Physics 121 Winter 2019

PHYS-121-06, MTWR 5:10 PM – 6:00 PM, 53-215
See last spring’s 121 class – with all material, exams, etc.
Pete 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 hoursMWF: 11-noonTR: 3-4… AND
Matt is in Learning Center, 180-272, Monday 3-4, and Wednesday 2-4.
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 (or here if you are not a student). I’ve been doing this for several years, you can see how my student evaluations initially went down and then back up again when I started to better market and explain why this method is good. In May of 2017, I published about our learning method in The Physics Teacher. You can see that 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 standard textbooks. It’s short, so I expect everyone to read each section before we address the topic in class.
For more worked examples, use any text you like. There are free, online textbooks at OpenStax. You can view it online or download a .pdf. I don’t recommend it as a textbook, just a source of additional worked examples.

Physics Department Learning Center Hours… these tutors are available most of the day every day, free of charge. However, I personally think it’s more effective to do group work with other students in the class and visit office hours, but please know that the learning center is a resource for you.

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

Problem SetsPS#1PS#1 Solutions, Rocket PS#5ExcelPS#2PS#2_SolutionsPS#3, PS#3_SolutionsPS#4PS#4 SolutionsPS#5, PS#5 Student SolutionsPS#6, PS#6_solutions, PS#7, PS#7_Solutions, PS#8, PS#8_solutions, PS#9, PS#9_solutions

Some Lectures: 4 Scaling

ExamsBig Exam 1, BE#1 solutionsBE#2 Solutions,Big Exam #3 ,Big Exam #3 Solutions, MT#1MT#1+comments, MT#1 SolutionsMT#1 student corrections, MT#2 with comments, MT#2 for retake, MT#2 solutions, Big Exam #6 Solutions

Study Guides: MT#1

Student CommunicationWeek 2 Student Thoughts, Empathy Intervention, Cal Poly Student Course Evaluations, End of Year Survey Results, Survey Comments.

On Pete and Cheating

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 Wednesday!
Wk 3
Monday MLK, Holiday – 3 classes only
Vectors, Springs, Energy Diagrams,
Wk 4
Reference Frames, elastic collisions, review
Wk 5
Midterm #1
Switch working groups
Begin Rotational Motion
Moment of Inertia,
Wk 6
Central Forces, Centripetal Acceleration, Systems
Wk 7
Monday Washington’s Birthday, 3 classes only
Wk 8
MT #2 on Monday, then start components
Wk 9
Angular Momentum
Wk 10
Exam week Winter Final Exam Schedule
Monday, March 18, 4-7 PM

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