Introductory Mechanics Spring 2018


PHYS-121-06, TR 4:10 PM – 6:00 PM, 53-202Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics, Pete’s Webpage, directory of my other classes, my Research
Email:, 756-1220, My office is at 180-608, the new science building, room 608
Office hours: M(12-1), M(1-2), T(3-4), R(3-4), F(9-10)
My Resume, Teaching Statement, and the rest of my 2016 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 our unique way of learning physics here (for credit if you are a student), or here if you are not a student. In May of 2017, I published about our learning method in The Physics Teacher. Additionally, a different publication also 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 revisit concepts over a longer period of time, improving understanding and memory.

I wrote a short Textbook for the class. It has about a tenth the amount of text as a standard textbooks. It’s short, so I expect everyone to read each section before we address the topic in class.

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 solutions, PS#3.5, PS#3.5 Solutions, PS_#4, PS#4 Solutions, PS5, PS#5 Solutions, PS#6, PS#6 Solutions, PS#7, PS_7_Solutions, PS#8, PS8_Solutions, PS#9, PS#9 Solutions

Exams: Big Exam! #1, MT#1_comments, MT#1_Solutions, Big Exam #4, BE#4 directions, MT#2, MT#2 guidance, MT#2 solutions, MT#2-2 with comments, Math Competence, answers for Math Competence, Big Exam #6 Solutions

Study Guides: MT#1, MT#2, Final

Student Communication: 121 Welcome Letter Spring 2018Week 3, Week 9, 121Spring2018_Stud_Eval, 121Spring2018_final_surveymonkey_Results, 121Spring2018_Final_Surveymonkey_Comments, My Final Email to Class

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

Week Topics
Wk 1 Our Learning Model and Introductions
4 lenses and
One-dimensional motion
Wk 2 Project on Thursday!
Wk 3 Vectors, Springs, Energy Diagrams
Wk 4 Reference Frames
Midterm #1
Wk 5 switch working groups
Begin Rotational Motion
Moment of Inertia,
Wk 6 Central Forces, Centripetal Acceleration, Systems
Wk 7 MT #2
Wk 8 Components
Wk 9 Angular Momentum
Wk 10 Precession
Exam week New updated Spring Final Exam Schedule
Wednesday, June 13, 7-10 PM

Cal Poly’s Calendar
As I try to improve the class, I am keeping Notes to Self