Department of Physics and Astronomy
Sonoma State University
Class: Thursday 1:00 - 3:40 pm, Darwin 308
Instructor: Dr. Hongtao Shi
Office: Darwin 300J
Office Hours: Wednesday 4-5 pm, Thursday 10-11 am, or by appointment
Description and Goals:
This is a lab based course, satisfying GE,
and GE laboratory requirements. By performing these measurements, you will
deepen your understanding of the material in Physics 114 and develop your
experimental technique. Experiments concerning Newtonian mechanics, momentum,
energy conservation, rocketry, rotation, simple harmonic oscillations, and
thermodynamics will be performed.
or concurrent enrollment in Physics 114.
text is adopted for this course. All lab-related material will be posted on
the web. Make sure you download those material BEFORE
Grading Policy: The laboratory grade will be based on the best twelve experiments (out of 13), worth 80%. You will also have three quizzes, worth 20%
Prelaboratory Work: Each lab is worth 100 points, including prelaboratory work (10 points) and performing all the required work in the lab (90 points). The prelab work has a few questions to help you prepare for that week's laboratory. You earn these points if it is handed in before the laboratory starts.
Notebooks and Reports:
All laboratory reports are typed on a word processor. Draw in sketches or tables
if your graphics and spreadsheet capabilities are limited. Please purchase a
lab notebook that has the carbonless copy feature to record your original data.
You will tear out the copies and hand them in along with the typed lab report
at the beginning of the next laboratory period. The report is worth a maximum
of 90 points.
assisted analysis of the data where appropriate is expected. You can use DataStudio
or Microsoft Excel or other graphical software that you are familiar with to
plot your data and perform least square fitting routines that handle uncertainty
estimates. EXCEPT FOR EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES, ABSENCES
BEYOND ONE LAB CAN NOT BE MADE UP.
Report Format. Total worth 90 points.
Always include your name, date and names of laboratory partner(s).
Drawing of experimental setup
of raw data obtained with labels
Brief description how you did the experiment, i.e., procedure
Experimental design, data analysis, and results including tables, graphs
Answer all the questions at end
A simple sketch is best. This is a useful skill when you design your own experiments.
2) Your original data should be attached to your report. Plan ahead and organize your data taking before any measurement. This is best done before the laboratory period. All data tables need to be labeled with what the quantity is and the units.
3) Briefly describe how you implemented the experiment.
4) When it comes to your own design, make sure you include all the details, such as principles or theory, experimental procedures, data tables, and graphs.
reduction, background subtraction, and error estimates are in this section.
The computer can be used to great advantage to draw the graphs, to do the least
squares fitting, and to provide you with error estimates based on the scatter
in the data. All graphs must have a title and axes labeled with units. The conclusions
drawn from each graph need to be described in complete sentences (one or two
is usually sufficient). A graph with no statement as to what it means is not
going to earn the maximum grade.
Answer any questions at the end of the write up.
A concise summary comparing theory and experiment demonstrates you know what
you are doing and makes for a professional report. The summary should be brief
and based on your experimental results.
Have you covered a sufficient range of input parameters to really test the theory?
The test of a theory is more convincing if you use extreme values of the parameters
as well as values in the middle.
The instructor is also looking at your original data to see if you made initial
trials before taking the final data set. Does the technique and final set up
reflect knowledge gained on initial trials? Real science seldom goes right on
the first try.
Are some points repeated to check repeatability? Have you looked over the data
while you are taking it and retaken suspicious points? If you analyze your data
before taking down the equipment, you may be able to spot troublesome points,
and repeat them.
Overall, have you tried during the laboratory to undertake a credible experiment
within the limitations of the equipment available?
discuss the results with your partners, and perhaps the instructor, if the results
Important University policies, such as add/drop classes, cheating and plagiarism, grade appeal procedures, can be found at
Email me if you have questions or comments.
Last updated 08/20/2009