Introductory Mechanics Fall 2016

Please see last spring’s class, and all my classes.

PHYS-141-05 Tues/Thurs 2:10 – 4:00, 180-265, Baker Science

Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics, Pete’s Webpage, Pete’s other classes, Pete’s Research
Email:, 756-1220, My office is at 180-608, the new science building, room 608
Office hours: M(11:10), T(10:10), W(5:10), R(12:10), F(11:10)

The Syllabus explains the class policies including how your final grade is determined.

Teaching “flipped”, “parallel”, with an open-online text. Please see video explaining How we are learning physics if you are not a student in the class, or if you don’t need to get credit for seeing the video, you can see the youtube version of How we are learning physics. A recent publication lends support to several aspects of our learning method: Active learning better engages the brain; asking questions (like in our videos) is an effective way to learn; learning concepts in parallel allows us to space out the concepts and revisit them over a longer period of time.

While I assign videos via a website that keeps track of your participation, you can also access my youtube videos directly from my youtube website, or just google the titles. However, in order to receive credit for watching the videos, you need to follow the links on this website.

I am writing a basic textbook to cover the material consistent with our timeline. I will add the chapters here and also at the appropriate place in the timeline as I write them. In week 5, I started to use chapters from the newly available OpenStax calculus based textbook because many of them work for us after we have set the foundation of conceptual understanding. I will intersperse these chapters with the short conceptual guidance I write to support the videos.

Group project: see the first project description, the Second Project Description, and the Second Project Website where you can post your project,

Problem Sets: PS#1, PS#1 Pete’s Answers, PS#2, PS#2 Answers, PS#3, MT#1 from last quarter + extra questions, PS#3 guidance, PS#4, PS#4 guidance, PS#5,PS#5 Guidance, PS#6, PS#6 Guidance, PS#7, PS#7 Solutions, PS#8, PS#8 Solutions, PS#9, PS#9 Solutions, PS#10, Precession Lab Results, PS#10 Solutions


Response to Friday Feedback: I will ask you for your thoughts and provide a summary and my response here: Week 2, Week 5

Student Evaluations for this class

To see the week’s assignments, please click on the number of the week at left on the table below.

Week page Topics


Our Learning Model
Intro to 4-Concepts: qualitative approach to looking at phenomena
Hour 1: Introductions
Hour 2: 4 lenses, look at the rock falling from a cliff through the four lenses. What’s happening?
add direction with momentum – two objects moving in opposite directions. when they hit, what happens? two examples: (1) they stop, (2) one has twice the mass and equal speed.



Hour 1 – Introduce formulas for gravitational potential energy the acceleration of gravity, and do a calculation where you drop a rock from 10 meters and calculate its speed when it hits the ground. Also calculate the momentum.
Energy – introduce formulas kinetic energy and the unit of a Joule with explicit showing of the units – what happens to the kinetic energy if I double the mass? If I double the speed? Forces, what if I push on something in the opposite direction it is moving in?
Hour 2 – Forces and how they affect momentum (p/t) and energy (work)- see video if you need refresher.
– probably we’re not ready for this yet: Rate of change. speed, acceleration, power
Hour 3 – Analyzing problems from all lenses. Power.
Hour 4 – Graphical analysis of one-dimensional motion. Work, Energy, Power in people.



Hour 1: Video activity
Hour 2: One-dimensional version of dynamics protocol

  • Identify this problem is about forces –> Dynamics problem
  • I don’t know anything
  • Sum F=ma
  • I think this can be done in one dimension without having to explain vectors to people
  • Basic free body diagram
  • Is this in equilibrium?
  • Add the forces

Hour 3: Vectors in one dimension
Hour 4: Springs and Potential Energy Graphs



Hour 1: Changing reference frames
Hour 2: Friction
Hour 3: Midterm #1
Hour 4: Review MT #1



Introduction to Rotation
Hour 1: 4 kinds of rotational questions and direction
Hour 2: moment of inertia and rotational energy and rotational dynamics
1-D rotational kinetics, torque
Hour 3: Statics
Hour 4: Angular momentum (conserved) as a scalar kind of.



  1. Gravitation and the inverse square law
  2. Centripetal acceleration Satellite Equation
  3. Rotational dynamics on a road, loop the loop. Friction
  4. Universal Gravitational Energy, and potential energy diagrams, Escape velocity.



  1. Introduction to Systems, Atwood machine.
  2. Rotational systems too
  3. Parallel Axis Theorem



Day 1: Midterm #2
Day 2: Introduction to components, 2 Dimensions
2-dimensions: components for force, torque, work
Components for momentum in x and y and but angular momentum components only deal with two objects spinning on the same axis in opposite directions. Parabolic trajectory
Dynamics protocol for asking the question and Inclined plane versus fuzzy dice problem.



  1. Energy, Dynamics, momentum, kinematics in 2-D
  2. Conical Pendulum and circular motion
  3. Systems in 2-D
  4. Angular momentum of a point mass
Thanksgiving Break



Torque as rate of change of angular momentum
including precession include a day lab… precession lab
Trigonometry revisit parbolic trajectory, and Torque and work, and everything
Malicious equations of linear and rotation kinematics



Ladder Problem
Sharing Video Projects
Bugatti Veyron Problem
Final exam review
Exam week Thursday, 4 PM in our classroom, 180-265
Cal Poly exam Schedules

An asterisk indicates that the link is to a page from a past class and hasn’t been updated yet.

As I try to improve the class, I am keeping Notes to Self