PHYS 3071w -- Changes

Mon Feb 23 11:25:20 2009

Effective Term: New:  1109 - Fall 2010
Old:  1089 - Fall 2008
Department: New:  11140 - Physics & Astronomy, Sch of
Old:  11140 - IT Physics & Astron, School of
Sponsor Name:
New:  James Kakalios
Old:  E.D. Dahlberg
Sponsor E-mail Address:
this course fulfills:
New:  PHYS - PHYS Physical Sciences
Old:  PHYS SCI/L - PHYS SCI/L Physical Science with Laboratory Core
Criteria for
Core Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed core requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or method.

Core courses must meet the following requirements:

  • They explicitly help students understand what liberal education is, how the content and the substance of this course enhance a liberal education, and what this means for them as students and as citizens
  • They employ teaching and learning strategies that engage students with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it.
  • They include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing as appropriate to the discipline to help students learn and reflect on their learning.
  • They do not (except in rare and clearly justified cases) have prerequisites beyond the University�s entrance requirements.
  • They are offered on a regular schedule.
  • They are taught by regular faculty or under exceptional circumstances by instructors on continuing appointments. Departments proposing instructors other than regular faculty must provide documentation of how such instructors will be trained and supervised to ensure consistency and continuity in courses.

This course is intended to provide a rich, hands-on experience in physical science using material especially chosen to be of use for potential elementary school teachers.  The content of the course includes the concepts, processes and thinking skills employed in the physical sciences, and found in current elementary school science curricula.  Students work in small groups on projects that emphasize qualitative and quantitative reasoning.  Students will be introduced to how physicists use graphing, proportional and mathematical reasoning to describe, explain, predict and design the natural world.  Students build models that help explain some part of the world, and make predictions that can be experimentally tested.  Topics covered in this course include Electrical Currents and Electricity; Properties of Matter; Small Particle Model (providing qualitative and quantitative descriptions of dissolving, evaporation and condensation); and Motion and its Causes (velocity, acceleration and forces).

This course is intended to provide a rich, hands-on experience in physical science using material especially chosen to be useful for potential elementary teachers.  The content of the course will include the concepts, processes, and thinking skills essential to understanding the physical sciences and found in the newer elementary science curricula.  

The first unit, current electricity, will introduce students to qualitative reasoning in science:  how do we build models that help us explain and predict some part of our world.  The second unit, properties of matter, will introduce students to how scientists use quantitative reasoning (e.g., graphing and proportional reasoning) to describe, explain, predict and design our world. Students will use their qualitative and quantitative skills to build a small particle (atoms and molecules) model of matter that helps us describe and explain everyday phenomena like dissolving, evaporation and condensation.  Next, they will employ quantitative and qualitative skills to describe motion and the causes of motion developing the concepts of velocity, acceleration and force.  

Week 1-4        Current Electricity
Week 5-8        Properties of Matter
Week 9-12        Small Particle Model
Week 13-15        Motion and Its Causes
Please provide a provisional syllabus for new courses and courses in which changes in content and/or description and/or credits are proposed that include the following information: course goals and description; format/structure of the course (proposed number of instructor contact hours per week, student workload effort per week, etc.); topics to be covered; scope and nature of assigned readings (texts, authors, frequency, amount per week); required course assignments; nature of any student projects; and how students will be evaluated.

The University policy on credits is found under Section 4A of "Standards for Semester Conversion" at . Provisional course syllabus information will be retained in this system until new syllabus information is entered with the next major course modification, This provisional course syllabus information may not correspond to the course as offered in a particular semester.

New:     Spring 2009 Mondays and Wednesdays
Phys 3071W Syllabus

Section 1: 9:05 – 12:05 Section 2: 12:20 – 3:20
Tate Lab (Physics) Room 130
FINAL EXAM SCHEDULE: 6:30pm - 9:30pm, Thursday, May 14
Section 1: Jon Anderson Office: Physics 479 626-7905
Section 2: C. C. Huang Office: Physics 335 624-0861
Teaching Assistants :
Section 1 : Katy Powell
Ali Weitzer
Section 2 : Becki Etzel
Christine Tighe
This is an activity-based and discussion-oriented course with four major goals:
(1) Physics Content: To help you develop a deep understanding of physics ideas that can
be used to explain interesting phenomena, and are related to the ideas included in the
elementary school science curriculum;
(2) Nature of Science: To help you practice and develop an understanding of how
knowledge is developed within a scientific community: that doing science involves
using evidence and creative thinking, that knowledge is established through
collaboration and consensus, and that science knowledge can change over time;
(3) Elementary Students’ Ideas: To help you understand the thinking of elementary
school children by observing (via video) and analyzing their discourse when they are in
the process of learning science.
(4) Learning about learning: To help you become more aware of how your own science
ideas change and develop over time, and how the structure of the learning environment
and curriculum facilitate these changes.
There will be very little formal lecturing in this course. All class sessions will take place in the lab. The basic aim of the PET format is to allow you to take charge of your own learning, with
the instructor and TAs as guides. During class, you will spend most of your time performing experiments, working occasionally with computers, and discussing ideas with your classmates.
We expect you to continue your learning at home through a series of carefully designed
homework assignments, many involving use of the web. We hope you will find many of our teaching and learning strategies valuable and appropriate for you to use when you begin your teaching career.
The PET curriculum is divided into the following chapters:
Chapter 1: Interactions and Energy
Chapter 2: Interactions and Forces
Chapter 3: Interactions and Systems
Chapter 4: Model of Magnetism
Chapter 5: Electric Circuit Interactions
Chapter 6: Light Interactions
Chapter 7: Waves
The goal of each chapter is to have you develop a set of ideas that can be used to help explain phenomena that will be explored within that chapter, as well as to consider issues of learning science. There are three types of activities and homeworks within each chapter. The first several
activities are called Developing Ideas activities. During these activities you will perform
experiments to collect evidence in support of ideas that you will develop. The final activity in a
Chapter is an Applying Ideas activity. In that activity you will compare your ideas with those developed by scientists, then apply the ideas to explain interesting phenomena. Sprinkled throughout the curriculum are a series of Learning About Learning activities, some done during
class, most done for homework. During these LAL activities you are asked to think about your own learning, the learning of children and/or the learning of scientists (namely, how they develop scientific knowledge).
Each individual activity consists of several sections with slightly different aims.
A short introduction describing the aims of the activity and how it ties to the topic. It also poses the key question(s) for the activity.
Initial Ideas
Questions that give you a chance to express your own initial ideas on the topic of the activity, before you do any experiments. These initial ideas are important, as they will form the basis on
which you build further understanding.
Collecting and Interpreting Evidence
Here’s where you do the experiments and record your predictions, observations and data that provide the evidence to support, refine and/or revise your ideas.
Summarizing Questions
Working together, the whole class will try to summarize what they have learned in the activity by answering a few questions. You will hand in your responses to all these questions at the end
of each chapter (on the day of the test). You will receive up to 5 points per chapter, graded on completeness.
TEXT: Physics and Everyday Thinking, by Fred Goldberg, Steve Robinson, and Valerie Otero
This is a workbook style text with locations for you to record your observations, and homework pages that you will complete and submit for grading. The PET Student Resources CD is
included with the text. This CD includes electronic versions of all the homework assignments
(in Microsoft Word), plus several Quicktime movies of elementary school students performing science activities. These movies are part of a set of special Learning about Learning (LAL)
homework assignments, to be assigned periodically during the semester; some of these are referred to as “Children’s Ideas” below.
Other course materials will be distributed to you as needed during the course.
This workbook contains six of the cycles listed above. Chapter 7 material will be distributed separately. In addition, there will be some supplementary material provided throughout thecourse.
It is your responsibility to record observations and answer questions in the workbook.
Your entries should be sufficiently clear and legible that you can return to them weeks later and understand them. Moreover, some of your entries will be photocopied and used by you as evidence in a writing assignment, and so they must be understandable to the grader of that
assignment. We will occasionally check your workbook during class to be sure that your entries are complete, clear and legible.
You must bring the PET materials to every class.
1. Attendance (promptness, too)
2. Homework (HW)
3. In-class homework-style assignments and workbook entries
4. Quizzes (4 of them) and a Final Exam
5. Learning Commentary (1)
6. Physics Ideas Writing assignment (1)
7. While much of the work of the course will be accomplished during the class periods, if you get behind in class activities, you will be expected to catch up during non-class time.
You may use the lab at non-class times by arrangement with a TA.
Our attendance policy is very strict. It is described below the tentative grading scale.
Homework will be assigned almost every class period and, unless otherwise stated, must be turned in at the beginning of the next class. (Children’s Ideas assignments will be due one week after assigned.) Sometimes the homework will be reviewed and discussed during the class period when it is due. In the end, the sum of all homework will be renormalized to count for the
proportion of the grade listed under “Grading Criteria”. Your homework answers should consist of complete sentences with correct grammar. Late homework will not be accepted for credit.
Several homework assignments will require you to run computer simulations on the web. The PET simulator index page is at Many of the assignments will
require you to have access to a computer connected to the internet. If you do not have one at home, there are several computer labs on campus. (You may use the computers in our classroom before class if a member of the instruction team happens to arrive early, but there is only one
computer for every three or four people, and the time available will be short, so it is unwise to rely on availability of classroom computers for your assignments.)
The Children’s Ideas homework assignments are more extensive. They will require you to view Quicktime movies of children from grades two through five discussing physics ideas or participating in experiments. You will be asked to make claims about what the students are learning and will use direct quotes from what the children say or pictures they draw as evidence to support your claims. Electronic transcripts of the movies and the students’ pictures are
provided on the Student Resource CD that accompanied your text, along with the movies
themselves. (Check that CD to be sure it is readable; if not, let us know, give us the CD, and we will arrange a new one for you.) We will spend class time discussing the children’s learning
during the periods when the Children’s Ideas assignments are due.
There will be four quizzes during the semester. Each will be given several days after the
completion of one or two cycles:
Quiz 1 after completion of Chapter 1 (The week of February 9)
Quiz 2 after completion of Chapter 2 (The week of March 2)
Quiz 3 after completion of Chapters 3 & 4 (The week of March 30)
Quiz 4 after completion of Chapters 5 & 6 (The week of April 27)
(Because of the nature of the course, the precise dates cannot be determined at this time.)
Physics is a cumulative subject, so you are always expected to know the material from earlier cycles. The quizzes will be approximately 60 minutes long and given at the beginning of class on
dates to be announced. Of the four quizzes, the two lowest grades will be weighted by half compared to the two highest grades (see table below); if you miss a quiz with a legitimate, documented excuse, that quiz is dropped and the other three quizzes are weighted equally. We
will calculate your course grade each way and give you the highest grade earned under these algorithms. (Delete) If the class average differs significantly between these tests, there will be an adjustment in the scores to equalize the effect so that, for example, an extra hard quiz will not
automatically be the one dropped.
Note that NO MAKE-UP quizzes or final exam will be given, except in the case of certain University-sanctioned activities which are officially exempted from this policy (primarily designated intercollegiate competition; check to be sure). If you are exempt, you must notify the
instructor well in advance, with official documentation, and make arrangements for making up the exam or taking the exam while away.
If a quiz is missed for a valid, documented reason, it will not count in the grade, but the other three quizzes will be weighted equally to give the same total weighting. Valid, excused absences include illnesses which prevent attendance (documented by a physician or equivalent), funerals
(documented by dated notice), and car break-downs (documented by an auto repair or tow service).
Our final is scheduled from 6:30pm - 9:30pm Thursday, May 14 (Note: The final exam is comprehensive, but topics that were covered in Chapter 7 may be given additional weight since
they were not covered by a quiz.)
Writing Assignments (2):
Physics 3071W is a writing intensive course and part of your grade is based on your writing. In addition to the writing in homework and exams, there are two writing assignments described
below. The University provides resources to help you with writing. Information on the Center for Writing can be found at:
The student writing guide can be found at:
We do check for plagiarism. You can find resources to help avoid plagiarism at:
and at
1. Learning Commentary (LC).
The LC is designed to help you become more aware of, and more in control of, your own
This paper must be 3-4 pages, typed and double-spaced. It will be done at the end of Cycle 2 and
will be based on ideas about force and motion. A detailed description will be handed out later.
The evaluation of these Commentaries will be based both on the quality and quantity of your comments, and the degree to which you provide evidence to support your comments. In particular, we will be looking for a description of two initial ideas (with supporting evidence), a
substantive discussion of how various classroom activities promoted a change in these ideas (with supporting evidence), and a brief description of the final, class consensus ideas. Most
credit will be assigned to the middle part (how the ideas changed). Opportunities will be given for peer review and revision. These commentaries must be turned in during the first five minutes
of the period in which they are due.
2. Ideas in Physics
This paper is designed to allow you to research how a particular idea in physics developed. You
will have the opportunity to investigate the nature of science in more detail than our text. The assignment will be graded on correct physics, clear explanations and correct writing style. A
first draft will be due approximately two weeks before the final paper is due, so that you will have an opportunity to revise and improve your paper. A more detailed description will be handed out later.
Course component Weight
Quizzes (12.5% each)* 50 %
Final Exam 19 %
Regular homework+in class work 16 %
3 Children’s Ideas Homework Assignments 9 %
Learning Commentary 6 %
Physics Idea Paper 12.5 %
Total points =
112.5 %*
* Note that the total of these percentages is more than 100%. To reduce the basis to 100%, your
two lowest quizzes will be reduced in weight to 6.25%.
>96% A+ (recorded as A in University records)
>92% A
>88% A-
>84% B+
>80% B
>76% B-
>72% C+
>68% C
>64% C-
>59% D+
>51% D
Note that the cut-off between each step will not be set at a higher level than the above, but it
may be lowered.
FOR S/N GRADE OPTION: A course grade of S requires the equivalent of a course grade of
C- or above.
INCOMPLETES: Incomplete coursework is a major inconvenience for students and
instructors. You are expected to do everything in your power to avoid this situation. Legitimate excuses include verified illnesses and family emergencies. No incompletes will be given unless
you have a prior written agreement with the course instructor, including a plan for completion of the work.
1. Attendance – This is a cooperative learning environment involving small group activities
as well as full class discussions. Your active participation is essential to the success of
the class for everyone. Because you will play such an important role in your own
learning and the learning of your classmates, your attendance is essential, and hence
we have a rather strict attendance policy. At a minimum, you are expected to be in
class and working for the full three hours, i.e., arriving late and leaving early will not
be permitted without penalty (we will have a short, 10-15 minute break in the middle of
o Each unexcused late arrival or early departure will result in a 0.75 % reduction in your
course grade.
o Each unexcused absence will result in a 1.5% reduction in your course grade.
o However the deduction will not occur unless the total of such deductions is equal to or
above 4.5%. For example, two unexcused absences plus one late would be a total of
3.75% reduction, which would not be applied since it is less than 4.5%. However, three
unexcused absences would total 4.5% and thus would activate the penalty, with an
immediate 4.5% reduction (plus any future deductions).
o Note that a deduction of 4.5% will result in the lowering of at least one grade step, e.g.,
an A- becoming a B+.
o More than 6 unexcused absences (which is equivalent to three weeks of the course)
will result in “F” for the course. For these purposes an unexcused late arrival or
early departure will count as one-half of an unexcused absence.
o Absence is not excused without proper documentation (doctor’s statement for illness;
obituary or program of memorial, etc. for death in the family; and garage statement for a
car break-down), or in the case of certain University-sanctioned activities which are
officially exempted from this policy. Note that a family vacation is NOT an acceptable
excuse – even if your whole family is going and it has been planned for a year.
NOTE: Excused absences must be made up in a timely fashion (preferably before the
next class period). If not made up, they become unexcused absences. In order to keep
up with the class and perform satisfactorily, you should also make up unexcused
absences. Contact a TA about coming into the lab to do the missed work.
2. Participation and Behavior Expectations -
You will be primarily responsible for your own learning in this class. The instructors will
seldom, if ever, “lecture” in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, you will do science and learn science through engagement in meaningful discussions with your lab partners, through active participation in class and group discussions and through performing experiments and
simulations. Similar to the way in which scientists develop ideas, your ideas will be based on evidence gathered from the experiments done by you. At appropriate times, you will be able to compare your ideas with those developed by scientists. It is expected that except for some special scientific terminology, the ideas you develop with the class should be quite similar to the
scientists’ ideas. You will develop and deepen your own understanding of some powerful ideas
in physics. You will come to realize that these ideas can be used to explain a wide range of interesting scientific phenomena.
The University of Minnesota assumes that all students enroll in its programs with a serious
learning purpose and expects them to be responsible individuals who demand of themselves high
standards of honesty and personal conduct. All students are expected to behave at all times with
the utmost respect and courtesy toward all of their fellow students and their instructors. Much of the class time is spent in discussions and we expect that students will be challenging each other’s
ideas. This is an important part of the learning process. Respectful language should always be used during questions and discussions, and students should pay full attention to those who are
speaking. It is expected that students will not engage in any behavior that disrupts the classroom learning
environment. This includes, but is not limited to, use of cell phones and use of the computers for non-class activities except during the mid-class break.
The Institute of Technology Statement on Academic Integrity applies to any student enrolled in a course in this college:
Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in University courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with
fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or
misrepresenting someone else's work as your own, can result in disciplinary action.
The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as follows:
Scholastic Dishonesty: Scholastic dishonesty means plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete
records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify
records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement;
altering forging , or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying data, research procedures, or data analysis.
Within this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to and including an "F" or "N" for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, ask.
You are also expected to abide the University of Minnesota Student Conduct Code, which can be found at or at the
Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity (OSCAI): .
Note that instructors are required to report violations of the Student Conduct Code to OSCAI.
Further disciplinary actions that may result include suspension and expulsion.

Liberal Education Core Requirement
This class satisfies the University of Minnesota Liberal Education requirement of a physical science course with a laboratory component, as part of the Liberal Education Core.  Discoveries and inventions that have profoundly altered the course of human history arose from the physical sciences.  As citizens and voters (whether in the United States or in another country), today’s students will be called upon to make decisions on such topics as global climate change, alternative energy sources and resource management.  A familiarity with the methods and findings of the physical sciences has never been more important and forms a crucial component of a common education.  

This class will expose the student to physical principles and concepts, demonstrate how these principles can be applied to quantitatively describe natural phenomena, and provide the student with an opportunity to perform hands-on experiments and measurements that replicate how physical knowledge is obtained.  All knowledge in the physical sciences is empirically acquired, and a proper exposure to the ways of knowing and thinking in the physical sciences requires a laboratory component to any formal coursework.  The lab component of the class will give you experience in making predictions based upon hypotheses, which are then empirically tested by experiment or observation, through which scientific knowledge is developed.  The language of the physical world is mathematical and students will be expected to employ mathematical reasoning in order to solve problems both qualitatively and quantitatively. Physics is a social endeavor, and the student will gain experience in cooperative problem solving, working in small groups with other students, in the laboratory sections of the course.

It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable
accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in
course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact their instructors to discuss their individual needs for accommodations.
The dates as listed on the syllabus as well as the order in which the material is covered are subject to change.

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