Hiram College

Fall 2011: Physics 113 - Principles of Physics

Professor: Laura Van Wormer

Phone: (330)569-5249
Office: 108 Gerstacker
Email: vanwormerla@hiram.edu Lab schedule and Pre-labs

Text: Physics, Giancoli, 6th Ed.


I have several goals for this course, some are academic and some are not. The non-academic goals that are very important to me are showing you how much fun physics can be, how relevant it is to daily life and that you CAN do it!  Class will be a mixture of lecture, group work, discussions, activities and demonstrations, and its success will depend on your participation. Questions are welcome ANY TIME.

There are many skills and ideas that you will employ this term. Among the skills that you will apply are adding, subtracting and multiplying vectors, converting from one unit system to another, using the correct number of digits in an answer and doing error analysis on measurements taken in lab.  A higher level skill set that we will practice throughout the semester involves critical thinking and problem solving.  The structure of demonstrations, examples we do in class and homework problems is intended to help you develop a pattern of seeing how information fits into a bigger picture and using that structure to solve problems.  You will:

  • Learn the basic principles and methods of physics;
  • Improve your quantitative reasoning skills;
  • Develop your analytical reasoning skills.

The concepts that you will investigate and apply are motion — straight line, curved and in a circle — what causes it and how to describe that motion; different kinds of energy and work and how they relate to motion as well as to things like heat; the different types of collisions, what distinguishes them and how to predict the outcomes of a collision; fluids, their properties and their movements, as well as all types of waves. Wave motion is found in many physical systems. We will learn what some of those systems are, what phenomena the wave motions produce and how to calculate those consequences.


Your grades will be made up of many parts such as WarmUps, homework, lab and exams. I will allow you to set the percentages for each, within reason (click on the link:  grading contract).


WarmUps are to help you start thinking about what we are going to cover in class and to let me know what you understand and what we need to work on. Because they are to help you focus on important or difficult concepts we haven’t yet covered, they will not be graded on whether the answer is correct, but instead on whether you have given a thoughtful and complete response. I will use them to structure what we do in class each day, so they will be due by 8 am on the day we are to cover that material. If you click on the above link, you will find the WarmUps for the semester (though they may change slightly). For each WarmUp, copy the questions into an email or a Word or WordPerfect document. Insert your responses and send it to me the email or document in an email message.  If you have questions or if something appears not to be working, please let me know immediately.

WarmUps will be graded according to how much thought you put into the question and not on whether it is right or wrong.  A wrong (or right!) answer with an exceptional, thoughtful and complete response will earn a 10.  A well-thought out answer, right or wrong, will earn a 9.  An answer with little or no explanation will earn a 6.  If a WarmUp is not turned in or is turned in late, it will be counted as a 0.  I do expect them to be well-written, with clear and logical thinking, and few or no spelling, grammar or punctuation problems.


I believe that learning and understanding physics, and developing your quantitative and analytical skills, are nearly impossible goals without solving problems.  Therefore homework will be assigned for every chapter. The above link has the homework assignments for the semester.  (Be aware that they are subject to change, in case you work ahead.)  I encourage talking with others in order to learn and understand the problems, but suggest that when you write up the solutions you do that on your own. If you truly understand it, you should be able to do and explain it in your own words.

If you work consistently and are willing to ask questions, weight homework strongly. I will answer every question you bring me and help with any problem.  However that also means you will have had to try it in advance so that if you have questions, we have time to work on it.

Homework will be graded on a 3 point scale. 3 means you did the entire problem correctly, with the process you followed completely documented. 2 means that part of your answer is right, but it is not completely correct. 1 means that I acknowledge that you tried, but unfortunately you were on the wrong track. 0 means that no effort or thought was apparent or that you didn’t do the problem.


Actually doing science is an important part of understanding what a measurement means and how it can be related to our theories and hypotheses.  In doing these labs, you will:

  • Develop hands-on skill in acquiring experimental data;
  • Discover and perform experimental measurement techniques;
  • Analyze experimental results and draw reasonable conclusions from them using a theoretical framework;
  • Use software tools such as Excel for data analysis and Word for producing lab reports;
  • Explore fundamental properties of nature.

Your lab grade will be based on a formal laboratory report and its re-write as well as on your understanding of and effort in the individual labs, as determined by the pre-lab, questioning at the end of lab and your lab notebooks. At the end of each lab, the instructor will have a discussion with each group to answer questions and make sure you understood what the lab was about: what was measured, why it was measured and how the results were determined. You will be required to buy a lab notebook (a composition book, quadrille ruled) and to keep your lab notes, data and analysis in those notebooks. They will be left in lab and checked by TA’s.

Always come to your lab section unless you have previously made arrangements with BOTH lab instructors.  EVERY lab must be satisfactorily completed.

If you do not pass the lab portion of the class, you do not pass the course.


There will be two exams during the term and a final. All will be closed book, closed notes.  The comprehensive final exam will be Monday, Nov. 21 at noon.





29 Aug.
No lab
Syllabus and Ch.1 pre-test review Ch. 2 1-D Kinematics
5 Sept.
Uncertainty and
5 Sep
Ch. 3 Kinematics in 2D
12 Sept.
Ch. 4 Motion and Force
19 Sept.
No Lab
Ch. 5 Circular Motion
26 Sept.
Force Measurement
Ch. 6 Work and Energy Exam 1 Chs. 1-5
3 Oct.
Conservation of Energy
Formal Lab Due
Wed. Oct. 12
Ch. 7 Linear Momentum
10 Oct.
No lab
Ch. 8 Rotational Motion 14 Oct
17 Oct.
Conservation of
Ch. 9 Equilibrium
24 Oct.
Circular Motion
Ch. 10 Fluids
31 Oct.
Oscillatory Motion
Ch. 11 Waves Exam 2 Chs. 6-10
7 Nov.
Temperature and
Absolute Zero
Ch. 12.4, 6, 7 Sound Ch. 13.1, 2, 10 Temperature
14 Nov.
Latent Heat
of Vaporization
Ch. 14 Heat Ch. 15 Thermodynamics


WarmUp and Homework links: