Purpose of the Lab

The purpose of the lab is for you to experience "hands-on minds-on" physics activities. These activities will be closely coupled to the course.  It is our intention that the laboratory experience will help you to better understand the physical phenomena that we discuss in class.

Regular lab

Every week you will perform an experiment and hand in the lab report by the end of the lab period. You are encouraged (Your grade depends on it!) to collaborate actively with your lab partners on these experiments, including the calculations and the error analysis.

Each group will write a joint lab report (except for one lab during the semester where each student will hand in their own report on the Friday of that week) containing the following information:  INTRODUCTION,  PROCEDURE,  DATA, SAMPLE CALCULATIONS, RESULTS, and CONCLUSIONS

The introduction should contain one or two sentences describing the physics that is being studied in the lab. The procedure section should give a brief description of the procedure used to carry out the experiment(s) and it should be written in paragraph form. In some cases a figure of the setup will be helpful. The data section should contain all of the data taken during the lab. Sample calculations should include a sample of each type of calculation performed in the lab. Results are a presentation of  your final results of the experiment. The conclusions must discuss your results. Your report should be written in very precise language with no ambiguities.  Do the results make sense?  Do the results agree with theory?  Do your results agree with accepted values? Give possible reasons why your results may not agree with theory or accepted values.

These reports are to be typed using the spreadsheet EXCEL and/or the word processor WORD that are installed on the lab PCs. All of these must be presented in a neat and orderly fashion so that your lab instructor can easily understand what you have done. This includes the use of proper grammar.

Special project

The last two weeks of lab will be devoted to a special lab project on a subject to be announced sometime during the semester. In the first week of this project, each group will discuss and decide how they will approach the problem. They will discuss their approach with the instructor to determine its feasibility. If approved, the group will then carry out their experiment over the course of the week. During the last lab meeting, each group will demonstrate their project to the class. This lab will count as two labs. Each student will hand in their own lab report for this lab. The format will be the same as for other lab reports written this semester. This lab report is due at 5:00 pm on the last day of class before the start of final exams.

Lab final

     The group presentations of the special projects and the laboratory final will take place during the same laboratory period.  After the group presentations are finished, you will take the lab final.  The final will consist of questions about the laboratory experiments and your ability to use EXCEL.  Two or three laboratories will be selected randomly by your instructor.  For these labs, you will have to answer the following questions: a) What was the purpose of this lab?  b) What procedure was followed?, and c) What was the outcome of the experiment and did the lab fulfill the purpose of the lab?  You should know the answer to each of these questions for all laboratories that you performed during the semester.  Next, your ability to use EXCEL will be tested.  You will be expected to a) Use formulas in EXCEL to do calculations, and b) Given data, plot the data, add a trendline to the data, and print the graph displaying the data, the trendline and the trendline equation. You will be also asked some questions about your graphs and data


The group lab reports will count as 66% of your grade, while the special project report will count as 12% for a total of 78%. A maximum of 12 additional percentage points will be added for your general laboratory performance thorough out the semester according to the following scale: The lab final will be worth up to 10 percentage points, depending on how informative and readable your write-up .

Your average class grade will be the sum of these points and your course letter grade will assigned according to the following scale:

100-90: A
89-80: B
79-70: C
69-60: D
0-59: F

Labs we did this semester

1). Motion detectors with reproducing graphs
2). Measuring g with a video cam
3). Adding 4 vectors
4). Projectile motion and hit the paper
5). Newton's second law with inclined air tracks
6). Newton's second law with level air track and hanging mass with glider
7). Coefficient of kinetic friction tabletop and floor
8). Work energy theorem, with spring and glider
9). Conservation of momentum
10). Conservation fo energy with pendulum
11). Conservation of energy with hook and rubber band