Physics 150/250

Spring 2011



Note: The material covered in Physics 150 and 250 is so similar that the courses are often combined.  Physics 150 and 250 both have a required lab session each week. However, Physics 150 is 3 credits while Physics 250 is 4 credits. You will need to decide which course best fits your plans and see the registrar, if necessary, to adjust your schedule.



Instructor:  Mr. Kip Trout, B.S., M.S.


Office:   2 RAB (Romano Administration Building) - lower level near the Lecture Hall


Office Hours:

Mon., Wed., & Fri:  10:00 - 10:45 am

  Wed.   2:30 - 3:30 pm 
  Or by appointment.


(717) 676-1274    (leave a voice mail message if I don't answer)



"You are strongly encouraged to use your Penn State e-mail account to communicate with the instructor of this course. The instructor is not obliged to respond to messages sent by a student from a commercial account, e.g., AOL; yahoo; gmail; msn, etc."



Essentials of College Physics by Serway and Vuille

Lecture Notes and HW Solutions  (available through ANGEL)


Attendance: Attendance is required. An attendance sheet will be passed around at the beginning of lectures. It is up to you to see that you have signed the attendance sheet to indicate your presence. If you arrive to class late and miss the attendance sheet as it is being passed around, then you must come down to the front at the end of class to sign. Your grade may be negatively affected by poor attendance.


POP In-Class Exercises:  On occasion, as part of the lecture, the instructor may assign a short exercise to be performed in class.  These exercises will NOT be announced ahead of time.  They will be spur of the moment and then collected and graded.  By the end of the semester, these graded exercises will make up 5 % of your course grade.  YOU MUST BE PRESENT IN CLASS TO RECEIVE CREDIT ON IN-CLASS EXERCISES.  There will be no opportunity for making up in-class exercises, except in the case of extended illnesses and only if the instructor is provided a doctor's excuse.  Attendance is necessary for credit.


Homework Assignments:  Reading assignments and homework assignments are listed at the back of this syllabus. The assignments are numbered, but this numbering is not by class, but rather is meant only to provide an order of progression.  The course syllabi are available on the instructor's home page.  The lecture notes and solutions to assigned homework problems will be available on ANGEL.  The homework solutions will be of little help to you if you look at them before you attempt the problems on your own. However, as you get stumped on homework, please check the solutions first before taking time in class to ask about a homework problem. Sometimes seeing a homework solution is all that is necessary.  Of course it is to your advantage to keep up-to-date on the reading and problems. Homework will NOT be collected.  


Note:  The math required in this course will be algebra and some basic trigonometry.  The required trigonometry will be taught to you as we go since some of you have not yet had a math class in trigonometry.  However, if you know you have trouble with math, you should brush up on what you can NOW!


Quizzes: There will be short (10 questions or less is typical), take-home quizzes online on the world wide web using Penn State's ANGEL Quiz System.  You will need a Penn State Access Account and password to use the electronic quiz system (the same account and password you use to check your PSU email).   There will be five equally weighted quizzes during the semester accounting for a total possible quiz score worth 15% of your final grade in the course.  It is recommended that you don't submit your quizzes sooner than the day they are due because occasionally a question will be discussed in class and the information may alter the answer you would give.  Simply submit your quiz answers on the evening it is due.  On the rare occasion where your computer connection gives you trouble or you must unexpectedly work late and miss the midnight deadline, please simply get up the next morning and try it again.  There is a grace period where the quiz remains online for the next morning.  As a last resort, if you cannot get connected to ANGEL, please email me your quiz answers.  If that is not possible, please call me right away to arrange an alternate method of submitting your quiz.


Tests:  There will be two 1-hour midterm tests and a 2-hour comprehensive final exam. The final exam will be given during finals week and will cover all course material.  The emphasis will be on material covered after the second exam, however.  The schedule that sets the date and time for the final examination will be published by the campus later in the semester.  The exams may cover material learned in lecture, reading assignments, homework problems, and labs.  The test format will generally be multiple choice, however, you should know the material and be prepared forany type of question.  One 3" x 5" note card (front & back) may be used at each exam. Three 3" x 5" note cards (front and back) may be used for the final exam.  You must also bring a pencil, eraser, calculator, and one form of picture identification to the exams.  The tests will each be worth 20% of your course grade, and the final exam will be worth 25%.


Laboratory:  There is a 2-hour laboratory session each week for this course which you are required to attend.  Your final lab grade will be worth 15% of your course grade.  The laboratory part of the course will be discussed further during your first lab session.


Make-Ups:  If you become ill and are unable to make it to class, you may fax any graded materials to me at 717-771-4062, or send the work to me as an email attachment in MS Office format, or find someone to drop the work in the drop box in the main lobby of the RAB.  If you fax materials to me, please make sure the fax has both my name and your name clearly indicated.  You may also snail mail assignments to me in an emergency to 1031 Edgecomb Ave. York, PA  17403.


Be sure to read Mr. Trout's statement on Academic Integrity.  For your convenience a hard-copy is attached, but the information is also available on Mr. Trout's webpage (  Details of Mr. Trout's policy for making up tests is provided in the statement on Academic Integrity.

GradingFinal grades in the course will be assigned by comparison with the highest score in the class. The highest score at the end of the semester is usually considered an A of some sort (e.g. 100%).  So scale your scores off of the high scores in the class as the semester progresses.  The instructor reserves the right to revise this grading system.  You must ultimately be competent in the course material in order to pass.  You must save all of your tests, quizzes, labs, and any other graded materials so that you can resubmit them to your instructor upon request.

100% - 92% A
91% - 90% A-
89% - 88% B+
87% - 82% B
81% - 80% B-
79% - 78% C+
77% - 70% C
69% - 60% D
59% - 0% F

Quizzes ......15 %
In-Class Exercises.........................................5%
Test 1 ........................................20 %
Test 2 ........................................20 %
Lab... ........................................15 %
Final ......................................25 %

Disability Statement:  Penn State is committed to providing access to a quality education for all students, including those with documented disabilities. If a student has a disability and wishes an accommodation for a course, it is the student's responsibility to obtain a University letter confirming the disability and suggesting appropriate accommodation. This letter can be requested from the York campus Disability Contact Liaison, Dr. Cora Dzubak located in the Nittany Success Center (i.e. the Learning Center) in the RAB. Students are encouraged to request accommodation early in the semester so that, once identified, reasonable accommodation can be implemented in a timely manner.

Statement on Flu OutbreaksIn compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control recommendations, students should NOT attend class or any public gatherings while ill with influenza. Students with flu symptoms will be asked to leave campus if possible and to return home during recovery. The illness and self-isolation period will usually be about a week. It is very important that individuals avoid spreading the flu to others.

The most effective strategies for disease mitigation are personal prevention through hand-washing and cough/cold etiquette and other non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs).  The most important NPI currently recommended is the exclusion of ill individuals from public, school and group activities.  As you can imagine, this will be extremely challenging in an institution like Penn State.

Most students should be able to complete a successful semester despite a flu-induced absence.  In the event of a University-wide emergency, course requirements, classes, deadlines and grading schemes are subject to changes that may include alternative delivery methods, alternative methods of interaction with the instructor, class materials, and/or classmates, a revised attendance policy, and a revised semester calendar and/or grading scheme.
Students with the flu do not need to provide a physician's certification of illness.  However, ill students should inform their teachers (but not through personal contact in which there is a risk of exposing others to the virus) as soon as possible that they are absent because of the flu.  Likewise students should contact their instructors as quickly as possible to arrange to make up missed assignments or exams.
If you have questions about academic policy-related issues, please call the Associate Dean/Chief Academic Officer of your college. For health-related questions you can email Dr. Margaret Spear, director, University Health Services, at

Syllabus subject to change:  I anticipate that we will follow the schedule I've outlined here, but I may make adjustments based on what actually happens in class. Be sure to check with a classmate after an absence to see if assignments have changed. I may also change basis for the course grade; if I do so, I will communicate this to you in writing. Remaining in the course after reading this syllabus will signal that you accept the possibility of changes and responsibility for being aware of them.

Some Dates of Interest:

  • Monday, January 17:  MLK Holiday - No Classes!
  • Wednesday, January 19:  Regular Add/Drop period ends; $6 drop fee begins
  • Mon - Fri, March 7 - 11:  Spring Break - No Classes!
  • Friday, April 8:  Late Drop Deadline
  • Friday, April 22: - Good Friday - A religious holiday for your instructor - THIS particular class will not meet.
  • Friday, April 29:  Last Day of Classes
  • Mon - Thu, May 2 - 5:  Final Exams



Suggestions From Your Instructor


To do well in a physics class you must be very good at all of the following:

1.) Math

2.) Logic (i.e. problem solving)

3.) Memory/Concentration

4.) Reading Skills

5.) Physics

A weakness in any of these areas will cause you to struggle in a physics class. For this reason most people consider physics their hardest subject. However, you will probably find that the actual "physics" is rather simple. If you find yourself struggling in the course, try to narrow in on what is giving you the trouble.


You will find that your physics class is much easier when you become strong in the first four categories listed above. The most important thing you should do is practice, practice, practice !




Purpose of Course Parts


Lecture Notes:  These are your main guide for what is important to study in the course.  Many test questions will check your understanding of this material.


Reading From Textbook:  This is meant to "fill the gaps" in the lecture notes and to provide you further insight into the material.  Example problems are shown in the text.


Homework Problems:  These are to help you practice the information you are learning.  Many of your test questions will be similar to (but not usually the same!!) as the homework.



Outline for Physics 150 for Spring 2011

Assignments for Physics 150 for Spring 2011

Laboratory Syllabus for Physics 150 for Spring 2011