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Physics 2016-2017

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---- For First Class ----

New students will receive everything they need to complete the first assignment during the science skills workshop.
Returning students can pick up textbooks and papers in August.

Assignment Sheet

General Information

Class Time: Tuesdays, 9:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Location: Springton Lake Presbyterian Church, Route 252, Newtown Square

Teacher: Lisa Swieson (610.355.9174,

Textbook: Physics: Principles and Problems (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, ©2002) and Student Lab Manual

Overview. This is a rigorous physics course, appropriate for all college-bound students, especially those planning to major in science or engineering. Students should be motivated and willing to work hard. Students will gain an understanding of basic principles and apply math skills to the solution of physics problems. Weekly labs will give students hands-on opportunities to apply concepts learned.

Class Particulars: Each week, the first hour of class will be spent reviewing concepts and assignments. The second hour will be spent in lab. The last class session of each semester will be devoted to a practical lab exam.

Students are expected to bring the following to class each week: textbook, notebook, pen and pencil, folder/binder for handouts, calculator, and all written assignments (see below). Graph paper, ruler, and protractor will be needed for many labs. See complete supply list.

Dress Code: Students should wear comfortable (not baggy) clothing that is easily washable or that you don’t mind getting dirty. Long hair must be tied back. No open-toed shoes, bracelets, rings, or loose jewelry should be worn. Protective gloves, aprons, and safety glasses will be provided when needed.

Assignments: Each student will receive an assignment sheet, which will list all of the assignments for several weeks at a time. (Assignments will also be posted in the PDF library on the left.) The assignment sheet can also be used to track hours or days, if desired. Assignments will include:
  • Readings. Students will be expected to read 2 or 3 sections (around 25 pages) each week from the assigned textbook.

  • Lab Prep. Each week, students will receive instructions to prepare for the next lab. These may involve readings or written work.

  • Lab Report. A short write-up of each lab will be due the week following the lab. I recommend writing up the lab report Tuesday afternoon or evening, while everything is still fresh in the student’s mind.

  • Other Written Assignments. Most reading assignments will have corresponding written assignments, either questions or problems, that are intended to solidify the students’ understanding of the readings. If any student encounters difficulty with these written assignments, s/he should contact me by phone or email for extra help.

  • Unit Tests. At the end of each unit, students will be given a take-home test, which will consist of questions and problems very similar to the ones the students have been doing for homework. Tests should be taken on the date indicated and mailed to me the following day so that I can score them before the next class. These are not open book, so I ask each parent (please!) to supervise these tests and sign them before mailing them back to me. There will be a total of 8 tests during the year.
Honors Credit (optional): In addition to the regular course work, students who would like to receive honors credit for this course must 1) complete the honors assignments and 2) complete a science fair project utilizing physics (or engineering). This involves background research and a corresponding research paper (to be completed and turned in before experimentation), an experiment following a scientific method, an oral presentation to be given to the class, and participation in science fair. (Details for this project will be distributed to honors students in September.) In addition, honors students must maintain a B average (or higher) during the school year. An additional class for honors students may be scheduled from time to time.

Grades: All written work will be used to calculate each student’s grades. Class participation will be used to determine borderline grades, and lab technique figures into the lab scores. In calculating grades, I will drop each student’s lowest lab score each semester (two per year) and his/her lowest test score for the year. Grades will be calculated as follows:

Homework: 25%
Labs: 25%*
Unit Tests: 35%**
Lab Practicals: 15%
Homework: 20%
Labs: 20%*
Unit Tests: 35%**
Lab Practicals: 15%
Science Fair Project: 10%
A: 90-100%
B: 80-89%
C: 70-79%
D: 60-69%

Mid-Week Help: In addition to being available by phone or email during the week, as questions arise I will also send emails (check email regularly!) and maintain a class web site containing assignments, answers to questions, extra information & clarification, etc.

Absence: I realize that students may need to miss class once or twice for illness or family obligations. If a student must miss class, a parent should let me know, ahead of time, if possible. Even so, students are responsible for the material they missed—homework assignments as well as a make-up lab assignment must still be completed and turned in.

Lab Safety: It is essential that lab safety rules be followed carefully. Remember, students who repeatedly ignore these rules are putting themselves and their classmates at risk and will be suspended from class with no refund. In addition, students will be expected to pay for equipment that they break.

About Your Textbook: Within each chapter is a one-page feature about real-world physics (“How It Works,” “Physics and Society,” etc.). I encourage you to read these when you get to them, but you do not have to answer the questions.

Physics relies heavily on upper-level math, particularly geometry and trigonometry. Please go over the math handbook (Appendix A in the textbook) and do problems from the math packet (will be sent to registered students).

Your textbook belongs to Science Resources; please take care of it! Start by putting a book cover on it before our first class. And please do not write in it!


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by Lisa Swieson
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Last modified: 21 July 2016