Course: PHY104
Instructor: Petta
S 2016

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

Many students take Physics 104 after Physics 103 in the Fall, but the two courses are not consecutive and cover very different material. Physics 104 is a great interest class for electrical engineers as it is heavily focused on circuits and electricity. The class is very cumulative, so it is important to learn a solid foundation of the beginning topics (electric fields, magnetism, etc.) that will be necessary for more complex material later in the semester.

A strong mathematical foundation in this course will definitely help, but is not completely necessary. I found that I was able to understood more complex topics in Phy 104 after taking Mat 201 in the Fall, as many ideas such as "flux" and double integrals were reintroduced in Phy 104. In this way, I was able to solidify my understanding of the concepts and better understand the topics and problems in physics class. While I don't think it's necessary to take Mat 201 before Phy 104, I would strongly recommend doing so if you are able to.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

Professor Petta does a great job with maintaining engaging lectures throughout the semester. He is especially good at setting up various demonstrations to model the new topics that he introduces in lecture. Similar to Phy 103, "clicker questions" are still used to gage participation and class understanding, but are used less frequently and are more straight-forward and "fair" compared to those in Phy 103.

Professor Petta posts the lecture slides from each week, and I found it extremely helpful to review the slides at the end of the week and ask Professor Petta any questions I had about the material during his office hours.

Learning For and From Assignments

Expert TA is also continued in Physics 104, which consists of two online homework assignments due each week (Thursday night and Sunday night). The first homework due on Thursday is usually "easier" and touches on more surface level material, as the new topics were recently introduced in lecture. The Sunday homework tends to be more complex, as it purposed to prepare you for the weekly quiz on Monday morning in precept. The weekly quizzes are 2o min long (completed during the last 2o min of precept) and usually contain two questions with multiple parts. The first question tends to test on more surface-level material from the most recent week while the second question is slightly more complex and usually tests on material from the past week. These quizzes are meant to hold students accountable with the pace of the class and amount of material that is introduced. The quizzes can be viewed as simpler renditions of questions that may appear on the midterm (only one test during midterm week).

Suggestions for tackling the homework and weekly quizzes:

  • Complete Thursday's homework by Tuesday or Wednesday
  • Complete Sunday's homework by Saturday
  • Use Sunday to review the past week's material and prepare for the upcoming quiz (Professor Petta usually provides last year's quiz as a study reference, so I would suggest taking that quiz under real time and conditions to best prepare)

When studying for the exams it is probably much better to spend time trying to solve practice problems rather than just memorizing every equation. All the necessary equations for this course can probably be written down on a half-page cheat sheet after scanning through your notes over a few hours. Its difficulty is in knowing how to use the equations in the appropriate situation and deriving various physical properties from scratch, and this is what should be practiced.

External Resources

McGraw! McGraw is the most helpful resource for this class! I would highly recommend making McGraw study halls a routine (days during the week are less busy and will provide you with more one-on-one attention for help with the homework assignments and quizzes). By going to McGraw, you will be able to receive help developing problem-solving tactics specific to this course. You will also form a group of fellow students (people who you will regularly see in McGraw) and be able to study with them. McGraw is definitely one of the best support systems for this class.

Professor Petta's Office Hours: I would also highly recommend going to Professor Petta's office hours. He is super approachable and patient! Have a few questions prepared (either topics from the past week's lecture or from the most recent homework assignments) and he will help you work through them.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

This course is an Engineering requirement and will most likely have many students who have a very strong foundation in both physics and math. There is a wide range of abilities because it is an entry-level class. You may find students who got a 5 on the AP Physics exam in the same precept with students who were only able to take Honors Physics in their junior year of High School. Despite this wide range of abilities, I feel that the class is extremely well taught and manageable for students who have not been exposed to higher level physics. Just be sure to stay on top of the work and seek help as soon as possible.

General Physics II

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  • September 28, 2017 at 12:59 am
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    When studying for the exams it is probably much better to spend time trying to solve practice problems rather than just memorizing every equation. All the necessary equations for this course can probably be written down on a half-page cheat sheet after scanning through your notes over a few hours. Its difficulty is in knowing how to use the equations in the appropriate situation and deriving various physical properties from scratch, and this is what should be practiced.

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