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 a lab report at 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.

Lab Reports

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 the purpose of the laboratory and a few 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 and it should be written in paragraph form. In most cases a diagram of the experiment 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. This can most often be done in tabular form. The conclusions must discuss your results. Do the results make sense? Do the results agree with theory? Do the results agree with accepted values? Give possible reasons why your results may not agree with theory or accepted values. Your report should be written in very precise language with no ambiguities.

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. 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. Finally students will be given the task of being asked to measure the property of an object, or what affects a certain property of a material. The students will then say what needs to be measured, how they would measure it and then how they would anayze the data to answer the question.


The different parts of this laboratory will be weighted as follows:

60% Group lab reports
10% Special project
20% Lab final
10% Laboratory performance
The final 10% in the list above will be determined by your performance in the laboratory during the semester. These 10 points will be awarded as follows:

10 points — student's performance generally exceeded our expectations.
08 points — student's performance generally met our expectations.
04 points — student's performance fell below our expectations
00 points — student's performance often fell below our expectations
Your course letter grade will be assigned according to the total number of points that you have earned in the laboratory according to the following scale:

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

Labs we might do

  1. Lab 1: Archimedes principle denisty of an object and density of an unknown liquid

  2. Lab 2: What affects the period of a spring mass system

  3. Lab 3: What affects the period of a simle pendulum

  4. Lab 4: Speed of wave on a spring

  5. Lab 5: Speed of sound for 3 different frequencies, does the speed depend on the frequency?

  6. Lab 6: Mirrors and lens, different stations

  7. Lab 7: Lens, different experimets you did

  8. Lab 8: Laws of reflection and refraction index of refraction for lucite

  9. Lab 9: Electrostatics

  10. Lab 10: Learning to use the DMM and resistors in series and parallel

  11. Lab 11: Series and parallel ciruits, measuring current and voltage