Introductory Mechanics Spring 2016

PHYS-141-05 (MTWR at 3:00 PM) and PHYS-141-08 (MTWR at 4:00 PM)

Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics, Pete’s Webpage. See Pete’s other classes.
Email:, 756-1220, 180-608
Office hours: M(10:10 AM), T(2:10), W(noon), F(11), F(noon)

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 and revisit the concepts 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 them, you need to follow the links on this website.

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 answers, PS#2, PS#2 answers, PS#3, PS#3 Solutions, comments, PS#4, PS#4 Solutions, PS#5, PS#5_Solutions, PS#6, PS#6_Solutions, PS#7, PS#7_solutions, PS#8, PS#8_Solutions, PS#9, PS#9_Solutions, PS#10, PS#10_Solutions

Exams: Big Exam #1, Big Exam #1 answers and notes, Big Exam #2, Big Exam #2 Notes, MT#1 answers, MT#1 WRITTEN SOLUTIONS, Big Exam #3 Solutions. Big Exam #4, Solutions for BE4. Big Exam #5, Big Exam #5 Solutions, MT#2, MT#2_Answers, MT#2_Solutions, Big Exam #6 Solutions, BE#8_Solutions

More Practice:
Want more practice problems? Try: F11 total quizzes with answers, or access any exams or problem sets from past classes
Try some problems in your textbook. Try some notes and questions from Professor Ron Brown: Introduction, 1. Forces, 2. Kinematics, 3. Newton’s Laws, 4. Work and Energy, 5. Momentum, 6. Rotational Motion,

Response to Friday Feedback: I will ask you for your thoughts on some Fridays, and provide a summary and my response here. Week 2, Week 5, Week 10, Post Finals

Surveys: These two classes took the CLASS (pronoucned “See-Lass”: The Colorado Learning Attutudes about Science Survey). The results indicate a shift toward “expert” thinking about physics.

Week page Topic Learning Objectives

3 day

Introduction to learning model
4 kinds of questions
Time rate of change
Role of force in “4 Lenses.”
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, power

4 day

1. Track Field Trip/ Project 1
2. Analyze outing
3. Equal and Opposite Force.
4. Free Body Diagram
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. How would you go about measuring acceleration? force? power?
3. What is your power, force?
4. How do we distinguish displacement, velocity, and acceleration from the scalar analogues?
5. Introduce 1-D FBD
4 day
1. Springs
2. Energy Diagram
3. Friction
4. Changing Reference Frames
5. Elastic Collision
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?
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)
c. momentum problems?
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)
4. How does changing Reference Frames help us solve problems?

4 day

1. Examples and big picture.
2. Midterm 1
3.Two Dimensions and the 4 lenses
4.Two Dimensions Free Body Diagram
5. Visually Quantifying Vector Components
Using vectors.

1. Introduce 2-D FBD’s
2.5 Force problems? (pulling a sleigh with an angled rope)
2. what affect do vectors 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. 2-D momentum problems?
3. What are vectors’ relation to friction?


4 day

1. Inclined Plane
2. Statics
3. Universal Gravity, Inverse Square
4. Escape Speed
1. Understand the scaling of gravity with distance (the “ubiquitous inverse square law”)
4 day
Cookies at Office Hours
1. Centripetal Acceleration and its dynamics
2. Satellite
3. Trigonometry and all it entails
1. Introduce trigonometry and the displacement formulas
2. Use energy conservation with universal gravitational potential energy
3. The two remaining kinematics equations: identify when you can and can’t use them.

4 day

Systems – pulleys, etc.
Review problems
Systems: Ask students how they can make complicated problems easier to manage. Then introduce techniques on how to solve these concepts as systems.

4 day

4 kinds
rotational questions
Statics, Moment of Inertia,
After we have have mastered both the quantitative and qualitative components of the 4-concepts. Now, we reintroduce these concepts in the lens of circular motion. Place importance on the fact that we already know these concepts, now applied to rotation.
Distinguish angular acceleration from centripetal acceleration

4 day

Torque and Angular_momentum, precession The rotational analogue for F=ma is Torque = I*alpha, but it isn’t always true. It’s much more correct to think of Torque as the time rate of change of angular momentum. This conception also allows us to understand precession. Student projects links are due by Friday.
3 day
Rotational Systems
Student Projects
When a wheel accelerates in a system the important equation is that omega = v/r
Review for final exam: Provide students with lots of practice problems and work through them in class.
Exam week Do it!

Thursday, June 9th. According to the Exam Calendar :

Our 3:00 Class: Thur. June 9 at 4:10 PM in our classroom
Our 4:00 Class: Thur. June 9 at 7:10 PM in our classroom

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