Physics I: What to Expect
Here is some additional, more informal info about the class that
should give you a better idea what to expect from this class, how to
enjoy it and do well, and help you decide whether or not this class is
- This class is fairly big. You and I will need to work together
creatively to make sure that this classtime is comfortable and
effective, and that outside of class people are able to get all the
help they need. Last time I taught this class there were 19 students
in it and it worked well.
- 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.
- 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 ...
- 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.
- 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.
- This course does 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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 exercises 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.
Web page maintained by email@example.com.