PHYS P201 General Physics I  

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General Information - Spring Semester 2017

Acceptable textbooks for Woodahl PHYS-P201/202 (New and Used), click HERE

Course Description:

This is the first semester of a two-semester introduction to non-calculus physics intended for students preparing for careers in the sciences and health professions.  Topics covered: mechanics, conservation laws, gravitation; simple harmonic motion and waves; kinetic theory, heat, and thermodynamics (5 cr.).  Enrollment into this course requires you to have completed IUPUI or IU-Bloomington MATH 15900 with at least a C–.  Note:  Make sure you have enrolled in the correct physics course, PHYS 21800 is also algebra-based, and in many cases a more suitable course for beginning students wishing to master physics.  Our course, P201, is mainly intended for science majors who are likely to pursue graduate study or professional programs; in addition, the majority of students enrolled in P201 have previously been exposed to physics either in high school or college.

Course Fee:

You will be required to pay an approximately $91 fee for the use of the WebAssign homework server for this course. The WebAssign class key is

iupui 0486 4301

This fee also includes an abridged electronic version of the course text for the semester. There is an option to purchase a lifetime version for an additional $30. Note that there is no required purchase of a physical textbook for this course, a typical new physical textbook will generally run between $100 and $180. Also note that there is no fee for the lab manual (these will be provided as free PDFs). The link to a list of acceptable used, previous editions, and out-of-print (and even new) physical texts is given above.


WebAssign Homeworks:

Late homework submittals will not be allowed -- due dates/times will not be modified/extended.  If you miss the due date/time, for any reason, you will receive a zero for that homework set.

On the first few assignments, more latitude, for incorrect responses, is given -- you will have multiple opportunities to submit the correct answer.  On homework set #1 (HMK 01), you have five opportunities.  On HMK 02, you have four, and on HMK 03, you have three opportunities.  The remaining homeworks, HMK 04 to HMK 13, you have two opportunities to submit the correct answer.  The "An Intro to WebAssign" will not be graded by me and will not count against your homework score, but you are required to complete it order to access the other homework sets.

Contrary to common belief, the WebAssign System for our homework sets does not score your answer wrong for missing significant figures. However your submission does need to be within +/- 3% of the answer to receive credit. No additional points will be added to your score if your answer lies outside the +/- 3% range. 
(Emails or similar messages requesting additional points or late submittals will be ignored.)



PHYSICS, by Cutnell & Johnson, John Wiley & Sons, (any recent edition is acceptable).

Lab Manual:    

You do not have to purchase an additional lab manual. Click on the "Calendar" link at the top of this page, then access the link to view the download page for the labs.


Class Schedule:

 Lecture Sections 22686, 22689, 22692
Wed 5:00 - 7:30 pm LE 100 Woodahl
 Recitation Sections 22684, 22687
Mon 6:00 - 6:50 pm  HR 101 Woodahl
 Recitation Section 22690
Tue 6:00 - 6:50 pm LD 004 Williams
 Laboratory Section 22685
Mon 2:00 - 3:50 pm LD 011 Hua
 Laboratory Section 22688
Mon 4:00 - 5:50 pm LD 011 Lybarger
 Laboratory Section 22691
Tue 4:00 - 5:50 pm LD 011 Lybarger


Course Instructor:


Office: LD 156-S, 278-9244

Recitation Instructors:

Woodahl (see above)


Office: LD 154

Laboratory Instructors:




For the latest Physics Department free tutoring schedule, click here. Please first contact the physics tutors before seeking help from your recitation instructors.


Prerequisite: MATH 15900 (Algebra and Trigonometry).  Students must have a working knowledge of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.


Organization: Each week there is a 2 to 2.5 hour lecture, 1 hour recitation, and 1 to 2 hour lab.  Bring your text and calculator to lecture, recitation, and lab.  For recitation assignments we are using the WebAssign homework server.  An assignment, submitted through the Internet, will be due almost every week. Missed submittals (late homework) will count as a zero. Do not forget to submit homework in a timely manner!


Grading: The components of the course are assigned the following points:

   Three one-hour tests (100 pts each) *   = 300
   Comprehensive Final Exam *   = 200
   WebAssign Homework   = 150
   Laboratory   = 150
  = 10
   TOTAL POINTS   = 800


There is a single grade for the course determined by your point total.

To pass, per Department policy, you must accumulate at least 250 exam points (50%).

The 500 total exam points are not the simple sum of your exam scores (*).  Your net exam points are based upon the method of derivatives which retains the "time information" of a student's exam scores.  The method of derivatives awards a few additional points to students that maintain a positive exam score slope.  In fact, a student can do relatively poorly on the first exam, continue to improve on the later exams and in the end obtain a score that effectively adds up to 10 points (or more).  For a student that maintains roughly the same exam scores throughout the semester, there is no difference between the "simple sum" and the "method of derivatives".  Conversely, a student that continues to score lower and lower on the exams will be penalized, due to their negative exam slope.  It turns out, that predicting a student's success in P202 (the second-semester course) hinges mostly on how that student improved upon their exam scores in P201 throughout the semester, i.e, did they yield a positive exam slope.  In a nut-shell, the algorithm for the method of derivatives performs the following:  using the method of least squares, a first-order (linear) equation is fitted through the five exam scores (final exam is equal to 2 hourly exams), the fitted line is then evaluated at the independent-variable of 3.3 (10% beyond the median: Exam 3), that score (the dependent-variable of the fit-line) is then multiplied by five and this becomes the student's exam score total.  As an example, consider a student that scores a 50% on Exam 1, 88% on Exam 2, 78% on Exam 3, and 171/200 on the Final Exam.  The conventional "simple sum" exam score would be 387 points.  But by the method of derivatives, the net exam score is 397.  Effectively, 10 points were added to the student's point total because the student continued to improve.  Another more concrete example involves a student that really struggled on the early exams: A few years ago I had a student score the following: 19%, 44%, 97%, and 186/200 on the final.  The simple sum would have been 346 points, but by the method of derivatives, the student obtained 376 exam points and ended up earning a B– in the course (128 on HMK and 137 on Labs). The method of derivatives gives the student who scores poorly on Exam 1, a chance to earn a passing grade in the course.

One laboratory may be missed with the accompanying loss of points.  For each successive missed lab, the course grade will drop by one letter.

Lecture notes or recitation notes will not be provided. Attend lecture and recitation, or ask a fellow classmate to provide you copies.

NOTICE  (Read these instructions carefully!)
Students who are repeating the course and successfully passed the lab portion in their previous P201 have the option of using that lab grade for this semester.  The following protocol must be followed:  You must contact your previous Lab TA via email, also cc me in your email, and have those lab scores transmitted to your new Lab TA.  Until the lab scores are received by your new Lab TA, you must continue to attend the lab this semester!  Failure to follow these instructions will result in an administrative withdrawal due to the fact you are not attending lab.

Bonus points, earned after the final exam, based upon discussions among instructor, recitation instructors, and lab instructors, are subjectively awarded to students who maintain good rapport and strive to improve (all facets:  exams, homeworks, labs) throughout the duration of the semester.

The following letter grades are guaranteed based on total points:

720 points
A –
640 points
B –
530 points
C –


Event I
See Registrar Withdrawal with automatic grade of W begins. Advisor signature is required. Submitted in person at the Office of the Registrar, Campus Center 250 or via the Late drop/add classes (eDrop/eAdd) link on the self service page. If submitting in person, pick up the form from your advisor or school.
Event II
See Registrar Last day to withdraw with automatic grade of W via the Late drop/add classes (eDrop/eAdd) link on the self service page. Advisor signature is required. UCOL students or Engineering/Technology freshmen must see advisor by 5:00 p.m. In person transactions must be processed by 5:00 p.m.
Event III
See Registrar Withdrawal with grade of W or F. Advisor and instructor signatures required. Advisor and instructor signatures required. Submitted in person only at the Office of the Registrar, Campus Center 250. Pick up the form from your advisor or school.
Event IV
See Registrar Last day to withdraw with grade of W or F. Advisor and instructor signatures required.  Submitted in person only at the Office of the Registrar by 5:30 p.m., Campus Center 250. Pick up the form from your advisor or school.


Poor performance in a course is not considered grounds for a late withdrawal.

UPDATED: January 5, 2017 at 1:04 PM EST