Physics 174 is an introductory physics lab course that meets for 1 hour and 50 minutes each week in Room 3115 of the Physics Building. In this course you will be expected to master a few basic ideas and tools which you will need for later labs, including: understanding experimental errors, using computer spreadsheets for analyzing, plotting and fitting data, and working with simple electrical circuits and electrical measuring equipment. This course is intended for, but not limited to, students who are majoring in Physics or are considering doing so.
Corequisite: Math 140 (Calculus I). You will have to know how to take derivatives of functions starting about one month into the course. It will also be helpful to have taken a high school (or college) physics course.
Books: The required texts are:
Be sure to bring your Lab Manual with you to every class, including the first class.
This course is intended to give you handson experience with measurement techniques and basic data analysis. You'll spend time in the lab (room 3115) each week doing an exercise that focuses on a particular concept, following pretty specific instructions in the Lab Manual. You'll answer a series of questions as you work through each exercise. Your professor and TA will be available to help when you need it and to check your work; you'll have a "checksheet" that we will initial as we check each task that you've completed. At the end of the lab period, you will turn in your work, normally in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that you will submit electronically using ELMS (we'll tell you how to do that during the first meeting).
Reading assignments are designed to help prepare you for the lab exercises, so that you can make the best use of your time in the lab. An hour and 50 minutes may seem like a lot of time, but it isn't. Preparing in advance by doing the reading assignment will help you finish on time.
Homework is assigned at the end of most of the labs. Depending on how quickly you've completed the inclass exercise, you may have some time left to do the homework before you leave. You must turn in your homework (usually using ELMS) by 10:00 pm on the second day after your lab session. That is, if you have lab on Wednesday, then the homework is due by 10:00 pm Friday; if you have lab on Thursday, the deadline is 10:00 pm Saturday. We will grade your spreadsheets and homework before your next lab period.
The course includes two inclass practical exams which will involve making measurements and analyzing the data you collect, much like the regular exercises. (In fact, the Lab Manual lists them with exercise numbers.) The instructions and questions for these exams will be handed out at the beginning of the lab period on the scheduled exam dates.
Course web site: Course information, the weekbyweek schedule of lab exercises, and other documents are posted in the ELMS (Blackboard) system. You will use the course web site to turn in your Excel spreadsheets from the inclass exercises and homework, and will also be able to use it to view your grade on each assignment. You should be able to log in at http://elms.umd.edu, and the course should appear in the "My Courses" panel.
Section 
Day 
Time 
Instructor 
Teaching Assistant 
0107 
Tuesday 
2:00pm3:50pm 
Prof. Gammon 

0101 
Wednesday 
9:00am10:50am 
Prof. Gammon 

0102 
Wednesday 
2:00pm3:50pm 
Prof. Gammon 

We will skip Exercise 3 in the lab manual, but do both exercises 5 and 5* (fivestar).
Note the two exams on the weeks of Oct 12 and Dec 7!
Week of 
Topic 
Aug 31 
Exercise 1: Introduction to Excel 
Sept 7 
Exercise 2: Measurement Error and Uncertainty 
Sept 14 
Exercise 4: Straight Line Fits Using χ^{2} and Excel 
Sept 21 
Exercise 5: Propagation of Errors 
Sept 28 
Exercise 5*: Using χ^{2} to Test a Theory 
Oct 5 
Exercise 6: Review of Spreadsheets and Errors 
Oct 12 
Exam on Spreadsheets and Errors 
Oct 19 
Exercise 8: Resistors and Multimeters 
Oct 26 
Exercise 9: Current and Voltage 
Nov 2 
Exercise 10: The Digital Oscilloscope and the Function Generator 
Nov 9 
Exercise 11: The Oscilloscope and AC Signals 
Nov 16 
Exercise 12: Reflection of Voltage Pulses 
Nov 23 
No PHYS174 labs, Thanksgiving Break 
Nov 30 
Exercise 13: Review of Circuits 
Dec 7 
Exam on Circuits and Error analysis 
Prof. Robert W. Gammon
Office: Room 1100, IPST Building
Phone: 3014054791
Email:
rgammon@umd.edu
Office hours: By appointment
TA's:
For Section 0107 and 0102
Doojin Kim
Room 4219 Physics
Phone: 4056073
For Section 0101
Robert Hellauer
Room: 3103B Physics
You can also stop by the lab during one of the other sections if you have questions about the equipment, inclass work, or homework.
Arriving late to
class:
Classes at Maryland begin right on the hour. It is important that you arrive
at the lab on time so that you can get instructions for the lab work and have
time to finish. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, you will probably not
be allowed to do the lab at that time and will have to make it up during
another section.
Making up missed
labs:
If you must miss your regular lab section (due to illness, a religious
observance, or some other compelling reason), then you should make that lab up
by going to another section that same week, if possible. Contact your
instructor and the instructor of the other section (if different) to let them
know that you need to do this and to check whether there is space available.
If you cannot attend another section, contact your instructor ASAP and a time
for a makeup lab will be arranged. In general, this should be done during the
same calendar week as the lab is scheduled (so that the equipment for that lab
is still set up), and
definitely no later than the following Monday.
The homework for the lab will be due by 10:00 pm on the second day after you
make up the lab.
Grading:
50% Lab
Spreadsheets
20% Homework
15% Test on
spreadsheet, errors and measurements
15% Test on
the oscilloscope and electrical circuits
General comments on assignments:
Finishing all the labs and
homework sets is very important. Missing a lab will generally cost you one
letter grade in your final grade, so be sure to come every week. Missing even
one homework set will hurt your grade too, so do the best you can. Do the
homework early, so that you have time to ask questions if something gives you
trouble! Also, if you can't completely finish a homework set, turn in what you
do have before
the deadline.
No credit will be given for late homework
unless you have a valid excuse (illness, a religious observance, or some other
compelling reason.) When you are working on the homework sets, feel free to
discuss among yourselves to try to figure out what is going on. However, do
not use these discussions as an excuse to copy someone else's solution to the
homework, or let someone else copy your solution. That is cheating and is
strictly forbidden. It is also selfdefeating since another part of your grade
will come from tests. The right way to discuss the homework is to first
work through the problem on your own. Try to arrive at a definite answer, even
if you aren't sure it is correct. With this preparation you can then discuss
intelligently with your colleagues and see if you have missed something
essential. Of course, you can always ask one of your instructors  that's what
we get paid for!
Honor Code:
The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of
Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council.
This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all
undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for
upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be
aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and
plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the
Student Honor Council, please visit
http://www.shc.umd.edu.
To further exhibit your commitment to academic integrity, remember to sign the
Honor Pledge on all examinations and assignments: "I pledge on my honor that I
have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination
(assignment)."
Students with
disabilities:
Accommodations will be provided to enable students with disabilities to
participate fully in the course. Please discuss any needs with your instructor
at the beginning of the semester so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Weather and
emergency closures:
If the University is closed due to weather or some emergency situation on a
day when homework is due, then that homework will be due by noon on the next
day when the University is open. If the University is closed on the
scheduled date of an exam,
then the exam will be given during your next regularly scheduled class period
when the University is open. If the University is closed on your regular class
day in any other (nonexam) week,
including
the "review" exercise week before each exam,
then the exam will still be given according to the original schedule. In these
or other exceptional circumstances, we will attempt to communicate with
students by email.