Course Syllabus

Physics 210: Descriptive Physics

Spring Semester, 2004


Instructor:                 Dr. Steven Sahyun

Office:                        321 Goodhue Hall

Phone:                        Ext. 5113



Desire2Learn:           The D2L site is linked from the UWW web site ( choose e-learning tab and select D2L.

Office Hours:             M - F: 11 a.m. - 12 noon or by appointment.

Class Meetings:        Section 1: T R 8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

                                    Section 2: T R 9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Exams:                       Midterms: February 17, March 18, and April 27.

                                    Final: Section 1: Tuesday, May 11 7:45 - 9:45 a.m.

                                                Section 2: Tuesday, May 11 10:00 a.m. - 12 noon.

Text:                           Conceptual Physics 9th ed., P. Hewitt

Pre-requisite:            Math 141


Other required materials: You are expected to bring paper, a scientific calculator (one with trigonometric and logarithmic functions, scientific notation, etc. These are available for less than $20) and a desire to learn and discuss the assigned material.  In addition, you will need an ≥Electricity and Magnetism≤ package available at the bookstore for about $5.


Course Description: This is a one-semester introduction to physics! Physics is the foundation for all other sciences and covers a wide range of topics. In this course, we will be looking at physics from a conceptual viewpoint where verbal reasoning will be emphasized and a minimum of algebra will be used. Some of the topics that we will be covering are motion, heat, sound and light, electricity, and magnetism. 


Assignments: The course will consist of participatory lectures. You will be frequently asked to work on questions related to the material under discussion. You will have a chance to discuss your answers with a neighbor, and then with the class as a whole. While not graded, these activities provide valuable opportunities to understand physics concepts.


Homework: There will be homework problems assigned on a weekly basis. While you may work together on these problems, you are expected to do your own work, and write your answers in your own words. Homework is due in class the day for which it is due and will be assigned one week prior to the due date. Late homework will be given half credit if turned in by the next class period. Homework turned in after this point will not receive credit.


Group Activities: There will be graded in-class group activities. These activities are included so that each student will learn to use basic measuring apparatus and methods. These activities may be made up if missed due to university-sponsored events, but prior approval is needed. Activity assignments will not receive credit if turned in more than one week after assigned.


Papers: There will be a paper and a combination paper/project assigned. These papers will be on topics related to the material under discussion and may involve analysis of a physics problem or reporting on Web sites devoted to a physics topic. The purpose of these papers is to increase your ability to communicate about interesting physics topics in a clear and coherent manner. You are expected to cite any references using the APA style ( and all papers are to be in your own words. Papers may be checked for uniqueness via software and Internet search engines.


Exams: Finally, there will be three mid-term exams as well as the final exam. The final will cover material from the entire course, with emphasis on topics covered since the third mid-term exam. You will be provided with a scientific calculator for use on the exams. You may not use graphing calculators or those with data storage capability when taking the exams.


Grading: Course grades will be determined by the percentage of total points assigned for the course. 90% = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D. The approximate distribution of points will be as follows:

Papers and Projects






Group Work




I reserve the right to adjust grades slightly based on class participation.  There will be occasional opportunities for extra credit.


Absence for University Sponsored Events: University policy states that students will not be academically penalized for missing class in order to participate in university-sanctioned events. Activity sponsors are responsible for obtaining the Provost's prior approval of an event as being university sanctioned and for providing an official list of participants. Students are responsible for notifying their instructors in advance of their participation in such events. More information can be found in the Bulletin and the Student Handbook. If you will be absent a day that an assignment is due, turn the assignment in prior to the due date.


The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is dedicated to a safe, supportive and non-discriminatory learning environment.  It is the responsibility of all undergraduate and graduate students to familiarize themselves with University policies regarding Special accommodations, Misconduct, Religious Beliefs Accommodation, Discrimination and Absence for University Sponsored Events.  (For details please refer to the Undergraduate and Graduate Timetables; the "Rights and Responsibilities" section of the Undergraduate Bulletin; the Academic Requirements and Policies and the Facilities and Services sections of the Graduate Bulletin; and the "Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures" [UWS Chapter 14]; and the "Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures" [UWS Chapter 17]).


These required syllabus contents were agreed upon by the actions of the Whitewater Student Government (S95- 96:09). Academic Staff Assembly, Faculty Senate (FS956- 13 and FS989- 11), Provost Prior, and Chancellor Greenhill (approved November 17, 1996.)

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Updated: January 20, 2004