Approved by Faculty Senate

1. Outcomes for General Physics 115

Course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to…

 

(a) Understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;

Conceptual Physics is rigorous in embedding concepts of the major themes of physics into the minds of scientifically naive students. There are two ways that beginning students of physics can understand the topic: (a) through mathematical models, and (b) through concepts. This course takes the latter approach. Mathematical approaches will be used only when they are deemed as guides to thinking. First year algebra experience will be all that is required.

Through historical examples of how major scientists made their discoveries, students learn how the "na�ve" thinking of non-scientists had to be dispelled. In doing these students learn how the "rules" of the scientific game must be played.

Constructivist theory and methods of changing science misconceptions are thoroughly used in the course presentations and students are continually prodded to discuss and report their intuitions. Many demonstrations each hour are used to facilitate this endeavor.

(b) Apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences

In each hour of presentation, students are challenged to collaborate and use the team approach in finding answers to discrepant events. The intuitive approach is usually the first type of thinking displayed, but the scientifically logical approach is always encouraged before students make their answers known.

 

(c) Use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science

Physics 115 is a non-mathematical class and only elementary equations are used. However, there is considerable inductive reasoning done in the class. To explain physical phenomena to the student, logic is used to demonstrate cause and effect.

 

(d) Engage in independent and collaborative learning

In each hour (see above) several problems are proposed for the students to ponder. The individual student groups come to a consensus but only after each student is independently allowed to reason through the problems presented. After answers have been proposed new insights are encouraged by showing live demonstrations or multimedia demonstrations of discrepant events. That step is at the heart of the constructivist approach where students keep getting feedback but only after having had the opportunity to reflect, verbalize, discuss, and present these ideas to each other.

 

 

(e) Identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science

The creators of this course have written interactive, computer multimedia tutorials which closely follow the text. These tutorials also branch out and utilize proprietary software specifically written by others to dispel misconceptions or to try out their own theories and see the outcome of their theories put into practice. The power of this latter interactive step is at the heart of the course. Each student, in his or her own productive time of day, has the opportunity to see the demonstrations presented in class (via digitized video), or try out physics simulators, (proprietary software), or to do the demonstrations themselves with real equipment used in class and left in an accessible area.

 

 

(f) Critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information;

Web based material is used as a resource into scientific and non-scientific information. Also, worksheets that have puzzling but real situations are used for critical analysis of physics concepts.

 

(g) Recognize and correct scientific misconceptions

Physics 115 is primarily geared to do that specifically. Physics as a subject has a rich history of what is generally called "misconception science". In other words, the vast majority of students have the same misconceptions regardless of their academic and high school physics background. This is a well-researched area, and specific ways of teaching are employed to insure a better probability that those same misconceptions can be changed to proper ones. Four years of collecting data on WSU Conceptual Physics students reveals that these students, in controlled situations, positively show that the constructivist methods employed by tutorials and class activities significantly change their misconceptions for the better.

Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the natural sciences will additionally provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry through hands-on investigations and to analyze and report the results of those investigations.

The "lab" is in a new and experimental format. Instead of regularly scheduled traditional labs, the instructor has a variety of experiences that the student will use to enhance the concepts taught in class. The activities will be of the following types: Interactive computer tutorials and simulations, take-home activities, walk-in open lab stations, and in-class activities.

 

2. Course Requirements and learning activities

Students are required to take hour exams, and a final. The following syllabus is a detailed description of course objectives, and learning activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Course Description Physics 115 Conceptual Physics

 

I. INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Dennis Battaglini (et al)

OFFICE: Pa 111 OFFICE HOURS ARE POSTED ON THE DOOR EACH TERM

PH. 457-5260 Physics Office or, 457-5262 (office) or e-mail to battaglini@winona.edu

TEXT: Conceptual Physics, Paul G. Hewitt, 8th ed. Addison, Wesley, 1997.

 

II. Major Focus

University Studies Course - Natural Science Lab Course

Statement of University Studies Objectives

Course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to…

(a) Understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;

(b) Apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences;

(c) Use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science;
(d)Engage in independent and collaborative learning;

(e) Identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science

(f) Critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information;

(g) Recognize and correct scientific misconceptions

Conceptual Physics is rigorous in embedding concepts of the major themes of physics into the minds of scientifically naive students. There are two ways that beginning students of physics can understand the topic: (a) through mathematical models, and (b) through concepts. This course takes the latter approach. Mathematical approaches will be used only when they are deemed as guides to thinking. First year algebra experience will be all that is required. (Objective c)

The "lab" is in a new and experimental format. Instead of regularly scheduled traditional labs, the instructor has a variety of experiences that the student will use to enhance the concepts taught in class. The activities will be of the following types: Interactive computer tutorials and simulations (see next paragraph), take-home activities, walk-in open lab stations, and in-class activities. (Objectives a, b, c, d, e, f, and g)

Faculty-written computer tutorials are available for each of the first four units. Unit 5 is under construction. You will find these on the computers in Pasteur 107A. The lab manager will assist you if you need to learn how to use a Macintosh computer. Students who have used these tutorials have reported very positive remarks regarding their usefulness in learning the materials. (Objective e) As this is part of the lab experience, you are required to experience these products. The computer lab (107A) is open weekdays from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The lab is closed on weekends, evenings and holidays.

The tests are designed to measure a student's ability to apply the principles of physics to situations. Much higher-level thinking is necessary on these tests in order for a student to be successful. As an example, a student must be able to identify, understand, and apply relationships between important variables. (Objectives a, b, c, f, g)

The author of the text that we use is Paul Hewitt. In his introduction to the student he captures the essence of the manner in which this course is taught. In it he states: "You know you can’t enjoy a game unless you know its rules- whether it’s a ball game, a computer game, or simply a party game. Likewise, you can’t fully appreciate your surroundings until you understand the rules of nature. Physics is about the rules of nature--so beautifully elegant that it can be neatly described mathematically. That’s why many physics courses are treated as applied mathematics. But introductory physics that emphasizes computation misses something essential -comprehension-a gut feeling for the concepts. This book (course) emphasizes comprehension rather than computation. We treat physics conceptually- in down-to-earth English rather than in mathematical language. You’ll see the mathematical structure of physics in frequent equations, but you’ll see the equations as guides to thinking rather than as recipes for computation." (Objectives a, b, c, f, g)

II. Major Goals

 

1. Through demonstrated discrepant events, the students will learn how to recognize physics misconceptions in their everyday lives. (Objectives f, g)

2. The students will know the historical origins and evolution of the laws of motion and energy. Especially important are the historical figures of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Joule, Franklin, Faraday, and Einstein. (Objective a)

3. The students will be able to apply proportional reasoning by identifying and manipulating independent, dependent and controlled variables. (Objective c)

4. The students will apply proportional reasoning to the laws of motion, gravity, energy, wave motion, electromagnetic field, and light. (Objectives a, b, c, f, g)

5. The students will recognize violations of the conservation of energy. (Objectives a, b, c, f , g)

6. The students will explain apparent discrepant events by applying principles of physics. (Objectives a, b, c, f, g)

7. Specifically, the student will know and apply the major principles of the following topics in explaining common phenomena: (Objectives a, b, c, f, g)

Newton's Laws of Motion

Momentum

Energy

Rotational Motion

Gravitation

Temperature, heat transfer and expansion

Vibrations and waves

Sound

Electrostatics

Electric current

Magnetism

Electromagnetic interactions

Electromagnetic radiation and light

III. Course and Chapter Objectives

(Objectives a, b, c, e, f, g)

Objectives: Chapter 2--Newton's Laws of Motion

1. Be able to compare and contrast linear motion terms, such as speed, velocity, acceleration, etc.

2. Be able to describe the speed, velocity, and acceleration at various positions of an object thrown into the air as it goes up and comes down.

3. Be able to correctly apply the concepts of freely falling objects to the situation in objective 2.

Objectives: Chapter 4--Newton's Laws of Motion

1. Be able to apply the correct laws of motion that best everyday events.

2. Be able to describe the path that a moving object takes due to its present inertia.

3. Be able to correctly apply the concepts of inertia, mass, weight, force, friction, mechanical equilibrium, free fall, and terminal speed.

Objectives: Chapter 5--Momentum

1. Be able to name the two quantities involved in linear momentum.

2. Know and correctly apply the impulse equation of linear momentum.

3. Be able to describe the effects on an impact force that has its impulse time increased or decreased.

4. Know and correctly apply the conservation of momentum.

Objectives: Chapter 6--Energy

1. Be able to apply potential and kinetic energy factors (m, v, h, etc.) to problems.

2. Given a change in velocity, you should be able to apply the change to find total energy output.

 

Objectives: Chapter 7 - Rotational Motion

1. Be able to identify and apply the factors involved in rotational inertia.

2. Given a lever arm distance and force, be able to calculate the torque on a rotating system.

3. Given a drawing of an object with labeled support base and center of mass, identify the object as stable or unstable.

4. Given a description of a rotating object, distinguish centripetal force effects from centrifugal force effects.

5. Be able to identify the variables, which affect the angular momentum of a rotating object.

6. Identify the effects on angular momentum as a given variable is changed.

More Objectives: Chapters 14 &15--Heat

1. Be able to identify the primary method of heat transfer given different situations.

2. Using molecular motion in your answer, state the reason that warm air rises and cools air contracts.

3. Describe the geometric changes of materials that are either warmed or cooled.

4. Describe the change in temperature, pressure or volume, given one as constant and one's relative change.

5. Be able to operate on the Celsius scale by converting to Kelvin scale and then back to Celsius.

6. Be able to describe the 3 common temperature scales in terms of relative degree size, relative merits and freezing/boiling points of water.

7. Be able to describe the molecular events leading to water's unusual expansion properties at 4�C.

Objectives: Chapter 18-- Vibrations and Waves

1. Be able to describe and compare the particle movement in transverse and longitudinal waves.

2. Be able to associate the correct wave terms with proper factors of wave energy.

3. Be able to identify the causes and/or effects of interference patterns, standing waves, and the Doppler Effect.

Objectives: Chapter 19--Sound

1. Be able to describe the origin of all sounds.

2. Be able to identify the nature of compression and rarefaction in sound waves.

3. Be able to compare sound speeds in solids, liquids and gases.

4. Be able to identify the factors that affect the speed of sound.

5. Be able to distinguish between forced vibrations and resonant vibrations.

6. Be able to identify the role of interference in beat frequencies.

7. Be able to determine beat frequencies given two interfering fundamental frequencies.

 

 

Objectives: Chapter 21--Static Electricity

1. Be able to describe the theory of charging an object with either a positive or negative charge.

2. Know and apply Franklin's rules of charged objects.

3. Know and apply Coulomb's Law in determining the nature and relative amount of charge between two charged objects.

4. Compare and contrast electrical force and gravitational force.

5. Be able to compare the potential difference between several pairs of charged objects, including the direction of flow of negative charge.

Objectives: Chapter 22--Current Electricity

1. Be able to describe electron flow speed through a conductor.

2. Identify what the following units measure: volts, amps, ohms, coulombs, and watts.

3. Be able to apply Ohm's law to simple problems.

4. Be able to describe the effect on the resistance of metal conductors by changing length, width, temperature, or type of substance.

  1. Compare and contrast series and parallel circuits.

Objectives: Chapter 23--Magnetism

  1. Be able to identify the source of magnetism as moving electrically charged particles.
  2. Be able to identify the location of the Earth's north and south magnetic poles.
  3. Be able to state the direction that a compass needle would point when placed in a known electric field.
  4. Be able to identify the type of field surrounding a current-carrying wire.
  5. Identify three ways to make an electromagnet stronger.

 

IV. Teaching/ Learning Style

The instructor will distribute reading and study assignments for each five weeks of the term. The student will be expected to have read the assignment and to have completed any assigned problems by the date posted. The instructor will utilize class time by (1) demonstrating concepts covered in the reading material, (2) showing relevance of the concept to the contemporary world, (3) showing the historical context of the subject material, (4) demonstrating problem solving techniques, (5) doing in-class, hands-on activities, and (6) answering questions from class. (Objectives a, b, c, d, e, f)

In addition to the above, the instructor will call on students to create theories and answer questions regarding the topic of the day. The purpose of these questions will be to increase the student's ability to formulate informed opinions regarding scientific subject material, that is, to increase the student's scientific literacy. Math application will be kept to a minimum but it is assumed that the students have had at least one year of algebra and also are familiar with the metric system.

 

V. Evaluation

The student's grade will be determined by the percent of correct responses on five or six exams. The exams will be multiple choice and/or short answer questions. One of these tests will be the final exam and will cover the material explained since the previous exam. The grades are determined by a straight percentage of correct responses based on a number half way between the best score in the class and the total possible. For example, if your score was 72 out of 100, while the best score in class was 92 out of 100, the base would be 96 (half way between 92 and 100) and your grade would be 72/96 =75, which translates into a letter grade of C.

90-100 = A

80-89 = B

70-79 = C

60-69 = D

0 -59 = E

 

VI. Policies

 

Students are expected to attend and participate in class. Students are also expected to do the out of class lab activities (see above). Class exams are announced well in advance and students are obliged to take tests at the scheduled times. The obvious reasons for the exam policy are for fairness to the entire class. A penalty of a 10% per day deduction from the score will be given to those who have an unexcused absence.

Examples of unexcused absences include but are not limited to attendance at weddings, convenient rides home, oversleeping, and unpreparedness. Examples of excusable absences include verifiable illness, and family emergency. Prior notice may be given by email or calling the instructor at 457-5262. If you are in doubt of the status of a pending absence, discuss the matter with the instructor prior to the test date.

Dishonesty on a test or assignment constitutes forfeiture of that test grade. During testing times students are expected to sit as far from neighbors as possible.