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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert S Van Dyck
PHYS 114
Seattle Campus

General Physics

Basic principles of physics presented without use of calculus. Suitable for students majoring in technically oriented fields other than engineering or the physical sciences. Mechanics. Credit is not given for both PHYS 114 and PHYS 121. Recommended: working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry; one year high school physics; concurrent registration in PHYS 117. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

As a student preparing to take an algebra-based physics course, you are probably aware that physics applies to absolutely everything in the natural world, from raindrops and people to galaxies and atoms. Because physics is so wide-ranging and comprehensive, it can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming. The textbook for this course is designed to help you deal with the large body of information and develop a working understanding of the basic concepts in physics.

In this first course of the PHYS 11X series, you will try to understand the wide variety of motion that we can observe in nature, and with the help of some algebra (and sometimes with a working knowledge of trigonometry), we are able to predict certain motions. For instance, you are driving down the street when the traffic light at an approaching intersection turns yellow. Do you shove down harder on the gas pedal and go through before the light turns red, or do you have time to stop without entering into the intersection. Our brains are fairly good at making this decision, but can you make this prediction sitting down at your desk? This is the ability with which learning physics provides you. Therefore besides the investigation of the description of motion, you will also study the concepts of forces and Newton's laws of motion, work and kinetic energy, potential energy and energy conservation, linear momentum and collisions, rotational kinematics and dynamics, the gravitational force law, and simple harmonic motion.

Student learning goals

The students will learn to make predictions of the motion of simple objects moving in one- and two-dimensions.

The students will learn how to determine all the forces that act on a simple object, displaying them on a free-body diagram, and then be able to apply Newton's laws to the possible motion.

The students will learn that there is an alternate approach to investigation of motion which uses the concepts of work, energy and momentum that can often simplify the the prediction of outcomes.

The students will learn that both simple and general rotational motion follows very analogous laws to those found for linear translation.

The students will learn that there are also very powerful conservation laws that restricts the possible outcomes that can occur. In this course, the ones that will be investigates are the Conservation of Energy, the Conservation of Linear Momentum, and the Conservation of Angular Momentum.

The students will learn how to predict the motion for objects constrained by a special variable force called Hooke's Law that generates the back and forth motion of the object by means of a linear restoring action.

General method of instruction

Four lectures a week (except on three exam days and holidays) with demonstrations (when appropriate) plus lecture-participation clicker questions.

Recommended preparation

Students should have a working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. It is also recommended that they have had physics in high school. The PHYS 117 lab coruse is also highly recommended, since it will give one hands-on experience in using many of the concepts introduced in this course.

Please read the appropriate sections of the textbook before coming to the lectures so that you can get as much out of the lecture as possible. Along these lines, the professor will try to make several lecture notes available before the lecture begins so that you can better follow along without having to write copious notes; thus you should be able to ask pertinent questions at the moment that they arise.

Class assignments and grading

Homework will be assigned and graded on the WebAssign electronic homework system available at and you will have a very limited number of submissions that will be allowed for each assigned problem.

The TOTAL computer-graded homework will be given equal weight with a 50-minute exam (all normalized onto the 4.0 scale) with the Final exam grade written twice in this list (i.e. having effectively twice the weight of a regular 50-minute exam). Thus, 95% of your course grade will then be the simple average of all exam grades plus the total homework (on the 4-point scale). However, the lowest grade from this set of six grades will be dropped from the list before the average is taken. The remaining 5% of your grade will come from your lecture participation via the H-ITT clicker technology.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Robert S Van Dyck
Date: 09/10/2010