Physics 276 - Experimental Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism

Professor Wendell T. Hill, III

Sections 0101 and 0201 Spring 2007

This course, the third in the introductory laboratory sequence, which includes PHYS174, PHYS275 and PHYS276, is intended primarily for physics majors, but is open to all science and engineering students interested in a rigorous introduction to experimental physics. Experiments emphasize electromagnetic fields and circuits. The three main goals of this course are (1) developing record keeping and science writing skills, (2) gaining hands-on experience with basic electronics and (3) enhancing data and error analysis abilities. To view latest schedule click here .

Instructor: Wendell T. Hill, III        


Office: 2120 IPST

Office Hours: M 11-noon & Tu 10-11


Phone: 301-405-4813

(Other times by appointment)




TA: Hao Li


Office: 4223 Physics

Office Hours: To Be Determined


Phone: 301-405- 6192

(other times by appointmentl)


Laboratory Staff:

Allen Monroe

Office: 3311 Physics


Phone: x56002

On site: 8:00-16:00 M-F



  Tom Baldwin

Office: 3202 Physics

  Phone: x56004

On site: 9:30-18:00 M-F


Prerequisite: Physics 272 and 275


Sec. 0101, Monday 14:00-18:00, Physics Bldg. Rm. 3120
Sec. 0201, Tuesday 13:00-16:50, Physics Bldg. Rm. 3120

Text and Materials:

Physics 276 Laboratory Manual

        AND at least one of the following:

Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences - Phillip R. Bevington and D. Keith Robinson (McGraw Hill, Inc., 2003, ISBN 0-07-247227-8);

An Introduction to Error Analysis: The Study of Uncertainties in Physical Measurement – John R. Taylor (University Science Books, 1997, ISBN 0-935702-75-X).


There are seven experiments to be done, with the Lab VI split into two weeks. All experiments must be done to pass the course. While much of your in-class work will be done witn Excel spreadsheets or Mathematica notebooks, you also will need a lab notebook to keep a record of your work. These notebooks will be checked periodically by your instructor or TA. Acceptable lab notebooks should be 8.5" x 11", bound (with spiral or book binding), and have numbered and quad-ruled pages.  Pages should be permanent, not perforated for tear-out. At the end of each lab period, you must submit your electronic data sheets via the web along with any preliminary analysis. Identify your lab partner on your submissions. We will use Blackboard (ELMS) to collect lab reports and post grades. The URL is

Analysis Software:

You may use the Excel macros that can be found on the lab PCs or the Mathematica functions, some of which will be provided for you.  These materials will also be made available on the Blackboard (ELMS) site.  Naturally, you may develop your own analysis software, but you may not simply substitute your numbers into someone else's spreadsheet or notebook! 

Late Arrival:

Classes begin promptly on the hour and it is important to arrive on time to receive lab instructions and to have time to finish. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late on a particular day one of the following actions will be taken: (1) you will not be allowed to perform the lab that day and will have to make it up in another section or during the make-up week or (2) you will be allowed to perform the lab (if there is sufficient time) but possibly at reduced credit. It should be understood that habitual tardiness will result in lowering your overall grade.

Making up Missed Labs:

If you miss a lab and cannot make it up in one of the other sections during the week (which is unlikely), it will be necessary to sign up for a make-up during one of the scheduled make-up periods.  Failure to perform all of the labs will result in failure of the course.


You are required to submit a written report of your results for each experiment. The reports will be submitted electronically and will generally be due an hour before lab begins the following week. An outline of the requirements for the report is given in the lab manual. We will use Blackboard (ELMS) to collect lab reports and post grades. The URL is You must identify your lab partner on your report.

Late Reports:

Late reports will be assessed a penalty of 10% (2 pts) per day.  Reports submitted by 5 PM EDT May 10 , 2007 will be worth at most 50%. Each missing lab report will cost one letter grade for the course.

Missed Lab:

You must do all parts of all labs to pass this course. Missing a lab, or part of a lab, and not making it up will result in failure of the course!


There will be a few homework assignments given. The purpose of thse assignments is to review and strengthen your understanding of the fundamental issues such as error analysis you will be performing in the labs this semester. There may be a second assignment later in the semester.


A few class meetings will be devoted to discussions of the physics and/or data analysis for upcoming experiments.   Participation in these sessions is just as important as the experiments themselves.  Attendence is mandatory; your grade will be adversely affected if missed.


The latest schedule can be viewed here .

Campus Closure

If the campus is officially closed at the time of the start of lab on a particular day due to snow or any other reason, all lab activities for that day only will be cancelled and lab activities will be performed the following week. If a discussion is planned for that day it will be canceled and the schedule will not be altered any further. When a lab is cancelled, please watch for a revised schedule that may or may not affect both sections. All assignments due on the day campus is closed will still be due at the designated time (including when campus is officially closed) unless the campus network is affected so that no one has access.


Report Grade:

Completeness and Presentation: Were all required measurements and analyses performed? Is the writing clear, complete, and concise? Do all figures have axes labeled, legends, and suitable formats?
0-7 pts
Proper use of significant figures, units, scientific notation.
0-3 pts
Analysis: Are both random and systematic uncertainties evaluated? Are the data evaluated for consistency and compared with model predictions where approporate?
0-10 pts
20 pts

Course Grade:

Lab Reports 65%
Homework 5%
Final Lab 15%
Class Performance* 15%
TOTAL                                         100 %

*Includes your lab noteobook and experimental approach.

Tips for Doing Well:

Read the lab manual carefully before lab and attempting the experiments.

Keep a complete log for the experiment including experimental diagrams of measurement configurations actually used to obtain data, results, estimates of various errors and limitations to the measurements, analysis used to obtain final results and a proper estimate of all errors including systematic errors as well as statistical errors.

Last modification Wednesday, January 24, 2007