Syllabus 141 Winter 2016

Physics 141-22, Winter 2016, 1:10 PM Room 53-215

Instructor: Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics:, Pete’s Webpage:, x6-1220, 180-608

Text: We will be using a free online textbook. You can download the full physics textbook directly as a moderate resolution .pdf here. I have also provided a high resolution version that covers only the mechanics portion or everything we will cover in 141. You can also download a high resolution full textbook, or an interactive copy for iPad or other computers at Many students benefit from having a hard copy that you can carry around. I strongly encourage you to print out the chapters as we go along and bind them together so you can write notes on them and keep them for future reference. You are welcome to use any other textbook that you may find, but reading sections are pointed out for this textbook.

Grading: Your final grade will be determined by a rubric and will mostly depend on your three exams, roughly 50% for the final exam and 25% for each of two midterms. Inside of this, you are also required to do two group projects, watch videos for each class, attempt LON-CAPA problems online, and actively participate in class. We all need you to be prepared for and engaged in class to make this a great learning experience for all of us.

Exams: You are graded on your ability to communicate to me that you understand physics. Thus you will receive no credit if I can’t read or follow your logic, or if you provide no logic, but simply calculate the answer with a formula. You will earn an A, B, C, D, F, based on ability to communicate physics accordingly:

D: Correctly identifies and provides supporting reasons for underlying physics concepts and use of units a minority of the time.
C: Correctly identifies and provides supporting reasons for underlying physics concepts most of the time with reasons and good drawing. Usually uses units correctly.
B: Consistently correctly identifies and provides supporting reasons for underlying physics concepts and uses units correctly. Majority of the time: sets up problem with good drawing and reasons, formulates method to solve problem. Usually verifies whether answer makes sense.
A: Consistently correctly identifies and provides supporting reasons for underlying physics concepts, sets up problem with good drawing and reasons, formulates method to solve problem, correctly uses units and verifies whether answer makes sense.
F: does not achieve threshold level for D

Averaging?: Because of the importance of the words “consistently” in the grading rubric, grades for a question will not be turned into points and averaged as they might be for other classes.

Videos, Preparing for Class: It is imperative that we come to class prepared. Please watch the videos by following the links on the week’s webpage before class and do any reading and exercises before class starts. Video watching and LON-CAPA participation will be documented. Please watch the videos on time for every class until the end of the video and answer all the questions. You are graded for answering video questions and LON-CAPA questions, not on getting them right. If you watch 90% of the videos on time, then you will receive full credit. If you miss a video, you should still watch it to learn the material, but you will not receive credit for watching it late. Your final grade will be lowered half a letter grade for every 20% of the videos you miss below 90%, so if you watch 90.5% of the videos on time, you will get full credit; 80%: loss of a quarter letter grade; 49%: your grade will be lowered two halves of a letter grade. If this is confusing, it may be easier to remember to always do the homework and come prepared to class.

Class Work: Like the videos, it is your participation, not correctness that is graded. You will hand in classwork as a group, stapled together. As with the videos you will receive full credit for participation of 90% or above and lose half letter grade for every 20% below 90% participation.

Problem Sets: Usually due Monday in class. These are graded A,B,C,D,F based on the above criteria. The grade is recorded, but will not be used toward your final grade. Hence, the incentive to do the homework would be to learn the material for the exams and any other internal motivation such as the good times you’ll have kicking the problem around with your friends, the resilience you’ll gain in the process, and how much you’ll impress people at social gatherings when you can explain these important concepts. The graders will provide only this letter grade and some advice that may help you in the future. I encourage you to hand in your problem set as a group, stapled together. I will not collect late homework as I’ve found I usually botch keeping track of them. However, you can turn in late PS in the box outside my door.

It would be a very good idea to completely understand the past homework assignments, quizzes, and midterms before each test.

Formula Sheets: You are welcome to build your own formula sheet provided it has no more than 50 ideas = formulas + statements. Any drawing counts as 10 ideas. No formulas will be provided to you for an exam. I recommend that you start a formula sheet now and add formulas as they appear in the videos. If you gather more than 50 items, you will need to start dropping off items that you already know.

Projects and Video: Groups of 2-4 students will do two projects:

– A video analysis of motion due on day 1 of week 3 with problem set #2 in initial form, and in final form on day 1 of week 4. Project must include displacement, speed, and acceleration graphs as a function of time, and some consideration/discussion of force, work, power, energy or momentum.

– A research project on something related to mechanics (for instance it can not be about quantum physics, electricity, light, relativity, etc.) that interests you. It may involve reading and research, or building and calculating, or doing an experiment. You will document it with a ~ 5 minute video that you will post on YouTube for the rest of the class to see. project description link is on the main page.

If you do each of the two projects adequately, you will receive full credit. If I find the project lacking, I’ll ask you to improve it for full credit. Your grade will be docked a half letter grade for each project not completed adequately.

Midterms: Midterms cover all the material up to and including the most recent class. After each midterm, the answers (not the solutions) will be posted, in order for you to repeat the questions with perfect answers.

Competition: Your performance will be graded not against each other, but rated against the A-F criteria established above. Therefore if you help others in your class, it is good for you too. My experience has shown that a positive collaborative attitude is likely to raise everyone’s grade.

“I botched my midterm!”: If the final exam is higher than at least one midterm, it will replace the lowest midterm grade, so one bad midterm will not be detrimental to your grade. If you miss one midterm exam, the grade from the final exam will replace it.