Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | PHYS102 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Physics-Wave Motion/Electricity/Optics
IAI CODE(S): P1 900L

PHYS 102 is the second semester of a two-semester course in introductory physics for science majors/health career students. The topics covered are: Wave Motion, Electric Charge, Electric Current, Magnetism, Optics, the Nucleus and Quantum Physics. The class meets for four one-hour lecture periods and one two-hour lab each week.

Placement into MATH120 (Calculus & Analytic Geometry I M1 900 EGR 901 MTH 901) with approved and documented math placement test scores or by completing MATH111 (College Algebra) and MATH114 (Trigonometry MTM 901) with a grade of C or better.

NOTES: Each week, students are required to do a lab. All labs are set by the instructor prior to class. Each lab is composed of four different parts: pre-lab questions, data taking, calculations, and conclusion drawing. Each part takes about 30 minutes, and the total lab time is two hours per week. All labs are traditional hands-on bench labs. In the laboratory experience, students are expected to use scientific methodology to formulate or evaluate questions, to make systematic observations and measurements, to interpret and analyze data, to draw conclusions, to test the given hypotheses, and to communicate the results orally or in writing. All lab data, interpretation, and error analysis uses linear least square fit to get the best results. Critical thinking, technology skills, problem solving skills, communication skills and cultural awareness are embedded in course work. Critical thinking skills are measured by rigorous homework problems including defining the problem, constructing a method for solution, and evaluating the results. Technology skills are embedded in the course, such as usage of both computers with current software, and tools used in making measurements. Technology skills are assessed by evaluating the accuracy of the lab results. Social skills are embedded in the course, in the form of teamwork, defining roles, planning projects, developing oral or written lab reports. Students are expected to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of teamwork by use of a rubric. The class web page is updated every week, which provides supplemental information such as announcements, lecture notes, homework assignment, and students' grades. Pre-lab questions, data taking, data analyzing, calculations, conclusion drawing are embedded in the face-to-face traditional lab periods.

Course Goals:
Students are expected to achieve strong critical thinking skills in terms of problem solving. Students are expected to be able to explain from any initial question of any of the following that apply:
  1. The meaning and importance of all given information
  2. the primary unknown for which a solution is desired
  3. any secondary unknowns or relationships that may be required
  4. the techniques required to move toward solution
  5. properly explain the solution
Students are expected to correctly make use of online supplemental tools to judge the reasonableness of a solution or answer and justify all processes used any of the following that apply:
  1. the meaning and level of importance of all given
  2. all formulas and/or theorems that are applicable to a solution, or
  3. the meaning/interpretation of the solution
Course Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Show work or provide clear explanation as how to setup and generate a solution for application problems
  • Use, understand and write all required physics symbols and abbreviations
  • Clearly relate interpretation of solutions to standard real world physics application problems
  • Apply strong critical thinking skills in terms of problem solving
  • Apply observation, classification, analysis, and deduction skills
  • Explain how to collect data, how to formulate general laws from this data, and how to transfer a general law to a specific situation.
  • Explain the scientific method


PHYS 102 is a 16-week course. The following list is the time spent on each topic. Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate the following outcomes by properly finishing their regular homework, presentations, quizzes, tests and a final exam. Students will construct graphs, charts, free body diagrams, interpret them, and draw appropriate conclusions. Students will communicate meaningfully in writing while presenting information and provide solutions with the procedure, results, organization, diagrams and other details necessary for another person to review. At the end of the course, students will be able to solve problem regarding to design and safety. Every week, students will actually do a group bench lab, which is composed of four parts: pre-lab questions, data taking, calculations, and conclusion drawing. For each lab, students are expected to use scientific methodology to evaluate questions, to make systematic observations and measurements, to interpret and analyze data, to draw conclusions uses linear least square fits to get the best results, to test the given hypotheses, to calculate the percent errors, and to communicate the results orally or in writing. The student should be able to understand and apply the following:

    • Studying energy and the sinusoidal nature of the simple harmonic and damped harmonic motion
    • explaining energy, intensity, amplitude and frequency related to waves motion
    • explaining reflection, interference, refraction and diffraction of waves
  • Week 2: SOUND
    • explaining amplitude related to intensity of sound; ear and its response
    • explaining loudness and decibels
    • quality of sound and noise
    • interference of sound waves, beats
    • Doppler effect
    • shock waves, ultrasound and medical imaging
    • Solving problems in static electric charge and its conservation; insulators and conductors
    • explaining induced charge and the electroscope
    • Coulomb's law, electric field and field lines
    • Understanding the relation between electric potential and electric field, equipotential lines, electric potential due to point charges and dipoles
    • Calculating capacitance in dielectrics and storage of electric energy
    • explaining battery and electric current; Verify Ohm's law: studying resistance, resistivity, superconductivity
    • Solving problems in electric power both for D.C. and A.C
  • Week 6: DC CIRCUITS
    • Studying resistors in series and in parallel, EMF, terminal voltage, Kirchhoff's rules and charging a battery
    • Solving problems in circuits containing capacitors in series and in parallel, and containing a resistor and a capacitor
  • Week 7: MAGNETISM
    • Determine force on an electric current in a magnetic field, force between two parallel wires, and torque on a current loop
    • Understanding magnetic moment, galvanometers, motors, loudspeakers, magnetic field due to a straight wire and Ampere's law
    • Studying Faraday's law of induction, Lenz's law, electric generators and transformers
    • Solving problems in inductance, energy stored in a magnetic field, LR circuit, AC circuits, impedance, and LRC series AC circuit
    • explaining Maxwell's equations, displacement current, and production of electromagnetic waves
    • Calculation of the speed of electromagnetic waves, measuring the speed of light, energy in EM waves, Radio and television
    • Solving problems using the ray model of light, reflection, image formation by a plane mirror and spherical mirrors
    • explaining index of refraction and Snell's law, reflection and fiber optics, thin lenses, ray tracing, lens equation and lensmaker's equation
    • explaining Huygens' principle and the law of refraction, Polarization
    • Young's double-slit experiment
    • The visible spectrum and dispersion
    • diffraction by a single slit and grating
    • interference by thin films and Michelson interferometer
    • Studying camera, human eye, corrective lenses, magnifying glass, telescopes and microscope
    • explaining the limits of resolution and the Rayleigh criterion
    • X-ray diffraction and imaging
    • Understanding Galilean-Newtonian relativity, simultaneity, time dilation and the twin paradox, length contraction, momentum, mass and energy
    • explaining Planck's quantum hypothesis, photon theory of light and the photoelectric effect
    • studying wave-particle duality
    • explaining quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    • Studying radioactivity, half-life and rate of decay
    • Calculations involving decay rates and half-life

LAB Activities:

Lab Text/Manual Title: Physics Laboratory Manual, 2nd Edition, David H. Loyd, Harcourt College Publishers, 1997.
Activity Title Description of Lab Student Outcome/Skills Delivery Mode Activity Time (hrs) 1 hr = 50 mins. Time includes introductions to lab.
1 The Pendulum-Approximate Simple Harmonic Motion (Lab-19 on the manual) A bob of mass M suspended on a thin, light string of length L is a good approximation of a simple pendulum. The pendulum is set into motion by displacing the bob until the string makes an angle B with the vertical and then releasing the bob. The period T of the pendulum is the time for one complete oscillation of the system. Measurements for several such pendulums of varying length L, mass M, and angular amplitude θ will be used.Studying the dependence of the period on the mass, length, and angle of the pendulum, determination of the acceleration due to gravity. 1. Verification that the period of a pendulum is independent of the mass M of the bob.
2. Determination of how the period T of a pendulum depends on the length L of the pendulum.
3. Verification that the period T of a pendulum depends very slightly on the angular amplitude of the oscillation for large angles, but that the dependence is negligible for small angular amplitude of oscillation.
4. Determination of an experimental value of the acceleration due to gravity g by comparing the measured period of a pendulum with theoretical predictions.
Face to Face 2
2 Simple Harmonic Motion (Lab-20 on the manual) Simple harmonic motion is oscillatory motion that can be described by a single sine or cosine function. An object undergoes simple harmonic motion when it is subject to a force proportional to its displacement from an equilibrium position. In equation form F = —kx describes such a force. A mass on the end of a spring is subject to a force that can be expressed by the above equation. In this laboratory, measurements of the motion of a mass on the end of a spring will be used.
Determination of spring constant by analysis of the dependence of the period on the mass. Demonstration that the period is independent of the amplitude.
1. Direct determination of the spring constant k of a spring by measuring the elongation of the spring for specific applied forces.
2. Indirect determination of the spring constant k from measurements of the variation of the period T of oscillation for different values of mass on the end of the spring.
3. Comparison of the two values of the spring constant k.
4. Demonstration that the period T of oscillation of a mass on a spring is independent of the amplitude of the motion.
Face to Face 2
3 Standing Waves on a String (Lab-21 on the manual) If a string is fixed at one end and attached to a sinusoidally driven vibrator at the other end, waves travel down the string from the vibrator and are reflected back from the fixed end. Under the proper conditions, standing waves are formed from the interference between the two waves traveling in opposite directions. The tension T in the string of length L, the mass per unit length of the string p, the frequency of the vibrator f, and the velocity of propagation of the waves V are the relevant variables of the problem. For a string of length L, measurements of the values of the tension T for which resonances occur will be used. Demonstration of the relationship between the string tensions, the wavelength, frequency, and mass per unit length of the string. 1. Demonstration that resonances occur only for certain discrete values of the tension T in the string.
2. Determination of the value of the tension T required to produce resonances with a given number of nodes.
3. Determination of the wavelength A of the wave associated with a given resonance with a given number of nodes.
4. Demonstration that the wavelengths A associated with resonances are proportional to V T, where T stands for the values of the tension in the string that produce resonances.
5. Determination of an experimental value for the frequency f from a lin-ear least squares fit to the data for A versus T.
6. Comparison of the experimental value for the frequency with the known value of 120 Hz.
Face to Face 2
4 Speed of Sound - Resonance Tube (Lab-22 on the manual) A traveling wave is characterized by a speed V, a frequency f, and a wavelength A. The relationship between these three quantities is given by V = f⋋. When two waves of the same speed and frequency travel in opposite directions in some region of space, they can produce standing waves. When standing waves are produced in a tube, the amplitude of vibration becomes very large, and the sys-tem is said to be in resonance. A tube partially filled with water acts as a resonance tube for producing standing waves. In this laboratory, a tuning fork will be used to produce sound waves in a resonance tube.
Determination of the speed of sound using a tuning fork to produce resonance in a tube closed at one end.
1. Determination of several effective lengths of the closed tube at which resonance occurs for each tuning fork.
2. Determination of the wavelength of the wave for each tuning fork from the effective length of the resonance tube.
3. Determination of the speed of sound from the measured wavelengths and known tuning fork frequencies.
4. Comparison of the measured speed of sound with the accepted value.
Face to Face 2
5 Measurement of Electrical Resistance and Ohm's Law (Lab-28 on the manual) In this experiment, measurements of the voltage across a wire coil and the current in the wire coil will be used to accomplish the following objectives:
Studying the relationship between voltage, current and resistance.
Understanding the dependence of resistance on length and cross sectional area, series and parallel combinations of resistance.
1. Definition of the concept of electrical resistance of matter using coils of wire as an example.
2. Demonstration of the dependence of the resistance on the length, cross-sectional area, and resistivity of the wire.
3. Demonstration of the equivalent resistance of resistors in series and in parallel arrangements.
Face to Face 2
6 Wheatstone bridge (Lab-29 on the manual) The Wheatstone bridge is a circuit designed to measure an unknown resistance by comparison with other known resistances. A slide-wire form of the Wheatstone bridge will be used. 1. Demonstration of the standard color code used to specify the value of commercially available resistors.
2. Explanation of the principles on which the operation of the Wheat-stone bridge is based.
3. Determination of the value of several unknown resistances.
Face to Face 2
7 Bridge measurement of capacitance (Lab-30 on the manual) A capacitor is a circuit element consisting of two conducting surfaces separated by an insulating material called a "dielectric." When an alternating current of frequency f exists in a capacitor, the measure of opposition to that current is a quantity called the "capacitive reactance," or Xc. The potential difference across the capacitor is given by IXc, where I is the current in the capacitor. Thus, Xc plays a role for alternating current that is analogous to the role played by resistors for direct current. This quantity depends on the angular frequency ω = 2Πf and on the capacitance C and is given by Xc = 1/ ωC. In this laboratory, an alternating-current bridge circuit will be constructed with two capacitors and two resistors. When the bridge is balanced, the ratio of the value of the two capacitive reactances is equal to the ratio of the value of the two resistors. Assuming that the value of the ratio of the resistors and the value of one capacitor is known, the capacitance of the other capacitor can be determined. In this laboratory, measurements on an alternating-current bridge circuit will be accomplished. 1. Determination of the capacitance of several unknown capacitors by establishing balance in a bridge circuit. 2. Experimental determination of the capacitance of series and parallel combinations of capacitors and comparison of the results with the theoretical predictions. Face to Face 2
8 Voltmeters and Ammeters (Lab-31 on the manual) A galvanometer is a device used to detect the presence of electrical current. In this laboratory, measurements made with several circuits containing a galvanometer will be accomplished.
Determination of galvanometer characteristics, construction of voltmeter from the galvanometer, comparison of constructed voltmeter and ammeter with standard voltmeter and ammeter.
1. Determination of the internal resistance of the galvanometer Rg.
2. Determination of the current sensitivity of the galvanometer K.
3. 1A-ansformation of the galvanometer into a voltmeter of given full-scale deflection by placing the appropriate value of resistance in series with the galvanometer.
4. Transformation of the galvanometer into an ammeter of given full-scale deflection by placing the appropriate value of resistance in parallel with the galvanometer.
5. Comparison of the accuracy of the voltmeter and ammeter constructed from the galvanometer with a standard voltmeter and a standard ammeter.
Face to Face 2
9 Potentiometer and Voltmeter Measurements of the Electromotive Force (emf) of a Dry Cell (Lab-32 on the manual) When a dry cell provides current to a circuit, its terminal voltage is the electromotive force (emf) of the cell minus the voltage drop across the internal resistance of the dry cell. A potentiometer is a device that measures the emf of a volt-age source under the condition that no current is provided by the source. Measurements on a dry cell with a potentiometer and a voltmeter will be accomplished. Verify the principles of the potentiometer, comparison with voltmeter measurements, and determination of the internal resistance of a battery. 1. Illustration of the principles of operation of a potentiometer.
2. Comparison of the emf of several dry cells determined by a potentiometer and by a voltmeter.
3. Determination of the internal resistance of a dry cell.
Face to Face 2
10 When a direct-current source of emf is suddenly placed in series with a capacitor and a resistor, there is current in the circuit for whatever time it takes to fully charge the capacitor. In a similar manner, there is a definite time needed to discharge a capacitor that has previously been charged. There is a characteristic time associated with either of these processes, called the "RC time constant," whose value depends on the value of the resistance R and the capacitance C. In this laboratory, series combinations of a power supply, a capacitor, and resistors will be used. 1. Demonstration of the finite time needed to discharge a capacitor.
2. Measurement of the voltage across a resistor as a function of time.
3. Determination of the RC time constant of two series RC circuits.
4. Determination of the value of an unknown capacitor from measurements made on a series RC circuit using a voltmeter as the resistance.
5. Determination of the value of an unknown resistor from measurements made on a second RC circuit with an unknown resistance in parallel with the voltmete
Face to Face 2
11 Kirchhoff's Rules (Lab-34 on the manual) Multiloop circuits containing several sources of emf and several resistors will be constructed, and measurements of the voltage and current for each of the elements of the circuit will be used.
Illustration of Kirchhoff's rules applied to a circuit with three unknown currents and to a circuit with four unknown currents.
1. Demonstration of the type of circuit to which Kirchhoff's rules must be applied.
2. Theoretical application of Kirchhoff's rules to several circuits and solution for the expected currents in the circuit.
3. Comparison between the theoretical values predicted by Kirchhoff's rules and the measured experimental values of the currents in multi-loop circuits.
Face to Face 2
12 Joule Heating of a Resistor (Lab-39 on the manual) The power P absorbed in an electrical resistor of resistance R, current 1, and voltage V is given by P = 12R = 1721R = VI. Despite the fact that it has units of power, it is commonly referred to as joule heat. A given amount of electrical energy absorbed in the resistor (in units of joules) produces a fixed amount of heat (in units of calories). The constant ratio between the two has the value = 4.186 J/cal. In this laboratory, an electric coil will be immersed in water in a calorimeter, and a known amount of electrical energy will be input to the coil. Measurements of the heat produced will be used. 1. Demonstration that the rise in temperature of the system is proportional to the electrical energy input.
2. Determination of an experimental value for J and comparison of that value with the known value.
Face to Face 2
13 Reflection and Refraction with the Ray Box (Lab-40 on the manual) In geometrical optics an assumption is made called the "ray approximation." It assumes that light consists of plane waves that propagate in straight lines. Rays are lines perpendicular to the wave fronts, which define the direction in which the light travels. A light ray that is traveling in some medium is either reflected or transmitted when it comes to a boundary into a second medium. The rays that are transmitted into the second medium are changed in direction. They are said to be refracted. A quantity called the "index of refraction" for a given medium is defined as the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light in the medium. In this laboratory light rays from a ray box will be used.
Demonstration of law of reflection, Snell's law of refraction, focal properties of reflection and refraction.
1. Demonstration that for reflection from a plane surface the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.
2. Demonstration that rays going from air into a transparent plastic medium are refracted at a plane boundary.
3. Determination of the index of refraction of a plastic prism from direct measurement of incident and refracted angles of a light ray.
4. Demonstration of the focal properties of spherical reflecting and refracting surfaces.
Face to Face 2
14 Focal Length of Lenses (Lab-41 on the manual) When a ray of light is incident upon the interface between two media in which the speed of light is different, the ray changes direction as it passes from one medium into the other. The process is called "refraction," and the different media are characterized by a constant called the "index of refraction." Lenses are devices that can cause parallel rays of light to converge or diverge by appropriate shaping of the interface between media of differing index of refraction. This laboratory will use an optical bench and several lenses either alone or in combination.
Determination of converging and diverging lens focal lengths.
1. Demonstration that converging lenses form real images and diverging lenses form virtual images.
2. Measurement of the focal length of converging lenses by forming a real image of a very distant object.
3. Determination of the equivalent focal length of two lenses in contact in terms of their individual focal lengths.
4. Measurement of the focal length of a diverging lens by using it in combination with a converging lens to form a real image.
Face to Face 2
15 Diffraction Grating Measurement of the Wavelength of Light (Lab-42 on the manual) Sources of visible light often produce many different wavelengths or colors. Light from sources utilizing hot solid metal filaments contain essentially a continuous distribution of wavelengths forming a white light. Light produced by a discharge in a gas of a single chemical element contains only a limited number of discrete wavelength components that are characteristic of the element. There are several methods that can be used to separate a light source into its component wavelengths. The technique that will be used in this laboratory employs a diffraction grating.
Determination of grating spacing, and wavelength measurements of colors in a continuous spectrum.
1. Demonstration of the difference between a continuous spectrum and a discrete spectrum.
2. Demonstration of the fact that individual elements have spectra that are characteristic of the element.
3. Determination of the average spacing between the lines of a diffraction grating by assuming the characteristic wavelengths of mercury are known.
4. Determination of the characteristic wavelengths of helium.
Face to Face 2
16 Simulated Radioactive Decay Using Dice "Nuclei" (Lab-44 on the manual) In a radioactive source containing a very large number of radioactive nuclei, it is not possible to predict when any one of the nuclei will decay. Although the decay time for any one particular nucleus cannot be predicted, the average rate of decay of a large sample of radioactive nuclei is highly predictable. This laboratory uses 20-sided dice with two marked faces to simulate the decay of radioactive nuclei. When a marked face of a die is up after a throw of the dice, it represents a decay. Measurements on a collection of these dice will be used.
Determination of the number of "nuclei" that have decayed for simulated decay using 20-sided dice "nuclei," determination of the decay constant and half-life.
1. Demonstration of the analogy between the decay of radioactive nuclei and the decay of dice "nuclei".
2. Demonstration that both the number of "nuclei" not yet decayed (N) and the rate of decay (dN/dt) both decrease exponentially.
3. Determination of experimental and theoretical values of the decay probability constant A for the dice "nuclei" .
4. Determination of the experimental and theoretical values for the half-life of the dice "nuclei".
Face to Face 2
Total Hours 32

Physics, 5th Edition, Giancoli. Prentice Hall Publishers, 1998.
Physics Laboratory Manual, 2nd Edition, David H. Loyd, Harcourt College Publishers, 1997.
A TI-83 or better calculator is recommended. See bookstore website for current book(s) at


The classroom activity is a lecture-demonstration-discussion situation, involving the student directly with the material being presented. Homework is either collected or discussed in class. Homework exercises are about 75% numerical and 25% explanation-discussion. All the homework questions are selected from the textbook. The difficult level of the homework questions is similar to the examples discussed during the lecture period. 5-minute-long quizzes are given over each chapter or main topic. There are three major hourly exams. All the quiz/exam questions are selected from the Test Bank, which comes from the textbook publisher. Half of the questions are in multiple choice formats, while the others are in regular format. A 5-inch formula card and calculators are allowed during quizzes/exams. Students are expected to spend about additional 5 hours outside the class to complete the homework assignment, to finalize their weekly lab reports and to prepare their quizzes/exams.

The final grade is determined by:
Final exam
major exams
homework, quizzes, and presentations
A= 90-100
B= 80-89.9
C= 70-79.9
D= 60-69.9
F= 00-59.9

Contemporary College Physics, by Edwin R. Jones and Richard L. Childers, 3rd Edition, Addison Wesley, 2001.
Conceptual Physics Package Edition by Paul A. Hewitt, 2005.

Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

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