Principles of Physics I (PHY 111)

Contact Information

Course Description

An introductory course in classical physics, designed for students who desire a rigorous mathematical approach to college physics. Calculus is used throughout. The first semester is devoted to mechanics.

Learning Objectives

It is expected that students will

  1. describe motion using the mathematical language of position, velocity, and acceleration
  2. explain motion using the theory of Newtonian mechanics
  3. apply the theory of Newtonian mechanics to specific physical situations
  4. calculate quantities of physical interest using the theory of Newtonian mechanics
  5. calculate quantities of physical interest by applying conservation laws
  6. explain phenomena in terms of principles and theories

IDEA Objectives

  1. Learning fundamental principles and theories of physics (especially Newtonian mechanics–Newton’s answer to questions about how and why physical objects move the way they do)
  2. Learning factual knowledge and terminology of physics (for example, the description of motion using the terminology of displacement, velocity, and acceleration)
  3. Learning to apply theories of physics to solve problems


The textbook for the course is Physics for Scientists and Engineers (4th edition) by Douglas C. Giancoli, ISBN 978-013-227559-0.

Class Attendance and Participation

Please turn off cell phones during class.

A portion of your course grade is based on class participation. Your participation grade has three components: daily questions, class discussion, and clicker (conceptual) questions.

Daily questions are questions that you construct, related to the assigned reading for the day. You can ask a question based on confusion or curiosity. If there is something in the reading that doesn’t make sense, try to formulate a question about it. You will be assigned certain days when you are responsible for constructing a daily question. When it is your turn to produce a question, please send it to me electronically at least one hour before class begins.

Class discussion will be based largely on the Reading Guide. I will ask for people to give their answers to the questions that I pose in the Reading Guide.

Clicker (conceptual) questions are multiple choice questions that I will pose, and you will answer with a clicker. Answer these questions as best you can. For these in-class conceptual questions, you will not be graded on whether you get the right answer, but only on whether you participate. Of course, you must attend class in order to participate and earn participation points.


There will be three 50-minute exams during the normal class time. The exams will contain both conceptual questions to be answered in words and problems to be solved. No computers, cell phones, music players, or any electronic devices with wireless or network capability are allowed during exams. You will be allowed to use a calculator during exams. At the end of the semester, we will have a comprehensive final exam.


There will be a computer-based homework assignment for each chapter in the textbook that we study. The purpose of these assignments is to give you an opportunity to work with the concepts that we discuss in class and that you read about in the textbook. ("The only way to learn physics is to do physics.") I encourage you to start work early on the homework. This way you will have multiple opportunities to see me before the deadline.

The homework is available on a web site, using a computer-based learning environment called moodle.

Important details about moodle

You can access the moodle homework system at

You do not need to do a homework assignment in one sitting. In fact, you should not. You can do a few problems one day and a few more the next day. If you get a problem wrong, you can try it again, although your grade decreases slightly with each additional attempt, so don’t just guess.

Do not include units when submitting answers to homework problems. Each problem should tell you what units to use. If no unit is specified, use the appropriate standard SI unit (for example, kg, m, s, N). Enter only the numerical answer into the computer.

Do not count significant figures of the given numbers to decide how many significant figures to include in your answer. The computer will regard your answer as correct if you are within 1% of what it regards as the correct answer. So, keep at least 3 or 4 significant figures in your calculations regardless of the number of significant figures given in the problem.

Do not type commas in your answers, such as 39,450. Instead, type 39450.

You may use exponential notation in your answer if you wish. Instead of 39450, you may type 3.945e4 or 3.945E4.

When you have answered all of the problems on the homework assignment, you must click the box that says Submit all and finish. If you fail to click this box, your grade will not be recorded. On the other hand, do not click this box until you are finished with the entire homework assignment.


There will be a weekly 3-hour laboratory session in which we will do activities designed to clarify how the concepts presented in class apply to the physical world. The laboratory instructor is Dr. Hurst. All laboratory issues (for example, if you need to make up a laboratory because of an illness) should be taken up with the laboratory instructor rather than the lecture instructor (Dr. Walck).


Your grade will be determined by a weighted average as indicated in the table below.

Class Participation5%
Final Exam (comprehensive)15%

Your letter grade for the course is determined by the weighted average. The minimum weighted average (out of 100) required for each letter grade is indicated below.


Your grade is not an indication of how much I like you. It is not an indication of your worth as a person. It is my judgment of your accomplishment in learning physics, in particular the portion of physics that we studied.

Office Hours

Please feel free to stop by my office any time to chat. I will make a special effort to be in my office during the office hours posted on my door (also listed on my web page). We can also make an appointment to get together if that is convenient for you.

General Education

PHY 111 may be taken to satisfy a portion of the Liberal Studies component of the College’s General Education requirement. The course satisfies the Natural Science area (L3) of the Liberal Studies component. Courses in the Natural Science area present findings, concepts, and theories of science, develop an understanding of scientific methods of inquiry, engage students directly in the practice of science, and prepare students to think critically about scientific issues. Physics 111 is an L3 course because it explores a foundational theory of science, Newtonian mechanics, and because it engages students directly with the physical world in the laboratory activities of the course.

Academic Honesty

Any student who submits plagiarized work will be subject to the penalties described in the Student Handbook and outlined in LVC’s “Academic Honesty Policy” ( This code asks each student to do his/her own work in his/her own words.

A student shall neither hinder nor unfairly assist the efforts of other students to complete their work. All individual work that a student produces and submits as a course assignment must be the student’s own. Cheating and plagiarism are acts of academic dishonesty.

Cheating is an act that deceives or defrauds. It includes, but is not limited to, looking at another’s exam or quiz, using unauthorized materials during an exam or quiz, colluding on assignments without the permission or knowledge of the instructor, and furnishing false information for the purpose of receiving special consideration, such as postponement of an exam, essay, quiz or deadline of an oral presentation.

Plagiarism is the act of submitting as one’s own the work (the words, ideas, images, or compositions) of another person or persons without accurate attribution. Plagiarism can manifest itself in various ways: it can arise from sloppy note-taking; it can emerge as the incomplete or incompetent citation of resources; it can take the form of the wholesale submission of other people’s work as one’s own, whether from an online, oral or printed source.

Students who take part in violations such as cheating or plagiarism are subject to a meeting with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, who has the authority to take further action, up to and including expulsion from the College.

Disabilities Services Syllabus Statement

Individuals with disabilities are guaranteed certain protections and rights of equal access to programs and activities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. Therefore, Lebanon Valley College recognizes the responsibility of the college community to provide equal educational access for otherwise qualified students with disabilities.

Any student who needs classroom or testing accommodations is invited to present letters from the Center for Disability Resources and discuss accommodations with me after class or during office hours. The Center for Disability Resources is located in the Lebegern Learning Commons—Mund Suite 002. Students may schedule an appointment by calling 717-867-6028.

If a student believes that appropriate accommodations are being denied, the student may file a grievance. Procedures for filing grievances may be found at

Inclusive Excellence

LVC is a community of inclusive excellence. We affirm the rights of all persons to a superior educational experience that is characterized by respect for others. As such, this class and all classes at LVC, are places where our core values of inclusiveness, civility and appreciation of difference are affirmed.

Title IX

Lebanon Valley College prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion/creed, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, genetic information, marital/familial status, or veteran status in all programs and activities, as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable statutes and/or College policies.

Title IX makes it clear that violence, harassment, and any type of sexual misconduct based on sex and gender are civil rights violations. If you or someone you know has experienced violence, discrimination, or harassment, support is available through Counseling Services, Health Service, the Chaplain’s office, the Victim Advocacy Program, and Title IX deputies. Please refer to the Student Handbook for specific contact information.

Student Success Intervention Team

At Lebanon Valley College, we want you to succeed in and out of the classroom. Administrators and faculty work together to ensure not only academic success but a highly productive and positive four-year experience. Students who are not performing to their potential can be referred to the Student Success Intervention Team (Early Alert Committee), which is a group of individuals from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Enrollment Management. This group will guide you through any difficult situation, whether academic or personal. You should, consider it your assignment to follow through and accept assistance from the appropriate source(s). Don’t be afraid or hesitant to seek help from these individuals: supporting you is their job! Be proactive and take control of your success.

Class Schedule

DateTopicRead before classDue
08/31SI System1-1 to 1-4
09/02Dimensions1-5 to 1-7
09/05Instantaneous velocity2-1 to 2-3
09/07Acceleration2-4 to 2-5HW 1
09/09Falling objects2-6 to 2-7
09/12Vectors3-1 to 3-4
09/14Projectile motion3-5 to 3-7HW 2
09/16Relative velocity3-8 to 3-9
09/19Newton’s 1st and 2nd laws4-1 to 4-4
09/21Newton’s 3rd law4-5 to 4-6HW 3
09/23Exam 1 (Kinematics, Chapters 1-3)
09/26Free-body diagrams4-7
09/28Problem solving4-8
09/30Friction 15-1
10/03Friction 25-1HW 4
10/05Circular motion 15-2 to 5-3
10/07Circular motion 25-4
10/10Gravity 16-1 to 6-3
10/12Gravity 26-4, 6-5, 6-7HW 5
10/14Scalar product7-1 to 7-2
10/17Fall break (no class)
10/19Work by a varying force7-3HW 6
10/21Exam 2 (Newton’s laws, Chapters 4-6)
10/24Work-Energy principle7-4
10/26Energy conservation 18-1 to 8-3
10/28Energy conservation 28-4 to 8-5HW 7
10/31Work-ME, power8-6 to 8-8
11/02Momentum9-1 to 9-3
11/04Elastic collisions9-4 to 9-5HW 8
11/07Inelastic collisions9-6 to 9-7
11/09Center of mass9-8 to 9-9
11/11Rotational kinematics10-1 to 10-3
11/14Rotational dynamics10-4 to 10-6HW 9
11/16Exam 3 (Conservation laws, Chapters 7-9)
11/18Moment of inertia10-7
11/21Rotational kinetic energy10-8 to 10-9
11/23Angular momentum11-1
11/25Thanksgiving vacation (no class)
11/28Cross product11-2 to 11-4HW 10
11/30Angular momentum conservation11-5 to 11-6
12/02Harmonic motion14-1 to 14-4
12/05Resonance14-5, 14-7, 14-8HW 11
12/07Waves15-1 to 15-4
12/09Interference15-6 to 15-9HW 12
Lab Schedule
Homework Setup Help
The Motion of a Freely Falling Object
Practice Exam 1
Forces in One Dimension
Uniform Circular Motion
No Lab (Fall Break)
Pulleys, Work, and Energy
Ballistic Pendulum
Practice Exam 3
Rotational Equilibrium
Simple Harmonic Motion