Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
Direct student experience with physics as an experimental science is rare in introductory college courses. The accompanying labs are often peripheral to the course (little credit, little involvement); and have set-piece experiments, sometimes with computers, that give students very little more feeling of how things really work than lecture demos or homework problems (valuable as these are).
At MIT, starting in 1988, John King, Phylis and Philip Morrison, Tony French, and Peter Dourmashkin developed and taught two courses, Mechanics (8.01X) and Electricity & Magnetism (8.02X), in which experiments were central. For a 12-week course there are 8 to 10 experiments that are issued in kit form to student partnerships of two, along with instruments, all in two "Red Boxes" (small plastic toolboxes). Each student purchases (at cost) a tool kit with soldering iron, pliers, wire cutters and strippers, screw drivers, etc.
The partners meet to assemble and run the experiments in their living quarters, take and analyze data, and turn in their notebooks for comment; thus the experiments are part of homework, which also has a reduced number of conventional problems.
These experiments were made central to the course:
- By connecting them closely to the theoretical presentations in lectures and text.
- By taking 25 minutes out of the weekly 150 to discuss the experiment of the week, how to assemble the apparatus, how to troubleshoot, how to take, analyze and present data.
- By having homework and test problems related to the experiments.
Note that the mechanics experiments involve electrical construction and measuring techniques, no more mysterious than a stopwatch or PC. But here a digital multi-meter is taken as an instrument to use; in the E&M experiments analog meters are not only used but also understood-students learn all about how they work.
Courses similar to these have been presented at Caltech, Harvard, and Ecole des Mines.
All necessary materials can be acquired from an online electronics supply source.
Besides the course syllabi and notes, and instructions for 12 basic constructions and experiments (Dourmashkin and King), there is a complete collection of 50 experiments (King, J. G., and A. P. French. Physics 8.01X and 8.02X Experiment Instructions. MIT Physics Department, 1998) that have been used at various times. Finally, there was a published book, ZAP!, designed to be used in conjunction with a version of these introductory physics courses taught at Caltech: Morrison, Philip, Phylis Morrison, and John King. Zap!: A Hands-on Introduction to Electricity & Magnetism. 1991. Preliminary ed. ISBN: 9780892784141.
Physics I, 8.01X, covers the classical Newtonian mechanics syllabus of all the MIT first term physics subjects along with a set of take-home experiments. Topics covered include estimation, kinematics, force, Newton's Laws, energy, work, heat, momentum, collisions, torque, angular momentum, properties of materials, kinetic theory, introduction to the atom, and special relativity.
This course will include three in-class quizzes and one final exam.
There will be a weekly problem set that consists of two parts: hand-written problems to be handed in, and Mastering Physics (not available to OCW users) problems to be answered online.
Experimental work, based primarily on take-home kits, will be a major feature of this course. Experiment instructions will be handed out in class each week. There will be a few short questions regarding the analysis of the experiment that will in general be due at the next lecture.
|Hand-written Problem Sets||10%|
The calendar below provides information on the course's Lecture (L) and Exams (E) sessions.
|SES #||TOPICS||KEY DATES|
|L1||Introduction to 8.01X, Measurement Standards||Estimating a second experiment questions out|
|L2||Mechanics Baseline Test I||Problem set 1 out |
Red boxes out
|L3||Units, Dimensions, Fermi Problems, Estimating a Second Experiment Questions|
|L4||Kinematics: 1D Motion, Displacement and Velocity||Low voltage power supply experiment questions out|
|L5||1D Motion, Velocity and Acceleration |
Mechanics Baseline Test II
|Problem set 2 out |
Estimating a second experiment questions due
Problem set 1 due
|L6||Vectors, Newton's Laws of Motion, Force, Mass and Acceleration|
|L7||Newton's Laws of Motion, Force, Mass and Acceleration (cont.)||Falling object experiment questions out|
|L8||Newton's Laws, Gravitation and Weight, Projectiles||Low voltage power supply experiment questions due |
Problem set 2 due
Problem set 3 out
|L9||Newton's Laws (cont.), Normal Forces and Friction||Force between magnets experiment questions out|
|L10||Review, Applications of Newton's Laws||Falling object experiment questions due |
Problem set 3 due
Problem set 4 out
|E1||Quiz 1 |
Covers: Fundamental Concepts, Fermi Problems, 1D Kinematics, Estimating a Second Experiment Questions, Falling Object Experiment Questions, Projectile Motion, Newton's Laws
|L11||Newton's Laws (cont.), Spring Forces, Tension||Centripetal force experiment questions out|
|L12||Uniform Circular Motion||Problem set 4 due |
Problem set 5 out
|L13||Universal Law of Gravitation, Planetary Orbits|
|L14||Levers, Statics and Torque|
|L15||Statics and Torque||Problem set 5 due |
Force between magnets experiment questions due
Problem set 6 out
|L16||Work, Kinetic Energy|
|L17||Conservation Laws, Potential Energy||Problem set 6 due |
Centripetal force experiment questions due
Problem set 7 out
|L18||Conservation of Mechanical Energy||Energy Transformations Experiment Questions out|
|E2||Quiz 2 |
Covers: Newton's Laws, Circular Motion, Static Equilibrium
|L19||Energy: Universal Gravitation and Planetary Orbits||Problem set 7 due |
Problem set 8 out
|L20||Energy Transformations, Heat|
|L21||Restoring Forces and Harmonic Motion, Pendulum|
|L22||Linear Momentum, Impulse, Newton's 2nd Law||Energy transformations experiment questions due |
Problem set 8 due
Problem set 9 out
|L23||Momentum, Center of Mass|
|L24||Momentum (cont.), Collisions||Vibrating systems experiment Questions out|
|L25||Collisions, Kinetic Theory||Problem set 9 due |
Problem set 10 out
|L26||Angular Kinematics, Torque, Rigid Bodies, Moment of Inertia||Angular momentum experiment questions out|
|L27||Moment of Inertia (cont.), Angular Momentum||Problem set 10 due |
Vibrating systems experiment questions due
Problem set 11 out
|E3||Quiz 3 |
Covers: Energy, Momentum, Conservation Laws, Collisions
|L29||Angular Dynamics, Translation and Rotation||Angular momentum experiment questions due |
Problem set 11 due
|L30||Properties of Materials: Solids|
|L31||Properties of Materials: Fluids||Problem set 12 out |
Flow experiment questions out
|L32||Conservation of Flow, Buoyancy|
|L34||Properties of Materials: Atomic Hypothesis||Problem set 12 due |
Flow experiment questions due
|L35||Special Relativity, Inertial Frames|