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Physics

Dr. Conor Buechler

Overview and Goals:

http://xkcd.com
http://xkcd.com

You will focus on learning. You will develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. You will know what you understand and demonstrate it to me. You will be responsible for your own learning. Your final grade will reflect your understanding of the standards for this course.

Contact Info:

Conor Buechler

Available A, B, and C. Making an appointment helps.

Class Materials

Always bring to class; paper, scientific calculator, pencil/pen, notebook, and from time to time a flash drive. Have at home; the textbook, internet access, Excel or equivalent, and a creative work ethic.

Topics

Newtonian Mechanics, Waves and Oscillation, Geometrical Optics, Electricity and Magnetism in the context of Motors and Generators

The Details….

Purpose

  • I love physics. It is an amazing science upon which all other

sciences rest. I majored in physics in college then got a PhD in physics. Now I teach physics. Do I want to convince you to major in physics? Do I seek to turn you into a physicist? An engineer?

No. That isn’t remotely my goal. But I do want you to learn to

think like a physicist. I want you to embrace the scientific mindset. I want you to develop and hone the cognitive skills to tackle difficult problems and unravel them even when they are daunting at first. I want you to develop the study skills that lead to understanding instead of mere knowing. I want you to learn to present complicated concepts to a group of your peers in a clear, concise, and informative way.

  • I want you to grow. And you can. Physics is fine fertilizer.

Homework

Homework is practice. It is absolutely necessary. It will have absolutely no direct impact on your grade. I will assign it often. But I will rarely assign enough; figuring out what would make some good extra homework will be part of your

goal as a learner. You must learn to peer into your own brain and do two important things: understand what is happening there, and care about what is happening there.

Academic Integrity: We will discuss this in class; should you have any questions about academic integrity as it relates to this class or in general, please seek me out so we can talk. It can be a pretty interesting topic in the high pressure world that we often find ourselves. Good choices can be critical and emotionally challenging.

Final Words of Advice

This class may shift your notion of hard work. Memorization will not help you the way it did in earlier classes. Half an

hour of deep intellectual engagement will be more potent than three hours of memorization and flashcards, I guarantee

it. But how do you stimulate deep intellectual engagement? That’s the tricky part.

Grading (this is where it might seem a little weird)

In this course, there are no percentages, no numbers, and the only grades you’ll see are the grades that go home at the

end of the year. But those grades will never surprise you because throughout the year there will be a clear and

consistent conversation between you and me about your understanding. We’ll talk about what you do understand, what you don’t, and we’ll talk about ideas on how you can gain the understanding you need.

Learning Objectives

For every unit we will have Core level and Advanced level objectives. Learning objectives will usually be in the form

“I can do such and such” or “I know that blah blah blah.” The learning objectives are designed to give you chunks of

knowledge and skills that you can focus on clearly. You must master all of the Core level objectives to pass the course, your mastery of the Advanced objectives will determine your grade to a large extent (see below).

Assessments

You cannot fail one of my tests; you can only gain more information about where you need to focus your studying.

The key to demonstrating your understanding of physics will be the demonstration of mastery on the learning objectives during assessments. Assessments fall into two rough categories: teacher-initiated, in-class assessments and student-initiated, out-of-class assessments. On any given assessment (test, quiz, lab, presentation…) I will look at your mastery of the learning objectives and rate them as 0, 1, or 2. This score will overwrite any old score you may have had for that learning objective. This can be a great help if a particularly tricky topic takes a long time to master.

As physics is a cumulative learning experience (there are no units that are independent and don’t affect future units), there will be many opportunities for you to demonstrate mastery on earlier objectives. This can be pretty useful. You will also have opportunities to demonstrate that you have forgotten old material. If that should happen your score on that learning objective will indeed drop. You cannot expect to cram material into short term memory for a test and not have it come back to bite you.

Student-Initiated Assessments

Each week there will be an opportunity for you to apply for an extra test to show mastery on the learning objectives of your choosing. To qualify for an extra test you will need to do the following. -Make corrections to your old assessments. -Do extra practice on the relevant skills. (Talking with me about this might be a good idea.) -Write up a request for an extra test and submit it to me by Tuesday 3pm. Extra tests will be given on Wednesday before school, after school, or during A, B, or C block. Your choice. Remember that on any given test, including the one you ask to take, your standing can go up or down even on

objectives that you weren’t specifically targeting.

Standards Based Grading

Your grade will reflect how well you understand physics, and nothing else. The system we’re using this year is called

Standards Based Grading, and it is here to help.

Taking a test is an opportunity to assess how well you understand the learning objectives. Instead of a grade on a test, you will see a list of the objectives that were assessed and a report on how well you demonstrated your understanding of them. At the end of the year your grade will be based on how many objectives for which you demonstrated mastery.

Grade

Core

1/3 Advanced or more

2/3 Advanced or more

3/3 Advanced

 

All

  • 70 Not yet

 

Not yet

Not yet

 

All

  • 77 Yes

 

Not yet

Not yet

 

All

  • 83 Yes

 

Yes

Not yet

 

All

  • 90 Yes

 

Yes

Yes

       

The last 10% can be earned on the final exam in June. Let’s say that at the end of the year you mastered all of the Core

level objectives and 24 out of 30 advanced objectives. Because you mastered more than two thirds of the advanced objectives, but not all of them, that puts you at an 83%. Then you get a 77% on the final exam, a tenth of that (7.7%) would be added to your base score. That would put your final grade at 90.7%, or an A-.