President's Teaching Scholars Program




Steven Pollock

Physics Department

PHYS 2020 (General Physics 2) Description of Course:

Physics 2020 (General Physics 2) is the second semester of an algebra-based sequence in college physics. We emphasize conceptual understanding and problem solving skills. We will cover topics in modern physics, including electricity, magnetism, light, optics, and more: the foundations of our technological society. Our goals are for students to continue developing knowledge and intuition about how the world works, to learn to approach physics problems on both qualitative and quantitative levels, to relate classroom physics to the real world they live in, and to develop a deeper appreciation of the scientific method. We want students to learn to understand everyday phenomena of electricity and magnetism in terms of just a few basic and understandable physical laws.

This material largely involves discoveries less than 150 years old. (Of course, even the ancients knew some things about magnetism and light). We are so comfortable with technologies like TV and computers, it's easy to forget just how recent these developments are: some of you may have relatives old enough to remember the days before radio (the first licensed broadcast station opened in 1920). We live radically more convenient and perhaps longer and more enjoyable lives due to the revolution in electric-based technology. Modern health-care, industrial, and home tools are based on the existence of electrical power and electronics. By the end of this course, students should have a base of knowledge to allow them to better understand how many modern electronic devices work.


PHYS 3220 (Quantum Mechanics1) Description of Course:

Physics 3220, Quantum Mechanics 1, is the first semester of our two-semester sequence of junior-level quantum mechanics (QM), the foundation and explanatory framework of much of modern physics. We will cover the basic ideas of QM, solutions of Schrodinger's equation in 1 dimension, formalism and postulates of QM, and solutions in 3-dimensions (the hydrogen atom) We have many learning goals in this course, which include content and mathematical skill mastery, high-level problem-solving skills, physical sense-making, deepened conceptual understanding, communication skills, and connection to other courses and to the real world.  The bottom line is to teach students how to do some quantum mechanics this term.