PHY 2049L Common Syllabus

General Physics II Lab

Spring 2012

Ref. nos. 98344, 98345, 98346


Course Coordinator: Dr. James Carr
Office: SM 290    (east wing, convenient to stairs opposite SM 137)
Office phone: 201-8971
E-mail: carrj (at)
Office hours:   see official schedule

Course web site:

The course web site provides an outline of the lab schedule linked to pages describing each lab setup, information on some of the lab procedures, and links to other resources. It is maintained by the course coordinator. Please direct any questions or comments about the web site to Dr. Carr.

Final exam: Exam 3 is your "final" exam and is given during the last week of class. It is not comprehensive, but it is retained by your instructor like other final exams. You can get your exam grade from your instructor, but it is normally included on your final lab report along with your report grade.


The information provided below only covers the general policies that apply to every lab section. Your lab instructor will give you a syllabus that spells out the rules governing your lab section.

General Lab Policies in pdf for printing

Every section does the same labs, but specific points of emphasis and the contents of the three lab exams will vary between sections. In particular, the structure of the required lab report will be spelled out in the syllabus you get during the first lab meeting. Only your lab instructor can answer questions about the specific requirements for your lab report or expectations about lab exams.

General lab report guidelines in pdf for printing

You should contact your lab instructor if you have any questions about the lab or your lab report. The best time to ask these questions is during the lab, so you are strongly advised to do preliminary (perhaps even final) calculations during the lab period and review the questions you will have to answer as part of your lab report before leaving the lab.

You should contact me (Dr. Carr) if you have any questions or concerns about the way your lab section is being run or if your questions about the lab have not been addressed to your satisfaction. (If your concerns are about me, you should talk to the Dean of Science and Math, Dr. Frank Brown.)


Common Syllabus in pdf for printing

Official TCC Course Catalog Description:
Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in PHY2048L. A co-requisite for students of PHY2049 which is used to reinforce the main concepts in that course. Lab 3 hours. Additional fee.

Physics Laboratory Manual, by David H. Loyd, third edition (Brooks/Cole, 2008).
ISBN-13: 9780495114529
The same book is used for both 2048L and 2049L.

Course Requirements: PHY2049 is a corequisite. You must have passed PHY2048L with a C, so we assume you remember how to use significant figures and do error analysis and still meet the reading and writing placement requirements for PHY2048.

Course Description: This laboratory course provides real-world experience with the physical principles of circuits, electricity and magnetism, and optics studied in the lecture course. Emphasis is placed on the experimental techniques used in electrical measurements with an additional focus on critical thinking and technical writing.

Course Learning Outcomes:
(1) Evaluate experimental evidence acquired in the lab, including the correct use of the concepts of accuracy and precision.
(2) Determine the properties of a circuit element (resistor, inductor, or capacitor) from a theoretical interpretation of data for AC or DC circuits.
(3) Present a logical argument concerning the validity of a physical model based on experimental data.

ATTENDANCE: As is the case for every class at TCC, you are expected to attend all classes. (See the Tallahassee Community College Catalog for details.) Consult your syllabus for the reasons your instructor might administratively withdraw (AW) you. You should never assume that your lab instructor will drop you from the class just because of poor attendance. If you are unable to complete the semester, it is entirely your responsibility to withdraw from the course by the deadline, which you can find on the TCC web site and in your instructor's syllabus. Failure to do so will likely result in an F for the course. Missed labs will get a grade of zero. There are no makeup labs.

Special note on withdrawals:
If you withdraw from PHY2049, TCC policy says you should be withdrawn automatically from PHY2049L unless the Dean, based on advice from your lab instructor or the lab coordinator, has entered an override allowing you to do so. Read the policy. You cannot remain in the lecture after dropping the lab.

Delay is your enemy:
It is easy to forget little details from the lab if you wait an entire week to write up your report. Further, if you plan ahead and look at the questions for the report after doing the prelab assignment but before the lab, you will know what to watch for while taking data or (more likely) while analyzing it and can ask questions about the analysis during the lab if needed. If you don't look at those questions until an hour before the lab report is due, you might find out that you need to know something that you failed to record the week before.

Individual Help:
You should make full use of the three hours you have in the lab with your lab instructor, and use your lab instructor's office hours or e-mail to get answers to specific questions about a lab, lab report requirements, or lab exams. Physics questions related to the lab can also be answered by your lecturer or the staff (or other students) in the Learning Commons, but do not expect them to know the expectations of a particular lab instructor. The "Graphical Analysis" software used in the lab is also available on the computers in the Learning Commons.


Grading: Your grade will be determined on a straight scale with 70% of the grade determined from the best 8 of 9 lab grades and 30% from the three lab exams. There are no makeup labs. A missed lab gets a grade of zero. The last lab exam counts as the "final" exam in this class.
GRADING SCALE: 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, below 60 = F.

Prelab: The Prelab is due on LON-CAPA before the start of the period, and will be evaluated as part (20%) of your lab report.

You should notice that most of the prelab questions can be classified into one of two categories: (1) Reading comprehension, where you need to read the background information and lab procedures and find the sentences that answer the question; (2) Sample calculations, where you need to perform calculations of the same type as you will do to analyze the data from your experiment. (Some will require using a computer!) Standards are high for the prelab because it is basically a take-home, open-book test.

Lab Reports: The lab reports are due at the start of the next lab and make up 80% each lab's grade. Half of this is for your performance of the lab, and the rest is based on the work shown in your lab report. The format of the lab report is described in your instructor's syllabus. Late reports should be penalized 20% of the total lab grade for each week it is late. If you get behind, turn in the most recent report for full points before worrying about a late report.

Lab Reports should be carefully prepared.
Be sure your work is neat and legible. Make graphs on graph paper or by computer. ("Graphical Analysis" is also available on the computers in the Learning Commons if needed.) Be sure that your lab report includes every required element and includes answers to every assigned question. [You should do all of the calculations and discuss the post-lab questions with your lab partner before leaving the lab.]

Part of the lab report consists of your original, written evaluation of the lab results. This is included to help you continue to learn the critical thinking skills that you will be expected to have when you take more advanced lab courses in the next stage of your education and on the job.

Turning in work:
Normally your work is due at the start of the lab. Drop off your lab report on the front table in the lab. Once the lab starts I will file those and anything after that is late. You can always turn in your work (early or late) to me in my office or leave it in the drop box outside SM252. The receptionist will time stamp it and place it in my mailbox.

Lab Exams: The lab exams will consist of about 10 questions that are similar to the kinds of questions and calculations you have to do for the prelab assignment; there may also be questions about the labs themselves or some of the key results or techniques used. Your instructor will tell you how many questions to expect. Bring pencils, an eraser, a straightedge (a spare pencil may do), and a basic scientific calculator to the exams. The exam schedule is on the course home page and in your syllabus.

Your calculator must be able to evaluate log, exponential, and trig functions. Graphing is not necessary but the ability to perform basic statistical operations such as calculating a mean and standard deviation will be very helpful. The TI-83Plus is acceptable, but the TI-84, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89 , TI-92, or similar calculators are not. (Note that this policy is different than the one in lecture.) Your instructor reserves the right to check and/or clear the memory of calculators like the TI-83 before, during, or after any lab exam.

An important difference between 2049 and 2049L:
The criteria for correct numerical answers to prelab and lab report questions as well as lab exams are different than in the lecture course. A 4 significant figure answer that is acceptable on a lecture exam will usually be incorrect on a lab exam. Answers in the lab must reflect the number of significant figures in the data and the rules for propagating that information in calculations. Failure to give a numerical result with the appropriate precision, like the failure to give correct units for any value you write down in this course, is a major error in the lab. The material we covered back in PHY2048L applies to every lab this semester as well as last semester. Review the calculation and use of standard deviations and the meaning of "accurate" and "precise" if you do not remember those important topics.


Disability Support:
Tallahassee Community College (TCC) is committed to making all programs, services, and facilities accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities in order for students to obtain maximum benefit from the educational experience and to effectively transition to our college environment. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to register with the TCC Disability Support Services Office which is located on the first floor of the Student Union.

Critical Thinking:
We are committed to creating a learning environment for all students which promotes, encourages, and fosters higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills that are based on an understanding of the central concepts of experimental physics. One objective of this course is to give you hands-on experience with basic laboratory techniques and data analysis methods as well as the physical principles themselves.

Advising Warning:
Students wishing to become engineers might have a limited number of attempts (sometimes including withdrawals) to earn a C in PHY2049L. Requirements vary, so check the requirements of the school you plan to attend. At present, Florida State does not track attempts in PHY2049 or PHY2049L, but does care about the total number of failing grades in any course required for a major.


Closing comments:
If you have read this far, you are probably more interested than most in how this class fits into your education. Physics is, at its very heart, a science based on experiment. Although you will see some experiments demonstrated in lecture, the lab provides you with an opportunity to see for yourself that carefully made observations are consistent with the physical models taught in lecture. Physics is not magic; it just seems that way at first.

Most of the labs are done after we cover the material in lecture. A few of the labs use simple tools in a "discovery" mode, and are timed to roughly coincide with when a topic is introduced in lecture. However, the lab serves a larger purpose than just reinforcing what is covered in the lecture course. We will also be learning to use some basic electronic equipment to make what can be quite precise measurements. Those of you in some fields of engineering or computer science will go well beyond these methods, but these are the basics for any real-world applications of electricity.

Reliable measurements are as challenging as reliable calculations, and just as important. When experiments work well, and some of these work extremely well if done carefully, you will begin to see that we can understand the world scientifically.


 ?? Contact me if you have any questions.