PHYsics 3050

"Excursions OnLine" 

Spring 2005

"Research is what I do when I don't know what I am doing."

-- Werner von Braun


ExcursionsOnline refers to the web-based course in "Excursions in Physics"

that is offered over the internet. That is the only version of this course

that is offered this spring.

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Welcome to Excursions - Online, the web-based version of PHYsics 3050, Excursions in Physics. Excursions OnLine refers to the section of PHY 3050 which is delivered entirely over the interent. There is (sometimes) also another section of PHY 3050 which meets on campus, with a live audience, a live lecturer, and live demonstrations. I refer to this as Excursions - Live!

This course assumes -- or requires! -- that you are comfortable navigating the internet and communicating via the internet and eMail.

There are online quizzes due throughout the course. You are welcome to take them ahead of time. But credit will not be given if the deadline is missed. If you disagree with what WebCT reports to me, I will always make the changes you tell me to make so do not worry if an online quiz score is not recorded or is recorded and then “lost”. I hope and expect these problems with WebCT to be minimal but they have been a severe problem some past semesters.

The schedule or calendar shows when I would cover topics with a section of Excurisions - Live! . The deadline or due date for the online quizzes is the date that the homework assignment is shown. Do the real homework assignment on your own before clicking on the homework assignment link on the schedule. When you click on that link, the internet browser will take you to the homework solution. Following the solution will be a number of multiple-choice questions. Read through them and answer them on your own. Following those multiple-choice questions are the same questions with their answers. These are the same questions that appear on the online quizzes. So everyone should get 100% on the online quizzes.

So, what is the purpose of the online quizzes? They're a nag or a reminder to keep you from getting too far behind. It is always easy to let things go and then try to do half the course work the night before the mid-term. That simply will not work! The quizzes should help you keep up. Please feel free to take them early -- to work ahead. But missed quizzes are missed points! Please don't fall behind. That is usually fatal!

For Excursions Online, there will be two exams -- a mid-term on April 11, and a final on April 29. These will be taken online using WebCT, just like the online quizzes. I will ask you to write down your answers -- as backup just in case WebCT does something “strange”. The deadlines for these exams are noon on April 11 and April 29. You will have one attempt of 120 minutes to take each exam. You can print out an equations sheet to use while you are taking these exams. Otherwise, you are to take them "on your own" -- no add'l book, no add'l notes, no add'l advice, no add'l help of any kind.

When you finish the exams, please send me an eMail note ( ) telling me that you did, indeed, take the exam withOUT help of notes, books, or assistants.

The Mechanical Universe video tapes are probably available at a community college or high school near you. They are useful and interesting (and FUN!). Call the Media Center and the Physics Department of a community college or high school near you and see if they are available. The Excursions calendar page lists the videos that I would show on campus to my Live! audience. Go have a film festival on your own and enjoy these great Physics videos! They show some of the demonstrations that I would have in my Live! section. They're really worth the hassle of tracking them down.

Communication is important. Keeping current with the course material is vital. With only two exams, it will be very easy to get so far behind that you can not possibly catch up. Don’t do that to yourself. Send me eMail. Throughout the course, let me know how you’re doing and what you’re understanding and what you're having problems with. I will answer my eMail.

Be sure to send me an eMail note early with your eMail address.

You will use two textbooks -- Paul Hewitt’s, Conceptual Physics, a regular, hardcover book which you should receive through the mail, before this course "officially" begins in mid-March, and Adventures in Physics, available over the internet. Be sure to read the texts. These texts are the most complete resource you have.

I still get “nervous” since I have no eye-to-eye or face-to-face contact with you. Please use the bulletin board often -- and send me eMail notes. I hope you have fun and enjoy this course.

What does a good lecturer do? What is the purpose of a traditional lecture? Surely there was great anxiety and uncertainty immediately after Guttenburg invented the printing press and textbooks became commonplace in libraries and Universities. If "all you need to know" is in the textbook -- and that is certainly the case with Conceptual Physics and Adventures in Physics -- then what is the purpose of the lecture and lecturer anyway?

Putting Excursions online, without a traditional lecture, has caused me to ask questions like this. Your and my common experiences will help to answer them. What do I do in a lecture, anyway? Certainly I answer explicit questions. More than that, or even before that, I try to look at students and notice from facial expressions if ideas are clear or murky. I can alter my presentations based upon reactions -- or questions -- from students.

One of the things I do in lectures is to show demonstrations that illustrate the ideas or concepts that we are discussing. I can not (yet) do that over the web! Present transmission rates are low enough that I have decided not to include many movies (yet!). But I have tried to include many images -- photographs and drawings -- to illustrate the ideas we discuss. The Mechanical Universe video tapes will also help supply some of the demonstrations that I can not give you directly over the web. Please do not ignore these video tapes. They are probably available at a community college near you.

I need your feedback, your opinions, your advice. What components of the course help you to understand the material? What components are missing that would help your understanding? Let me know.

Online Quizzes and Exams

Try WebCT immediately! If you have any problems with it, drop me an eMail msg with WebCT problem as the subject and I will see if I can fix it. If you run into problems, let me know immediately!

Welcome . . .

Details . . .

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