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insInstructor: Eric W. Harpell
email: eharpell@laspositascollege.edu
Office: 1830 Science building

office hours: T 12 - 1:30(1830) , W 1 - 2:30 (tutorial center), Th 12 - 2(1830)
phone: 925-424-1379 tr

experiment demonstrating the Casimir effect

Physics 10 course information graphic
[Course Info] [Weekly Schedule]
[Blackboard] [ Physics Place]

last revised: 1/15/10

Succeeding in Physics 10

First and foremost, check out the the Weekly schedule (see the link above or in the blackboard course menu). This tells you what to read, what homework to complete in the Physics Place, and when on-line quizzes and the final exam take place. You will also need to participate in the On-line discussion area in Blackboard, where you will discuss various activities form the physics place and website's, as well as finding and giving help on on-line quizzes. To put it in perspective, here is the grading policy for this class:

Your grade will be determined from your total points as follows:
  • Blackboard Quizzes: 8 x 25 = 200 points
  • Quizzes and Tutorials from the Physics Place : 200 points
  • discussion board participation: 50 points
  • Final exam 50 points (half of your final exam score will also replace your lowest quiz)

Total: 500 points

Grades (out of 500 possible points)

A 88.5% =442
B 76.5% = 382
C 62.5% = 312
D 50% = 250


Course Information: contents

  • Using the Physics Place Website
  • Getting started in Physics 10
    image of "Beam Tree"
    A beam tree, photographed by Eric W, Harpell

    Course description
    Physics 10 is a one-semester introduction to the principles and concepts of physics. Along the way, we will meet some of the contributors to the story of physics, from Plato to Chu and Hawking, and learn how their descriptions of the universe reach into every corner of our lives. Note that Physics 10 won't train you to solve complex problems in applied physics or engineering. In fact, your mathematical abilities are unlikely to be challenged in this course.
    By the completion of Physics 10, you should be able to read, understand, discuss, and even criticize articles in the popular press and scientific magazines. As our society becomes ever more reliant on technology, its citizens must become fluent in the underlying principles of technology or get left behind. The goal of Physics 10 is to increase scientific literacy and to demonstrate how tomorrow's technology is the application of today's concepts.

    Class meetings

    There are no class meetings for physics 10. All course material will be accessed through the internet, primarily through Blackboard, and The Physics Place Website produced by the publisher of your textbook. For blackboard quizzes, you will log onto the site when a quiz is available (see the class schedule), work both on and off line, and then submit your answers before the due date. Of course, you are welcomed and encouraged to attend regular office hours. See "contact Instructor" in the blackboard website.

    Physics Place Information

    The physics place for the 11th edition of Hewitt is a relatively new website. So far, so good, but there is likely to be a few bugs, so be patient and don't worry if things go wrong..think happy thoughts and send me an email. In any case, here is what you need to know:

    To Get the The Physics Place, click on the Link at the top of the page, or go to: http://www.aw-bc.com/physicsplace/. It will take you to the Physics Place Home page.You should have access code information bundled with your textbook. If or some reason, you don't have to have a new version of the 11th edition of the text, You will have to purchase an access code on line. Go the physics place web site and click on the link asking you to do so. Once you have set up your account, you can use your new user name and password to get started. You will need to enter the class ID during or after the registration process or you will not get credit for your work in the physics place. You can do this when you register, or you can click on the join a class link

    The Class ID is cm192758 .....make sure you enter this or you will get no credit for your work!

    Using the Physics Place.

    Once you login, you will see a menu on the left hand side of the page. You should try clicking on the various links to familiarize yourself with them. For class credit, however, you will need to use the Quiz, Tutorial, and Interactive Figure links. Note the pull down menu at the top of the page to get you to the correct chapter. There is also a menu on the left side that provides a shortcut directly to the quizzes, tutorials and interactive physics. The class Schedule lists exactly what quizzes, Tutorials, and Interactive Figures you are supposed to do each week. These are due the Wednesday AFTER the week in which they are listed. For example, " tutorial: appendix A: the metric system (DB)" is listed in week one (1/21). This means you are are to complete the tutorial by Wed 1/28 at 11:59 p.m. For tutorials or Interactive physics assignments with a (DB) after the listing, you will need need to report in the discussion board to get credit by the due date.

    Physics Place and the Discussion Board
    For a few of the tutorials and all of the interactive figures, you will see the abbreviation (DB) listed in the class schedule next to the assignment listing. This means that you are to go to the discussion board and look for the name of the assignment. There you will post one sentence to one paragraph detailing what you observed and learned from the tutorial or Interactive Physics activity. More guidelines will be provided in upcoming emails and announcements.

    Late assignments
    Late Physics Place assignments will still be graded, but you are likely to be marked down a minimum of 10 percent, and a maximum of 25 percent depending on how late these are submitted (and how timely the instructor is grading them). Late penalty is completely at the instructor's discretion. If you have a problem, please let your instructor know--the best away to avoid late penalties is to turn the assignments in on time!

    Getting Credit for the Tutorials and Quizzes.
    For most of the tutorials (i.e. the ones that do not have a (DB) after the listing), you will be given credit for working through it. When you complete the tutorials, you will be asked to submit your work for grading. Make sure you click on the submit for grading tab to get credit for you work. When you are finished with a quiz and click submit, then your grade will be recorded. You may take a quiz more than once for credit prior to the due date.

    Knowing your grades in the Physics Place.
    There is a link called "the results reporter". It will tell you what quizzes and tutorials you have completed and what your score is. If you are not satisfied, you can take the quiz or tutorial again!

    Course materials

    Required text: Hewitt, Paul G, Conceptual Physics , 11th Edition. Available at the LPC bookstore, or online.

    Other materials: The Physics Place, 11th edition--An on line web site. If you purchased the book new, you will have the access code. You will need to purchase an access code when you first enter the site. The site is located at http://www.aw-bc.com/physicsplace/. Make sure you click on the 11th edition text!


    Calculator: An inexpensive easy to use scientific calculator is going to be helpful in this class. You won't use it often, but you will be asked to do a simple calculation from time to time.

    Computer with Internet Access -- All work can be done on campus if necessary if your connection goes down. Computers can be found in the LRC, building 300, and building 1800 (second floor).

    Assignments and computer use

    Hewitt's Conceptual Physics, 11th edition is an excellent, and entertaining, book, so feel free to read all the sections you wish. But there is far more in the text than you are expected to "master" for the quizzes and exams. To help guide you through the huge amount of material available, a set of on-line lectures will be available in blackboard for you to view during the course. The Lectures will also be linked in the class schedule in the same row as the blackboard quiz in which that material will be tested.

    Homework: the graded homework for this class is entirely your work in The Physics Place and the related postings in the discussion board. You will not be assigned problems directly from the text, but both the physics place and blackboard quizzes will have many questions that are similar or identical to those in the text.

    Remember that course web sites, particularly the class schedule, will be updated as the course continues. In other words, it will be necessary to "reload" the schedule when you haven't visited it for a few days. Try to avoid printing out the entire schedule, and relying on the printed copy. You will be notified ahead of time in class, of course, when and if the schedule changes.

    On-line Class Discussion

    Remember, you aren't alone in physics 10. Most of the time, if you have a question, someone else in the class will have the answer. Likewise, if you have an interesting idea that you would like to share, there is someone else who would like to hear it and respond. To make this process more fun, interesting, and useful to you, the discussion area in Blackboard will include areas where you can discuss assignments and even quizzes with other students. While this is not technically a "chat" area, it is a discussion board where you can post your questions, thoughts, and replies to your fellow students. The instructor will monitor this area periodically, and even participate as a member of the class. Your participation grade (see "grading" below) will include your use of the discussion board.....your participation grade will be a judgment call on the instructors part. As a rough guide, approximately one post per week will be sufficient for full credit. Remember that you are required to post your observations regarding the tutorials and Interactive physics assignments from the physics place that are marked with a (DB) in the class schedule. Don't forget about this part of the class!

    experiment to demonstrate the Casimir effect


    There are two types of quizzes in this class: On-line quizzes in blackboard must be submitted electronically on the dates listed below. When the quiz is available in Blackboard, the link will become active. Chapter quizzes from the physics place are open all the time, but you must submit them according to the dates in the class schedule. Please be sure to check the schedule a few weeks ahead to be prepared for the quizzes. All on-line quizzes are "open," meaning that you can use any source available to you, and take as long as you like during the time the quiz is available. You may collaborate with classmates while working on the quizzes--please discuss concepts together, but select your answers privately!

    Missed and Late quizzes:

    If you miss a quiz in blackboard, you take take the quiz late for 15% reduced credit. You must take the first two quizzes prior to the "W" deadline as listed in the weekly schedule. Note that your percent score on the final exam will automatically replace your lowest quiz score if it is less than the final exam, even if you haven't missed a quiz. If you do miss one quiz, then the final exam percentage will replace the missed quiz. If you percentage on all quizzes is higher than your percent score on the final, then the final exam will not replace a quiz!

    Cheating vs. fair use policy

    In my opinion (as both an instructor and as a long time student), there are three important components to learning a subject: learning on your own, learning by interacting with others, and getting feedback to see whether you really understand something. In Physics 10, I wish to strongly encourage all three methods. Most of your assignments will be designed to do just that...getting you to do some research to answer questions that will pique your interest and help you learn, and then discuss the responses with others, either in person or through the Class discussions area.

    The on-line quizzes, however, represent a bit of a gray area. On the quizzes, you will be asked a series of questions (mostly multiple choice) that test your understanding of a topic, or at least your familiarity with the learning resources (i.e. where to find the answer in the text, or on the web). So here is the dilemma: Can you ask a classmate or someone else about quiz questions? The answer is "sometimes."

    To make this a bit less cryptic, here is how you cheat on a quiz:

    Student A takes the quiz and submits his or her answers. Feedback is automatically output for each question. Student B then gets the feedback (i.e. the correct answers)
    from Student A and uses those answers to get a higher score on the quiz.
    Just to make it clear, using feedback in this way is not allowed! Repeated violation of this policty will result in an F in the class and possible expulsion from the college.

    On the other hand, collaboration is extremely helpful in learning physics, and highly encouraged, so here is what is fair in taking a quiz:

    1. either take the quiz completely on your own, or
    2. collaborate with others to discuss the concepts and possible answers, but make your own decision about what answer to select. Note that everyone will have different sets of questions and answers (with some overlap, of course).
    3. come to your instructors office hours will working on the quiz, or send an email with specific questions after you have done a bit of reserach

    Final Exam

    A final exam will be made available in blackboard to be taken on-line. The exam will be timed, but you will be able to take it during a "window" of time starting the thursday of the last week, and ending on Tuesday of the final exam week. The final exam will be multiple choice, and short essay. Remember, even if you don't do well on the quizzes, you can study the solutions and do well on the final exam! Essay questions choices for the final exam will be given at least one week ahead so that you can prepare.

    Optional Research Project and Presentation

    If you wish to research a topic of interest for you, create a power point presentation and present the results to the Instructor (who then will make the presentation available to the class), you can do this to replace a low blackboard quiz. If you take all the quizzes, this will replace your lowest score. If fact, the presentation will be worth 30 points instead of 25, so if you do a good job you can can even earn 5 points extra credit. Announcements regarding this presentation will be send out later in the course. Note that the final exam can also replace your lowest quiz, so if you do the research project and do well on the final, then only your top six quizzes in blackboard will count towards your quiz grade!

    About the image

    The image at the top of the page is a "Beam Tree", given as a 30-year award to employees at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). Beam trees are a truly special award, since making them requires the insertion of a Plexiglas slab at the end of a 3km long tunnel, where it is bombarded with a relativistic beam of electrons.

    The electrons impregnate in the Plexiglas and remain in place until the slab is placed on a metal point and struck from above. The electrons then make their way to "ground", heating the Plexiglas along the way and creating the river-like pattern shown. To create the image, a dark background was used, and the Plexiglas was lighted from the side so that the imperfections would scatter the visible light to the camera.