Physics 1010: The Physics of Everyday Life

  Fall 2012


General Info
Important Dates
Course Goals
Details (including grading)
General Rules

General Information

Instructor:         Professor Noah Finkelstein

Office: Gamow 1021

Telephone: 303-735 6082


For info on Noah and his research see


Instructional Team:

TA: Paige Warmker

LAs: Benjamin Simonds, Anna Ptasznik

Prerequisites:  Interest, Engagement, and willingness to do a wee bit of math. This course will use algebra frequently. We will also be working with graphs and scientific notation.

Course Materials (Required) :

Course Homepage with all course information:

Important Times and Dates:

            Lecture:          Tuesday and Thursday, 11-12:15, Duane G1b30


            Problem Solving Sessions:

Location: At back or behind the Physics Help Room .

Mondays, 3-5 PM (tentatively pending class choice)

                                    Thursdays, 2-5 PM (tentatively pending class choice)


            Office Hours: Noah Finkelstein :        Thurs, 2-3p at Problem Solving Session.

Thurs 10a -10:45a am in his office (and then in lecture area for class).

Also by appointment or email.


            Hour Exams: in class (G1b30) Thursdays: Sep 20, Oct 18, and Nov 15


Final:               Final Exam is Tues, Dec 18, 1:30-4p. If you have three final exams that day, the deadline for making arrangements for rescheduling is Oct 10


Useful websites / resources: 

There is a computer lab available in Duane G116 M-F 8AM - 5:30 PM (next to the oldMath/Physics Library). You will need the Student Identikey you received during orientation in order to make use of this lab. Computers are also available in physics help room and problem solving sessions.

Goals and Principles (how to succeeed)

Overall Course Goals:

1. To see how much of everyday life is governed by physics principles.

2. To understand that the universe is predictable rather than incomprehensible.

3. To appreciate how scientific understanding (particularly physics) is based on careful experiments.

4. To learn to think logically in order to solve problems.

Guiding principles:

1. People understand concepts better by seeing them in action and thinking about them than by hearing them explained.

2. Understanding physics (and solving problems that test that understanding) is a learned skill, like cooking, or playing basketball or the violin.  It takes time, effort, and practice.

3. People learn best by thinking about topics and discussing them with others.

4. Students learn most when they take the responsibility for what is learned.


In keeping with these principles, there will be a substantial number of homework problems each week.  You will have considerable difficulty completing them if you follow nonexpert problem solving approaches and/or you work alone.  However, if you work with other students and develop an “expert” approach to problem solving, the homework problems should take you less time and effort, and you will learn a lot from doing them.  Although you are encouraged to work out the solutions to problems together with other students, you are required to write up the answers in your own words.  So each student’s wording should be unique. Typically you will need to spend between four and six hours outside of class to master the material.


There will be a number of things done to help you develop good problem solving skills.  Many of the problems will be designed to help you learn good techniques, and , there will be several problem-solving sessions Mondays and Tuesdays where you will be able to conveniently get together with other students to work on homework. Members of the learning team will be present at these sessions to provide “coaching” on problem solving methods. You are encouraged to come to these to work with other students and get coaching in problem solving as necessary. The times and room numbers are listed above. There are a variety of guides to help with general problem solving strategies, one of which is available here for you to consider. The physics help room is also open 40 hours per week, and there are always students and TAs there, although they are not necessarily from 1010.


Although the problems may be challenging at first, as your problem solving skills develop over the term, you will find the problems easier, and they will take less time to solve.


Students begin this class with a wide range of backgrounds in physics and math.  As a result, it is impossible for each class to be perfectly matched to everyone’s background.  The primary purpose of office hours is to provide individual help to students that need it.  We are anxious to provide whatever help is necessary for every student, regardless of background, to do well in the course and achieve all of the learning goals.  However, it is your responsibility to recognize that you need that help, and to take advantage of its availability by asking to meet with the instructional team individually.

1010 Specific Learning Goals:

In a separate link, you will find a list of very specific items you are to learn during the first 3 weeks of this course.  A full list of learning goals will be available on the course webpage after we find out from you what you are most interested in learning about! These learning goals will be made available within each section of the course both in the daily notes and for each broad section of the course (between the midterms). These will give you a very clear idea of what material will be covered in the course, on the homework problems, in the labs, and on the exams.

Official Course Details

Change of registration:

ADD: The add deadline is 5:00 PM, Wednesday, Sept 5 without instructor approval and Friday, Sep 14 with approval. 
Approval will only be given at this date if you have attended all classes and done all assignments up to that time.

DROP: The deadline to drop a course without the instructor's signature, without being assessed tuition and fees for that course, and without a W grade appearing on your transcript is 5:00 PM, Wednesday, Sept 12.  To drop a course after Sept 12 and through Oct 10 you must be passing the course, and a special action form (available from Leigh Dodd in the Physics Department office, Duane E1B32) must be signed by your instructor and turned in to the registrar by 5:00 PM, Wednesday,Oct 10. After Oct 10 until Nov 2, you must be passing the course and have your dean's signature, as well as that of your instructor, on the special action form. More information on dates can be found at:




Approx. Points per Assignment

Number of Assignments (approx)

Inclass participation (clickers)

2-4 pts / class

~ 25 ( 2 dropped)

Inclass reading quiz

2 pts

~10 (1 dropped)



12 (lowest dropped)



3 (lowest dropped)




Total Possible Point (Roughly!): 450



Letter grades will be assigned to your point total according to combination of absolute scale and modified curve.  To pass the course you must receive at least half of the total number of points possible to be earned.  With this system, the most important requirement for getting a good grade is to do all the assignments!  Missing several weeks of class and homework will likely put you in danger of failing, no matter how well you do on the exams!  Your lowest weekly homework score, one reading quiz, and your 2 lowest in-class scores will be thrown out, so you can miss one week’s homework and one class or forget your clicker twice without penalty. There are three mid-terms, your highest two will count.You are encouraged to take all these exam (for feedback), but the one dropped midterm (and droped inclass / hw) will cover illness, car trouble, forgotten clickers, participation in athletic events, etc.  The final is mandatory.


There will be no other corrections made to grades other than for  major medical or personal catastrophes, those items that are documented and beyond your control. So don’t bother asking.  Also, don’t waste your homework or class exemptions, because you may need them later if you get sick, forget your clicker, or other reasons.


Most weeks there will be a survey about how class is going and what you wish to cover. Theese will count as extra-credit towards your homework scores.


(The exams count for a relatively small amount in your grade, but we reserve the right to adjust the grades for special cases whose exam scores are a great deal lower than their homework grades.)


Weekly checklist for best learning (and grade):

1) Was there reading due this week?  Did I do it?

2) Did I come to class and bring my clicker?

3) Did I submit my homework online by the deadline?

4) Did I have a lab this week?  Did I prepare, attend, participate, and submit report?

5) Is there an evening exam this week?

6) Did I turn in extra credit question or comment with the homework


More details on how points are earned in the class:

1. Homework:

2. In-class questions and quizzes on reading: 

Clickers: You will need to buy personal response systems (usually referred to as “clickers”) from the bookstore for answering questions in class. 

Reading Quizzes: After each reading assignment there will be a very short quiz covering the material in class worth 2 points. 

In-class clicker questions: During class there will be many questions on which you enter your response using clickers.  Your answers will be recorded and you will receive 2 points per class for submitting any answer to all of the questions, whether or not your answers are correct.  There will be a few questions, typically 0 to 2 per classes, for which you will receive one point if you have the correct answer, and 0 if incorrect.  Graded questions will usually be late in the class and ones that nearly all students get correct if they have been paying attention.


3. Hour exams / MidTerms:

5. Final exam:

The final examination will be on Tues Dec 18, 1:30 PM.  If you have three final exams that day, the deadline for making arrangements for rescheduling is Friday, Oct 10.

The final is worth 80 points and will be cumulative.



6. Extra Credit Points:

Often you will have the opportunity to receive up to one point per week of extra credit by sending in a question or comment using the online submission for found on the course website.  Instructions will be posted on the website and announcements made in class.


General rules:

 The rules in this list may seem rather harsh and arbitrary, but they are essential to maintaining the integrity of the course. There is a painful story behind every one of them.  Although most of you will never come up against any of the rules, there are a handful of students each semester that just cannot seem to avoid them. These rules are primarily to prevent these students from obtaining an unfair advantage over the others in the class. If these rules are going to cramp your style, then this class is probably not for you.

1. Only one week excused / 1 homework drop will be provided unless there are significant reasons, documented and preferably addressed in advance.


2. There will be no extra credit work other than the options listed above.


3. No student will fail who makes a serious effort at all the assigned work. If you miss a few homework assignments, in-class questions, or miss more than one exam, it becomes possible for you to fail the course.


4. Although you are encouraged to work together with other students, you must hand in your own work and put the explanation in your own words.  Handing in a copy of another student’s work is considered cheating.  We will fail any student who submits for a grade work (any work, including: homeworks, exams and papers) that is not his/her own. We will fail any student who permits another student to turn in his/her own work. If you have a question about this, please see the University Honor Code. especially the pledge


5. Our instructional team is here to support you. Please approach us to discuss questions or concerns you have...


Students with Disabilities:
If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to your professor a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner (for exam accommodations provide your letter at least one week prior to the exam) so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact Disability Services at 303-492-8671
or by e-mail at More at http://www.Colorado.EDU/disabilityservices

If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see Temporary Medical Conditions: Injuries, Surgeries, and Illnesses guidelines under Quick Links at Disability Services website and discuss your needs with your professor.

Religious Obligations – Conflicts with Scheduled Exams, Assignments or Class Attendance:
We will make every effort to accommodate all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments, or other required attendance, provided you notify me at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled conflict. The campus policy can be viewed at

We will be drawing from:


Student Classroom and Course-Related Behavior: As a result of extensive discussions with and recommendations from faculty and students, a new classroom behavior policy and associated new procedures have been adopted. You may view this information at


The University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Students who fail to adhere to behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Faculty have the professional responsibility to treat students with understanding, dignity and respect, to guide classroom discussion and to set reasonable limits on the manner in which students express opinions. Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process, and will be removed from class.


The University of Colorado does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status in admission and access to, and treatment and employment in, its educational programs and activities. (Regent Law, Article 10, amended 11/8/2001). CU-Boulder will not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment based upon Protected Classes or related retaliation against or by any employee or student. For purposes of this CU-Boulder policy, "Protected Classes" refers to race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or veteran status. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at303-492-5550. Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies, and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination
or harassment can be obtained at

Honor Code: The purpose of an Honor Code at the University of Colorado at Boulder is to secure an environment where academic integrity, and the resulting behavior, can flourish. The Honor Code recognizes the importance of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility and wishes these principles to be a defining part of the CU-Boulder campus. The Honor Code allows all students to have responsibility for, and the ability to attain, appropriate recognition for their academic and personal achievements. You can view the honor code information at