Physics 270 – Spring 2006

Professor Min Ouyang


Sections 0101, 0104, 0105


* Course Description:


Physics 270 is the third of a three- semester sequence of calculus based introductory physics course, which is designed primarily for engineering students. Following topics will be covered: magnetism, electrodynamics, geometrical optics, wave optics, special theory of relativity and introduction to quantum mechanics.


* General Information:


Prerequisites: PHYS.260, PHYS.261 and MATH.241


Corequisite: PHYS.271. Physics 271 is the laboratory part of Physics 270. You must complete and pass PHYS.271 (do all the labs) in order to pass PHYS.270. If you believe that you have completed the lab in a previous semester, you should go to Student Services (Room1120, Physics Building) during the second week of this semester to have your grade verified. PHYS.271 is run separately and is organized by Professor Jawahery this semester. All question specific to the lab should be addressed to Professor Jawahery.


Text: Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Vol.2, 6th Edition, Serway & Jewett.


Lecture: MWF 1:00pm in Room 1412, Physics Building


Mandatory Discussion:






W 2-3 pm

PHY 4208


W 3-4 pm

PHY 3301


Th 8-9 am

PHY 1219


* The Crew:


            Instructor: Professor Min Ouyang

                        Office: 2334 Physics Building

                        Phone: 301-405-5985


                        Office Hours: Tuesday 11-1pm. In addition, I am available at other times

by drop-in or by email appointment.

*please come often – my door is always open. If you have problems with homework, the lectures, or anything else, this is a good place to go for help.


            TA: Daniel Chapman

                        Office: 4110 Physics Building

                        Phone: 301-405-6019


                        Office Hours: Friday 10am-12pm, or by appointment.


* Note on Lecture and Schedule:


The primary purpose of the lecture is to explain and demonstrate some of the most important concepts in each chapter, not to repeat every detail or derivation that you could read by yourself. However, students will be responsible for all of the material in each chapter whether or not it is discussed during lecture.


A tentative schedule of lecture topics is provided. You are advised to read the relevant chapter before lecture in order to increase your probability of understanding the subject covered.


* Note on Discussion


Discussion begins in the second week of classes. You must attend the discussion section to which you are assigned. If you have a conflict, see the instructor. The primary purpose of the discussion sections is to practice problem- solving skills. The TA will cover material relevant to the homework and exams which may not be covered elsewhere. The TA will also discuss problem-solving strategies. Please come prepared to ask questions in the discussion section, which means read the chapters, review your lecture notes, and attempt the homework problems.


* Note on Homework


Most of the lecture time will be spent describing the physical principles that you must learn, but the most important aspect of this course is problem solving. You can not adequately learn the material by simply listening to the lectures and reading the text book. The knowledge you gain that way is superficial and temporary compared with what you learn by confronting and solving problems.


It is very important that you complete and understand all of the homework - you can not understand the material without being able to solve problems. Practice is essential to the mastery of any subject of skill.


Homework will be assigned and completed online, using the WebAssign. Instruction for the use of this system may be found here. The problem assignments should be considered the minimum that you must perform. There are many more good problems in the text book; do as many as you can find time for.


Homework assignment will be available each Monday morning and will be due one week later (before class on Monday). For most assignments you will have 10 tries to get the problems correct. Note that each submission of answers will be counted as try even if you have not attempted some of the problems. You may work with classmates on homework, but the numbers will be changed randomly for each student. Therefore, it is important that you derive the correct symbolic result first before plugging any numerical values – this procedure is strongly recommended!


The lowest three homework grades will be dropped. Because the solution key is available immediately after the homework due date, no late homework will be accepted.


If you miss an assignment for a medical reason, you will need a signed medical excuse to have that grade dropped from your total.


Homework solution will be available on WebCT shortly after due date.


* Note on Quizzes:


There are two different quizzes: the lecture quizzes and take-home quizzes.


Because an occasional absence might be unavoidable, you will be able to drop the lowest three quiz scores you receive.


Lecture quizzes: quizzes will occasionally be given during the lecture. The primary purpose is to check your current state of knowledge, your understanding of lecture materials and an encouragement for your attendance. You will get full credit for each question attempted on the lecture quizzes, even if your answer is wrong. You will be able to drop three of your lowest lecture quiz scores (i.e., if you miss lectures).

*you will need a “clicker” for the lecture quizzes. That maybe purchased at the Campus Bookstore. Read the instructions here for information on how to register your clicker.


Take-home quizzes: take-home quizzes will be assigned online each week (see the course WebCT). Quizzes will be due each week in discussion section. These quizzes will typically involve working one or two problems that are identical or similar to the week’s homework, but will emphasize symbolic, conceptual or graphical rather than numerical results. To perform good on the take-home quiz assignments, take into account the following guide: describe in words, why and where equations being used appear in your write-up. Show your work! Solutions or answers turned in without explanation will NOT receive full credit. Always write out your solution in algebraic form before you substitute in numerical values. Always carry along correct dimensional units (i.e., mass, length, etc.). Turn in neat homework and box your answers. Late quizzes accepted only under dire circumstances. If you know it will be impossible to turn in an assignemnet on time you must discuss this with me in advance of the due date. Medical reasons accepted only with a doctor’s note. You will be able to drop the lowest three quiz grades you receive.


Solutions to take-home quizzes will be available on WebCT shortly after due date, therefore, no late submission will be accepted except that you have a signed medical excuse.


* Note on Exams and Schedule


There will be THREE 50 minute midterm exams during lecture periods and ONE comprehensive final exam. Exams are designed to test your understanding of the materials covered in this course. You are supposed to memorize certain important facts, including definitions, formula, constants, principles, laws and theorems. Exams will be closed book, with no crib sheets allowed. The final exam will be based on the entire semester’s work; the materials covered in the in-class exams are indicated on the schedule.


Your best 2 of 3 midterm exams will be used in the final grade, but no make-up exams will be offered – there is no problem if you miss one of the midterm exams, but DO NOT MISS TWO!. Also, you must take the final exam to pass the course! In the case of intended absence for religious observances, the student must inform the instructor in advance. All such notice must be provided before the end of schedule adjustment period.


Please bring a standard scientific calculator to all exams and discussions. Your calculator should provide arithmetic, trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic functions. Programming and plotting functions will not be necessary.


In order to help you prepare exams three practice midterm exams as well as solutions will be provided in WebCT.







Midterm 1

2/27/2006, 1-2pm



Midterm 2

4/10/2006, 1-2pm



Midterm 3

5/8/2006, 1-2pm








* Note on Grading Policies


Honor pledge: please take a moment to review the honor pledge.


Grading weight:

            Homework:                                                                              15%    

            Discussion Quizzes:                                                                   10%

            Lecture Quizzes:                                                                       10%

            Midterms Exams:                                                                      20%

            Final Exam:                                                                               20%

            Laboratory (Phys271):                                                   25%


Letter grades: Letter grades are based upon the distribution of class scores rather tan an absolute scale, with ~ 15% earning A, 35% earning B, 35% earning C and 15% earning D. Anyone who does not take the final exam or who does not complete all of the labs will receive an F.



* Tips for Doing Well


· Practicing, practicing and practicing. Solving all the homework and quizzes problems on a weekly basis will be crucial in order to perform well in the exams.

· Read the material in the text book both before and after the material is covered in lecture.

· Physics is naturally a cumulative subject; the knowledge learned at each stage builds upon previous knowledge. If you find yourself in trouble, please seek help soon instead of waiting until just before the exam.

· Slawsky Clinic (1208 Physics) – additional help with problem solving strategies can also be available in the Slawsky clinic. Free tutoring for Physics 270 times are M-F 11-12am and 1-2pm.

· Instructor and TA’s office hours – if you can not make the office hours, phone or email the TA or instructor and make an appointment.