PH 1110, General Physics -- Studio Mechanics

This is an introductory course in Newtonian mechanics.  The minimum recommended background is concurrent study of MA 1021.  We meet twice a week in FI 203 and 205 from 9-10:50, in lecture rooms on Wednesdays from 10:00-10:50, and in lab (OH 208) on Thursdays or Fridays.  There are six diferent sections, Sections A01S-A06S.  Consult your schedule for your specific times and places.  Instructor:  Professor NA Burnham,  The goals of the course are:
These six sections of PH 1110 follow a "studio" format, in which lectures are replaced by online assignments, and the studio hours are devoted to any necessary mini-lectures, clicker questions, problem-solving, challenge problems, and hands-on activities (4 hrs/wk).  Review sessions, a quiz, and exams (1 hr/wk) take place in lecture halls.  Labs on the scientific method, communication, and graphing occur once a week (2 hrs/wk).  WPI asks instructors to plan their courses such that an average student spends 17 hrs/wk on a course.  Thus be prepared to spend two hours a day on mechanics outside of the scheduled times.  The online Mastering Physics assignments should take about an hour of this time.

Textbook and on-line homework access

The textbook is "University Physics with Modern Physics" by Young and Freedman, 14th edition.  While it is not necessary to have your own printed copy, access to it in some form (friends, libraries, e-text, etc.) is highly recommended.  You must have a Mastering Physics account [1] associated with University Physics in order to do the homework and prepwork, worth 24% of your final grade.  A Mastering Physics account alone will cost about $70 or more.  If you buy it with the e-text, expect to pay about $120 or more.

1.  You will need your Course ID (given at your Canvas site) in order to complete the registration.

Final grade determination

  5 %
Quiz on the introductory material in Session 1.  See the description of clicker tests below for the policies and procedures.
45 %
Three equally-weighted exams.  See the calendar below for the material covered in each exam.  See the description of clicker tests below for the policies and procedures.
24 %
Mastering Physics prepwork and homework, due mornings at 8:00 AM.  See the Mastering Physics site for the due dates.  The lowest two scores will be dropped; late work will not accepted for points, although you may (re)work them for practice.  (There are primer and review problem sets as well.  However, these are not for credit.)  See your Canvas site for the Course ID.  Each assignment is worth 1 % of your final grade.
12 %
Activity worksheets, as follow-ups to the in-class hands-on activities.  Submission through Canvas of a PDF or XLSX file by 8:00 AM the morning after a studio session.  Lowest score dropped.  Each worksheet is worth 1 % of your final grade.  Make-ups are not possible.
10 %
Lab reports.  Submission through Canvas of a PDF file by 8:00 AM the morning after a lab session.  Each lab report is worth 2 % of your final grade.  Make-ups are possible only through prior arrangement with your lab instructor.
 4 %
Clicker score.  During a studio session, you earn one point for answering a question and two points for answering correctly.  Failure to return your loaned clicker at the end of the term results in a $75 charge to and a hold on your account. Lowest two daily scores dropped. Make-ups are not possible.
Diagnostic tests.  In order to assess how well you know mechanics at the beginning of the course, as well as how much you learn during the course, you must take a diagnostic test at the beginning and at the end of the course.  For incentive to do well, each question that is correctly answered is worth a bonus clicker point.

If your final numerical grade lies on the border line between two letter grades, then your class participation will determine which letter grade you shall receive.


PW = PrepWork, WS = WorkSheet, HW = HomeWork, PR = Primer, RV = ReView.  The practice sets on Wednesdays and primer and review problem sets on Mastering Physics are optional.  The diagnostic tests are mandatory, i.e. you will not receive quiz or exam grades until you take the first one, and you will not receive a final grade until you take the second one.  For specific due dates, consult Mastering Physics and Canvas.  You are responsible for meeting your deadlines.

Week of Early in week
Wednesdays Late in week
Lab in OH 208

Session #
What's due 

Sections in book

Session 1
PW1, WS1, HW1, PR1, PR2

Diagnostic Test 1
Lab rules
Lab 1 on sig figs
E-CLASS survey

Session 2
PW2, WS2, RV1, HW2
Kinematics I

on Session 1
Session 3
PW3, WS3, RV2, HW3
Kinematics II

Lab 2 on intro to graphing motion

PR3, PR4
Labor Day
No classes

Practice Set 1
Retests of Quiz
Session 4
PW4, WS4, RV3, HW4
Dynamics I
4.1-4.6, 5.1

No lab because of "flip" day this week.

Session 5
PW5, WS5, RV4, HW5
Dynamics II

on Sessions 2-4
Session 6
PW6, WS6, RV5, HW6
Energy I

Lab 3 on graphing 1D & 2D motion


Session 7
PW7, WS7, RV6, HW7
Energy II

Practice Set 2
Retests of Exam 1
Session 8
PW8, WS8, RV7, HW8

Lab 4 on graphing bouncing motion

Session 9
PW9, WS9, RV8, HW9
10.1, 11.1-11.3

on Sessions 5-8
Session 10
PW10, WS10, RV9, HW10
Rotational kinematics I

Lab 5 on graphing motion of two objects


Session 11
PW11, WS11, RV10, HW11
Rotational kinematics II

Practice Set 3
Retests of Exam 2
Session 12
PW12, WS12, RV11, HW12
Rotational dynamics

Diagnostic Test 2
E-CLASS survey

Session 13
PW13, WS13, RV12, HW13
Angular momentum

on Sessions 9-13
Due to time constraints, sadly, no retests of Exam 3 are possible.

Clicker tests and retests

You will be provided with a remote device called a "clicker" with which to answer questions during our studio sessions and also to submit your answers to multiple-choice quiz and exam questions.  The tests will be provided on paper as usual, and you will submit the paper copy as proof of your attendance.   The clicker answers are understood to be the answers you intended to submit, regardless of what is written on your paper copy.  It is also possible that the clicker software or hardware could undergo a system crash; the paper copies serve as a system and individual backup.  If  you complete the submission of all of your answers via clicker and if your clicker is registered, you earn a bonus point.  However, be sure to take the test in the correct room.  If you go to the wrong room, you lose the opportunity to earn a bonus point.  Similary, make sure to write your correct section number on the cover sheet, or you lose the opportunity to earn a bonus point.

The clicker submission of answers greatly increases the efficiency of grading, such that retests of students who fail the first attempt of the quiz or the first two exams become possible.  If you do poorly on the quiz or the first two exams, you will be given a second chance a week later during the lecture period on Wednesdays when the other students are working on practice sets.  On your second try, the highest score that you may earn will be equal to the passing grade, even if you do better than passing.  (This is to encourage you to do well on your first attempts in the future.)  Occasionally a student will do worse on the second attempt than on the first.  In this case, the higher score is taken.  A student who has been offered a second attempt but does not attend has lost the opportunity to earn a better score. 

Those students who miss the first rendition of the quiz or exam -- for any reason -- will be limited to only one attempt.  In this case, grades will not be limited to passing level.

Electronic devices

If you own a laptop and a smart phone, please bring them both fully charged to the studio sessions.  While we use smart phones for timing and recording of hands-on activities, your teaching team does expect that you will wait until the sessions are over for you to reply to messages.  Please put your phone into vibrate mode during studio sessions, practice sets, and labs.

During the quiz and exams, please power your phone completely off and store it away.  It is very distracting to your fellow students to be interrupted by buzzing and ringing during a test. 

Communication and office hours

My office is OH 219.  I am sometimes in my lab, OH 009, in the Physics Library, OH 118, or in the department office, OH 119.  My mailbox is between the doors of OH 118 and 119.  Email (checked twice daily), web, office phone with voice mail (508) 831-5365; fax (508) 831-5886; my basic weekly schedule, with office hours, is posted at  Please put "PH 1110" in the subject line of your emails for a faster response.  The web address for this page is  My research is described at and at links therein.

Learn the names and email addresses of your lab instructor and lab assistant.  The manager of the laboratory program is Mr Dana C Parsons.  His email address is, and his office is in OH 217.  But please direct your questions to your lab instructor or lab assistant first.

Additional help

The studio co-instructors will be available for help at specified times and places.  A schedule will be posted shortly after the term begins.  The Academic Resources Center (ARC) also provides academic assistance and support for WPI undergraduate students.  The ARC offers Math & Science Help (MASH), which is large group tutoring and no appointment is needed; schedules are available on the ARC Canvas site.  Alli Ross ( will be the Tutor leading PH1110 MASH for A Term 2018.  In addition, the ARC offers individually scheduled one-on-one appointments through to which we have 12+ Tutors available to support PH1110. If a student is not able to find an available time slot, or need additional assistance, please contact

Students with documented disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Services Office (DSO) as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.  The DSO is located in Daniels Hall, (508) 831-5235.

Academic dishonesty

Individual integrity is vital to the academic environment because education involves the search for and acquisition of knowledge and understanding, which are, in themselves, intangible.  Evaluation of each student’s level of knowledge and understanding is a vital part of the teaching process, and requires tangible measures such as reports, examinations, and homework.  Any act that interferes with the process of evaluation by misrepresentation of the relation between the work being evaluated (or the resulting evaluation) and the student’s actual state of knowledge is an act of academic dishonesty.  The moral equivalent of academic dishonesty in larger society is treason.

In General Physics -- Studio Mechanics, you are encouraged to collaborate on the homework, although you must submit the homework yourself.  Lab data must be collected by you and your partner(s), if your partner is present.  However, individual questions must be answered individually.  During an exam, you may have only the exam, a calculator, a clicker, and writing implements on your desk; no telephones or other communication devices are allowed.  You may not give or receive information during exams, except to ask the instructor to clarify a question.

Educational research has shown that:

  1. The most learning occurs in an environment characterized by high expectations and respect and care for individual students, and where the value of collaboration is stressed over competition.
  2. The most learning occurs in an active classroom environment where students take responsibility for learning rather than being passive receptors of the professor’s knowledge.
  3. Students can learn as effectively or more effectively from peers than from a professor.
  4. Facilitating development of students’ communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills is as important as helping them learn physics.
  5. Professors and students are equals in the learning process. I have as much to learn about teaching and people as they have to learn about physics.
Above three sections adapted from: Disability Services Office, Dean of Students Office, Prof. Phillies, Prof. Demetry.

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Professor NA Burnham, August 2018