Links to PHYS 161 LAB Stuff




161 Lab Manual v7 Revised 2/10/18



Lab Manual Appendices Revised 6/26/15



Brief Error Analysis Handout Revised Spring 18

Brief Error Analysis.pdf

Potentially useful for labs requiring error analysis.

Link to a set of Python Physics Tutorials


Numpy Tutorial


Oral presentation style guide

Consider viewing some of these parts of the video clip.  Consider the list at right if you only need one piece.

0:00 Intro
3:05 Font style/size
5:29 Color contrast
8:50 Layout (heading, text, lists)
11:19 Use of empty space
12:20 Simple image on each slide
13:51 How many slides to show
14:57 Avoid busy slides
19:10 Data: Don't overdo it
21:21 Minimum essential components
25:19 Structure of a good talk
26:30 Use of home slide
29:27 Meat & Taters; Keeping the audience's attention
31:45 The specificity dive
35:07 Conclusions
37:40 Conclusion/Q&A slide
38:33 Conclusion of this actual presentation

 161 1st Oral Presentation Rubric

Sample Pres & Sample Excel Sheet




About page 37 in Manual.

 161 2nd Oral Presentation Rubric


About page 73 in lab manual.

 161 3rd Oral Presentation Rubric



Team Member Evaluation Form

Team Member Eval Forms


Brief Formal Report Tips



Lab Title

Link to Excel Sheet


Error Estimation and Using Excel


Referenced in Manual on page 13 or so.

Introduction to Statistical Uncertainty


Referenced in Manual on page 21 or so.

Math Modeling of1D Motion


Referenced in Manual on page 23 or so.

The first two pages of this file are step-by-step instructions for making a scatter plot with screen shots:


Vector Decomposition & Addition with Python

New Handout not in manual



Requires use of

Free with googleID.

Instructions to get started in glowscript included in handout.

Copy a code which draws a coordinate system & single vector decomposed into components.  The components are shown added tail-to-tip with the resultant being the initial vector. 


Modify the code to display graphical addition of three 3D vectors and associated resultant.

Making Your First Simulations With Motion


Make your first animation using a while loop. Contains a long code filled with “bells & whistles” such as waiting for a click to run, making a plot, creating titles & captions, etc.

Projectile Simulation (with & without drag)


Copy my code without drag.  Read how to add in drag.  Make the appropriate code modifications.  Use the tricks from the last page of 161FirstMotionSims.pdf to make a final code that outputs potentially useful data.

Simulate Blocks on Plane with

Friction and Hanging Mass


Code provided for a single block on plane with friction.  Code fragment for creating the objects for adding in a hanging mass (but none of the physics coding).


The following variation on this handout (including some FBDs) may be useful.  This starts at the same place but gives different questions.


Estimate & visualize center of mass positions

for various 1D, 2D, & 3D shapes


Code provided for uniform rod.  Fragments to modify for non-uniform rod.  Code for triangular plate.  Fragments or almost nothing for semi-circular plate, frustum, hemisphere, and arc.

Rotational Kinematics & Rod Pendulum Visualizations


First make a rotating rod.  Then add in a point mass on the rod.  Draw velocity arrow for point mass.  If torque has been covered, also add in simulation of a uniform rod pendulum.

Static Equilibrium Visualization


Do a static equilibrium problem analytically then try visualize the forces.  In theory you can work up to making a plot of tension versus cable location.

Universal Gravitation Visualizations


Code provided for two fixed points masses and compute/draw force arrows.  Students modify to add a third fixed point mass.  Next code is provided to animate one of the point masses.  Students modify to animate the other one.  Students modify code to analyze orbits and escape velocity.

Python1 Draft,


I probably wouldn’t use this anymore butI ’m keeping it around in case I forgot something in here…

Enough here for a late semester lab covering  Ch13 on Gravity.




Referenced in Manual on page 61 or so.

Versions B & C use the same spreadsheet.

In version D students make up their own spreadsheet!

They may wish to use the version A spreadsheet for Part I of the lab (determing muzzle velocity).

Newton’s 2nd Law Part 1 (Fletcher’s Trolley)


Referenced in Manual on page 65 or so.

Newton’s 2nd Law Part 2 (angled Fletcher’s Trolley)


Referenced in Manual on page 67 or so.

Phriction Phreaque-Outs

Not available

Great labs but no Excel sheets made.  Ask students to get FBDs correct for a variety of static and kinetic friction scenarios.  Note: subtle variations in placement and initial conditions can create crazy results.  I have personally been able to make a hockey puck stick on the board beyond 60 degrees giving mu_s>1!!!  Consider tabulating all groups results on the whiteboard to get an average and standard deviation (and error estimate).

Circular Motion


Referenced in Manual on page 87 or so.

Inelastic Collisions


Referenced in Manual on page 93 or so.

Elastic Collisions


Referenced in Manual on page 95 or so.

Ballistic Pendulum


Referenced in Manual on page 97 or so.


Outdated, but students could use as a start for making their own?



Referenced in Manual on page 99 or so.

Angular Momentum and Rotational Kinetic Energy


Referenced in Manual on page 123 or so.

NEW: Gravitation in Python


Not in Manual.



Referenced in Manual on page 127 or so.

Contour Plots

Not Applicable

Referenced in Manual on page 129 or so.  Tried to show why contour plots are useful using Excel then showed how Matlab makes much better contour plots than Excel.  Page 134 shows how to code in Matlab without csv file.


Option: to avoid saving as a csv and using csvread, make data table in Excel then cut & paste into matrix in matlab.

Stepping it up a level (using time increments with coding)

Not Applicable


Referenced in Manual on page 139 or so.  This is pretty outdated.  Might be better to redo in Python.  I discussed how this can be done on page 8 of Python1.pdf.  Code on page 13 of same file.  I can remove this code from documentation to make more of a challenge for students.  Alternatively, students could use python to make plots of something (e.g. speed versus time) using this existing code.