Click here to view the course syllabus in
Microsoft Word format.
PHYSICS I Fall
, Sang-Kee Eah, Masashi
Gary Adams, Morris Washington,
Fundamentals of Physics, Eighth Edition by Halliday, Resnick and
. (You will continue with this book
in Physics II.)
online system registration. (Covers
Physics I and II.)
* * * *
, Homework, Lecture, Problems of the Day, Activity
Course Grade: 65% exams, 10% homework, 25%
in-class (activity + exercises)
Cheating = F
* * * *
* * * *
This course will be given in several parallel Sections by different
Format: The course requires your
preparation for class by working through the textbook.
This can be done at your own pace, but assigned material is a
prerequisite for the respective classes. Then
in class, your professor will give you a short
summary lecture on that assigned material and answer any related questions.
Following the lecture, you will solve short sample problems under the
instructor's guidance. You will then
work in teams on an in-class activity that applies and deepens the material.
Homework will be assigned based on the covered material and activity and
is due the following class.
Homework problems based on material of the preceding class will be
assigned from the textbook and/or activity.
Homework assignments are numbered by the class when they are due. You are
expected to be able to solve all the
assigned problems by the time you come to class.
of the homework problems will be performed online using the WileyPLUSTM
system. A registration and pass code can be purchased together with the book or
separately at the RPI bookstore. When
you first log on, you will activate your account and register for the
sure to register only for the correct Section!
in the online system are the same as the corresponding problems in the book,
except that they may use different numbers.
You have five attempts to get the correct answer.
For most problems, after three incorrect answers you will be given a hint
and/or the appropriate section of the book will pop up for your reference.
Points are assigned to the problems based on their difficulty.
Most assignments are worth 100 points.
Online homework must be completed by 7 AM of the day it is due.
Quizzes: Without announcement,
there will be homework quizzes given in some classes.
The quizzes are based on the homework that is due for the same class. The
problem will use ideas similar to the homework problems, but it will not be
identical. During the quiz, you may
use your textbook and the standard Formula Sheet.
The quiz will start promptly with class and all quizzes must be handed in
by fifteen minutes after the start of class in order to receive credit.
Quizzes will be graded in a10-point scheme.
Grade: Your homework grade is
based on a total of 2000 points. Your
WileyPLUSTM online homework score directly counts towards
your homework grade. On class days where a quiz was given, the quiz points,
times 10, replace the points of homework due the same class.
review assignments can be handed in for credit prior
to each of the three exams. Assignments
will be given on the Physics 1 website and handed in on
paper. Each review
assignment has ten problems worth ten points each.
You must show all work, not just the answer.
Any points you earn on these assignments are added to your homework point
total. Since up to 300 extra points
can be earned this way, most students will be able to achieve a 100% homework
average (the maximum) by doing the review assignments.
of the Day:
After the lecture, we will spend about 10-15 minutes solving the Problem
or Problems of the Day. These will
be brief multiple-choice and numerical exercises, similar to homework and exam
problems, based on the lecture that was just completed.
One or more teams of students will volunteer to work the problem(s) in
class with the instructor’s guidance. In
some cases the instructor may work out the Problems of the Day in front of class
instead of volunteer student teams.
Our Physics I course is based on learning through activities, so this is
an important part of the course. You
will be assigned to work in teams on experiments and/or problems in class.
Each activity has a corresponding MS Word document that will be posted on
the Physics I website before the first section works on it, and left there the
remainder of the semester for you to review.
There will be a limited number of hard copies to use in class, but these
should not be written on as the same copies are used for all sections.
Each member of the team will answer the activity questions on her/his own
sheet(s) of paper, but will work together on the activity.
The activity papers will be collected and graded.
Your ability and willingness to work as part of a team will be evaluated
and considered in assigning the grade. In-class activities which are missed
cannot be made-up without a written medical or other valid excuse as per RPI
policy. Under special circumstances and
with prior approval from both of the instructors, a student may attend
another section and complete the activity there with one of the teams.
Generally, it is not possible to
make up an activity unless you can make it up in another section.
The reason for this is that most activities require particular equipment
to be set up prior to the class and are designed to be done in a group.
You will be allowed to drop one
activity grade – this will be your lowest grade or a 0 if you skipped an
activity without a valid excuse. Even if you are excused, you are
still responsible for the material in the activity. Students
must collect all graded activity papers from the teaching assistant.
students should hold onto all graded papers.
No questions about activity grades will be addressed without a complete
Exercise problems (they are like exam questions) will be given as part of
many activities, typically at the end. You
can discuss these with your team members and anyone else, but when you hand in
the activity for that day the work on the exercises must be your own, not simply
copied. You will be graded on your
reasoning and explanations, not just getting the correct numerical result.
Integrity Policy: Academic
integrity is one of the cornerstones of RPI.
Students taking courses at RPI have a right to expect that their work
will be evaluated fairly with respect to other students.
They have a right to expect that other students will not attempt to
enhance their own grades or the grades of their friends by cheating.
Professors have a right to expect that their students are honest and
submit work reflecting their own efforts. In
an atmosphere of academic integrity, students and professors are on the same
team trying to achieve the same learning objectives.
If you attempt to cheat, you are placing
yourself in a position where you are at odds with your professors and the vast
majority of your fellow students. Some
RPI students have discovered to their lasting regret that there was no graceful
exit strategy when they were caught cheating.
Academic dishonesty is a serious offense and we will treat it
first occurrence of academic dishonesty will result in an F for the course.
development of teamwork skills is a course objective in Physics I and II.
Hence, all students are expected to participate actively in a
collaborative group when working on the in-class activity.
However, each student must turn in her/his own activity write-up
containing only work to which she/he contributed.
In other words, we expect you to participate on the team and not just
copy other people’s work. Activity
write-ups from groups of students will not be accepted.
No student will submit an activity in the name of any other student who
was not present. This is considered
cheating by both students involved and will be handled according to the policy
for academic dishonesty stated above.
When you take an examination, any type of
collaboration is considered cheating. Sharing
information about the exam with another student who will take it in the future
or is currently taking it is considered cheating for both students.
Taking an exam in the name of another person is considered cheating for
both. Copying answers from another
student’s exam without his or her knowledge is considered cheating only
for the one who copies. Using
prepared crib notes or a book of any type during an exam is cheating.
(You will be given the same formula sheets that you will find below when
you take the exam.) Altering or
adding to answers when you submit an exam for a re-grade (see below) is
Discussing homework problems and getting
help with them before class is permitted and encouraged.
Looking at someone else’s solution to learn how to do it before
class is permitted. Copying
from another student during a quiz, discussing a quiz problem with a student who
has not yet taken it, or other forms of academic dishonesty during a quiz are
considered the same as cheating on an exam.
The only difference is that the use of your textbook during a homework
quiz is permitted.
If you get creative and think of a new way
to cheat that is not specifically mentioned above, it is still cheating.
If you are that creative, please put your talents to better use.
There will be three major (1 hour) unit exams in this course. They will
be held on Tuesday Sep. 25, Tuesday Oct. 30, and Tuesday Dec. 4. Exams
will be held from 6:00 PM to 7:25 PM. Rooms
will be announced.
In each exam, including the final, you will
be given a formula sheet. You are
allowed to use only those formulas (or
equations that you derive in writing on the exam paper from those formulas) in
the solution of exam problems. It is
permitted to use standard math facts or formulas from algebra, trigonometry,
etc. Constants will be provided on
the formula sheet or in the problems as needed.
We give you 85 minutes for the exams but we
aim for one hour’s worth of questions. Normally,
there are multiple-choice and true/false questions, graphing problems, and
homework-type problems. To make sure
that you get all the partial credit you are due – not to mention making it
easier to grade – please present your work in a neat and logical format.
You must answer each question on the same page as the question, front
There will be no make-up exams, but there
will be conflict exams for recognized RPI events such as athletic games.
The difference is that a make-up exam is a different exam given at a
later date, while a conflict exam is the same exam but given at a different
time. If you know ahead of time that
you are going to miss an exam, for any reason, tell your instructor.
Often these problems can be handled.
This semester, Physics I was scheduled with a block of time for everyone
on Tuesdays from 6-7:25 PM reserved for exams, reviews, and other purposes as
needed. In theory, the need for
conflict exams should be minimal. If
you have a learning disability recognized by RPI, you should come to a conflict
exam so that we can give you extra time, even if you don’t have a schedule
You may use only the following items to work
on the exam: pens (black or blue only), pencils, erasers, rulers, straightedges,
and calculators of any type. (Note
that any communication between calculators is cheating as explained above.
You may not store crib notes on calculators.)
Personal items like paper tissues, water bottles, and candy are OK, but
please don’t hide crib notes in them. Laptop
computers, PDAs, cell phones, pagers, knives, scissors, scrap paper, note cards,
white-out, glue, tape, and staplers are prohibited from use during an exam.
You may not un-staple the exam.
You must put your name on every page.
If the exam comes apart or you seem to be missing any pages, or you
notice anything else that you need to bring to our attention, please raise your
hand and summon a proctor immediately. Students
who promptly and honestly notify us of a problem will not be subject to any
academic integrity penalty for the situation reported.
Re-Grade Policy: If you think
there was an error in grading your exam or adding up the points, it is up to you
to bring the error(s) to your instructor’s attention within one week of
getting the exam back unless you have an RPI excuse.
Use the cover sheet, front and/or back, and write which problem(s) you
think should be re-graded and why. The
instructor will take your exam, check it out, and give it back in about a week.
Please ask only your own instructor for a re-grade.
Exams that have been written on after being handed back, except on the
cover page, cannot be submitted for a re-grade.
Under no circumstances will a
re-grade be considered for an exam after the next exam or final has been given.
Exam: The final examination is
if you miss one or more unit exams, excused or not, the final is mandatory.
If you are satisfied with your grade after all activities, homework, and
unit exams are complete, then you are finished with Physics I.
(See the next section for how we determine grades.)
However, if you are not satisfied with your grade, particularly if you
have one or more low unit exam scores, you can attempt to raise your grade by
taking the final. If you do take the
final and hand it in for grading, it counts as two unit tests, giving you an
effective total of five exam scores. We
drop the lowest score of the five scores, computing your exam average from the
best four. Taking
the final does not guarantee you a higher grade; it could lower your grade if
you do poorly.
final exam lasts three hours, but we aim for two hour’s worth of questions.
The format is similar to the unit exams, but twice as long.
final exam date will be scheduled by the registrar.
We do not know the date of the final until quite late in the semester.
We have often been scheduled on the last day of exams.
Hence, until we know the date of the final, do not plan to leave campus
before the end of the final exam period. No
special arrangements will be made for students who cannot take the final at the
scheduled time. Physics I is an
introductory course and so if you have a conflict between our final and another
final, you will likely have to reschedule the other final.
Your course grade will be determined as follows:
65% (3 unit exam average or the best 4 out of the optional final counted
twice plus 3 unit exams)
10% (can miss one assignment
or quiz without an excuse)
25% (can miss one class
without an excuse)
– Broken down 7/10 for main activity, 3/10 for exercise grades
there are no make-up activities, quizzes or exams without a written excuse or
Computers: Your laptop computer
will be used only during Problems of the Day and Activities.
Generally, each team will need only one laptop computer running the
LoggerPro software available on the Studio Physics CD.
Some activities will not require a laptop computer.
These are activities with only a Word document and no other files listed.
student laptops will be closed during the lecture part of class.
Your instructor may give you permission to use your laptop to follow the
lecture notes if you cannot see them well from your seat.
Please don’t allow your laptop to be a distraction during lectures.
Because you will be working closely together
with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, please do not have wallpaper,
screen savers, and other pictures visible on your laptop that you would be
embarrassed to show to your grandmother. This
is the same rule of common sense and courtesy you will find when you are working
in any major corporation, university, or research laboratory.
If you are registered to take Physics I at RPI, then by definition you have the
academic and intellectual prerequisites to do well in the course.
However, whether you actually do well (or not) will depend on your
diligence. Over the years we have
been teaching, we have discovered several common problem areas that can hinder a
student’s success in Physics I. (This
applies to your other RPI classes as well.)
Here are some words to the wise:
1.Come to class and participate.
Physics I is an activity-based course, meaning that we assume you will be
doing most of your learning while participating in the activities.
If you are not in class – both physically and mentally – you are
missing most of the learning. Some
students get the notion that they can miss half or more of the classes and still
pull out a decent (or passing) grade by doing really well on the exams.
That does not work!
2.Do the homework.
The homework problems were specifically designed to reinforce the
material that we covered in class. The
regular homework problems are straightforward examples of the principles and
methods we just learned in reading and classroom work.
The challenge problems in a homework set will make you think.
You will find that many exam questions are similar to homework problems.
3.Get help early if you need it.
The first two items above can and should be done in collaboration with
your fellow students. They are your
first source of quick help if you get stuck on something.
But if you are coming to class every day and making a good faith attempt
to do the homework, and you still aren’t “getting it,” contact your TA,
professor, or the course director as soon as possible for extra help.
Physics I builds as it goes, with later concepts depending on earlier
ones, so if you are weak on something near the beginning of the semester, it
will affect your success the whole way through.
4.This isn’t high school.
Most students at RPI had a decent high school physics course.
At first glance, the list of things we study is similar to what you may
have covered in high school physics. However,
we cover these topics faster, more rigorously, and in greater depth.
Our problems and exam questions tend to be more complex and require
better understanding of the underlying principles than most high school physics
problems. Simple methods that may
have worked for you in high school, using memorization instead of understanding,
will not suffice for Physics I. One
example is the old trick of finding an equation that contains all of the
parameters in the problem and using basic algebra to solve for the one you
don’t know. In Physics I at RPI,
this trick works only for the simplest homework problems and will not get you
very far on exams. Keep an open mind
to learn the principles and methods as we teach them in Physics I and you should
Information: Course information, exam review material and lecture notes are
available on the course website (see first page). You are strongly encouraged to
visit this website on a regular basis. You
will find important information like homework hints, office hours, and exam