Basic Physics I

University of California - Irvine

Vectors; motion, force, and energy.
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PHYSICS 3A Syllabus for RITZ, T. — Winter 2019

Syllabus for Physics 3A (Winter 2018)
Instructor: Thorsten Ritz,
Office Hours and Location: Tuesday 3-4 pm at 210H Rowland Hall and right after lectures.
Lectures: MWF, 1-1:50 pm, BS3 1200
Communication with Instructors: Please read your email and visit the Discussion Boards for
this class daily. Notices regarding this class will be distributed through email or posted on the Message
Boards. If you have a question please post it on the relevant Discussion Boards Boards rather than
emailing your instructors. Discussions Board posts are visible to all students. Other students can respond,
if they know the answer. Otherwise Professor Ritz or the TAs will respond as soon as they are available.
There are separate Discussion Boards for each week’s material and for Administrative questions. You
earn Class Participation Points for posting on the Message Boards so make good use of them.
Enrollment issues Enrollment and administrative questions must be directed to the physics
undergraduate affairs office (4109 Reines Hall), 949-824-2614 or The instructor
and the TAs cannot assist you with enrollment issues.
E.g., we cannot sign add-on/drop cards, we cannot authorize changes in discussion sessions even if you
have a change in partner.
Textbook: Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics (4th Edition), Douglas C. Giancoli
(2011) published by Pearson Learning Solutions. The custom edition published for UCI and sold at the
UCI bookstore contains a subset of the full book. We will cover Chapters 2-10, and 12 this quarter.
Academic Dishonesty University policies regarding academic dishonesty are in effect for this class.
Incidents of academic dishonesty, including but not limited to those specifically mentioned in this
syllabus, will be dealt with in accordance with university policies. Students should review these policies
Grading Your total score will be computed with the following weights.
Scores dropped/kept
Final Exam
Midterm Exam
Lowest 2 scores dropped
iClicker Score
For each subcategory, your score will be recorded as a percentile score of maximum points. Because we
drop your lowest two scores for discussion sessions, if you miss one or two sessions, these scores will be
dropped. No makeup assignments are given. Please do not ask for exceptions, because it will not be
granted unless it is a case of a serious, on-going, medical emergency.
Grades will not be curved downwards, i.e., if you achieve an 80% score, you will receive at least a B-,
etc. However, should an exam prove unexpectedly more difficult than in previous years as evidenced by a
low class average, grades may be curved upwards.
Exams: The Final Exam will be cumulative with approximately 25% of the material covered prior to the
Midterm Exam and 75% of the material covered after the Midterm Exam. Exams will have a formula
sheet provided, which will contain all the relevant formulae and constants. See the Class Files section of
the class webpage for the formula sheet. We highly recommend that you print out the formula sheet and
use it during homework and discussion section so that you get familiar with it.
Students must sit in their assigned seats during the exams and the Seating Chart will be posted on the
class webpage (in the Class Files section) prior to the exam.
For exams, student must bring a UCI Student ID card, pen or pencils, erasers and a calculator that meets
specific requirements. Only scientific calculators that do not graph and are not capable of being
programmed to solve or store equations are allowed. No graphing calculators or programmable
calculators are allowed. No Apple watches are allowed. No cell phones or any other device that can
connect to a phone line or internet are allowed. During the exam, you are not allowed to communicate
with any other student. In addition, you may not wear a cap, hat or clothes that would prevent the proctors
from getting a direct view of your eyes and head.
Homework Registration
There will be 9 homework assignments to be completed through the MasteringPhysics website by
Pearson. The assignments will be due each Friday at 11:59 PM starting Friday, Jan 11 (This
means the assignment is given on Fri, Jan 11 and needs to be completed Fri, Jan18).
You need to purchase access to the online homework system through the Pearson publisher.
There are three options:
o Buy the paperback special edition textbook which includes an access code (~ $185)
o Buy the access code including ebook online (~$115)
o Buy online the access code. (~470) This is primarily for students that purchased the
textbook through other channels
All access codes are valid for the whole Physics 3A-B-C sequence and for 2 years, i.e.
you can retake a course should you need to without having to repurchase access.
However, the codes do not transfer from student to student.
In order to enroll, follow the instructions here:
Student_Registration_Handout_Ritz Physics 3A Winter 2019.pdf
Note: this is the first course of the Physics 3 series taught at UCI that uses the Canvas
system. You register through Canvas and you do not need a course ID as in previous
Special instructions for students who have already taken a different 3 series course: please email
the Pearson representative Brittany Stevens at with your access
code and student ID as well as the course you took already.
Enrolling for the MasteringPhysics course connected with this lecture under more than one
username is not allowed and such incidents will be treated as cases of academic dishonesty.
Homework grading
All homework assignments count towards the total homework score. The total homework score
will be the sum of all the homework assignment scores divided by the total number of points
The Homework assignments will have approximately 10 problems of varying degrees of
difficulty. The more difficult questions will be worth more points. Homework should take you
roughly 2 hours to do per week. We highly suggest you work on the problems throughout the
week as the material is presented in lecture. This gives you the maximum number of opportunities
to ask questions of the professor and TA during class time or post questions on the Discussions
Boards to resolve any difficulties you have. Your goal should be to learn the material BEFORE or
WHILE you do the homework. Discussion section assignments are your second opportunity to
master the material so that by the third time you see it on an exam you’ll excel at it.
If you have a serious medical emergency and you notify the professor at least 24 hours before a
homework assignment deadline then it can be extended only if you submit a doctor’s note
afterward. See the Schedule on the Documents section of the class web page for the schedule of
homework assignments.
Homework assignment problems will be graded as follows:
o For true/false problems, you only have one attempt. You will either receive full or no
credit for such problems
o For multiple-choice problems with N>2 options, you have at most N-1 attempts and you
lose 100%/(N-M) credit, where M is the number of incorrect answers.
For example, consider a multiple-choice question with 4 options worth 1 point. Let’s say
your first attempt is incorrect, but you get it right in the second try. You lose 100%/(4-
1)=33.33% of the points and receive 1-0.3333=0.6667 points. Let’s say you have two
incorrect attempts, but solve it right the third time. Then you lose 100%/(4-2)=50% of the
points and receive 1-0.5=0.5 points. Because there are only 4 options, you get at most 3
tries. Thus, if you do not get it right the third time, you receive no credit.
For problems that are not multiple-choice, the maximum number of allowed attempts is 6. For
such problems, you lose 10% credit per incorrect answer.
For example, if on a part of a problem you took 3 attempts to get the right answer (i.e.,
two attempts were incorrect), you will get (100-2*10)%=80%
Some problems have hints. You will receive a small bonus if you do not use the hint. However,
since this is a small effect (usually 2-3% of the points), you are highly encouraged to open hints if
you need them.
We will use clickers to gauge your level of understanding of concepts during the lectures. Lecture
classes (except the first one) will often, but not necessarily always, have questions that require
iclicker responses. This is an important part of teaching the class and every student is required to
have an iclicker.
You will get participation credit for answering questions. You will receive one point for each
lecture in which you participated in at least 75% of the questions in a lecture regardless if your
answer is right or wrong. Your 5 lowest clicker scores will be dropped.
Multiple choice questions in all exams will be very similar (and sometimes identical) to the
questions in the lectures, so it is in your best interest to engage in these questions.
You must register your iclicker for responding to clicker questions. Do this again even if you
have registered your iclicker in the past. Register the iclicker through the iClicker registration Tab
under Canvas. An iclicker can be used by only one student during a given quarter. So if you have
borrowed someone else’s, make sure you register that iclicker in your name.
Discussion will be held on Thursdays, starting on Jan 17 (i.e. no discussion sessions in week 1).
Again: There is no discussion on Thursday, Jan 10
You must attend the discussion section you are enrolled in because of space constraints or your
work will not count.
In the discussions, the TA will have a set of prepared problems that are at the level you will be
expected to solve in the exams. One big goal of the discussion is to work on solving problems
together. The TA will circulate from group to group to provide pointers and clear
For the first 20 mins of each discussion, each section has two options: 1) you can ask questions
about the lecture, ask the TA to go over difficult physics or math concepts. 2) each group can
chose a problem from a prepared set of problems to work on.
After ca 20 mins, the whole discussion section will work on the problem chosen by the instructor
that is announced at the beginning of the discussion session. Each student is required to write
down legible solutions without copying from another student. Discussions among students are
highly encouraged but students should not allow other students to copy their work when writing
down the solutions at the end. The TA is instructed to give both students involved in the process
of copying a zero for that problem.
Students that attend the whole discussion session and hand in a solution will receive 2 points for
attendance (even if the solution is wrong).
The solutions will be graded for each individual student. The TA will attempt to grade you in the
class. If that is not possible, the TA will collect your work and return the graded work next week.
The problem will be graded on a 0-2 scale.
o 0 implies no effort or understanding and 2 a complete solution with correct numbers and
units, as well as a demonstrated understanding of how to solve the problem. Anything in
between is given 1.
o If the solution is not set up clearly and appropriate steps are not provided or legible, then
your TA will score the problem as 0 or 1 but not 2, even if the final answer is correct.
Most students should receive 4 points for each discussion session.
The lowest two discussion scores will be dropped. If you miss a discussion session because of
illness, sports meets, ROTC, not being enrolled yet, this counts automatically as one of the two
scores being dropped. There is no need to email the instructor about such reasons and you may
not receive a response.
Only if you miss more than 2 discussion sessions due to a documented reasons, such as long-term
illness, etc., please contact the instructor to discuss individual options.
Students that are granted more time for solving problems through the DSC, should still attend
their discussion sessions to benefit from the group work and added instruction, but will be graded
on attendance only (i.e. they will receive 4 points for attendance).
Class Participation Points: I want to encourage collaborative communication among students. You can
earn participation points by answering another student’s question on the Discussion Boards. Your
instructor will respond to your Message Board post with a note that ends with “+1 PP” when they have
graded your post and scored it in theGradebook. (Note, however, that administrative questions that could
be easily answered by reading the Syllabus are NOT given any points.) There is a Discussions board
named Administration for course administration issues and message boards for each week for questions
about the course material. Use the weekly message boards to post questions about homework, but do not
specifically ask how to do the homework question or give away an answer. Ask a question that is relevant
to what you’re struggling with, and we’ll try to help. It certainly beats trying to find your instructor or TA
outside of office hours. You instructor will post PPs earned each week in lecture to the Gradebook by the
start of the following week. Participation points count towards a small amount of extra credit. Students
with 1 or 2 participation points at the end of the quarter will receive 1% extra credit and students with 3 or
more PP will receive 2% extra credit.
Tutoring: Tutoring is not just for someone who finds physics challenging, but also for those who want
extra practice in order to get an A. There are two good options for tutoring if you need extra help. First,
you can get free tutoring from the Physics & Astronomy Department’s Tutoring Center. It is manned by
graduate student TAs from our class as well as other introductory physics classes. You can consult the
schedule at and look for Professor Ritz’s name to get a TA
for our class or you can go to any of the listed sessions. You can earn CPPs at the Physics Tutoring
Center if you go to a TA for our class.
In addition, the UCI Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC) offers group tutoring for P3A for a
very reasonable fee and sponsorships (i.e. scholarships) are available. Consult for the schedule of LARC sections and
for more information. Register for LARC tutoring on WebReg. LARC tutors are undergraduate students
who have received an A grade in Physics 3C or equivalent courses. We recommend you sign up for it if
you need help in the class or if you think studying with a group of like-minded students will be more fun
and productive than studying alone.
Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
University policies for accommodation of students with disabilities will be followed. More information is
available at , including information on testing accommodation and note-taking
Please note: this service can be very useful for students with anxieties during tests and timed conditions,
as it will allow certified students to take exams in a separate setting with more time.
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