Syllabus for Physics 590, Summer 2010
Week 1: We cover the definitions of kinetic and potential energy and learn about standard scientific units. We also talk about estimation and general techniques for problem-solving with incomplete information. We also begin simple experiments of measurement in the physics lab. This part of the course is covered by material in Chapter 1 of the text “Physics and Technology for Future Presidents” by Richard A. Muller of the U. of California, Berkeley. I will simply refer to this as “the text” during the course. It is strongly recommended that you buy the text (about $40 on Amazon.com), however we will provide 5 copies on a reserve system, i.e. copies
that can be used during the day. Much of the material is also covered in Muller’s soft cover, popular version of the book called “Physics for Future Presidents” by the same author. Beware! The chapter labeling is different and the popular book does not include nearly as much material. Math skills covered will be basic algebra, the concept of ratio and graphing.
Week 2: We introduce the atomic theory of matter and the fundamental forces of nature. We also experiment with gravitational energy and heat as a form of energy as well as how one form of energy (specifically heat) changes into another. We introduce the notion of energy flow with radiation, conduction, and convection. Finally, we tackle states of matter: gas, liquid, solid, and plasma. Reading for this part of the course is Chapter 2 of the text. Math skills covered include the concept of slope and its connection to rates of change.
Week 3: We review and expand on concepts from the first two weeks and introduce the new concept of equilibrium, both static and dynamic. We examine equilibrium in natural systems. For math
and technology, we go over skill-building with graphics calculators and Internet resources. We use Chapters 4 & 5 of the text for background material.
Week 4: We examine energy flow in more natural systems especially in the context of rates of change. We also examine sources of energy for the present and the near future. For Math skills, we
review the problems associated with prediction in the presence of inherent uncertainties. Some background material is in Chapter 6 of the text. Wrap-up, review, and evaluation occur toward the end of the week.
The Math syllabus will be announced on the first day of class but you should assume the Math and Physics components are fully integrated.
Goals and Enduring Understandings
Initial Syllabus - Summer 2010
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