grades
  5. Marks and Grades 2004 Fall
  6. Physics Links Look-up pages mainly.

University Sites
  1. Washburn University
  2. Washburn course catalogs past
  3. Washburn academic calendars
  4. Washburn academic calendar 2005 Spring
  5. mywashburn
  6. Student Services including Learning Disability Services
  7. Washburn EOP (Educational Opportunity Program Tutoring and mentoring help.
  8. Washburn University Netstation and Computer Lab Information for Students Fall 2004
  9. Washburn University Faculty Handbook
  10. Washburn University Policy on grades and grade points.
  11. Washburn Physics
  12. Washburn Physics, Crane Observatory

Syllabus Items

    Jump in with Questions? at any time, of course.

    Wait 15 seconds at least. (A self-note to the instructor.)

  1. Prerequisites: None.

  2. Course Web Site: The course web site and preliminary syllabus URL is which is the page you are viewing right now.

    This page is linked from the official Washburn PS 126 course page.

  3. Required Course Textbook: The Physical Universe (2003, 10th edition) by Konrad B. Krauskopf & Arthur Beiser, McGraw-Hill.

    We will just call it the text or Krauskopf or KB for Krauskopf & Beiser.

  4. Nature of the Course: This course is an introduction to the physical sciences physics, astronomy, and chemistry.

    Not especially astronomy---but yours truly is an astronomy specialist.

    Infinity and Eternity But as Dorothy said, there's no place like home.

    The main objectives are to learn some of the basic principles of the aforesaid sciences and equally importantly to gain a greater understanding of scientific thinking.

    The scientific thinking in the physical sciences generally includes experimentation, theorizing, utilization of mathematics in the description of nature, and the scientific method.

    Alien consigning math to the flames Well not quite.

    For students who are unrefreshed in math, the math component may seem challenging.

    But there will be lots of practice.

    This course is NOT one to teach you how to teach physical sciences to elementary students.

    It is a course to give students background in the physical sciences.

    It is hoped that students will make progress in achieving some of skills in Washburn's General Educational Statement: The ability to

    1. read intelligently,
    2. reason mathematically and understand numerical data,
    3. process information both in terms of synthesis and analysis,
    4. solve problems using the methods of analysis considering evidence, relevance and validity.

    Is this a hard course?

    Yeah, it's hard.

  5. The Divide: There is one major calendrical divide in the course.

    Yours truly lectures, etc. on physics and astronomy until April 8??? which is the end of week 12 of the semester. Thus, there are 11 weeks of classes (not counting spring break) and 32 lecture periods: Martin Luther King Day causes the missing period. 3 periods are needed for in-class tests. So there are 29 ordinary-day lecture periods.

    Starting April 11???, Sue Salem of the Chemistry Department takes over for the last 4 weeks of the semester: that makes up 12 lecture periods. She may also make use of the scheduled final exam period. Sue Salem will give you her own separate syllabus. We discussed how to do things for about 2 minutes: that's what we call coordination.

    It's a different world after April 8: a much easier world for yours truly.

    From here on this syllabus concerns itself ALMOST ONLY with the physics and astronomy components of the course.

  6. Daily Grind: We have three 75 minute lecture periods per week. On non-test days, the first 45 minutes or will be a lecture.

    Then there will be a 5 minute break.

    Then USUALLY there will be a 25 minute group-work period in which the students will work in groups on the homework and other assigned problems or occasionally an experiment.

    It is assumed that the students can find natural groups of their own. No fewer than 2 people and no more than 4 people per group.

    On the first day of class we will take some time to get the groups set up and for the instructor to note them down and then resume the lecture.

    Groups can be changed later, of course.

    The students are required to stay and participate in the group work.

    The instructor will circulate during the group-work period in TA-mode.

    There will be a point for each group-work day. To get this point students must be around to the end of class and working on course work with their group when the instructor circulates.

    The group-work component of the class is 9 % of the final grade.

    There will be 3 drop days and if a student must miss other days for unavoidable reasons, special drops will be given.

    The group-work period is somewhat experimental. If it does NOT work well, then it will be canceled and the group-work weighting of the final grade shifted to the in-class exams.

  7. Self-Marked Homeworks: The homeworks for each chapter of the textbook are specified below: they consist of textbook multiple-choice questions, full-answer questions, and problems.

    The multiple-choice questions are NOT marked. The answers are within a page or two of the question itself.

    The assigned (full answer) questions and problems have solutions at the back of the text: these are odd-numbered questions and problems.

    The students are to do the assigned questions and problems and then self-mark them using the given solutions: you CANNOT look at the solutions before you are ready to mark.

    Sometimes a non-odd numbered question or problem may be included in the homeworks: the solution will be supplied in class.

    Each question and problem is worth 5 points.

    All homeworks count the same no matter how much each one is out of.

    Be fair with yourself, but strict. Give part-marks, but if something is wrong, it's wrong.

    Report your total for each homework to the instructor when you have it.

    Try to keep up with the lecture material.

    You can, of course, get help answering the homeworks and work in collaboration.

    In fact, collaboration is ENFORCED by the group work.

    But there is a difference between and a lot of help and straight copying of answers. Don't copy.

    The homeworks are worth only 3 % or LESS of the total grade. Thus variations between people in grading themselves should not be very important.

    There is one drop on the homeworks: thus the lowest homework will be dropped for the final grade accounting.

    In fact, most people should get most of the homework problems completely right.

  8. Topics and Homeworks: Keeping to a fixed schedule is difficult, and so only a list of topics and homeworks is given. There might have to be some omissions or even inclusions which will be announced.

    The instructor will often deviate from the text covering topics in more or less detail or in different order. The instructor thinks this is good since you get complementary presentations.

    (Abbreviations: KB x--y means read KB pages x through y; MC means multiple-choice question; Q means full answer question; P means problem.)

        Chapter  1:  Science Philosophy (KB 2--6)
                       Note KB are a bit dogmatic.  Everyone has 
                         different nuance on these philosophical points. 
                     MC:  1--3
                     Q: 1, 3:   Total Marks 10 
                                (Note KB's answers are dogmatic too.
                                Accept almost anything reasonable when you mark.)
        Chapter  2:  Motion (KB 28--55)
                     MC:  1--38
                     Q & P:  all odd ones:  Total Marks 195
        Chapter  3:  Energy (KB 64--84)
                     MC:  1--33
                     Q & P:  all odd ones:  Total Marks 130
        Chapter  4:  Matter & Energy, Heat & Temperature
                     (KB 98--102, 104--128)
                     Note the instructor's lectures vary the order
                     of topics and the detail of coverage.
                     MC:  1--31
                     Q & P:  all odd ones:  Total Marks 170
        Chapter  5:  Electricity (KB 136--152).  We omit magnetism initially,
                       but we could return to it if there is time.
                     MC:  1--13, 29--35
                     Q:  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17
                     P:  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25
                        Total Marks 110
        Chapter  6:  Wave Motion (KB 176--192, 209--210)
                     MC:  1--19
                     Q:  1, 3, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 29, 33
                     P:  1, 3, 5, 7,  9, 11, 13
                        Total Marks 90
        Chapter  7:  The Nucleus (KB 218--241).   We omit elementary particles
                       initially, but we could return to them if there is time.
                     MC:  1--23, 31--36
                     Q:  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23
                     P:  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19
                        Total Marks 110
        Chapter  8:  The Atom (KB 256--260, 262--265, 276--277).  We plan to omit
                       several topics.  But we might re-include them if it looks
                       like there is time. 
                     MC: 1--5, 8, 11--12, 32--35
                     Q:  1, 3, 5, 7,  9, 11, 13
                     P:  1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 13
                        Total Marks 75
        Chapter 18:  The Universe (KB 650--652, 654--660).  The instructor
                       will lecture on cosmology and will expand considerably
                       on the text.
                     MC:  21--22, 26--34
                     Q:  22, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
                        Total Marks 35
        If there is time left over extra astronomy topics or earlier topics
        that were bypassed can be taken up.
  9. Exams: There will be 3 in-class exams for the physics and astronomy components. The scheduled final is reserved for chemistry????.

    The exams will be on the the topics just covered.

    The tentative dates for the 3 in-class exams are:

          Exam        Date 
          Exam 1      Feb11 F  (tentative) 
          Exam 2      Mar11 F  (tentative)
          Exam 3:     Apr08 F  (tentative)
          Final Exam  May11 W  1:30 pm 

    The in-class tests are worth 63 % of the final grade.

    Thus, they are worth 21 % each.

    The tests are all multiple-choice questions and scantrons are NOT used. An answer table will be provided. They are closed book; calculators are allowed.

    An equation sheet will be provided. You will be given a copy before the tests for study purposes.

    Make-up tests are possible, but students who have not taken a given test must avoid knowing anything about that test given in other sections or to other people.

  10. Evaluation and Grading: The 4 grading categories, their weightings, and their drops are:
          homeworks              < 3 %      1 drop
          group work             < 9 %      3 drops
          3 in-class tests      > 63 %      no drop
          chemistry               25 %      no drop
    Letter grades will be assigned following the Washburn Faculty Handbook grade rules.

    The rules say the average grade is to be a C and that's the way it will be.

    But the rules permit some freedom since ``excellent,'' ``well above average,'' ``below average but passing,'' and ``failure'' are not precisely defined.

    During the semester current letter grades are assigned in an automated fashion according the BELL CURVE---which physicists call a Gaussian.

    There will probably be NO updating of the letter grades during the chemistry component. Sue Salem just reports her grades to me at the end of that component.

    Grade Distribution of a Bell Curve
    Grade Percentage of Standard deviations from mean a bell-curve class for each grade bin. in each grade bin A standard deviation is the statistical width of the distribution
    A 10 % 1.28 B 25 % 0.38 C 45 % -0.84 D 15 % -1.64 F 5 % 0. The bell curve grade point average is 2.20.
    The actual class will not usually have exactly this breakdown because the class distribution will not be exactly a bell curve.

    There is for instance NO need for F's at all.

    At the end of the semester the instructor will make a FINAL grade decision.

    The instructor will NOT lower a grade from the BELL CURVE assignment: the instructor might raise it depending on several things including:

    1. Did a student improve in the chemistry component or on chemistry final?
    2. Is there a good gap in percentages in which to draw a grade line?

    But students should count on anything.

    Just do your best all along---subject to all the other constraints in life.

    Aliens and Grades Beware of aliens bearing grades.

  11. Posting Grades: Student marks and grades will be posted at the course web site (i.e., above) under an anonymous alias only if the student requests this.

    If you desire a web posting of marks and grades, give an anonymous alias on the fun quiz at the end of this syllabus if it is a hardcopy syllabus. You only need to hand this in if you want GRADE POSTING. Follow the given alias rules.

    The alias is ONLY for grade posting. You don't put it on things you hand in and I won't recognize you by it.

    You can, of course, give an alias at any time.

    I do recommend that you ask for GRADE POSTING since experience shows students, particularly as the semester nears the end, do want to know what they've gotten.

    The fun quiz tear-away page is really only to give your name and, if you wish, an alias to the instructor.

  12. Disability Services: The Student Services/Services for Students with Disabilities Office (SSWDO) is responsible for assisting in arranging accommodations and for identifying resources on campus for persons with disabilities. Qualified students with disabilities must register with the office to be eligible for services. SSWDO MUST have documentation on file in order to provide services. Accommodations may include in-class notetakers, test readers and/or scribes, adaptive computer technology, brailled materials. New requests for accommodations should be submitted two months or more prior to the date services should begin; however, contact SSWDO as soon as a need may arise.

    1. Location: Student Services, Morgan Hall-Room 150
    2. Phone: 785-231-1010, ext 1629 (may leave voice mail 24 hrs/day) or TDD: 785-231-1025
    3. Web Site: Student Services including Learning Disability Services

    Students may voluntarily identify themselves to the instructor for a referral to SSWDO.