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PHYS 212

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General Physics: Electricity and Magnetism (Calculus Based)

PHYS 212R & 212L: Electricity and Magnetism   

Instructor: Dr. Anthony Richardella
Office Address: 237 Davey
Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-2:30 PM and by appointment
Location Lecture: 101 Osmond Times  See your course schedule for times & locations
Start Date: Monday, June 15th
Course Credits:  4
The lecturer and your recitation TAs are your first point of contact for physics related questions.  For any administrative questions, you should contact
Dr. Costantino 
122 Osmond Lab,

Required Text

The text for this course is Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Knight, 3rd edition. This course will cover Chapters 2535. (This book is the 2nd Penn State custom edition.) The soft-cover PSU custom “split” with these sections, available at the bookstore, also contains access to the MasteringPhysics homework system we will be using in the course.
In addition you are also required to have an i>clicker. These are available from the bookstore and elsewhere. Using your i>clicker in lecture is part of your grade. You can find out about obtaining and registering i>clickers on the ITS Clicker website. There is a link in the Lessons folder to directly register your clicker. If you do not register your clicker, then you cannot earn a lecture participation grade (3% of the total course grade).

Course Description

Calculus-based introduction to classical electricity and magnetism, including such topics as, electric charge and electric fields, Gauss's law, electric potential, capacitance, current, resistance, and circuits, magnetic fields, and fields due to currents, induction and inductance, magnetism of matter, Maxwell's equations, and electromagnetic oscillations. You must be registered for both PHYS 212L and PHYS 212R to earn a grade in this course.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of PHYS 212, students should be able to demonstrate a mastery of:
1. Electric charges, fields, and forces
2. Electric potential and potential energy
3. Resistance, current and circuits (both DC and AC)
4. Magnetic fields
5. Electromagnetism and electromagnetic waves For a more detailed list of course objectives, please see the Exams folder. 


Tentative Schedule

See the Lessons Tab for the schedule of readings, lecture topics, recitations and laboratories.
Exam Dates:  MT1 (Tentatively July 1; time TBD, likely evening),  MT2 (July 24; during recitation section),  Final Exam (August 14; time TBD by Registrar)

Course Requirements

You must be registered for BOTH the lecture (212L) and the recitation/laboratory (212R)
Problem Set assignments  In general, there is one homework assignment per week. The due date and time for each assignment appears on MasteringPhysics. We will be using an online computer grading system called MasteringPhysics ( to grade the homework (our course ID is costantino16995). Access to MasteringPhysics is provided in the PSU custom book in the bookstore. This system allows you to submit your homework at any time. Your grade on each assignment will be available immediately and, in most cases, you will have multiple tries to arrive at the correct answer. Any work done after the due date will not receive credit and no extensions will be given. Because problem sets are available at least a week before the due date and can be done in advance, NO excuses are allowed (see bottom of page for more info on excuse policy) Students are encouraged to work together and collaborate on assignments. Work submitted for individual assessment must be the work of the individual student. Please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy below.

Course Prerequisites Prerequisite: PHYS 211, MATH 140
Co-requisite: MATH 141

Grading Policy

Your grade in the course will be based on your participation in lecture, on your performance in the labs, in recitation, on the homework assignments, and on the exams with the following weights:










3% 9% 9% 9% 20% 20% 30%

The homework score is calculated as the average of the scores of each homework assignment; all assignments are weighted equally. Each assignment's score is calculated as 100 ×(points earned on assignment / total points possible on assignment). The number of points earned on a problem decreases on each submission after the first. On multiple choice questions, on each submission after the first, credit will decrease by 100%/(number of answer options  1). On all other questions, on each submission after the first, credit will decrease by 3%.
You are responsible for verifying all of your scores in ANGEL and reporting any concerns (with the exception of the last recitation, lab, and lecture scores and final exam score) before the final meeting of the course. You are responsible for verifying all of your scores and reporting any concerns (with the exception of the final exam score) before the final exam takes place.
Your clicker score each day is calculated as the sum of your score for the quiz question(s) at the start of class (based on your answer) and your score for the participation questions throughout the rest of the class (based on your participation). The quiz is worth 50 point each day, and the participation questions are worth 50 point each day. Your clicker score for the class is calculated by how many of the clicker points you earn in each of several periods (Weeks 1 & 2, Weeks 3 & 4, Weeks 5 & 6, and Weeks 7 - 9). In the Grades tab, you can find how many points must be earned for a full score in any period (there are more points available than are necessary for a full score).
Final letter grades for the course will be based on an absolute scale. The course score will be rounded to the nearest integer. No curving of any kind will be employed unless the combined average exam score (computed as the combined average of all students' scores on all midterm and final exams taken to date) is less than 70%. In such cases, the grades on the most recent exam will be adjusted by additively raising the exam scores to allow the combined exam average to meet the target minimum of 70%.

The break points for the various grade levels are:
Lowest PercentageLetter GradeHighest Percentage
93%< A <100%
90%< A- <93%
87%< B+ <90%
83%< B <87%
80%< B- <83%
77%< C+ <80%
70%< C <77%
60%< D <70%
0%< F <60%
Grades will be rounded to the nearest integer at the end of the course.

Attendance Policy

You must attend the lecture section for which you are registered ("clicker"
participation in a lecture not registered for will not be counted for a grade.) We will use i>clickers in class for three different types of questions in lecture:
(1) reading quizzes or review questions at the beginning of each class (graded for correctness), (2) in-class concept questions designed to challenge your thinking (graded for effort), and
(3) review of material covered to make sure everyone understands what we just discussed (graded for effort).
You can find out about obtaining and registering i>clickers on the ITS Clicker website. When registering you must use your PSU email address (e.g., to register your clicker in order to receive credit. If you register through the link in Angel (in the Lectures folder) it will automatically register you correctly.
“Clicker questions” are generally multiple choice conceptual questions that are
designed to help identify common misconceptions and provide feedback during the class. They are designed to help you know when you understand the topic at hand, and your instructor to know when more discussion is needed and when to move on to the next topic.
Each lecture you will earn points based on your answers to the beginning-of-class reading or review questions, the concept questions, and the review questions. The number of opportunities to earn points in this way is greater than the maximum number of points you can earn. For this reason, there will be no adjustments for forgetting to bring your clicker to lecture, and no extra-credit or make-up work for absences. If you fail to register your clicker in a timely manner, you will not get credit for lectures that occurred before you registered your clicker. If you get a new clicker during the semester, be sure to register it right away. To avoid accidentally swapping a clicker with another student, be sure to put your name or some other identifying feature on your clicker. You must attend your scheduled 212L section (participating in another lecture section will not contribute to your lecture participation grade).
Appropriate use of clickers by their owner during their class is an expectation of the course. Asking someone to use your clicker for you is asking that person to help you cheat. If someone asks you to use their clicker, that person is asking you to help them cheat. If you agree, you have helped them cheat. If you observe someone is cheating - e.g., you see someone using two clickers - you are obligated to report it. If you do not, you are helping them to cheat. Please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy of this syllabus for more details.

Laboratory sections meet once a week in room 313 Osmond. Your meeting time is determined by your 212R section number. You must attend the laboratory section in which you are scheduled  no switching is permitted.
The laboratories are designed to provide you with hands-on experience with the material being investigated in class. Laboratory instructors lead the laboratory sessions and act as your guides as you explore the material. You will work collaboratively in three-member lab groups to carry out the experiments. The experiments are in the Laboratories folder.
During the lab session, your group will prepare a single write-up, addressing specific points of the experiments. This write-up must be submitted by your group before the end of the laboratory session and all group members must be present when the report is submitted in person to the laboratory instructor.


Recitation sections meet once a week. Your meeting time and room are determined by your 212R section number. You must attend the section for which you are registered. No switching is permitted.
In these sections you will work collaboratively in three-member groups to complete problem-solving exercises. These problem solving activities are an invaluable component of learning physics, and will provide you with much more opportunity to explore problem solving techniques than you will have in class.
The recitation activities are available in the Recitations folder in ANGEL. While only one paper is turned in, every student needs to bring an individual copy of the pertinent activity to the recitation section. 
All students should plan to take their exams at the scheduled times. Students can request makeup exams only by submitting a valid written (or e-mailed) excuse to the course instructor. In the case of sudden or unexpected events that will cause them to miss an exam, students are required to notify the course instructor prior to the exam or as soon as is reasonably possible.

Exam Policy

There will be two midterm exams (W 2/18 and W 4/1) and a cumulative final exam (date to be set by the Registrar in 4/4 - 4/8). Exams will be closed book. Relevant physical constants and formulae will be provided. Cellular phones, smart phones, any other communication devices, tablet computers, and organizers, and additional paper are not allowed. Room is provided for scratch work in the exam booklet. The exams will be based on the assigned reading in the textbook, the material covered in lecture, the recitations, the laboratories, and the homework assignments. Please see the Course Content Objectives and the Exams folder in Angel for more information about the content assessed on the exams in this course.

Academic Integrity

As described in The Penn State Principles, academic integrity is the basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State University, allowing the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. We expect that each student will practice integrity in regard to all academic assignments and will not tolerate or engage in acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. To protect the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and the worth of work completed by others, we will record and report to the office of Judicial Affairs all instances of academic dishonesty.
The University and Departmental policy regarding academic integrity can be found on the course web page with links to the faculty senate policy:

Disability Policy

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at
In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the documentation guidelines at If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.


Excuse and Makeup policy Laboratory and Recitation
The laboratory and recitation components of this course are structured around collaborative learning. You must be present in laboratory or recitation to do these assignments. If you are absent from a laboratory or recitation section with a valid excuse, as described under "Valid Excuse Policy", fill out the excuse form in Angel (in the Laboratories or Recitations folder) within one week of the absence. You will NOT be required to make up the missed activity. Your score for the missed activity will be recorded as a zero until an excuse form is filled and recorded. If you are absent without a valid excuse, a score of zero will be recorded for that assignment. If a student is more than ten minutes late to a lab, they cannot receive any credit for that period’s so be on time!   Homework You must complete the homework assignments as scheduled. The assignments are available early so no excuses are accepted. Even technical glitches are not valid excuses.   Examinations All students should plan to take their exams at the scheduled times. Students can request conflict exams only by filling the conflict exam signup form in the Exams folder. In the case of sudden or unexpected events that will cause them to miss an exam, students are required to notify the course administrator prior to the exam or as soon as is reasonably possible.   Valid Excuse Policy
Up to three (3) valid excuses will be accepted for a student throughout the entire

course. More than three absences will interfere excessively with student learning. In extreme circumstances in which a student requires four or more absences to be excused, he or she must contact the course administrator directly to discuss the situation as soon as possible. Requests to be excused from a missed evaluative event due to reasons that are based on false claims is cheating and will be treated as described in the Academic Integrity Policy 49-20 * The student must provide all requested information on the Excuse Form and electronically sign the form. Incorrect or missing information will result in the request for an excused absence to be denied. * Family emergencies include a death in the immediate family, death of a close friend, sudden hospitalization of a close family member, and events of similar gravity. Students should inform their appropriate teaching assistants about the family emergency as soon as possible. * To obtain an excuse for university-approved curricular and extra-curricular activities, a student needs to obtain a letter (or a class absence form) from the unit or department sponsoring the activity. The letter must indicate the anticipated absence dates, and it must be submitted to the excuse submission dropbox along with the first excuse request before the first absence. * In the case of religious holidays, students should submit the excuse request before the date of the absence.
Since University regulations require course instructors to make conflict exams available to students, missing a laboratory or recitation due to an examination in another course is not considered a valid excuse. You have one week from the absence to submit an excuse; otherwise it will be denied, barring extenuating circumstance (e.g., no access to the Internet due to reason for absence, such as an extended hospitalization).