General Info & Requirements

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Examples & Solutions


Newton's Life


Physics 121 -- Mechanics -- Spring '00

Prof. S. Teitel: stte@pas.rochester.edu, 275-4039, B&L 455B

Course Information and Requirements

lecture | recitation | lab | exams | homework | text | grading | help


Lectures will be used to go over course material, work out examples, and do simple demonstrations. Lectures will try to focus on specific concepts and their applications. Lectures will NOT be completely self contained, nor will they cover all the material of the text -- you are expected to read the corresponding chapter of the text BEFORE coming to lecture to become acquainted with definitions and derivations -- reading assignments will be posted on the calendar/syllabus page of this website. You are encouraged to ask questions at any time during the lecture.


Each student must sign up for, and attend, a recitation section. Attendance in recitation is required and participation in recitation contributes to 5% of your final class grade. In recitation you will receive back, and be able to discuss, the handin homework problems that were due the preceding week (students, PLEASE report to me a TA who does not return homeworks on time). The TA will also go over other example problems and answer any questions you may have about the course material. Recitation TA's will additionally have office hours in the Help Room, B&L 208, during which they can be consulted for help with course work, and assist in using the WebWork system. You are free to consult with any of the course TA's (not just your own recitation TA) during these office hours.


Each student must sign up for, and attend, a laboratory section. Laboratory work for this course is administered independently from the lectures. All questions or problems concerning the laboratories should be addressed to physlabs@pas.rochester.edu, and not to me (Prof. Teitel). The lab coordinator is Prof. Bigelow. Your work in lab will be graded by the lab TA's and only passed to me at the end of the semester for computing your final course grade. All lab write ups must be completed and graded for you to receive a grade in the course. Lab manuals for the course are on sale at the campus book store.

There will be no lab lectures this semester. The Friday times scheduled for lab lecture may be used instead to hold make up lectures (if a regularly scheduled lecture needs to be cancelled), or review sessions.


There will be two midterm exams and one final exam. The second midterm exam will focus only on the material since the first midterm. The final exam will cover material from the entire semester. All exams are CLOSED BOOK and will consist of problems similar to those in the homework assignments. You should bring a calculator to the exams. You need to bring a photo-ID to the final exam. There will be NO make-up exams. Only students with a documented medical or other such serious excuse will receive consideration for a postponing of an exam -- you need to contact me BEFORE the exam when at all possible to receive such consideration. For such valid excuses only, an ORAL make-up exam will be given. Students who come late to an exam will NOT receive extra time. Exam dates are as follows:

Midterm Exam ITuesday, February 158:00-9:30amLower Strong Auditorium
Midterm Exam IIThursday, April 68:00-9:30amHubble Auditorium
Final Exam Thursday, May 44:00-7:00pmSpurrier Gym



We will be using the WebWork system for posting and grading homework problems over the internet. Many of you will already be familiar with WebWork from your calculus class. General information for using the WebWork system can be found here. The WebWork login page for this course is http://webwork.math.rochester.edu/phy121/. Your login name is the same as your userid for your email account on uhura. Your initial password is your student ID (usually the same as your social security) number (be sure to enter it with the dashes, i.e. as 123-45-6789). Please change your password to something else after your first login.

The current week's problem set will be opened for work on Friday morning at 8:00 am, and closed the following Friday morning at 6:00 am. You have one full week to work on WebWork problems. Within this week you have unlimited tries to get a problem correct. No extensions will be granted. Note that, unlike in your calculus course, most problems will now require both a numerical answer and the appropriate physical units for that answer. A list of accepted unit abbreviations, and other help for entering your answers in the proper accepted format, can be found here, or from links on the WebWork login or problem set pages.

It is strongly recommended that you first download a hard copy of your problem set, discuss the problems with your classmates, work out your solutions, and only then go back to enter your answers online. If you do not succeed in getting a problem correct after a few tries you are probably missing some important concept of the problem. Go see one of the TA's in the help room, B&L 208, for assistance rather than using your unlimited tries to "guess" the correct answer. This is the best way to make use of the WebWork system. Do not wait until the last night to try the problems!

If you have a problem accessing the WebWork system, or if you think that WebWork has rejected a correct answer due to a bug in the system (not likely, but not impossible), send me email (stte@pas.rochester.edu) with your solution BEFORE the due time. If you are correct I will give you credit. If you contact me after the due time about such a problem, you will not receive credit.


Each week you will have two problems from the text that you have to hand in for grading by your recitation TA. You must hand in complete worked out solutions, including English sentences explaining your key steps, so that the TA can easily follow the logic of your solution. Handed in solutions that consist of only the final answer, but without a clear derivation of that answer, will receive a low grade even if the answer is correct. You are encouraged to discuss problems with your classmates and to work together, but everyone is expected to write up his own solutions independently -- violators will face a penalty.

The handin problems for each week will be posted on the home page of this website. They are due in your TA's locked homework box, located outside room B&L 166, by Friday morning 11:00 am. Be sure to label your homework with your TA's name and section number. Homework must be handed in on time to receive credit. No extensions will be given. Note that handin homeworks count proportionally more per problem towards your final grade than do WebWork assignments. In computing your final class grade, adjustments will be made to compensate for any strong variations in different TA's grading scales.


Solutions to both WebWork and Handin homework assignments will be available online on the "Examples and Solutions" page of this website. You are strongly encouraged to read through these solutions (even the problems you got correct!) and understand how each problem should have been done -- so that you could redo each problem correctly on your own if you had to. Understanding the homework problems is the best way to be sure you understand the course material, and to prepare for the exams.


The required text for the course, which will be followed closely, is:

Giancoli, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, vol. 1, 3rd edition (Prentice Hall, c2000)

Other useful texts, on reserve in the Physics, Optics and Astronomy Library (B&L 3rd floor), are:

Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, vol. 1, 4th edition (Saunders College Pub., c1996)
Halliday, Resnick, and Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, vol. 1, 5th edition (Wiley, c1997)


Your final numerical grade for the course will be computed according to the following weights:

Final Exam25%
Midterm Exam I15%
Midterm Exam II15%
Webwork Homework15%
Handin Homework10%
Class Participation5%

After this final numerical grade is computed, it will be converted to a letter grade. The average grade for the course is expected (but not guaranteed) to be between a B- and a C+. Class participation is graded according to attendance and participation in recitation. Class participation, and the discretion of the TA, can also be used to increase the grade when it lies close to the border between two letter grades.

An incomplete will only be granted to a student, who with a valid excuse, has been unable to complete a specific portion of the course. Incompletes will NOT be given to students merely to avoid a low or failing grade.

Help and Advice

My strongest advice is not to fall behind in the course. Physics builds sequentially -- you will not understand the later material if you do not understand the earlier material. If you do poorly on a homework or exam, DO NOT think that it is over and done with, and that you will never have to see it again! Make sure you go over the solutions and understand your mistakes -- if you do not, then your mistakes will only lead to a misunderstanding of what is coming next.

One of the best ways to learn is to discuss problems with your classmates. Often a classmate at your own level can more easily see the struggle you are having and explain things in a way that is easiest for you to understand. Often by working together, everybody learns from each others different perspective. But if you do work in a group, do so honestly -- don't rely on one person to just supply the answers; when you leave the group discussion you should feel confident that you could repeat the solution on your own from your newly gained understanding, not just from memorization. Allowing others to do all the intellectual work will not help you when it comes time for the exam!

The Help Room, B&L 208, is staffed with TA's most afternoons Monday through Thursday. Drop in for help when you need it -- that is what the TA's are there for. Feel free to speak with whatever TA is on duty; he does not have to be your recitation TA. Feel free to meet classmates in the Help Room to work together on problems -- the room has several computers which you may use to access the WebWork system. For a schedule of the Help Room hours, go here.

Feel free to come see me during my office hours. If these are not possible, feel free to make an appointment for another time, or come up to talk to me after lecture. I also reply to email (stte@pas.rochester.edu)!

Study Groups for this course are being offered by Learning Assistance Services. To sign up for a study group, stop by Lattimore 120 and speak to Nirmala Fernandes (x59049, fern@mail.rochester.edu).

This page was last updated: Fri, Apr 14, 2000