Syllabus SUSTAIN Physics Spring 2015

Physics 122/132, Spring 2015 Please see course website for logistics.

Text: We will be using a free online textbook:


There will be three graded exams: two midterms and a final exam. Your final grade will roughly be half the final exam and half from the two midterms. The project could raise or lower your grade as much as 1/3 a letter grade. These exams will be graded A, B, C, D, F, based on ability to communicate the correct physics. Please notice the inclusion of “I can read and understand”, thus you are being graded not on your answer or even your understanding, but on your communication to me.

D: Correctly identifies underlying physics concepts and use of units a minority of the time that I can read and understand.

C: Correctly identifies underlying physics concepts most of the time with reasons and good drawing and reasons that I can read and understand. Usually uses units correctly.

B: Consistently correctly identifies underlying physics concepts and reasons and uses units correctly. Majority of the time: sets up problem with good drawing and reasons, formulates method to solve problem that I can read and understand. Usually verifies whether answer makes sense.

A: Consistently correctly identifies underlying physics concepts, sets up problem with good drawing and reasons, formulates method to solve problem in a way that I can read and understand, correctly uses units and verifies whether answer makes sense.

F: Does not achieve threshold level for D

Class Work: After you are exposed to the material at home via videos and reading, you will work as a group to solve problems in class. I will often help your group, or address the class as a whole. Your group (of 3 or 4 students) will submit all your classwork (or group quizzes) together. We will staple them together and evaluate only one of them for your review. Class work “grades” may be recorded, but will not count toward your final grade.

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 only 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 solving problems with your friends, the resilience you’ll gain in the process, and how much you’ll impress people at social gatherings when you can kick around concepts like Bernoulli’s Principal and wave interference. The graders will provide only this letter grade and possibly some advice that may help you in the future. I encourage you to hand in your problem set as a group. You can either staple all your papers together (in which case only one will be looked at) or hand in a single problem set as a group. I will not collect late homework as I’ve found this responsibility greatly complicates my life. However, you can turn in late homework for partial credit 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 = combined formulas and statements. 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. Any drawing counts as 5 ideas.

Project and Video: Groups of 2-4 students will do a research project on something related to this class material (that is not about quantum physics, electricity, light, relativity, angular momentum, statics, 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.

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. You can turn in your *perfect* answers to be evaluated if you like. One week after each midterm, you may be able to retake individual questions in order to improve your grade if you bring your corrections.

My Commitment to You: I will do my best to provide you with a planned structure, resources, and activities to learn. I will respect your time and make the best use of our time together by coming prepared to class. My intention is to help you learn from the resources around you: textbooks, online media, and each other. I will evaluate you only on criteria that I find foundational (to communicate physics concepts and computations) allowing you the freedom to learn in a manner that suits you best. I will do my best to understand your professed needs and help you the best way I know.

My Expectations from You: I expect that you will make decisions consistent with your best interest and your values. I also expect that we will all will work toward the well being of our community by coming to class prepared to contribute to our learning together. If you choose otherwise, I expect you’ll also be responsible for the consequences. My intention is to help you develop proficiency as a self-directed learner. To this end, if you have a question, please make sure you have addressed the related resource and consulted your classmates. I expect to start class with questions related to the reading and videos.

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 will not be detrimental to your grade. My experience has shown that a positive collaborative attitude is likely to raise everyone’s grade.