Physics 201

The idealized motion of idealized objects

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Physics 201 Syllabus

Instructor David J. Ulrich
Office Bldg 7 Room 202
Hours After class
Course PHY201, 4 credits
CRNs 10412, 10818
Campus PCC Rock Creek Bldg 7
Room 232 & 234
Time 6:00 pm
Final exam Mar 20, 2015

Course Overview

This course will cover such topics as projectiles, statics, Newton's laws, energy, collisions, circular motion and rotational dynamics. In addition, we will touch on some subjects related to celestial mechanics and general relativity. The Course Content and Outcome Guide includes more course detail and outlines the course prerequisites.

Our textbook will be Physics (10th edition) by Cutnell and Johnson. We will be covering chapters 1–9 in this course.

Each Monday session will be held in Room 232. This room contains the material used for the labs. Therefore labs will fall on the Monday meetings. The Wednesday sessions will consist solely in lecture and will be held in Room 234.

Intended Outcomes

After completion of this course, students will

  • Apply knowledge of linear motion, forces, energy, and circular motion to explain natural physical processes and related technological advances.
  • Use an understanding of algebraic mathematics along with physical principles to effectively solve problems encountered in everyday life, further study in science, and in the professional world.
  • Design experiments and acquire data in order to explore physical principles, effectively communicate results, and critically evaluate related scientific studies.
  • Assess the contributions of physics to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of physics in its historical and cultural context.

Grading Scheme

Your total grade will be a weighted average of all the assignments in class. The weight for each category of assignments is in the following table.

Category Weight
Weekly Quizzes 25%
Lab Participation 25%
Lab Write-up 25%
Final Exam 25%

Weekly Quizzes

I will assign weekly homework assignments but I will not grade them. However, the quiz problems will be similar to these problems so it is in your best interest to do them when assigned. These assignments are available on the website. The answers and some of my solutions are also available. Use these materials as you see fit.

The first half-hour of each Monday will be used for a short quiz. Although these problems may be taken from sources other than the homework, they will be comparable to them both in terms of content and difficulty level. These quizzes will be open book.

Lab Participation

The lab worksheets are available on the website. Please bring your own copy to work on. You will be required to record your data and observations, answer the questions, and return them to me before you leave. There will be no take-home work required with the labs. Only those present will receive credit for participating. There will be no make-up labs, but I will allow you to drop one as necessary. You will not be allowed to make up work by attending other physics classes.

Lab Write-up

Some of the labs will require a formal write-up. At a minimum this write-up must allow the reader to reproduce the experiment. In all cases these labs are rather qualitative in nature. I expect you to add at least one significant element to improve the quality of the experiment: tighter controls, more distinct trials, data graph, error analysis, etc.

A well-documented intent, procedure, data record, error analysis, and conclusion are all expected elements of the write-up. Here are the questions I will consider as I grade them:

  • Is there a basic understanding of the lab?
  • Is the data recorded clearly?
  • Is the procedure reproducible?
  • Is the theory correct?
  • Is the analysis correct? (math/logic)
  • Are sources of error identified correctly?
  • Is the error propagation calculated correctly?
  • Does the conclusion follow from the data?
  • Are the future improvements thoughtful?
  • Is the look and feel professional?

Final Exam

See the class schedule for the date of the final exam. The exam will be similar in nature to the weekly quizzes, taken from sources other than the book but similar in concept and difficultly level. The exam will be open book. If you need help remembering an equation or the value of some constant during the exam, I will certainly be willing to tell you—please don't hesitate to ask. You will be given the entire three hour period.

See PCC Grading Guidelines for more detail.


Attendance and make-up policies
Attendance is required for any lab, quiz, or exam. The instructor reserves the right to administer or refuse to administer any make-up work for lack of attendance.
Instructional ADA statement
PCC is committed to supporting all students. If you have an accommodation form from Disability Services, please make arrangements to meet with me privately to discuss your needs. Accommodations are not retroactive, but begin when the instructor receives the Approved Academic Accommodations Form from the student. To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please call Disability Services at 971-722-4341.
Flexibility statement
Assignment/exam calendars may be changed in response to institutional, weather, and class problems. In case of cancellation of a class meeting, important announcements/assignments will be made via PCC email.
Code of student conduct
Information may be found at Student Rights and Responsibilities webpage.
Academic integrity statement
Students are required to complete this course in accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. Dishonest activities such as cheating on exams and submitting or copying work done by others will result in disciplinary actions including but not limited to receiving a failing grade. See the Academic Integrity Policy for further details
Withdrawal policy
As the student, it is your responsibility to process a Drop via the Web or at a Registration Office within the specified time periods set forth by PCC. See how to drop a class for further instructions.
Title IX/Non-Discrimination statement
Portland Community College is committed to creating and fostering a learning and working environment based on open communication and mutual respect. If you believe you have encountered sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, national origin, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability please contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at (971) 722-5840 or

Class Schedule

This following schedule should be considered tentative. Based on class progress, we may slow down or speed up the schedule.

Wk Day Date Type Title
1 Mon Jan 09 Campus closed (snow)
1 Wed Jan 11 Campus closed (snow)
2 Mon Jan 16 Holiday
2 Wed Jan 18 Lecture 1 Intro and system dynamics
3 Mon Jan 23 Lab 0* Working with Insight Maker
3 Wed Jan 25 Lecture 2 Newton's laws of motion
4 Mon Jan 30 Lab 1 Acceleration due to gravity
4 Wed Feb 01 Lecture 3 The analysis of motion
5 Mon Feb 06 Lab 2 Projectile motion (write-up)
5 Wed Feb 08 Lecture 4 Force and acceleration
6 Mon Feb 13 Lab 3* Modeling terminal velocity
6 Wed Feb 15 Lecture 5 Circular motion and gravity
7 Mon Feb 20 Lab 4 Centripetal force (write-up)
7 Wed Feb 22 Lecture 6 Torque and rotation
8 Mon Feb 27 Lab 5 Simple machines and torque
8 Wed Mar 01 Lecture 7 Work, power and energy
9 Mon Mar 06 Lecture 8 Interactions exchange momentum
9 Wed Mar 08 Lab 7 Momentum and collisions
10 Mon Mar 13 Lecture 9 Mechanics of the Solar System
10 Wed Mar 15 Lecture 10 A little bit of general relativity
11 Mon Mar 20 Final exam

Course Content

    • Demonstrate the use of the metric system.
      • Units of the "SI" system
      • Conversion of units
      • Prefixes, from very small to very large
    • Use the concept of "significant figures."
      • In laboratory measurement
      • In calculations and problem solving
    • Use vectors in calculations
      • Vectors and scalars
      • Components of vectors
      • Graphical solutions to vector problems
      • Analytical solutions to vector problems
    • Distinguish speed from velocity and solve appropriate problems involving these concepts.
    • Define uniform acceleration.
    • State the equations for uniformly accelerated motion and understand their derivation. Solve problems involving these equations.
    • Explain the phenomenon called "free fall" and that it is a special case of uniformly accelerated motion.
    • Explain Newton's First Law of Motion and its applications.
    • Explain Newton's Third Law of Motion and to be able to apply it.
    • Explain Newton's Second Law of Motion and its application. This must include the definition of force, of weight and how it is related to mass, of inertia and how they relate to acceleration.
    • Develop the ideas of Newton's Law of Gravitation, with emphasis on its being an inverse square law.
    • Delineate the role of friction forces in motion problems.
    • Define work and solve problems involving this quantity.
    • Define power and solve problems involving this quantity.
    • Define energy.
    • Define kinetic energy (KE) and solve problems involving this quantity.
    • Explain gravitational potential energy (GPE) and solve appropriate problems. Relate GPE and KE in specific cases, for example, a swinging pendulum.
    • Explain the concept of linear momentum.
    • Grasp the nature of and importance of conservation as a physical principle. Develop the conservation of energy, of mass, of mass-energy, and especially of linear momentum.
    • Restate Newton's Second Law in order to understand the phenomenon called impulse.
    • Delineate elastic and inelastic collisions and use these ideas in the solution of appropriate problems.
    • Study via analogy with linear-motion the concepts of angular distance, angular velocity, angular acceleration.
    • Learn a set of angular-motion equations by analogy to the linear-motion equations previously studied.
    • Discuss tangential speed, velocity and acceleration.
    • Study centripetal force.
    • Apply the above concepts to orbital motion.
    • Develop an understanding of projectile motion and to solve appropriate problems.
    • Explain the equilibrium of a point object.
    • Define torque and solve problems involving this phenomenon.
    • Study the conditions for rotational equilibrium and apply this knowledge.
    • Define the center of gravity.
    • Study the analogy of torque and angular acceleration to force and linear acceleration.
    • Develop an understanding of the conservation of angular momentum.

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