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PHYS 213

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General Physics: Fluids and Thermal Physics

Ms. Piali Aditya
See your course schedule for times & locations
Course Credits
Ms. Aditya and your Lab TAs are your first point of contact for physics related questions. For any administrative questions, you should contact Dr. Costantino 123 Osmond Lab 865-9018 (please use only your Penn State e-mail address for course business and include "PHYS 213" in the subject line)

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 15-21. 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.
Course Description
Calculus-based study of the basic concepts of fluids and sound, heat, kinetic theory, and entropy.

Course Objectives
This course provides an introductory description of three subjects of classical physics: fluid, mechanical waves and thermal physics. A full list of our course objectives can be found in the exam resources folder.
Topics (in the order of coverage - tentative)

  • Chapter 15: Fluids and Elasticity
  • Chapter 20: Traveling waves
  • Chapter 21: Superposition
  • Chapter 16: A Macroscopic description of Matter
  • Chapter 17: Work, heat and the first law of thermodynamics
  • Chapter 18: The Micro/Macro connection
  • Chapter 19: Heat engines and Refrigerators

Course Requirements
You must be registered for BOTH the lecture (213L) and the recitation/laboratory (213R)
Problem Set assignments – In general, there is one problem set 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 costantino40842). 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 performance in the labs, in recitation, on the homework assignments, and on the exams with the following weights:






12.5% 12.5% 25% 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%/(# 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.
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
Laboratory sections meet once a week in room 306 Osmond. Your meeting time is determined by your 213R 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 twice a week. Your meeting time and room are determined by your 213R 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.

Conceptual Quizzes
You must take the pre- and post-quizzes at the Testing Center. Any student that registers for the course after the first day of the semester must contact the course administrator within a week of adding the course to arrange to take the pre-quiz. In the case of sudden or unexpected events that will cause them to miss one of the quizzes, students are required to
notify the course administrator prior to the date of the quiz or as soon as is reasonably possible.

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 one midterm exam (6/29) and a cumulative final exam (7/14). 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!

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.
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
One (1) valid excuse will be accepted for a student throughout the entire course. More than one absence will interfere excessively with student learning. In extreme circumstances in which a student requires two 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).