\ Physics 109/110 Syllabus

Syllabus: How Things Work

Physics 109/110, Spring 2007


Office Hours:

Graduate Assistants:

Office Hours:

Office Hours:

Office Hours:

  • Lecture Schedule
  • Laboratory Schedule; Note that the Laboratory is held in Room 205 Small


    "How Things Work" by Louis A. Bloomfield, Wiley THIRD EDITION INCLUDING "WILEY PLUS"; ISBN 0471946648. Professor Bloomfield's text matches the intent of our course exceptionally well. The THIRD edition is VERY recent (2005) and your comments on it will be most welcome. THE FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED. Prof. Bloomfield is on the faculty at UVa and would appreciate hearing your comments. Feel free to e-mail him at: lab3e@virginia.edu. In addition we will discuss material in a paperback book called "Voodoo Science" by Robert L. Park. (Oxford U. Press; ISBN 0195147103) That book lists for $16.95 but is also available from online booksellers in used form at reduced prices. BUT, PLEASE BE SURE TO buy the THIRD EDITION of Bloomfield's text to assure that you get "Wiley Plus" for homework assignments. And, finally, you will need to purchase a "clicker" which looks like the remote for your TV and allows instant classroom response when in class. The clickers will cost (new) about $20-$30 and should prove easy to resell at the end of the semester. The clickers need to be the "RF" type. The RF clicker used in Physics 109 last year will work. A newer model (all white with a screen) is avaliable this year as well. Do not purchase an infra red (IR) clieker as they do not work in this course.

    Course Structure:

    The laboratory, Physics 110, is optional. If you plan to take Physics 110 to satisfy the laboratory-science GER, I urge you to do that now. It might not be possible to fit you into a lab in later years. There are four two-hour lab sections, all held in Small 205.
    110-01: W 8-10
    110-02: Tues. 2-4
    110-03: W 10-12
    110-04: W 12-2

    The Laboratory Manual for those in Physics 110 will be on sale for $5 in each of the above laboratory meetings during the week of 29 January.

    IF YOU ARE NOT SIMULTANEOUSLY TAKING PHYSICS 110 You should feel welcome to drop in on a part of any laboratory experiment to see what has transpired that week or, you should ask a friend taking Physics 110 to show you what was done that week. This will assist those in Physics 109 who are not taking Physics 110 to at least become familiar with the topics being covered in the lab that week. The tests in Physics 109 will not assume simultaneous enrollment in Physics 110 but there inevitably will be a reinforcement of lecture material for those who do ta ke the laboratory. We will make every effort to assist you in acquiring the practical material if you cannot take the laboratory.

    Grading for Physics 109 (The Physics 110 grade is separate from 109)

    Two Tests: 40% (20% each)
    Homework: 10%
    Class participation (Using your clicker): 15%
    Final Exam: 35%

    Grades will be based on individual performance. If everyone does A work, everyone will receive an A grade. If everyone does C work, everyone will receive a C. A very approximate conversion of percentage to letter grades could be >87% is A-, >75% is B-, >65% is C-.


    The final exam will cover the entire course. Tests will take place at the assigned times with the only exceptions being those caused by illness or university business. The final exam must be taken at the assigned time unless an exception is approved by the Dean's office.

    Classroom Philosophy:

    The class will be different from most other large classes. You are expected to read the text material before the class for which it is listed. There will be occasional unannounced quizes throughout the semester which will be scored for my use. They will not count on your grade but will give you and me some indication of how well prepared the class is and will allow you to monitor your progress. Class attendance is expected. You will invest less time in the course (for the same grade) if you read the text before each class and come to every class. But, I know that reading the material in advance will become a burden to some students and I urge you to either decide to set aside that time twice each week or consider taking a less demanding course.


    There will be several (about ten) homework sets for you to test your understanding of the course material. This year we will make the homework assignments in the web-based "Wiley Plus" which is included in the price of the 3rd ecition of your text (WHEN YOU BUY THE TEXT NEW WITH ISBN 0471946648).

    Laboratory (Physics 110):

    The laboratory will parallel the course but is not required. It will have several components. There will be a number of traditional physics experiments that you will carry out and analyze. There will also be experiments with everyday objects. Some will already be disassembled for you to work with. Some you will disassemble yourself. Those not taking the 110 lab are still welcome to stop by during one of the lab sessions to see what is being done that week. The goal of both lecture demonstrations and laboratory experiments will be to use everyday objects and technology to elucidate the fundamentals of the physical world. In a few of the 110 lab experiments, we expose you to the pracitical apparatus a day or two before we discuss the underlying science in class. We will warn you of these one or two exceptional cases.

    Information and Updates:

    We will post notices and course information on the Physics 109/110 web pages; please check them often, especially when bad weather or other problems arise. We will also use the campus email to send messages to you so please be sure that your campus address is automatically forwarded to the account you check each day. Questions can always be sent to me at:

    Complaints, suggestions:

    You can send me notes by e-mail or in my mailbox (anonymous, if you prefer). If you have concerns that should be addressed at the start of class, just leave a note in my mailbox or on the front desk that morning. And, please keep in mind that what you get from this course depends greatly on how much time and attention you devote to it. I expect you to attend class and to read that day's assignment before you come. If you do that, studying for the tests and getting good test scores will be far easier. Remember also that if you have a question, there is likely to be a large member of classmates with the same problem. So, when you speak up, they appreciate your assertiveness, and so do I. (revised: 12 December 2006)