Class:                     Physics 161                                                           Semester:         Spring 2020

Instructor:            Rob Jorstad                                                          Email:    
Lecture:                MW 4:30-6:45 in M310                                             Lab in M205 :  R 2:15-5:20 (#42561) R 5:30-8:35 (#42562)
Off Hours:            MW 2:30-4:30, R 1:15-2:15 (full schedule here)

Office:                   M208B
Phone:                   922-6966 x3836 (email for fastest response)


Approximate Course Schedule

subject to change, midterm exam dates in particular could change


Monday of Wk #


Links and Phets

Lab XL sheets




Mon 01/20

Ch 1 & 2



Sci Notation Tut ,Sci Notation Tut(w/ vids) , Orders of magsig fig tut , Unit conversion on the TUTORIAL button in the upper left,  Uncertainty in Measurement Tut, how physicists usually do dimensional analysis here, Dimensional Analysis tut, (method similar to book with [L], [T], etc), Sig figs from Steve, Simple Error Propagation, Robust Error Propagation

Force Concept Inventory


Don’t print to lab printer…

MathModeling Tasks 1-4

Pag 23 (or 25) of this link


Excel File



Python Tutorials






Last drop with refund


No W 02/02

Ch 2 & 3

1D motion tutorial, Quiz, Moving Man, Maze Game, Physics in comp sci applications, catch the speeder, Projectile Tut, 2D motion self quiz, Falling monkey Cyclops eye of death, Projectile Phet

Duffy’s amazing simulations:

Try 10, 8, 0.32, 0.64, 1, 2800

1D Motion with Tracker (collect data, start ppt draft)



Ch 3 & 4

Vector Tut


Following Vid is useful for presentation prep

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

Prepare presentation in lab (come in with draft ready)


Video links at right can help with formatting and style...



2/14& 15


Ch 4


Block & Tackle, boat in a river, basic tutorial on relative motion with quiz at end, harder relative velocity quiz, Physics of sailing, cool boat crossing river

Present to class






Ch 5


FBD Tut 1, FBD’s self test, Some tricky FBDs (scroll down to see them), N3L quiz, action-reaction quiz, waves on a bat relating to broomstick on wineglasses


Old Exams


Studies indicate you will perform better on real exams by practicing like real exams.  Time yourself then grade yourself.



Ch 5-6


Mon Ch 1-4

Flat forces, inclined forces(The Ramp PHET), Two Blocks on top of each other(36.74 N)

Drag forces video lecture in detail

2nd presentation (data collection and start preparing presentation)



Ch 6

Banked Curve
refframe, circular F-v-a, roller coasters/vertical circles, Barrel of fun ride, funky amusement ride,

Frames of reference vid (0:38-3:20=intro, 4:10=drop ball on cart moving with constant v, 8:50=cycloid, 10:04 relative motion,  13:30=accelerated frame with dropped ball and fict force, 17:03=circ motion fict force, 22:00 earth as non-inertial frame)

Continue presentation prep (come in with draft ready)

Brief Err Analysis



Ch 7-8


Sk8Rdie, misc, BU work erg, friction, spring erg/oscilllation, pendulum, Lennard-Jones demo

2nd presentation to class










Ch 8-9


Collision Phet

Colliding Planets, Derivation of Cons Mom, Two Skaters, Impulse Quiz, Collision, Two Balls, 2d Collision, 2d coll B, Slingshot effect

Old Exams

Time yourself then grade yourself.




Ch 9

Exam 2

Mon Ch 5-8

Center of mass…

        Center of mass...


Coding Activities:

Center of mass




Ch 10

find torque, Lever arm simulator, more torque simulations, Two masses w/ massive pulley, Bug on a turntable, roll with slipping 1, roll with slip, rollslip2,


3rd presentation

Rotation Madness

Data Aq




Ch 11

Fletcher’s trolley, Straight line motion relates to angular motion! Angumom pnt particle, conservation of angumom Frosty,Tip the block foolio, CD players in space acting like gyroscope, Hardcore gyroscope pdf with link

Inelastic collision of bullet with block off axis...super interesting

3rd presentation prep



04/20 Last Drop with W

Ch 12



Static Equilibrium

Stress & Strain

3rd presentation to class



Catch-up/Ch 13

Exam 3


Ch 9-12

Gravitational force, Planetary motion, grav field, black hole 1, black hole 2, black hole 3, GR precession model, cool visuals, what you see et al…, Inner Planets,

Science Night Prep in Lab ~1.5 hours,

FNS on Fri May 1

From 5-9pm



Ch 13-14

wing simulator, lift lie #1, lift lie #2, lift lie #3, what is lift?, Tea Leaves @ 3:30 mark (in Russian)

Coding activities:

Gravitation in Python



Ch 14

Wed 05/13

last day of instruction

curveballs, NASA beginners aerodynamics (awesome topics at K-12 level)

Bernoulli vs Coanda 1, Bernoulli vs Coanda 2, Airfoils and Airflow



No lab!!!





Mon 05/18


4:30-6:45 pm

Cumulative final will probably have about 25% from Ch 13 and 14 (perhaps 1 problem and one concept Q from each?). Expect about 75% from Ch 1-12 (70/30 mix of problems and concept Q’s).  These %’s are only approximate.

No lab!!!


Course Syllabus

This syllabus may change. Students will be notified of changes as quickly as is reasonable.

Consider the 1-Unit MATLAB course CRN#43155 Friday’s from 9:30-10:45 in M201.  Course can be taken pass/no pass.  Work involves MATLAB basics (matrix math), 2D & 3D plotting, symbolic math, and writing some simple codes.


Students who score 95% or higher on all midterms may have the option to tutor 8 hours at the end of semester study-thon in lieu of taking the final.

Restroom use is not allowed during any exam.

A scientific calculator is required for exams.  Use one of these allowed models

Devices (smart watches, graphing calculators, phones, tablets, laptops, etc) are not allowed during exams (exception: scientific calculator as discussed later).


SBCC video lectures:


Expect 60% is a D, 70% is a C,  80% is a B, 91.5% or higher is an A. 

Special Nugget: if everyone consistently works hard (per my subjective opinion) I may allow the final to replace 1/2 of the worst test grade.

Assuming you fulfill your end of the bargain, here is a grade calculator: GradeCalcSP19


Please purchase the PHYS 161 Workbook, Volume 1 and (after week 6) Volume 2.

You can get them in the bookstore or on Amazon (link to Vol 1 & Vol 2).

I use this every day in class.

The workbooks reduce time spent copying crap from the board!

The idea is to have a hard copy of the workbook with you (for the questions) and a device (for solutions) displaying a pdf from my website.


I do not assign points for homework.  You still need to do it.  Please learn this lesson before test 1. 

Spend at least 10 hours per week on this outside of class.

Get at a study partner who is ready to work efficiently each week. 

Set a schedule & start working problems as soon as we start a new chapter. 

You want to be ahead on homework so you have time for practice exams during exam week.

There are too many problems to solve all of them completely.  One suggested way to work is as follows.

· Start by doing the first problem (of a given type) with the solution open.

· Then try two more (of similar type) without the solutions, checking only when you get stuck.

· After that, do the set-ups for each problem without looking at the solutions; then review the solution to see if there are any unexpected tricks.

· Inevitably, there will be many steps in the solutions that don’t make sense.  When you encounter a confusing step, make a note and move past it.  Bring a list of confusing steps to me as questions in office hours (or ask a tutor).


There is a free textbook online at openstax (University Physics Volume 1, link). 

Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday and Resnick is a slightly better book.

Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway is also pretty good. 

Old editions of Halliday or Serway are totally awesome as well.  Consider looking for an old edition used online...

Either of those books has better explanations than Openstax, but Openstax is decent.


Lab points will be assigned as follows:

· If you are late by 1 minute to lab you lose points.  If more than 10 minutes late you are asked to leave and get an absence.

· Mulitple lab absences severely impact your overall score in the course.  More detailed information is found by scrolling down to the lab rules section...

· 30 points for lab exam (if used it occurs after test 2)

· 40 points for oral presentation (data aq, prep, & present)

· Missing a day of oral presentation dta aq, prep, or the presentation itself carries extra penalties.

· Other labs worth 10 points each. 

· WATCH OUT!  Some labs may require pre-labs worth 2-4 points (out of 10).


My pet peeves are as follows:

· Students showing up without an appropriate scientific calculator for exams

· Students disrupting lectures (chronic lateness, chit chatting off-topic, using devices off-topic, doing homework for another class, etc)

· Students missing multiple lectures (miss 1 no biggie)

· Students who procrastinate with reading/problem sets

· Students who do not put in any outside of class effort (read a book & do at least 15 problems a week OUTSIDE OF CLASS)

· Students who watch videos thinking it is a substitute for actually DOING problems.


Students are responsible for dropping the course should they choose to stop attending.  That said, students who miss three or more classes may be dropped from the course without notice.  This includes any combination of lecture or lab absences.


Student Learning Outcomes

1. Recognize and apply fundamental physical concepts.

2. Determine values (using calculus, trigonometry, and algebra) given a set of physical conditions.

3. Synthesize physical principles to analyze complex or novel situations using calculus, trigonometry, and algebra.

4. Record and analyze observations of physical systems (perform and discuss lab experiments in written format).


Preparing for exams:

· Do homework and reading at least 10 hours a week.  Physics is not learned in a single evening.

· Get a good night’s sleep before the exam.  Eat something (not too heavy) the day of the exam.

· I gave you old exams so you could time and grade yourself.  Use the workbook to learn and the practice tests to assess yourself.

Tips to cope with science test anxiety. 

· If you get stuck on something, skip it and come back to it.  If you are still stuck, try for partial credit on that problem.

· Breathe in slowly for seven seconds then out slowly for seven seconds a few times.  Close your eyes and visualize a calming scene. 

· Don’t expect perfection. Trust in yourself and your preparation.  Even with some mistakes you will still be ok.



Take the number of credit hours you are taking and multiply by 3.  Add to this the number of hours you are working, volunteering, etc.  If the number is above 60 you are overextended.  Overextended students often earn grades below their initial expectations.  Students with overloads (more than 18 units) often earn grades below their initial expectations.

Special Needs Students

If you believe you may require special accommodations for this course please contact either the instructor or the appropriate campus contact immediately.  If you are unsure what accommodations should be available to you it is a good idea to contact the instructor or the appropriate campus contact to assist you in making that determination.   USE ANY ADVANTAGE YOU CAN GET!  This includes asking for more time or alternate locations for exams.

LAP students will not be given special arrangements without regular class attendance.  LAP students must take the entire exam in a single location OR be under constant supervision while changing locations.  No exceptions will be made.  An exam lasting x hours (x is a number) may be started up to 2x hours prior to the start of the in class exam.  The latest an exam can be started is at the regularly scheduled completion time.


Tutors are sometimes available in the Tutor Center, STEM center, and MESA Workshops.  Office hours are available.  If you only ask questions the week before the exam, it is often too late to help you effectively.


There is no curve for this class. Your performance will be indicated by a percentage.  93% or higher is a guaranteed A, 83% or higher is a guaranteed B, 73% or higher is a guaranteed C, 63% or higher is a guaranteed D.  I reserve the right to soften the grade scale based on class statistics.  For example: If the top scores in the class were 96, 95, 94, 93, 90, 89, 88… I would see the logical split in the grades between 93 and 90 and make 93 or higher A’s for the semester.  If instead the grades looked like 96, 94, 92, 91, 88, 87, 85, … the logical split comes between 91 and 88 so I would make the A’s be 91 and higher.  Similar reasoning applies to the other borderlines between grades.  The following chart explains the weighting of grading items:

Assessment Method

% of Total Grade

3 Midterm Exams

16 each

Cumulative Final




Science Night

* if canceled due to lack of funding, midterms and lab gain 1 point each


Attendance & Late Work
If you do not attend class you will receive zero credit for any quizzes, exams or assignments turned in that day.  Assignments collected in class are required to be turned in at the beginning of class. 
No late work is accepted.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain any notes or assignments for any missed class.

Students are responsible for dropping the course should they choose to stop attending.  Students who miss three or more classes may be dropped from the course without notice.

Please note that any student who provides adequate documentation of a legitimate and acceptable absence will be given special consideration.  Please discuss these matters with me in person outside of class; my brain can’t handle impending lecture and student requests at the same time.

1)  Medical appointments such as medical or dental visits are not acceptable excuses.  These must be arranged outside of class time.

2) Medical emergencies of friends or family members are not acceptable excuses.  I don’t expect you to stick around if one of those things happens (I wouldn’t either) but you should be ready to accept the consequence of a lower grade or possibly having to retake the course.
3)  DOCUMENTED medical emergencies (your own) are acceptable excuses.  Be prepared to provide your instructor with the nature of the emergency as well as the date and time of the emergency along with official medical records to prove it.  If the instructor feels the situation could have been handled at a non-emergency appointment you will be denied special consideration. This may result in an incomplete for the course.  Multiple medical emergencies are unacceptable.
4)  Death in the family requires a copy of the death certificate to be an acceptable excuse.
5)  Vacation is never acceptable.  This includes leaving for Spring Break or other holiday times early.  Final exam times will not be altered. 
6)  Phone or email messages will never suffice for any type of documentation for an acceptable absence.
7)  Any unusual type of emergency not listed above but known about in advance must be brought to the instructor's attention by the previous class session with appropriate documentation.



Look in the class schedule above in the rightmost column.  There you will find information about the week’s lab.  WATCH OUT!  Some labs require pre-labs worth 2-4 points (out of 10).  Any pre-labs are expected to be turned in at the start of class.  Late work receives no credit.  There may also be a link to an Excel sheet in the schedule. 


Pre-labs, if assigned, are submitted at the start of class.  The instructor will lecture anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes depending on what needs to be covered.  Students perform the experiment and record their data together on a single Excel spreadsheet.  They print a single copy of the data/graphs for the instructor to look over and catch as many errors as possible (circling items that need fixing).  When the data and calculations look good, the instructor then has the group print a copy of the data/graphs for each person.  At this point attendance is complete and these students are checked out for the day.


Instructors typically grade some subset of the submitted materials.  For example an instructor might grade the conclusion questions 2 & 3, check their diagrams, and look over the introduction.  The pre-lab is typically worth 2 points, each of these four items would be worth 1 point, and the remaining four points would be for successful collection of data and participation.  Note: students with missing or incomplete sections will have a reduction of score.


Lab points will be assigned as follows: 30 points for lab exam (if in syllabus), 40 points for oral presentation (data aq, prep, & present),  other labs worth 10 points each.  Read the section on Lab Rules below.


Please note that the lab portions of class adhere to different attendance standards as follows:
No labs scores will be dropped.

If pre-labs are being used, anyone late to class will not be allowed to make up the pre-lab.
If you are late to lab by less than 10 minutes you will lose 2 points off your lab score for that day. 

If you are late to lab by 10-20 minutes you will lose 5 points off your lab score that day. 

If you are late to lab by more than 20 minutes, you will be counted as absent and receive a zero for that day. 

If you are absent for 2 labs, your overall grade in the course is reduced by 5% in addition to any missed lab points. 

If you are absent for 3 labs, your overall grade in the course is reduced by 15% in addition to any missed lab points. 

If you are absent for 4 or more labs, your overall grade in the course is an F.  If you want to switch sections for the week you must get prior approval from the instructor.
Anyone leaving lab early (or gone AWOL from lab for an extended period) may be considered absent.

No food or drink is allowed in lab.  Do not come to class and expect to eat lunch or dinner.
The instructor reserves the right to ask students to leave class if they are in violation of school policies (e.g. misconduct, inappropriate dress, inappropriate cell phone use, etc.).  Any students asked to leave class will be considered absent and receive no credit for that lab.
The instructor reserves the right to reduce a student's lab score for lack of participation (e.g. for sleeping in lab, not staying on task, excessive bathroom use).

Your materials from the lab are due AT THE TIME AND PLACE SPECIFIED BY THE LAB INSTRUCTOR.  Late materials receive a very harsh penalty.  It is better to turn in a partially completed lab (or even a lab consisting of only the data sheet) to get some points rather than take a zero. 


If the lab includes a multi-day project (i.e oral presentation projects), absences and tardiness have an outsized impact on your lab partners.  As a result, penalties for tardiness and absence increase.



Phones or Other Electronic Devices

I get distracted by cell phones in class.  Cell phones distract students as well.  Turn off the ringer in class.  Please refrain from texting under the desk nonsense.  When you are in class, be present.  Avoid social media, texting, random web surfing, etc.


Academic Honesty

Students should be aware of the Student Code of Conduct.  The instructor will pursue appropriate disciplinary action for anyone believed to be in violation of the code.

Food in Class

No food is allowed in class.  Don't come to class or lab and expect to eat dinner.