Informal Description

  1. There will be times in class when we go over something that you already understand. There may also occasionally be times when you feel lost in class for a little bit. If this happens, don't despair. Ask a question or talk to me or one of the TAs after class.
  2. Falling behind in this course is not a good idea. If you're confused about something, it's very important that you seek help sooner rather than later. This course builds on itself—what we do in week three will depend on what we did in week two, what we do in week four depends on week three, etc. There are many people around who can offer help. However, we can't offer assistance if we don't know who needs it when. You need to take responsibility to seek help if you need it. On a related note ...
  3. I do not expect all of the homework assignments to be easy; I don't expect you to be able to sit down and do them easily the first time. Don't let yourself get frustrated—I strongly suggest working with others and seeking help if you need it. I also strongly suggest that you start the homework well before it's due.
  4. In many more traditional math and physics classes the textbook has a ton of examples in them. The book we'll be using doesn't. The result is that students sometimes find the homework to be challenging, frustrating, and occasionally even annoying. However, I'm convinced that this style of homework—where there's not an example just like the problem you're trying to do—is much better pedagogically. You'll learn a lot more this way.
  5. This course covers fairly standard Physics I material. The only exception to this is that our book begins with conservation laws, and leaves Newton's laws for later. There are a few other texts that do this, but most do it the other way around. The text book we're using is used at many other colleges and universities in the U.S. If you've had Physics before, in high school or at another college, you'll probably find most of the material familiar. You should talk with me to make sure that this course won't be too much review for you.
  6. This class is listed as an introductory course. I do not assume that you've had physics before. Although our textbooks occasionally use calculus, calculus is most definitely not a prerequisite for this class. This class makes extensive use of algebra and trigonometry. If you've never had trig before, you can still take this class, but you might have some extra work you'll need to do the first few weeks. In the past, students without a trig background have taken this class and done fine.
  7. This class is a lot of work. However, the workload is steady; you'll be doing approximately the same amount of work each week. We'll hit the ground running and try to get lots of stuff done the next few weeks. The workload will taper off some toward the end of the term.
  8. The workload in this class starts off heavier and increases in difficulty and amount the first several weeks. After around week three and chapter C5 things will level off and perhaps even get easier.
  9. Labs in this class may be different than those you've encountered in other science classes. There will not be a formal write-up, aka a "lab report", due at the end of the lab. Instead, the emphasis is on playing/experimenting with some equipment, trying some stuff out, and learning some skills we won't get a chance to go over in class. The exercises are, at times, open ended and deliberately vague. But there's a point to each; every exercise is designed with some clear purpose. They're not just busy work. I think it's important to approach labs with this in mind. Don't try to rush through; if you put a little extra time and thought into the labs you'll get much more out of them.