Syllabus PHY 231– Spring 2011

Course hours

Section 1: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20am - 11:40 am in room 1410 BPS (Biomedical and Physical Science Building)

Section 2: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40pm - 2:00 pm in room 1410 BPS (Biomedical and Physical Science Building)

Course website


Section 1:
Bill Lynch
Room W106 Cyclotron Building
Phone: 517- 908-7660
Office hours: to be announced

Section 2:
Hendrik Schatz
Room W-211 Cyclotron Building
Phone: 517 333 6397 (please use e-mail)
Office hours: after class in BPS1401, Monday 2pm-3pm NSCL W-211, or by appointment

Course description:

Non-calculus-based general physics, recommended for a variety of majors, such as those pursuing a pre-med education. Topics include: Newtonian equations of motion, momentum and energy conservation, rotational motion, gravity, thermodynamics and wave motion.


College physics: A strategic approach, by R.D. Knight, B. Jones and S. Field, Vol. 1. If you are taking PHY232 you should buy the full version (not just Vol. 1). First and Second Editions of the textbook can be used.

During the course we might refer to chapters in the book, and other resources related to the text. However, with some extra effort other textbooks covering the same material might be usable as well.


MTH 103 or MTH 116 or LBS 117 or MTH 124 or MTH 132

Not open to students with credits in:

LBS 164 or PHY 181B or PHY 183 or PHY 183B or PHY 193H or PHY 231B or PHY 231C

Course material, resources, and exam/homework/quiz information:


You must read the assigned chapters in the book before coming to class. Note that not everything covered in the textbook can be covered in class, but could appear as homework, quizzes or part of the exams.  

Strosacker Physics Learning Center

The Strosacker Physics Learning Center (BPS 1248) (sometimes called the helproom) is a place where students can work cooperatively with other students on homework and course materials. Teaching Assistants (TAs) are available as an additional resource to discuss problems with the homework or the course material. Two kinds of TAs will be available: 1) A group of general TAs who cover several courses and are not specifically assigned to PHY231. They will be available during regular hours (see website for details). 2) In addition we will have TAs specifically trained for PHY231 - they will be available at certain times (see website for details). The TAs will encourage group work and will not do extensive one-on-one tutoring.


•  There will be 12 homework assignments, due Thursdays at 11:00 pm. (homework set 0 is a practice set and is not graded.) The homework sets are available electronically through the LON-CAPA online system ( ). When logging in using your MSU pilot username and password, please make sure to enable ‘Cookies' and ‘Java-script' in your browser. After logging in, navigate to the PHY231 class and locate the folder ‘Homework sets'.

•  Note that the deadline for submitting your homework is very strict. You are responsible for handing in the homework on time, regardless of circumstances. Do your homework early and leave enough time to accommodate network outages, bad weather, or other unforseen events.

•  If you have a valid excuse for not doing a homework set (such as extended sickness), contact your instructor immediately so that the deadline can be extended.

•  Communicating inside & outside LON-CAPA: It is strongly encouraged to work together on understanding the material and getting unstuck on difficult homework problems (but you must do your own homework, and you must be able to do problems on your own so practice that too). You may participate in the extra credit group work project, or organize your own group. The Physics Learning Center offers collaborative learning space - you can meet your group there, or just walk in and meet other students spontaneously. There is also a communication tool available in LON-CAPA, reachable using the ‘post discussion' link under each problem. You can post questions or respond to other peoples' questions. You can post comments anonymously if you wish (Course instructors will however always be able to see your name.) Working together can be very helpful, but simply copying homework assignments will, in general, be very detrimental to your overall score, since you might not be able to do many of the exam problems.

Quizzes and I-clicker

•  Multiple-choice quizzes for extra credit will be given randomly in class during the semester. You will need an “I-clicker” clicker to participate in these quizzes.

•  It is strictly forbidden to bring clickers of fellow students who are not present during the lecture.

•  You have to register your iclicker at . Go to ‘support' and click ‘Register your i>clicker'. You need to enter the first name, last name, Student ID number with the preceding ‘A', and your i>clicker remote ID. We strongly advise you to register as soon as possible. You are responsible for making sure you are registered. You will not receive any points if your clicker is not registered. We will periodically inform you of your clicker scores. If there are any problems you must notify us immediately after posting of the scores. We cannot make retroactive corrections at a later stage.

Exam information

•  There will be two midterm exams during regular class hours. The exams will be closed book, but you may use one (double-sided) 8-1/2x11” sheet of notes and equations. Exams may contain material from the textbook, homework and quizzes. The exam will consist of conceptual questions and numerical problems.

•  There will be one 2-hour final exam at a place and time to be announced. 3 8-1/2x11” sheets of notes may be brought into the exam. The final exam is cumulative (i.e. covers all material).

•  Students must work individually and rules and procedures regarding academic dishonesty are strictly applied without exceptions.

• You will need a calculator, a #2 pencil and your student ID when taking an exam.

• If you require special arrangements for the exam due to disabilities etc please inform the instructors as soon as possible and well ahead of the exams, ideally during the first 2 weeks of the semester.

•  Make-ups: Attendance of a make-up exam requires approval from the instructor and evidence of a serious conflict (e.g. Doctor, Dean, Coach etc) must be provided before the exam date. As a rule, make-up exams are scheduled BEFORE the regular exam dates.

Grading criteria

Grades are assigned based on homework, exams and quizzes as follows:

•  Homework: 20% of the grade. You can miss 10% of the total homework score and still get the maximum credit for the homework. If you can't make a deadline because of a valid excuse (e.g. extended sickness) contact your instructor to move the deadline.

•  Midterm exams (2): 20% each.

•  Final exam: 40%

•  Extra Credit Quizzes: Up to 5% extra credit, graded based on 75% of the quizzes given (meaning that you can miss 25% of the quizzes and still get the full extra credit). Corrections to your extra credit score are NOT made if you forget your clicker for a class, fail to check the battery and it runs out during class or miss a class/leave before the quiz is given/are too late for the quiz. If you miss several subsequent quizzes because of sickness or other good reason (i.e. NOT a single missed quiz because of a cold) contact your instructor. He/she may request a doctor's note or other relevant proof that you had to miss those classes.

•  Extra Credit Group work: An additional 1% extra credit can be earned by participating in the "Learning group project". This requires weekly participation in a small learning group and doing some of the homework prior to deadline. Signup for this project is at the beginning of the course. See website for details.

•  Grading Scale: The course will be graded according to the grading scale in the table below. The requirements for a given grade may be lowered, but will not be raised.




















Honors option: Honors options will not be available for PHY231 in Spring of 2011.