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Introduction to the Principle of Physics - Fall 2014


Section 3793, 3 credits, final exam group: 18A, which is Dec. 18 from 7:30am-9:30am.

Prerequisites: Elementary algebra and geometry.
This course gives an elementary introduction to the fundamentals of physics. This specifically includes using algebra and geometry to set up and to solve "word problems." We will cover the following subjects: Newton's laws of physics, conservation laws, the motion of small objects, small objects falling under the influence of gravitation, electric and magnetic fields, electrical circuits, light (electromagnetic radiation) and a bit about how Mankind fits into the universe.

The textbook is "The Ideas of Physics," by Giancoli. Please do not buy this in the campus bookstore! If you look on Amazon, you can find a used paperback copy for about $8, which includes shipping.

Homework and Quizzes:
Reading assignments and homework assignments are given on the homework web-page. There will be between 1 and 3 homework problems assigned approximately every other class period, to be handed in at the start of the following class period. Experience shows that if you do not do the reading or the homework then you should not expect to receive a "good grade." There will also be short quizzes given in class with no prior warning. At the end of the semester, I will take the total of your homework and quiz scores and scale it so that a perfect score on all of the homework and quizzes would be worth 40 points.

There are three in-class tests during the semester, each of which is worth a maximum of 30 points. There is a fourth in-class test that covers all of the material of the entire semester and is given on the last day of classes in December; this is also worth a maximum of 30 points. This last-day-of-classes test is like a practice final, and may be used as a makeup for students who missed a test or for students who want to try to improve one of their test scores. The final exam is two hours long, is required, is worth a maximum of 45 points and is given on December 18, from 7:30am to 9:30am.

All tests are closed-book, and essential formulae will be supplied for the tests.


  • Your three highest scores of the four tests given in class during the semester would give a maximum possible score of 90pts.
  • Your highest possible score on the final exam is 45pts.
  • Your highest possible homework score (after scaling your total) is 40pts.
  • Your highest possible total score is 90 + 45 + 40 = 175pts.

  • The following scores guarantee at least the following grades:
    120 or higher: A-
    105 or higher: B-
    90 or higher: C-
    65 or higher: D-
    I reserve the right to lower these cutoffs (making it easier to get a higher grade), but I will not raise the cutoff (making it harder to get a higher grade). And I will consider neither the cutoffs for other grades nor lowering the above cutoffs until after the final exam is graded.

    Classroom Accommodation
    Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.

    UF Grading Policy
    Information on current UF grading policies for assigning grade points can be found in the undergraduate catalog https://catalog.ufl.edu/ugrad/current/regulations/info/grades.aspx

    General Education Course
    This is a University of Florida General Education course, for which credit may be obtained in the "P" (Physical Sciences) category.

    UF Relevant Area Objective
    The physical and biological sciences provide instruction in the basic concepts, theories and terms of the scientific method. Courses focus on major scientific developments and their impacts on society, science and the environment, and the relevant processes that govern biological and/or physical systems. You will formulate empirically-testable hypotheses derived from the study of physical processes and living things, apply logical reasoning skills through scientific criticism and argument, and apply techniques of discovery and critical thinking to evaluate the outcomes of experiments. To achieve these goals, students will be expected to:
    a) analyze particular physical situations, and thus identify the fundamental principles pertinent to the situations
    b) apply principles to particular situations
    c) solve any equations arising from the application of identified principles of physics
    d) communicate results unambiguously

    Student Learning Outcomes
    This course will also assess Student Learning Outcomes which can be defined via Content and Skills.

    Content: Students demonstrate competence in the terminology, concepts, theories and methodologies used within the discipline.

    Communication: Students communicate knowledge, ideas and reasoning clearly and effectively in written and oral forms appropriate to the discipline.

    Critical Thinking: Students analyze information carefully and logically from multiple perspectives, using discipline-specific methods, and develop reasoned solutions to problems.

    The Student Learning Outcomes will be assessed through approximately 15 graded homework sets, 15 graded quizzes and 4 graded examinations. Quiz and exam questions will cover subjects listed in the syllabus. Typical questions will require students to complete successfully all four steps outlined in the area objectives above. Obtaining the correct result to the question posed in the form requested in the question will be taken as evidence that all four of the steps have been correctly and successfully completed. In some questions students will be expected to choose between a series of possible explanations of physical outcomes; such explanations may be presented as graphs, numerically or in words. Although knowledge of the fundamental principles of physics is necessary for success in the course, the emphasis is on understanding how to apply the principles to a variety of situations; rote memorization is minimal.

    Teaching Evaluations Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on 10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at https://evaluations.ufl.edu. Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at https://evaluations.ufl.edu/results/.

    Classroom Accommodation Students requesting special accommodations must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation.

    Honor Code:

    The Dean of Students Office web-site has a detailed discussion about academic honesty and the University of Florida Honor Code, which was adopted by the Student Council. UF students are bound by The Honor Pledge which states, ``We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honor and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: ``On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment.'' The Honor Code ( http://www.dso.ufl.edu/sccr/process/student-conduct-honor-code/ ) specifies a number of behaviors that are in violation of this code and the possible sanctions. Furthermore, you are obligated to report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with the instructor in this class. Phone numbers and contact sites for university counseling services and mental health services are http://www.counseling.ufl.edu/cwc/Default.aspx; 392-1575, University Police Department 392-1111 or 9-1-1 for emergencies.