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Physics 123A, Summer 2005


  • Lecture Instructor: Prof. Anastasia Chopelas

  • Office: Johnson 243   Phone:   543-9586
  • Tutorial Instructor: Prof. P.S. Shaffer
  • PHYS 123 Lab Instructor: Prof. D. Pedigo

  • Office Hours TBA
  • Also available by appointment in my office.

  • Lecture Hall: A118 in the auditorium wing of the Physics and Astronomy Building
  • Lecture schedule: MWTh  10:50- 11:50
  • Holiday: Tuesday, July 4.
  • Course Texts: Knight, "Physics for Scientists and Engineers", 1st edition; McDermott and Shaffer "Tutorials in Introductory Physics"; PHYS123Z Lab Manual.
  • NOTE: Concurrent enrollment in 123Z Lab is mandatory
  • Tycho Homework will be due as announced;

Lecture Instructor's Comments

  • Welcome to PHYS 123a, the 3rd of a three-quarter sequence of introductory physics courses for physics and engineering majors. You should find this course challenging and stimulating, though perhaps it will not fit your preconceptions of what a university physics course should be. I hope that you also find it to be interesting and enjoyable. Have a great quarter!
  • The course design is a cooperative effort of many faculty, each of whom is deeply concerned with providing the most effective learning experience for every student. Each element of the course (lecture, lab and tutorial) is essential to your mastery of physics. The three elements are carefully coordinated, but are not necessarily synchronized. Research has shown that presenting material in cycles, so that the same topic is approached more than once from different viewpoints, is a very effective means of encouraging deeper understanding and long-term retention of ideas.
  • You are strongly encouraged to visit with me regularly during office hours, by appointment, by e-mail, by phone, etc. Get used to the idea of seeing the Professor outside of class during the quarter; it will pay off for you in many ways as the years go by! This will not happen unless YOU take the initiative, and now is a great time to start.
  • Memorization of material is not particularly helpful in this class. Your goal in this class should be to understand how each new topic is related to all of the previous material, and how the concepts, rules and formulae can be applied to solve real-world problems. Never let anything go by if you do not understand. Generally, ask questions immediately. If it is inconvenient to interrupt, make a quick note to yourself and inquire later.
  • General Comments

    • Each quarter, the UW Office of Educational Assessment conducts surveys of undergraduate courses. For many years, the PHYS121-2-3 courses have been among the courses reportedly requiring the most hours of work per week outside of class. A typical course will show a span from 5 hours per week to 20 hours of study per week outside of class, probably including some time spent on PHYS123Z. Many courses claim to require at least two hours outside of class for each hour in class; PHYS123/123Z delivers.
    • Note that MATH 126 : Calculus III is a prerequisite/corequisite for this class. However, there is ongoing discussion as to whether MATH124 should be a strict prerequisite rather than a corequisite for PHYS121. It is the opinion of many instructors that students who have already completed MATH125 are at a considerable advantage in PHYS122. Hence, although it is possible to take the PHYS121-3 and MATH124-6 as simple corequisites (i.e. P121 _with_ M124, etc.), students who have no prior experience with either calculus or physics should seriously consider getting 'one quarter ahead' in the MATH124-6 sequence with respect to the PHYS121-3 sequence.
    • Be aware that many technical majors have a minimum grade requirement for a core of lower-division technical classes including the PHYS121-2-3 sequence. Therefore, each student is strongly urged to discuss departmental entry requirements with their undergraduate or departmental advisors, and plan their course loads accordingly. The course grading policy is detailed below.

    Grading Policy

    Concurrent enrollment in PHYS123 and PHYS123Z is mandatory; students will receive a combined grade for lecture, tutorial and lab. The final course grade is based on the best two of three midterms, the final exam, the Tycho lecture HW, tutorial participation and HW, and lecture exercises (using the new infrared response system), and PHYS123Z Lab participation and reports. A summary of the grading policy for this course may be found in the 12X Grading Policy Statement. However, the lecture instructor may adjust individual final grades by no more than 0.2 grade points (about 5 % out of 4.0 possible) based on records from the lecture infrared response system and/or the supplemental homework related to the lecture. All percentages discussed in the policy statement and in the summary below are used to determine your raw grade, before this adjustment is applied.
    • Midterm exams: There will be three closed-book midterm exams. Each midterm will emphasize recent material, but may include questions dealing with topics from far earlier in the course. The exams will include both multiple choice and essay-style questions. Only the best two of three values of the z-score [(your score - class average) / (std deviation)] will count toward the final course grade. Your lowest midterm score (relative to the mean) will be dropped. After correcting for different average scores on different midterms, the midterms will contribute 40% to your final raw grade. You are permitted to bring one 8.5"x11" page of notes (front only) to each midterm. Calculators are permitted. Cell phones, radios, etc. are not permitted. Laptop computers are not permitted, and the use of the text-storage capability now available on many calculators is not permitted. Exams are to be your own work; you are not permitted to collaborate with any other person. The Physics department reserves the right to ask for valid identification from any student during examinations.
    • Note that there will be no make-up exams in PHYS 123. Students with outside professional, service, or career commitments (i.e. military service, ROTC, professional conference presentation, NCAA sports, etc.) conflicting exactly with the exam dates must contact the intructor early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures. Students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements with the lecture instructor will drop that exam score. Illness with a doctor's affadavit may be submitted for exceptions to this rule. Except for extreme circumstances, a final grade of 0.0 may be assigned to any student who misses two midterm exams.
    • Final Exam: A two-hour closed-book comprehensive final exam worth 25% of the final raw grade will take place on August 17th from 10:50 to 11:50 am. This examination will cover material from the entire course. You are permitted to bring one 8.5"x11" page of notes (front and back) to the final exam. Calculators are permitted. Cell phones, radios, etc. are not permitted. Laptop computers are not permitted, and the use of the text-storage capability now available on many calculators is not permitted. The final exam is to be your own work; you are not permitted to collaborate with any other person. The Physics department reserves the right to ask for valid identification from any student during examinations. A final grade of 0.0 may be assigned to any student who does not take the final exam.
    • Exam Re-grades: If you believe that the points on the examination were incorrectly totaled or if there is a gross error in the grading, you may return an exam for regrading. To do so, you must resubmit the examination no later than at the beginning of the lecture following the one in which the exams are returned. This means you must check over your exam immediately upon its return. You must write a brief note on the front page or attached to the front page of the exam explaining the possible error in the grading. Do not make *any* changes or marks on the other pages of the examination. Portions of each examination are scanned or photocopied. You should be aware that any request for a regrade may result in a regrading of the entire exam. Therefore your total score may increase or decrease.
    • Labs and Tutorials: Grading policies will be explained in your lab and tutorial section. Please note that grades for lab and tutorial form a significant percentage of your overall grade for the course. Also, completion of most of the lab and tutorial work is required in order to pass the course. For example, if you complete fewer than six labs during the quarter, and do not make up the work, your grade for the entire course will be 0.0 ! Even completing six of the eight labs will reduce your grade significantly. Do not skip these important activities!
    • Homework:
      1. Lecture homework will be assigned and collected weekly through the Tycho system. Supplemental homework will be assigned and collected during lecture.
      2. Tutorial homework will be assigned and collected in each tutorial section. One problem from each assignment will be graded in detail, and will contribute to your score for tutorials.
      3. There may be computer projects assigned in the tutorial sections. Computers are available in the Physics Study Center from 8:30am-5:20pm on weekdays and at various other locations around campus.
    • Your responsibilty: Check your grades on the Tycho system every week or two and report any problems to both the lecture instructor and the relevant TAs (and/or lab/tutorial faculty) immediately. Lab, tutorial and exam grades should be recorded for your review within one week from the date that papers are submitted for grading. Tycho homework grades should be recorded within 24 hours of submission. Grading problems that are reported in a timely fashion will be investigated and, if action is warranted, corrected. The lecture, lab and tutorial instructors may choose to ignore grading complaints that are not reported in a timely fashion.

    The Physics Study Center

    Students are encouraged to gather and work cooperatively in small groups in the Physics Study Center located in room AM018 of PAB. (to reach the Physics Study Center, go down the stairs that circle behind the Foucault pendulum and proceed toward the end of the hall). Teaching assistants will be available for consultation during many portions of the day if your study group needs assistance, but staffing levels will not support much individual attention. The Study Center is staffed from approximately 9:30am to 4:30pm on weekdays. 


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    Contact the instructor at: chopelas at u.washington.edu