Physics 250: Technical Physics I

Fall 2007 Syllabus and Exam Policy

Instructor:  Dr. Michael R. Gallis     
Office: C112   Office Hours:
TR 10-12
W 10-11
or by appointment
Phone: 385-6053  
email:   Problem Session:  R 12:00-1:00

Algebra-based introduction to classical mechanics, including such topics as one- and two-dimensional motion, vectors, relative and circular motion, force and dynamics, Newton's laws of motion, work and kinetic energy, potential energy and energy conservation, momentum, rotational motion and angular velocity, static equilibrium and properties of materials, static and moving fluids, vibrations, simple harmonic motion, general properties of waves, sound and human hearing, temperature and kinetic theory, heat and calorimetry, and the basic laws of thermodynamics.

This course is designed to provide students with a working knowledge of the elementary physics principles mentioned above, as well as their applications to everyday phenomena and to the life sciences, to enhance their conceptual understanding of physical laws, and to increase their problem solving abilities especially as applied to physical systems. The mathematical prerequisites for this course (and the subsequent PHYS 251) are mathematics at the level of algebra and trigonometry, demonstrated by suitable coursework or demonstration of satisfactory performance on the mathematical proficiency exam. Students attend two lectures, one recitation session, and a two-hour lab/activity per week. Students perform laboratory experiments, discuss their results, and write up their conclusions in weekly lab reports. Course evaluation is based on a combination of homework, quizzes, lab reports, midterm and final exams, and other evaluative tools. The course is a prerequisite for the second semester continuation, PHYS 251.

-Penn State Undergraduate Degree Bulletin

Required Materials

TEXT: Physics - James S. Walker (Pearson Prentice Hall, 3rd edition) ISBN 0-13-153631-1
CALCULATOR: a pocket calculator capable of using scientific notation and evaluating trig. functions is required, and must be brought to every class.

As with any university course, student preparation is essential. The student is expected to read the material in the text before the corresponding lecture, and is expected to review the appropriate material, including handouts, before lab. The student is expected to attend every class, and will be held responsible for all work covered in the course. Students are expected to work every assigned problem as a minimum. There may be some additional homework problems assigned during the class.

Failure to take a scheduled exam will result in a grade of zero. Make-up exams will be given only in the event of illness (confirmed by a physician) or death in the immediate family. Lab reports are due at the beginning of lab, one week after the completion of the experiment (labs turned in after this time may be assessed an escalating late penalty). Missed labs must be made up (it is the students responsibility to see that arrangements are made), and any missing lab reports will result in the student receiving an F for the course. Missed quizzes will receive a grade of 0, and may not be made up (the student's lowest quiz grade will be dropped before calculation of their quiz average).

Students will be supplied an equation sheet (consisting largely of equations from the relevant chapter summaries) for each exam to aid the student in remembering complex equations. A copy of the equation sheet is available to the students as part of the note packets and is also available on line. Physical constants needed for exams will be provided by the instructor. It is strongly advised that the students use the equation sheets as they do the homework, so that they are familiar with the equations and their appropriate use. Sample test questions are also available in the note packets and on line.

Students are expected to maintain the highest level of academic integrity, and maintain professional standards of conduct. The University's academic policy statement can be found at and the University's Code of Conduct can be found at

Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact Disability Services as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. Please schedule an appointment to meet with the Disability Services Liaison (570-385-6127) to verify your eligibility for any classroom accommodations and for academic assistance related to your disability. The Office of Disability Services is located in the Counseling Office, Room 106, Student Services Building.

Grading Policy:
1. The grade will be determined by three midterm exams (100 points each), a comprehensive final (200 points), a 100 point laboratory grade based upon the laboratory reports, and a 50 point quiz grade.
2. Grades will be determined approximately by the standard cutoffs (90% for an A, 80% for a B, ...). Plus and minus grades will be assigned as refinements of this scale. The Instructor will determine the actual cutoffs at the end of the semester.

Physics 250 Course Outline


Questions and Problems


Introduction to Physics

Q 2-4  E 1,2 P 2,10,12,22,23,42


One-Dimensional Kinematics

Q 2,3,5,9-11,15 E 1,5,9,10  P 10,32,39-41,47,52,56,72,75,87


Vectors in Physics

Q 1,2 E 2-4,7,12 P 1,13,14,15,21,50


Two-Dimensional Kinematics

Q 1,4  E 5,6 P 5,12,16,27,28,39,43,57,58,69


Newton's Laws of Motion

Q 1,5,8,12,13,15 E 4-6 P 1,5,9,16,22,25,31,33,38,46,58


Applications of Newton's Laws

Q 1,3,7,13,14,20 E 6,7,10,11,14 P 1,4,5,9,15,16,23,32,35,36,39,40,45,47,51

Exam I


Work and Kinetic Energy

Q1,3,9,10 E 2,3,6,10,13 P 1,4,6,17,18,34,4166,


Potential Energy and Conservation of Energy

Q 1,3,6  E 1,4,9,16,17 P 1,3,14,22,24,28,41-43,50,61


Linear Momentum and Collisions

Q 1,3,4,9,10,12,13 E 1-3,7 P 8,9,17,24,27,31


Rotational Kinematics and Energy

Q1-3,5,6 E 1,3,4 P 1,2,4,7,8,14-16,21,31,34,35,47,60,74

Exam II


Rotational Dynamics and Static Equilibrium

Q 1,2,4-6 E 2,10 P 2,4,7,8,20,41,42,59,61



Q 1,2,6,12 E 13 P 5,14,16,27,41,45


Oscillations About Equilibrium

Q 2,3,6,7 E 3,7,10,15-17 P 21,23,30,31,38-40,49-52


Waves and Sound

Q 3,9-11 E 2,7,8,14,15 P 4,9,10,19,22,25,34,35,57-59,66,67

Exam III



Q 1,2,6,12 E 2,9,15 P 2,3,9,13,27,29,41,45,50,51,54


Temperature and Heat

Q 1-4,7,10,11,16 E 1,2,8 P 5,12,14,27,28,38,39,55


Phases and Phase Changes

Q 7,9 E 3,6,9,13 P 1,4,8,18,27,28,38,47,50,59


The Laws of Thermodynamics

Q 1-5,7 E 1,3,5,8 P 1,9,11,20,21,24,32,33,42,43,45,55,63


Laboratory Experiments




Conservation of Momentum


Motion in 1-D


Rotational Inertia


Free Fall


Simple Harmonic Motion




Speed of Sound


Projectile Motion


Archimede's Principle




Linear Expansion


Centripetal Force






Young's Modulus

(addition/modification of labs is at the discretion of the instructor)