Introductory Mechanics Spring 2017

Please see last fall’s class and all my classes.

PHYS-141-05, MTWR 3:10 PM, 53-206

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(2:10), T(4:10), W(1:10), R(2:10), F(2:10)
My Resume, Teaching Statement, Student Evaluations, and the rest of my public application for promotion.

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_Solutions, PS#2, PS#2 solutions, PS#3, PS#3 comments, PS#4, PS#4 solutions, PS#5, PS#5 solutions, PS#6, PS#6_solutions, PS#7, PS#7 Solutions from Pete, PS#7_Solutions from student, PS#8, PS#8 Solutions, PS#9, PS#9 solutions, PS#10, PS#10 solutions

Exams: BE#1 Solutions, BE#2 Solutions, MT#1, MT#1 with comments MT#1 Student Solutions BE #3 is questions 7, 8 on PS#4, BE #4 is Example #3 in textbook section 6.1 as assigned in question #2 of PS#6. MT#2 + extra problem, MT#2 Solutions, MT#2 help on #1, #5

Response to Friday Feedback: End of Wk 2 / Beginning of Wk 3, End of Week 8, Final Student Evaluations, SurveyMonkey Results, Final Statement

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

Week page Topics
Wk 1 Our Learning Model
Introduce momentum, energy, forces, and motion (kinematics); and start using these ideas to answer simple questions.
Wk2 Analyzing problems from all lenses. Power as time derivative of energy (or work).
We make a video of our bodies to make kinematic graphs and measure our power output.
Dynamics questions:

  • Identify this problem is about forces –> Dynamics problem
  • Sum F=ma
  • Basic free body diagram provides forces, and indicate acceleration
  • Remember how to add forces
Wk3 Hour 1: Vectors in one dimension
Hour 2: Springs and Potential Energy Graphs
Hour 3: Changing reference frames
Hour 4: Friction
Wk4 Hour 3: Midterm #1
Hour 4: Review MT #1
Hour 1: 4 kinds of rotational questions and direction Introduction to Rotation
Hour 2: moment of inertia and rotational energy and rotational dynamics
1-D rotational kinetics, torque
Wk5 Hour 3: Statics
Hour 4: Angular momentum (conserved) as a scalar kind of.
Gravitation and the inverse square law

  1. Centripetal acceleration Satellite Equation
  1. Rotational dynamics on a road, loop the loop. Friction
  2. Universal Gravitational Energy, and potential energy diagrams, Escape velocity.
  3. Introduction to Systems, Atwood machine.
  4. Rotational systems too
  1. Parallel Axis Theorem
  2. Midterm #2
    Introduction to components, 2 Dimensions 2-dimensions: components for force, torque, work
  1. Components for momentum in x and y
    Dynamics protocol for asking the question and Inclined plane versus fuzzy dice problem.
    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
3 day
  1. 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
Problem solving

Wk10 Ladder Problem
Sharing Video Projects
Bugatti Veyron Problem
Final exam review and more problem solving
Exam week Cal Poly exam Schedules
Wednesday, June 14, 1:10 PM – 4:00 PM

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