PHY 2048 Syllabus

General Physics I

Ref. no. 167819 (DAY)

Fall 2016

This web syllabus includes more detail than the printed version.

You are taking this class because you want a professional career as an engineer, computer scientist, or in a physical or earth science. I will help you develop the critical-thinking (problem-solving) skills, attitude, and physics knowledge those professions expect you to have when you leave my classroom. (Some of them will expect you to remember parts of it for the rest of your life.) This is a four credit course that meets five hours per week. The main topics covered are classical mechanics, gravity, waves, oscillations, and thermodynamics. (The detailed Course Learning Outcomes are given at the end of this document along with the exam schedule.) We learn something from every chapter in the textbook.

Course Prerequisites:
You need to know pre-calc and trigonometry at a level that corresponds roughly to a "B" in those courses, but there will be a 1-day review of vectors from trig. Other than that, there is little review of basic material you are expected to know from prior trig or algebra classes. You must be currently enrolled in MAC2311 (Calculus I) and PHY2048L (physics lab) or have earned a "C" in those courses. Satisfactory completion of ENC0025 and REA0017 or the appropriate placement scores or exemption are also prerequisites because problems must be read and report writing is very important in the lab. Calculus will be used. (See separate page for details on the introduction and use of calculus in this course.)

A "C" is not enough?

If you did not get a B or better in Trig and Pre-Calc on your first attempt
you should probably not take Physics I at the same time as Calc I.

Students who pass MAC2311 despite a C or having to repeat pre-calc or trig
usually know enough to pass physics but can still struggle in MAC2312 while taking physics.

I will assume you can apply the core concepts and methods
of algebra and trigonometry, as will your calculus instructor.
My quick review of topics in mathematics will be limited to
geometry and the specific vector notation used in this course.


Class meeting times:
Ref. no. 167819   --   MWF 12:20-1:10 in SMA 140,    TR 12:00-12:50 in SMA 140

Final exam:
Tuesday, December 6, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon in SMA 140.
No exceptions. No early, late, or makeup final is allowed by college policy.
Plan ahead. This is a cumulative final.

Required Textbook:
Essential University Physics, Volume 1, SECOND edition, by Richard Wolfson (Pearson Education/Addison-Wesley, 2012).
If you happen to have the first edition, the changes in problem numbers and page numbers can get complicated, but not enough to require a new book.

Catalog Description:
Prerequisite or corequisite: MAC2311. Prerequisitie: Documented exemption, appropriate placement scores, or completion of developmental reading and writing. Corequisite: PHY 2048L. Physics with calculus for students who plan to major in a physical science, engineering, or related fields. Topics include mechanics, gravitation, fluids, waves, and thermodynamics. Calculus is used. Lecture: 4 hours. Recitation: 1 hour. Additional fee.

My introduction at the very top of the syllabus is a general summary of the course objectives, but the actual Course Learning Outcomes are given near the bottom of this electronic syllabus reflecting their placement on page 4 of the printed syllabus. The fact that they are near the end does not make them unimportant. Read them.


Instructor: Dr. James Carr
Office: SM 290    (east wing, convenient to stairs opposite SM 137)
Office phone: 201-8971 (includes voice mail)    (Division office phone is 201-8499)
E-mail: carrj @ (regular)    or   carrj : tccfl (in LON-CAPA)

Office hours:
MWF 11:10-12:10, MR 1:30-5:00pm (part of these may be in the Learning Commons), See schedule outside my office or on the web for current official office hours. Changes will be announced in class. Other times by appointment. I am "around" when not in class, but some days I may need to leave the office early to set things up for a class (check for note on the door saying where I am).

Individual Help:
Office hours are first-come, first-served for students in both 2048 and 2049. I monitor the discussion areas in LON-CAPA, and will sometimes comment. Individual help is available via e-mail (the FDBK button looks like an envelope) within LON-CAPA, but not at the last minute. Use regular TCC e-mail to make appointments or leave messages of a critical nature, such as emergencies.

Class web site:

The class web site provides a "diary" of what is happening in class plus links to other resources.


Special Academic Alert for future engineers:
Engineering schools have a very strict policy on repeating courses that make up the "core" math and science prerequisites for the major. They look at every attempt at every school attended, not just at the last grade recorded for your TCC grade point average. They may or may not ignore withdrawals, and exactly which classes are considered for admission will vary somewhat depending on your major and the school you attend.

I try to keep up on the requirements, but you should contact the school you plan to attend to learn how their policy applies to your situation.

For example, the current FAMU-FSU policy (which took effect in Summer 2006) does not limit the number of withdrawals from PHY2048 at TCC but you will not be admitted if you have more than two D or F grades in any combination of PHY2048, MAC2311, MAC2312, or CHM1045 at any school you have attended. You will only be provisionally admitted if you have two D or F grades in those four classes and have to prove yourself on the first attempt at a specific course that depends on your specific engineering major. (The rules are slightly different for chemical engineering majors, who do not have any restrictions on PHY2048, replacing it with CHM1046 in that group of four classes.)

Other schools may limit the number of attempts and/or include it in a "core" GPA calculation. For example, UF requires a 2.50 GPA in a group of 6 core courses and only allows two attempts (counting withdrawals as attempts) to pass PHY2048! Check with a transfer advisor at the school you want to attend to be sure you know what they require.

In any case, do not take this class lightly. [The last day to drop with a refund, so your enrollment does not count as an "attempt", is August 26 and the last day to withdraw is November 1.]


Because of the complexity of the material you are learning, regular attendance and regular preparation are especially important in this class. Every day matters.

You are expected to attend all classes. (See the Tallahassee Community College Catalog for details, including the few specific cases where an absence is excused and you are allowed to make up the missed work.) Missing class might explain your poor performance, but it is not an excuse for poor performance. I expect you to behave like the responsible professionals you plan to become.

I will administratively withdraw any student who is absent for the first two weeks of the semester, as determined by not turning in a student information sheet. I will not drop anyone else because of poor attendance. If you cannot complete the semester, it is your responsibility to withdraw from the course by November 1 or you will likely earn an F.

If you withdraw from this course, I strongly suggest that you stay in PHY2048L but you need the lab instructor's permission followed by an override from the Dean of Science and Math to do so.

Details on how to stay in the lab:
The college policy concerning withdrawal from a co-requisite class is spelled out on a separate page. If you withdraw (or are AW'd) from MAC2311 or PHY2048L, the system should automatically withdraw you from PHY2048. If you withdraw (or are AW'd) from PHY2048 and don't follow the procedure described in that policy, the system should automatically drop you from PHY2048L. Because the lab is a critical resource (space in the lab determines the maximum enrollment in the course) and because most students who have kept up for the first half of the semester can pass the lab after dropping the lecture, we encourage you to complete the lab. Click here for details on how to do that.

Details on my AW policy:
I strictly enforce the college attendance requirement only during the first two weeks of the semester. A student who did not fill out an info sheet on the first day of class will be dropped with an AW grade if s/he does not attend and fill out and sign an information sheet by the start of the third week of class. If you attend but do not respond to my request for you to fill out an information sheet, you will still be considered absent.



Your grade will be determined on a straight scale, with 65% coming from 5 hour exams, 15% from homework and quizzes, and 20% from the cumulative final exam. No makeup exams.
* I will replace the lowest exam score (or a missing exam) with your % score from the final exam.

GRADING SCALE: 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, below 60 = F.

Note: You must pass the final exam to earn an A in the course.

Exams: Each of the five hour exams counts 13% toward your grade. Bring pencils, an eraser, a straightedge (a spare pencil may do), and a basic scientific calculator to the exams. There is no need to bring your book or notes on exam days. See the schedule on page 4 of the print syllabus and on the course home page. The exams are hard.

Your calculator must be able to evaluate log and trig functions, but only basic scientific calculators (ones without alphanumeric storage capabilities) are allowed. Graphing is not necessary, and you are not allowed to use most graphing calculators (such as the TI-83, TI-84, TI-85, TI-89, TI-92, or similar calculators). (See separate page for details.) The TI-83 can be used in the lab, however, if your instructor allows it.


Three things contribute to your homework grade: (1) Problems assigned and graded using the LON-CAPA system, where you submit your answers over the web. (2) Quizzes, which can be worth 2 to 15 points. (3) Turn-in homework problems, which are worth 3 to 6 points each. See the schedule in the print syllabus, but watch LON-CAPA for updates. Your total (which is usually around 300 points, with most of the points from LON-CAPA problems) will be scaled to a maximum of 100 points after allowing 7% for possible absences, whether excused or not.

LON-CAPA (computer assisted homework):
Each problem is worth one point if it is answered correctly before the strictly enforced deadline. A page in the print syllabus outlines some key features of the system, but the web resources include detailed information on using LON-CAPA. I encourage collaborative study groups for CAPA work. Collaboration means sharing ideas on the best method for solving the problem, not just plugging your numbers into a formula copied from someone else.

There might be some short quizzes or exercises. Bring your calculator every day. Recently, most "quiz" material is being covered as an assignment in LON-CAPA, but this may change.

Turn-in homework:
You get credit for a serious attempt at the problem if you show adequate work that is neat, clear, and professional. Late work is penalized 1 point or more per day. Present the problems in the order of the assignment with the pages stapled together in the upper left hand corner. Use only one side of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Make graphs on graph paper or by computer. Box your final answer. Put your name on the top of page 1 (where I put your grade). Fold your homework assignment lengthwise with your name on the outside under the staple. Points are deducted for sloppy or hard-to-grade work as well as major errors or omissions or obvious copying.


Web-based LON-CAPA Homework:

Most of your homework will be assigned and graded using the LON-CAPA system (Learning Online Network with Computer Assisted Personalized Approach), where you get your assignment from a web page and submit your answers over the web (the CAPA part) and also have access to some additional learning tools (the LON part), which are in addition to the resources and information on my course website. That is why this course is web assisted. This is not a minor detail. If you cannot or do not use it, your course grade will be reduced by more than 10% (one full letter grade).

Go to or use the "LON-CAPA" button on the course home page. Login information is in the print syllabus, and an example in a pdf document is included on the page linked below.

Click here for notes on using LON-CAPA.

The important thing about LON-CAPA is that each student gets a different version of a problem. (I also get one, which I will use when asked about a problem in class or to give a detailed solution after the problem set is due.) I encourage collaborative study groups for LON-CAPA work. You should discuss concepts and methods for solving problems. The best kind of learning takes place when you teach each other, explaining your attack on a problem. No learning takes place if someone simply tells you what formula to use to calculate the correct answer of if you simply follow an example in the book. You will get one point towards your homework total and lose 10 or 20 points when you can't do it on an exam. Be sure you know how to do each problem, and can do a different version (like one assigned to a friend in class) without looking at your notes.

Other comments on homework:

One reason for the length of this web version of the syllabus is so I can include details and explanations that I give verbally in class, thus documenting what students might not have in their notes.

Homework is due at the beginning of the class period on the date given on the assignment sheet included in the syllabus. The days that homework is due are circled on the class calendar handed out with the print syllabus.

You should be doing at least 3-5 problems every day because I assign several problems from each day's reading assignment. It is extremely important that you keep up with the homework, looking at problems as soon as they are assigned (about a week before they are due), and working them as soon as that topic is covered (one to two days before they are due). Pay attention to the schedule and start early so you have time to ask for help if needed and won't have to worry if a computer crashes just before the final LON-CAPA deadline.

Late penalties for turn-in homework vary. If the problem is worked in class, any paper turned in after class starts will get a full 1-point penalty. In other cases, you will get a full point penalty if it is turned in at the start of the next class and so on until it is worth zero. I also take off a point for omitting important elements from the solution or major math errors; otherwise I grade HW fairly easily while still giving you feedback on what you did wrong. Be sure to read my comments even if you get full marks for the assignment. These problems are now the smallest part of your homework grade, but they are your best tool to see if your careful solution is what I expect so you can practice what you will need to do on exams.

The LON-CAPA problems are considered due at the START of class, but the actual closing time for the assignment is late at night (usually just before midnight). What this means is that a system or network failure that occurs during the day or in the early evening on campus will result in an extension of the due date, but you are responsible if some other network or phone line goes down or if the system crashes within an hour or so of the due date. I will need to know about any problem (via e-mail to my TCC e-mail account) ASAP because I will only shift the due-date if it can be done before the "answer" time for the assignment, which is normally about 10 AM the next day.

The "recitation" component of the course is not associated with a separate small class session because all of our class sessions are smaller than a recitation at FSU. Instead, I use the days that homework is due as the time for discussion of any problems you might have with the assignment. Since you won't know if you have any questions if you have not tried them, my expectation is that you will have tried all of the problems before you come to class on the day they are due. I will not work all of the problems, but I will answer questions about them, including ones that might have come up in the "discussion" area. (Since I can see what problems are giving students trouble, I might take it up a day or more before it is due.) I will not answer the same question twice; you are expected to be in class and paying attention every day.

The other "recitation" component is the use of a quiz or in-class exercise. Some might be at the start of class, to check on your reading or as a way to jump-start a discussion.

The problems I ask you to turn in on paper are generally from the textbook, but they could include the setup of a CAPA problem. These problems are graded to be sure your solution methods are consistent with what I will require on quiz and exam problems. For these I will give credit for a serious attempt at the problem if you show adequate work that is neat, clear, and professional, I allow late HW because my reason for grading the homework is to spot potential difficulties before they cost you many points on an exam, so I want you to turn it in even if you turn it in a day late. I take off points for unprofessional work because I want to encourage you to present your work in a way that prepares you to achieve your career goals.

Please note that I expect your final answer to be accurate to three or four significant figures, whereas LON-CAPA will often tolerate answers that are slightly off in the 3rd sig fig. I will mark off for inaccurate answers on exams.

Copying is a waste of both my time and yours, since you cannot benefit from my comments if it is someone else's solution. It is also a violation of the TCC Honor Code.

I strongly suggest that you do more problems than just those assigned for credit, although you should limit yourself to ones that are similar to the ones assigned in class. I will sometimes make suggestions. The odd numbered ones have answers in the back of the book, and all of these have a very detailed solution in the student solutions manual, a copy of which is in the physics area within the Learning Commons. The exercises at the start of each problem set are a particularly good way to review your understanding of each topic.


I used to include two pages of the key equations in the syllabus, but I seldom saw it used. I now make those pages available as a pdf file here on the web, for those who might use it as a guide to organizing their working knowledge of physics.

Course Overview:
The way in which you should organize your knowledge of physics is a bit different from the way we must present the material. Key ideas like conservation of energy cannot be introduced until we have the tools needed to define a quantity like work and derive the work-energy theorem, but energy and its conservation is one of the central organizing principles of physics - which is why it leads my list of equations in the overview linked in the next paragraph. You don't need to use my list, which simply reflects my way of organizing my knowledge of physics, but if you pay attention to items 1 and 6 of my study suggestions, you will have one page of your own equation notes for each exam and refine them into something like this structure for the final exam and future reference.

The learning outcomes included in the syllabus (what you see below) do not include any equations. However, to help guide you away from an "equation grabbing" approach to physics, I provide a two-page overview as a pdf file that has essentially all of the equations you need to know for this course provided you know how to do algebra. That long list is what most students find helpful early in the course. However, I also have a more compact one page summary of the key equations from mechanics that experienced students can use as their "all I need to know to do physics" reference in PHY2049 and later courses in engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Apply the kinematic equations for constant acceleration (one-dimensional or two-dimensional linear motion or rotational motion) plus special cases of non-constant acceleration (uniform circular motion, simple harmonic motion, waves, or fluids). [Chapters 2, 3, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17]

Apply Newton's Laws for translation and/or rotation to one-body or two-body problems, including the use of free-body diagrams. [Chapters 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15]

Apply work or power and the law of conservation of energy to dynamical systems. [Chapters 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18, 19]

Apply impulse and the law of conservation of momentum to collisions. [Chapters 9 and 11]

Apply the gas law and thermodynamic principles to calculate the heat and/or work associated with a particular process, including applications to heat engines. [Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19]

You are also expected to correctly evaluate experimental evidence in the required co-requisite laboratory class, PHY2048L. In addition, the basic skills of accurate calculation, correct use of SI units, and problem solving are reviewed in Chapter 1 and apply to every part of this course and the lab. You should also pay close attention to the different forces (gravity, "normal" contact force, tension, springs, friction, aerodynamic drag, compression, buoyancy) as they are introduced throughout the course.

( Two page PHY2048 overview available as pdf for printing )


Exam Schedule and Coverage:

Subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and on the web.
You may not use notes, a cell phone, or PDA, only a basic scientific calculator.
Exams are 50 minutes, but you can start 10-15 minutes early if you need extra time.

The exam dates are in your print syllabus, but you should also confirm them in class.

Exam 1: September 8 (Thursday) Sections 1.1 through 3.6

Exam 2: September 29 (Thursday) Sections 4.1 through 7.3

Midterm: October 13 (Thursday) Sections 1.1 through 7.3 and 9.1 through 9.6

Exam 3: November 3 (Thurs) Sections 8.1 through 12.3

Exam 4: November 22 (Tues) Sections 13.1 through 17.3?

Final Exam: December 6 (Tues) Everything


The print syllabus contains a course calendar and a list of the (tentative) homework assignments for the semester. I do not give those here because they are already available dynamically in LON-CAPA. The LON-CAPA assignments are what they are, and other changes will be announced in a message posted on your LON-CAPA page and in class.


 ?? Contact me if you have any questions.