Introductory Mechanics, PHYS-141 Winter 2015


Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics:, Pete’s Webpage:, 805-756-1220, 180-608I’m presently preparing for the coming winter quarter. Many of the links on this page are actually from a Previous Class. I will be updating the links ot new pages for winter quarter with SUSTAIN

The Syllabus (copied from Fall 2014 class) explains the class policies, and the tentative course timeline below shows the course plan. In order to display the week plan, click on the number of the week in the lefthand column.

This course will be utilizing the Educanon platform to deliver interactive video lectures known as “bulbs”. You will need to register with the Educanon website to access the material. An Educanon walk thru document can be found here, as well as a video tutorial here. Want to see the videos without Educanon?: See YouTube direct links.

We mechanics in a “parallel” fashion, whereby concepts of energy, momentum, kinematics, and dynamics are developed simultaneously for increasingly more complex systems. As an example, please see an introductory video: 4 kinds of physics questions.

Week page Topic Learning Objectives

(5 Day)

Introduction to class format.
4 kinds of physics questions
Time Derivatives
1. Our Learning Model
2. Intro to 4-Concepts: qualitative approach to looking at phenomena
3. Units and formulas – learning to be careful with units
4. Rate of change. speed, acceleration

(5 Day)

1. Plan outing, introduce vectors
2. Track Field Trip/ Project 1
3. Analyze outing
4. Time derivatives and Power and Force
Acceleration, velocity, etc. Beginning to put formulas on the concepts.

1. Solve different problems like distance, velocity, acceleration using all 4 concepts and test them out.

2. What is your power, force?


(5 Day)

Forces and Vectors
1.What is an equal and opposite force?
2. Role of force in “Four Questions.”
3. Trigonometry: How do we take components of a force?
4. Springs: Force and Energy
Using vectors.

1. How do we distinguish displacement, velocity, and acceleration from the scalar analogues?

2. Introduce FBD’s

3. what affect does this have on:

a. energy problems (e.g. pendulum swinging has max potential energy when it is at its maximum in the y-direction, max kinetic energy when at minimum y-direction)
b. Force problems? (pulling a sleigh with an angled rope)
c. momentum problems?

(5 day)
Vectors and trig
Midterm 1 on Day 2
1. Friction
2. The inclined Plane
What affect does friction have on:

1. energy problems? (e.g. energy lost to heat)
2. force problems? (e.g. relation between normal force and frictional force)
3. conservation of momentum problems?
4. What are vectors’ relation to friction?


(5 Day)

Universal Gravity
Energy Diagrams
1. Understand the scaling of gravity with distance (the “ubiquitous inverse square law”)
2. Use energy conservation with universal gravitational potential energy
3. The two remaining kinematics equations: identify when you can and can’t use them.

(5 Day)

Projectile Motion
Systems – pulleys, etc.
Changing Reference Frames
Elastic Collisions
Systems: Ask students how they can make complicated problems easier to manage. Then introduce techniques on how to solve these concepts as systems.
How does changing Reference Frames help us solve problems?

(5 Day)

Midterm 2 on Day 2
Circular Motion 4 kinds
rotational questions
After students have mastered both the quantitative and qualitative components of the 4-concepts. Reintroduce these concepts to them in the lens of circular motion. Place importance on the fact that they already know these concepts, this is just another situation.
(4 Day MWRF)
Circular Motion problems Distinguish angular acceleration from centripetal acceleration

(5 Day)

Statics, Angular Momentum and Precession Please see the week timeline for detailed concepts

(2 Day, MT)


(5 Day)

Presentations and Student Projects Students will prepare and share their videos. Review for final exam: Provide students with lots of practice problems and work through them in class. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, extra office hours in 38-121 with free food at noon. (free food is there from noon – 4:00, but I’m just there until noon).
Exam week Do it! The 10:00 AM class has their exam at 10:00 AM
The 1:00 PM class has their exam at 1:00 PM

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