Summer 2011








Instructor:  Giridhar Nandikotkur (Giri),
Office: CSS 2357 or PHYSICS 3102

Teaching Assistants:

Andy Latief (
Office: PHYS 0104


Course Website:
 or you could go to and click on our class.

Lectures    Mon - Friday 9:30 AM- 10:50 AM PHYS 0405




Section 0101

Tu Thu......... 11:00 am - 11:50 am (PHY0405)

About the course

This is the first part of a three semester calculus-based Physics course being offered at the University of Maryland College Park, covering laws of motion, force, and energy; principles of mechanics, collisions, linear momentum, rotation, and gravitation

Required Texts and Material
Text: Knight, Randall D. , Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Second Edition, Vol.1 ISBN 978-0-3-2151662-6 (Includes access and Workbook)


MATH 140 is a prerequisite for this class and MATH 141 is a corequisite. Knowledge of basic Algebra and geometry, differential calculus is assumed. We understand that due to the varied background that students come from, not everyone is equally equipped with the skills required.  Hence, we will try to hone your skills by addressing these topics when the need arises.

Course requirements

Course requirements serve three functions.  First, and most importantly, they help you to learn the material.  Second, they help us to better teach the material in lectures, discussions, and labs by providing feedback on what is well and not so well understood.  Finally, they aid us in evaluation. 



Your grades will be based upon the following components:

Mid term exams See the exam page. Best 2 out of 3; 19 % each 38%
Final Exam Will be announced 26%
Quizzes Unannounced (best 4 out of 5) 10%
Homework Written 13%
Homework Mastering Physics 7%
Participation based partly effort, engaging in discussions in tutorial, % completion of homeworks, asking questions in the lecture, attendance in lecture discussion etc. Your TA's feed back will be taken into account. 6%

Individual exams and quizzes are not curved. The total weighted points out of 100 is calculated at the end and a distribution is plotted and the cutoffs are reduced based on how the batch has performed overall. In the past the B+/A- cutoff has come down to as low as 87 %. C+/B- cutoff has come down to 77 % and so on.

How do I calculate my grade?

At any point during the semester use the following formula to calculate your grade.

Your points out 78 = % on exams * 0.38 + % on quizzes *0.1 +% on MP-homework *0.07 + % on written homework * 0.13. Calculate your percentage and compare it with your standard cutoffs of 90,80,70.

Your grade will definitely be better because you will be dropping exams, quizzes, etc

Effort & Attitude

This is a 3 credit class and you are expected to put in lot of effort. It is possible that there will be times when you will get frustrated. But that is the nature of learning Physics. It takes a while before you begin to see the returns. We (the TAs and me) want you to do well, and learn Physics at the same time. Feel free to seek help

Assigned Problems: The surest and best way to learn physics is to work through as many problems as possible.  However, it is not feasible to grade each and every problem.  Hence, we will select and grade in detail two problems from every homework; each of the two problems are worth 6 points each. he problems graded in detail are marked in bold red, on the homework page. Two of the black colored problems are graded out of 3 points each. But these are graded very coarsely with possible points of 0.75, 1.5 2.25, 3. A correct solution gets 3 points, a valiant attempt "almost there" gets 2.25 points, while a good attempt (right method with the correct equations, correct picture) could get 1.5 point, some attempt gets 0.75 points.

Homework assignments are due at the beginning of the lecture/discussion unless they are webbased.  1 lowest homework will be dropped each from the written and the mastering physics categories, and only one late written homework will be accepted. No late mastering physics homework will be accepted.

Guidelines for homework assignments: 

  • All homework assignments should be neatly written with answers to questions presented in numerical order.  Be sure that your name is clearly written at the top of all pages and that you have stapled all pages together. You are responsible for misplaced or lost pages. The TA will NOT grade any homework that does not meet this criterion and you will get a 0 on that homework.
  • Be sure to answer all parts of each question.
  • You are encouraged to work with your peers. But plagiarizing is strictly prohibited. Your TA can call the students with identical homeworks to his/her office and ask them to explain the homework.

Please follow the detailed instructions given in class on how to solve homework problems. Some them are also listed below.

  • Make sure that you attempt problems starting at the top of the sheet proceeding downward. If you have the habit of solving problems with sequential steps proceeding horizontally, then you cannot have 2 problems next to each other (horizontally). If you are in the habit of having sequential steps below each other, then you can have more than one problem next to each other ONLY IF there is a clear partition between the two. These instructions are probably not very clear. If you do not understand these instructions, please clarify with the instructor.
  • Have enough empty space between one problem and the next.
  • Your problems must contain words and explanations for your steps. THIS IS A MUST.
  • Any answer must be explained with physical principles or concepts. A SIMPLE YES OR NO WILL NEVER DO.
  • If you can draw a diagram or a picture of the situation, then you must draw it.
  • All answers must have units.
  • Each student is allowed to turn in homework late ONLY once during the semester. But these will be graded for 15 % less credit for every day that they are late. No credit will be given if they are turned in after the solutions are posted on the web. The second late homework will get you no credits and will not be graded. But we will make note of the fact that you attempted it. But it still has to be before the solutions are posted which are usually within a few days of being assigned.


Suggested Problems:Often, I may suggest work problems that may help students to better understand some concepts.  These problems are not due in class or will not be graded, although it would be extremely beneficial to work through them. These solutions to these problems will be put up on the website.


Some quizzes, consisting of 3 multiple choice questions and 1 problem, will be conducted through the course of the semester; the quiz problem could be similar to one of the homework problems.  These quizzes could be in the discussions or lecture. The multiple choice questions will be based on the questions given at the end of each chapter and/or concepts discussed in the class. Please refer to the website for the dates.

There will be 2 mid term exams and an optional 3rd mid term-makeup (outside of class hours) final. If you take all three mid terms, then the best 2 exams (19 % each) out of the 3 mid terms will count towards your final grade. No note cards are allowed according to what was discussed in the first lecture.


Attending discussions is a must. Please read the sections on "Effort and Attitude" and attendance. You cannot miss more than two discussions. You will lose a little less than quarter a letter grade for EVERY two discussions after that.

Getting help: Course Center, Slawsky Clinic,
If there is ever anything that you do not understand, get help immediately!  Do not fall behind because you were afraid to ask questions.  We view seeking help as a sign of your commitment to the course, and this will be considered when grading time comes around.  You have many options available: you may ask me during or immediately following class, meet me in my office hours. We also encourage you to draw on the strengths of others in this class to learn the material by forming study groups—however, plagiarizing will not be tolerated. The best place to seek help is theCourse Center in room Toll 0208. The course center hours will be put up soon and is monitored by TAs who may or may not be from your course. You are strongly encouraged to come there, to work with other students, and to ask the course center TA questions that will help you understand the problem and eventually solve the problem. The more you think about a problem, the better you are equipped to face the next one. Don't expect the TAs to show you how to do the problems, however. Problems are best solved when you learn by thinking about them, not by memorizing them or watching someone else show you how to do them. The TAs are encouraged to ask you questions first, and then to give you suggestions and hints on how you might proceed. You might have to talk to the TAs many times during the same problem. It is natural to get stuck while solving a problem. But developing the art of thinking about it and finding your way out is where the learining lies!

The Department of Physics also offers help at the “Slawsky Clinic” which is in room 1214 (check their door for their hours). This is a voluntary service and is run by individuals familiar with Physics, who are not associated with the course directly.

Office Hours

Here are the final office hours for the semester.

  • Giri:
  • Andy Latief (Physics 0104)
    • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 2.00 pm - 3.00 pm

This course does not have any laboratory part.

Rescheduling of lectures, discussions, or lab hours
Some of the lab, discussion and lecture hours may have to be rescheduled.  We will have some exams or quizzes during lecture period and during days when there are no labs (specific announcements later).  Please refer to the website for any changes.

A 4 credit complete Physics course is extremely fast paced and demanding!  You will be learning new concepts every lecture and missing even one lecture can make you fall behind simply because the concepts build on the ones covered in earlier sessions.  Hence, attendance (lectures, discussions, and labs) is mandatory and will be taken almost during every lecture* and discussion.  Please send a note to me or the TA if you have a valid medical reason for not attending.  Absence without permission/a valid reason or walking out of lectures/discussion will count towards negative points that could make your participation points zero. The fact that you are able to register for the course means that you do not have a conflict with any other course at Umd. It also means that you have adjusted your work/exercise/recreation/socializing schedules to be present during ALL lectures, discussions . If you decide not to show up, it means one of two things: a) you are confident that you understand the material and you don't need to waste your time in a lecture/discussion. b) You feel that you are so lost that lecture/discussion will not help you. If it is the latter, then please contact me the day you begin to feel this and I will try to do my best to address your specific problem and try to suggest a solution. Remember, the TAs and I are not your enemies. Nothing would give us more happiness than you doing well. So feel free to talk to us about your concerns. If you belong to category a, then remember, it is your responsibility to create an atmosphere in the lecture and discussion that is promotes a healthy spirit and is conducive to learning. Thinly attended lectures do not help in building the confidence of those who are a little behind and are lost. We should move forward as a group. It is commendable that you are balancing 13-18 credits/ or a full time job with taking Physics. But do not forget your responsibility towards the course.

*Your name might be called out during the lecture at random and if you are absent during that lecture, then it is noted as an absence.


Academic Honesty
Giving/receiving help on exams or plagiarizing homework and other assignments is not acceptable behavior in this class.  Please refer to the student academic honor page for details.  As mentioned earlier, you are allowed to discuss with your peers while attempting homework problems, but the work that you turn in must be your own.  Any cases of suspected cheating will be immediately referred to the Honor Council; this is to protect your right to due process and a fair hearing.