Physics 276 - Experimental Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
Department of Physics University of Maryland


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. The experiments emphasize electromagnetic fields and circuits.

The main goals of this course is developing skills in record keeping, data analysis, scientific writing, and familiarizing yourself with electronic equipment. Also, hopefully it will strengthen your understanding of the physics involved.

APPROACH: independent research ----> performing the experiment and reporting results.

Instructor: Dusan Turcan         


Office: 4221 PHYS

Office Hours: Th 10-11


Phone: 301-405-7279

(Other times by appointment)


Email: dule@umd.edu


Laboratory Staff:

Allen Monroe

Office: 3311 Physics


Phone: x56002

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


Email: amonroe@physics.umd.edu

  Tom Baldwin

Office: 3202 Physics

  Phone: x56004

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

  Email: tbald@physics.umd.edu  

Prerequisite: Physics 272 and 275


Sec. 0301, Thursday 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. Much of your in-class work will be carried out in 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 WebCT to collect lab reports and post grades. The URL is http://www.courses.umd.edu.

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 WebCT 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 you might not be allowed into the lab and will have to make it up in another section or during the make-up week.

Making up Missed Labs:

If you miss a lab and cannot make it up in one of the other sections, 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 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 WebCT to collect lab reports and post grades. The URL is http://www.courses.umd.edu. You must identify your lab partner on your report.

Late Reports:

Late reports will be assessed a penalty of 10% (2 pts) per day.  A missing lab report will cost one letter grade for the course.

Missed Lab:

Missing a lab, and not making it up, will result in failure of the course!


There will be one homework assignment due before the start of class the day Lab I is done. The purpose of this assignment is to review and strengthen your understanding of the type of 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.


Dates Lab No. Activity Due 1 hr before class starts
Feb. 2  

Introduction, Error Analysis

Feb. 9 I Ohm's Law Homework
Feb. 16   Discussion Lab I
Feb. 23 II Magnet Field due to Currents


Mar. 2 III An Electron Beam in E & B Fields Lab II
Mar. 9   Discussion Lab III
Mar. 16 IV RC and RL Circuits wth a DC Input  
Mar. 23   Spring Break  
Mar. 30 V  RC Circuits with an AC Input Lab IV
Apr. 6 VIa LRC Circuits and Resonance: Part a  Lab V
Apr. 13 VIb LRC Circuits and Resonance: Part b Lab VIa
Apr. 20 VII Diodes and Rectifier Circuits  Lab VIb
Apr. 27   Make-up Lab VII
May 4
Discussion & Make-up Make-up
May 11   Final Lab Final Lab & Make-up


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 uncertainties and limitations to the measurements, analysis used to obtain final results and a proper estimate of all uncertainties including: systematic as well as statistical.

Last modification Sunday, January 29, 2006