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PHYS 250

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Introductory Physics I (Algebra Based)

Mr. Shaun Mills
See your course schedule for times & locations
Course Credits
Administrator: Dr. Costantino

Required Text
The text for this course is College Physics: A Strategic Approach, 2nd Ed., by Knight, Jones, and field. This course will cover topics from Chapters 1–16.
The problem set assignments will be administered through WebAssign, a web-based homework program. Access to WebAssign is automatically enabled for all students enrolled in the course when classes begin, but does require registration within the first two weeks of classes. Registration is obtained by either purchasing a WebAssign card at one of the bookstores or making a payment online ( .
Specially priced bundles of the softcover text and WebAssign Access Card should be available in the bookstores.

Course Description
Algebra-based introduction to mechanics, heat, and sound including such topics as one- and two-dimensional motion, vectors, relative and circular motion, force and dynamics, Newton's laws of motion, work and kinetic energy, potential energy and energy conservation, momentum, rotational motion and angular velocity, static equilibrium and properties of materials, static and moving fluids, vibrations, simple harmonic motion, general properties of waves, sound and human hearing.

Course Objectives
Upon completion of PHYS 250, students should be able to demonstrate a mastery of: 1. Kinematics in 1 and 2D and Rotational Kinematics 2. Newton's Laws of Motion for Linear Motion and Rotation 3. Conservation of Energy 4. Conservation of Momentum 5. Oscillations 6. Waves 7. Fluids 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 (7/2), MT2 (7/28), Final Exam (8/14; time TBD by Registrar)

Course Requirements
All homework problem solving skills will be done on WebAssign. You can begin to access these assignments after 12:01 AM on the first day of class. The assignments occur at a rapid pace so it is suggested to work early on these assignments. Check the due dates carefully for no extensions will be granted.
Once there you will then be queried for a UserID and Password; these items are the same as those used to access your PSU email account. You will also need to register for WebAssign. To do this you need to purchase a WebAssign access code from the bookstore or online at WebAssign. You have two weeks from the start of classes to complete registration for WebAssign (you will be reminded of this every time you log on until the two weeks are up or you have completed your registration). Once the registration period is complete students who have not registered will be prevented from accessing their assignments until they do so. Please take care of this detail before the deadline listed on the WebAssign homework assignment page.
Students are encouraged to work together and collaborate on assignments; however, work submitted for individual assessment must be the work of the individual student. A good way to ensure this is to make sure, even when working in groups, that you each write up your responses independently of anyone else. Please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy. If you have any problems with the homework, please see any of the TAs in the course or the lecturer during their office hours, or contact them to set up an appointment to meet.

Course Prerequisites
Prerequisite: MATH 022, MATH 026; or MATH 040; or MATH 041 or satisfactory performance on the mathematics proficiency examination.

Grading Policy
Your grade in the course will be based on your performance in the labs and recitations, on the homework assignments, and on the exams with the following weights:








5% 15% 15% 15% 15% 20%

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.
Lecture participation is a crucial component in this course. Lectures are not simply a restatement of the content covered in the reading. Students are expected to engage with the lecture material by answering conceptual questions, working through problems under the guidance of the instructor and peers, and completing the “5-minute follow-up”. As attendance necessarily precedes participation, a portion of this course component is determined by lecture attendance. The following number of points will be awarded each lecture.

  •  Pre-lecture problem: 0 – 2 points based on effort.
  •  Lecture attendance: 2 points (sign in upon arriving).

A total of 68 participation points are available throughout the 9-week course. The final participation grade will be computed out of 50 points, meaning 18 “free” points are available. There will be no extra credit given for final scores exceeding 50 points.
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
The laboratory component of this course is structured around collaborative learning. You must be present in laboratory to do these assignments: no make-up assignments will be given for a missed laboratory. If you are absent from a laboratory section with a valid excuse, as described below, that laboratory activity will not be counted in computing your final grade. If you are absent without a valid excuse, you will score a zero for that activity.
The recitation sessions are also structured around collaborative learning. Attendance is mandatory for recitation activities: no make-up assignments will be given for a missed recitation activity. If a recitation section is missed with a valid excuse, it is your responsibility to promptly contact your teaching assistant (TA) and provide a valid excuse, in which case that recitation activity will not be counted in computing your final grade. If you are absent without a valid excuse, you will score a zero for that activity.
No extensions for homework will be granted. You must complete the homework as scheduled, or provide a valid university excuse.
All students should plan to take their exams at the scheduled times. Students can request makeup exams only by submitting a valid written excuse to the course administrator. 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.
Exam Policy
There will be two midterm exams (7/2 and 7/28) and a cumulative final exam (on 8/14; time to be set by the Registrar). 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
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).