Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session, and 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Overview

Newtonian Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics are the four subjects that form the foundation for our modern physical understanding of the world, an understanding that can lead to quantitative predictions of many physical processes. Historically, a set of core concepts: space, time, mass, force, momentum, torque, and angular momentum, were introduced in Newtonian Mechanics in order to solve the most famous physics problem, the motion of the planets. The principles of mechanics successfully described many other phenomena encountered in the world. Conservation Laws involving energy, momentum and angular momentum provided a second parallel approach to solving many of the same problems. In Physics I, we will investigate both approaches: force and conservation laws. Our goal is to develop a conceptual understanding of the core concepts, a familiarity with the experimental verification of our theoretical laws, and an ability to apply the theoretical framework to describe and predict the motions of bodies (expert problem solving). This understanding is a necessary prerequisite for additional study of Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics.


The Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Format includes

  • Interactive online homework
  • Group problem solving
  • Personal Response System
  • Peer Instruction

The following activities are part of the TEAL classroom

  • Lecture/Presentations
    • Like lectures, but less formal (discussion, Personal Response System (PRS) questions, interruption encouraged)
    • Notes usually available on server prior to class
    • Personal Response System (PRS) questions: to stimulate discussion and indicate how concepts are going over
  • In-class problem solving for class/group discussion
    • There will usually be five people in the room to help out (instructor, grad and two undergrad TAs, and demo-group member)
  • In-class Experiments
    • Pre-experiment question part of problem set
    • Carried out by groups of three, in class
    • Laptops with DataStudio and other software; most experiments will interface to laptops
    • Conceptual Report due at end of experiment
    • Post-experiment data analysis part of problem set
  • Expert Problem Solving
    • In-class problem solving sessions
    • Problem Sets and Mastering Physics assignments
    • Tutoring is available


Buy at Amazon Young, Hugh D., and Roger A. Freedman. University Physics with Modern Physics. 11th ed. San Francisco, CA: Addison Wesley, July 25, 2003. ISBN: 9780805386844.

You are responsible for reading the textbook and working assigned problems. You should start homework early and get help if needed before the due date.

Mastering Physics Homework (Note: Not available to OCW users)

Each Sunday and Thursday evenings there will be an on-line assignment using the Mastering Physics software that comes with the Young and Freedman Textbook. The questions will cover some of the material in the up-coming class. The goal of this assignment is to introduce you to the concepts that will be covered in class the next day. Your answers will be graded by the Mastering Physics software. We are not asking you to teach yourself, but to prepare yourself for class. The assignments will be due at 10 pm Sunday and Thursday evenings. To receive credit for your work, you must submit your assignment electronically before the due date.

Written Homework

In addition to the Mastering Physics assignments submitted electronically, there will be one longer homework handed in on paper each week. To receive full credit for your hardcopy homework handed in, you must prepare and submit lucid and clearly reasoned written solutions. These problems will be graded and returned.

In-class Group and Personal Assignments

In almost all classes, individuals and groups (see below) will submit answers to questions about desktop experiments done in class, material covered in the lecture in that class, and so on. You must be present in class to receive credit for assignments submitted either by you or by your group. The in-class work is worth about 12% of your grade.

Group Work

You will be assigned to a group of three for collaborative work. Your group assignment will be announced at the beginning of the second week, and that assignment will last throughout the semester. If you are not satisfied with the way your group is working, first try to discuss it with your group members. If you cannot arrive at a satisfactory solution, then discuss the problems with your instructor.

Honesty on Course Work

You are welcome and encouraged to work on the assignment problems with fellow students. However, the work you submit should be your own and reflect your own understanding of the subject.


You will be offered hands-on, inquiry-based activities during the class period. These experiments allow you to discover various aspects of a physics concept. Experiments will vary in length and complexity and will be done in groups. Each week on your written assignments there will be one question which introduces you to the experiment and a second question in which you analyze your data from the preceding week experiment.


There will be three 1 1/2-hour tests. The final will be a comprehensive exam given during finals week, and will cover all of the subject material.


Tutors will be available on a regular basis on Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm. In the days preceding the three tests, there will be additional tutoring available. In addition, instructors will announce office hours.


Three Tests (15% each) 45%
Final Exam 20%
Individual Homework Problem Sets 10%
Mastering Physics Homework 10%
Experiments 5%
In-class work and PRS 10%
  +   -
A >= 95 < 95 and >= 90 < 90 and >= 85
B < 85 and >= 81 < 81 and >= 77 < 77 and >= 73
C < 73 and >= 69 < 69 and >= 66 < 66 and >= 63
D   < 63 and >= 60  
F   < 60