PHYS101N - Elementary Physics I | Fall 2021, TR 9:30 - 10:45 Room 0200 OCNPS
Mechanics and Electromagnetism - Instructor: Dr. Sebastian E. Kuhn -
Welcome to PHYS101N.
This site is under construction - new items and updates will be
added frequently. Return occasionally to get the newest information.
- Our semester is over. Here are the
solutions for the Final Exam.
Meanwhile, I wish you all a happy and relaxing break and hope to see some of
you back next year in
- Make sure you regularly visit the OFFICIAL
SITE (202110_PHYS101N_10010 CONCEPTUAL PHYSICS FALL) for this course,
and 202110_PHYS101N_10011 CONCEPTUAL PHYSICS LAB for the companion Lab courses.
You also need to register with
the TurningPoint response system and purchase a license for this semester (or AY).
What do you need?
- Our textbook "Conceptual Physics" by Hewitt,
12th edition. The book should be available at the bookstore or for
online purchase. We will assign Homework problems from this book, so it is
important that you get the proper edition (12). You can also buy it
used from another student.
We will use the TurningPoint in-class response system. This works either with
your own electronic device (cell phone or pad), or via a web interface. You
must purchase a license and register for the class with TurningPoint. More
instructions can be found on Blackboard.
Here is a video to get you started.
- I also recommend some additional books (from the library or even
to buy if you're interested): "Guesstimation" by Profs. Lawrence
Weinstein and John Adam (both at ODU), Princeton Press (a nice primer
on how to use rough quantitative estimations in everyday life); "How
Things Work" by Louis Bloomfield (UVA), Wiley; and "The Cartoon Guide
to Physics" by Gonick and Huffman, Harper Perennial. Also books by
Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene etc....
- We will use
for all time-critical information, feedback,
assignments (both to receive and to submit), grades etc. You should log in
to Blackboard and select the course ID
"202110_PHYS101N_10010 CONCEPTUAL PHYSICS" (bookmark or pin that course).
- Feel free to send me email for
any questions you may have.
1) Is this course for me?
The purpose of this course is to gain a fundamental understanding how
can describe the world around us with a coherent body of
concepts and models.
We will develop some very abstract ideas (energy, momentum, force) that
have precise meanings (as opposed to the loose everyday meanings we
with some of these words). We will also have to "unlearn" some of the
things we thought we knew about the physical world around us and how it
works that just ain't so.
to demonstrate the relationship between the abstract concepts and
and everyday phenomena or technical applications, we will have to study
a variety of examples and observations and solve problems.
It helps if you have some knowledge of math (high school geometry and
had some science courses in high school as well. Even more importantly,
you should have some curiosity about science and how it can explain the
natural world. If you think this applies to you, then this course
should reward you
with a deeper understanding of the world around you (not to mention a
reasonable grade – but no guarantees!). In that case, this course is
definitely for you!
If you tend to faint at the sight of any mathematical equation, this
course may not come easy. If you have too heavy a course load already
and cannot commit substantial time and effort to this course (think at least 10 hours/week), you may
be disappointed by the outcome. Note that you only have until the end
of the first week of classes to
withdraw with full tuition refund. It pays (literally) to figure out right away
whether or not you plan to continue the course.
2) Suggestions for Homework
Homework will be submitted through
All deadlines are hard and fast - no extensions under any circumstances (that
includes late-night technical glitches).
Get involved: Tell
me (via email, office hour, note, in the learning center, after class)
what you would like me (or the TA) to do or change to make the
learning easier for you. However, don't expect miracles: We can't simply
reduce the material to be covered by a large fraction, so be prepared to
give us trade-off options ("do more of this and less of that").
Remember, if you never go to office hours, the Learning Center, etc.,
we can't help you. No student who
made an effort to meet with me when (s)he encountered problems has ever
failed this class!
- Typically, HW problems are keyed towards new "tools" covered in
the chapter they are attached to. If a problem in Chapter 7 asks you to calculate
the speed of an object after falling in Earth's gravitational field, chances
are you should use "Energy" to solve this problem (which is the chapter title).
- If you don't have enough time to thoroughly study the book, at
least make sure you go over several of the examples and "check yourself" questions
for each chapter.
Try to "think for yourself", by covering up the solution and first trying
your own hand at it. If you are really pressed for time (HW deadline), try
to find examples that look similar to the problem at hand and see which tools
are applied how (and why).
- Do not wait until the last minute before the deadline to submit
your answers - there could be a last-minute technical problem and there
won't be any extensions! Do not even wait until the last day, in fact!
- For extra practice,
you should do additional problems/exercises (and the "Reading Check
Questions") in the book. Try to get
as far as possible on your own,
and then ask me or a Learning Center staffer (or a fellow student) for
help where you need it.
- I can not do more than a sample problem every now and then in class.
However, make sure you benefit at least from the ones I do by
me (yell at my back if necessary) if I'm doing something you can't follow.
I'd rather have you understand one
worked-out example than getting confused by a torrent of several running by too quickly.
- Doing problems is not easy, but you will get better at it with
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut or a simple collection of
"recipies" - you need to understand the underlying concepts to solve a problem.
- Often it helps to work with other people and/or in the Learning
Bouncing ideas and questions of each other may clear things up - and there's
often someone experienced around to ask if you really get stuck. For
your convenience, you can submit your HW answers from the
computers in the Learning Center.
VERY IMPORTANT: While you may DISCUSS problems with others (students or teachers),
you MAY NOT COPY completed HW solutions from anyone, or any source (book, website,...).
If I find a text that is identical to your solution somewhere else, you will be
considered in breach of the HONOR CODE.
Not only does plagiarism violate the Honor Code, wich corresponding sanctions,
but you also deprive yourself of the learning experience that will make you
truly understand the concepts we discuss in lecture - and you may well fail
3) Suggestions on
how to prepare for tests and exams
Many of the suggestions above for the homework also apply for the
for a midterm or final exam. In particular, the best
for exams is to do both your regular homework and maybe a couple extra
"practice exercises" every week. But
to get anything out of that, you really have
to work hard at getting the answer on your own. Don't expect your
fellow classmates or the learning center to "just do the
problems for you".
The same applies to "just looking up the answer" on Google or other
Not only is this against my rules (and the Honor Code!), but it also
deprives you of the learning process. Even if you don't get the final
answer (right), if you have at least made a serious attempt, you will
understand the correct solution better and be able to see where you may have
troubles or weak areas.
The second-most important way you can prepare yourself for tests and exams
is by attending lecture. Not only will it help you understand what's
important, you will also see me work out examples and - most importantly -
you will be able to test your understanding with in-class response surveys
("clicker quizzes"). The latter are often a good indicator on what might
be on the test, as well!
And now some other "good advice":
Finally, don't wait until the last moment. Spend a couple hours each week
reviewing material and maybe 1-2 hours each day before the exam to prepare
yourself. This is more efficient than cramming for one night (not only
will you be tired, you will also forget everything more quickly again).
Recent research shows that you learn more if you make sure you sleep
enough during the night!
- When you study the book, focus on the summaries at the end of each
chapter and the "Reading Check Questions". Make sure you understand
the terms listed (read the relevant part of the chapter
in the book if in doubt) and find at least one example
in the text that illustrates each concept. Do all the "Check Point"
problems in the text by covering up the solution first, then check!
Make use of additional study material that came with the book, and
go to the book website to
check out the animated figures and video clips. And try to come up with
your own examples from everyday life where you can apply what you
learned in class - this will make it more real for you. (Example:
braking distance of your car quadruples when speed doubles -
kinetic energy and work; how long for a stone to fall into the water
when thrown off a bridge - gravity, acceleration; riding an
amusement park ride - acceleration, velocity and postion; angular
motion...) It's a good idea to keep a "reading log" while you read the
book - jot down anything that you think might be important to remember,
as well as anything that seems unclear (so you can ask someone later
- Go over past homework problems. Often an exam problem is just a
of a previous homework problem. Try to remember (or reconstruct) which
concepts where used and how you could tell those were the relevant
ones. Look at the
solutions which will be posted below.
However, this only helps if you engage ACTIVELY with a given problem -
figure out how you could have solved it YOURSELF (not just nodding in
agreement with someone else's solution). Find the equations and paragraphs
in the book on which the solution is based, so that you can apply them
to similar situations in the future.
- Take a look at the formula
sheet you are supposed to bring for the tests/exams. It
contains equations and formulae that you might need during the exam.
Try to recollect where and how each of these equations were introduced,
and what situations they apply to (again, look for examples in the
- Look also at previous tests to remind yourself
of some of those questions.
- Remember, midterm exams will cover the chapters in the book
treated in class up to the day before the exam, beginning with the first chapter
treated after the previous test (for the second and third). However, some
"background knowledge" from all of 101 may be needed to answer a given question.
The final exam covers all material equally.
Solutions to Homework Problem Sets and Tests
Note: Solution to HW problems will be posted after their due dates.
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