121 Winter 2019 Week 1

Back to Main Class Website

We will introduce ourselves and the learning model for this class. We will then introduce the general concepts of the class.
The Codes:
Green is the color or your Goal: What should you know by the end of this day?

Know how the class is run differently from traditional classes and the resources students have available.
Know how your final grade will be determined.
Visit my office sometime this week or next week and say “HI” and consider how nice the 6th floor of Baker Science is to gather in groups. 

Before Class:

  1. Please get connected with PlayPosit by watching the videos below. The first time you click on a video link, “PlayPosit” will ask you for your Email and a password and you should enroll in the (green icon) Winter 2019 121 class. It’s free. You need to do this to get credit for video watching (a large portion of your grade). Please record  your password somewhere when you do this, so we don’t have to go through the difficult process of retrieval.
  2. Watch the video about our unique way of learning physics: How we are learning physics 
  3.  Read the syllabus (link on main website), know how you are graded.
  4. Then, watch this video about the syllabus.
  5.  Reading: Section 1.0: Introduction in the textbook (link on main class website).
  6. Do you know how you learn? Most people think they do, but their beliefs don’t match a study’s results! Please see for yourself by taking this short quiz on NPR.
  7. View “Four Concepts” video, 4 kinds of physics questions
  8. Please have a look at Home Work #1 (HW), posted on main class website, due next week Monday.
  9. Help me determine office hours by filling out the doodle poll of when you think you will want to come to my office. Please ignore it if you don’t think you’ll visit office hours.

During Class
We will introduce ourselves. Be prepared to provide your name, major, something you’re passionate about, and something about you and physics.
We will spend a short time discussing the videos. How is this learning format going to work for you?

Your responsibility in this class is to develop working relationships with other students. Our class is a social environment, and we will work together solving problems, arguing about concepts, studying for exams and doing projects. Because I won’t always be there in front of you, you will need to work with your peers, and you will also need to take the initiative to say, “Pete, we all have a question.” Lastly, you don’t need to wait until office hours to get together for study or group, and the working area outside my office is always there.

After Class
HW #1 is due next Monday in class.

Units: distance (meters), speed (meters/second), or speed is the rate of change of distance: v=Δx/Δt, Force (Newtons)
Before Class:
    1. Work on Problem Set #1
    1. View Position and Velocity
    1. Watch Veritassium video, Say the Wrong Thing
    1. Read more about confusion on NPR: Confusion is How it Feels to Learn
    1. Read the paper I published about our learning method in The Physics Teacher. Figure out if this is going to work for you.
  1. Read the following in the textbook (link on main class website).
    • 1.1 Momentum
    • 1.2 Energy
    • 1.3 Dynamics
    • 1.4 Kinematics  
  2. BadAss Tutors are advertising on campus. Please avoid them. The physics department has an official policy against them. I did some online research and found claims of everything from incompetence to fraud to sexual misconduct. ***Happily 🙂 **** we have better options! I encourage you to find support in the following order:
    • Find a group of people and study together. Everyone should do this.
    • Come to Office Hours – preferably with a group of students to work with.
    • Visit the physics learning center, 180-272. We are presently negotiating to get learning assistants there that have taken mechanics with me so they know how our class is different from other classes. A schedule will be posted soon, with all information on the learning center website.
    • Ask me for information for a private tutor. I know people who have been in my class that will do well.
    • I do wish for any private tutoring to be a last resort. The most proven learning model is peer education where we help each other. The most successful students have been those that work in groups outside my office. In the case that they get stuck, I am able to help!
  3. I’ve posted Office Hours on the main class website: MWF: 11-noonTR: 3-4, subject to change during the first week.
  4. So, the question that we didn’t have time to talk about, that you may have seen on the screen was,”Should I be concerned because this is new and different?” My answer to that is that the bad news is the good news is that what we’re doing isn’t new and different any more. I’ve had many classes now this way, and two other instructors out East are doing it too. Additionally, a few other Cal Poly profs will teach this method next fall. Thus, what we’re doing isn’t that new anymore. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a better way to learn physics.

 During class:
We look at a collision on an (almost) frictionless surface. Momentum and energy are conserved in a closed system. However, can momentum or energy change forms?

After Class:
Consider the cart collision today in class:
1) Is momentum conserved? How do you know?… Or don’t you know?
2) Is energy conserved? How do you know?… Or don’t you know?
3) Are there forces and accelerations? Please describe directions and magnitudes (how big they are)!
4) What about motion? Can you make a speed vs time graph for each cart? Can you make a position vs time graph for each cart?

We are learning to be conscious of the lens (concept) we are looking through or if we are not using a lens. We are practicing using the four different lenses.

Before Class:

This is a time that you may feel confused because there are many loose ends. We just covered the first ~ 5 units from a regular physics curriculum in two classes. Of course we didn’t comprehensively tie everything together. When I look at what we did accomplish and talk about, I find it impressive. So if you’re confused… great! we will be going over this for the next several weeks. Hang onto those questions, bring them into class for discussion.

  1. Work on PS #1
  2. View Energy Flows 
  3. View Dropping Rock.
  4. View Acceleration Video
  5. We can estimate speed and acceleration of a rocket by taking a video of it. This is the foundation of our video project that we will do next week, so learn all you can from this video. I slow the video down a considerable amount. However, you may want to slow it down more in youtube if this helps.
  6. Please read in the Textbook (link on main class website):
  • Energy, please review the energy chapter: 1.2,
  • 1.5 Acceleration
  • 1.6 Potential and Kinetic Energy

In Class:
We will look at things falling and compare times to fall and speed at the end. The goal is to practice using the 4 different concepts and recognize that we are reluctant to use them. Instead of invoking the new tools we are introduced to, we often revert to methods of reasoning that we have used before! The goal is to increase our awareness that we do that!… and start developing new tools. Can we examine our inherent familiarity with how physics works in nature; Can we close our eyes and “see” what will happen?


Before Class:

  1. NOTE! additional office hours have been posted on the main class website, in the learning center with Matt. So now you have 5 office hours at my office and three in the learning center.
  2. Work on Problem Set #1, due Monday
  3. View Forces Effect on p, v, E
  4. View Scaling
  5. Elon Musk just uses simple scaling to create disruptive technologies: Quartz Media Story
  6. Read about:
  • 1.7 Forces, Momentum, Energy
  • 1.8 Applying Lenses of Mechanics. Very important!!! please read through and expect some kind of question related to conservation laws – what they are and what they are NOT.
  • 1.9 Scaling – How does behavior change as things get bigger?

During class, Slides: Lect 4 121 W19 Scaling
Big Exam #1. As you know from reading the syllabus, the big exams are for practicing. By taking big exams, we can develop an understanding of how the exams work and how we can manage our feelings and approach. In order to prepare for it, please consider this paragraph in the paper I wrote about our learning model:

…students in this class did not start questions with lens identification until after the grading policy was invoked. Even with full knowledge of the rubric and practice in class, the vast majority of the students (and two instructors sitting in on the class) did not identify a lens on the first quiz and thus received a grade of D. Subsequently, most students consistently began answering each question identifying the relevant concepts. It is possible that the change in grading alone would have resulted in students beginning each question with concept identification. Accordingly, a recent publication reports increased student learning with ungraded, timely feed- back and other Formative Assessment techniques.1

  1. J. Haugan, M. Lysebo, P. Lauvas, “Mandatory coursework assignments can be, and should be eliminated!” Eur. J. of Engin. Educ., 1–14, March 21, 2017; published online at http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/03043797.2017.1301383

Videos I find helpful:
Veritasium’s Cool Science Home