ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 2 Update

Week 1 for PHY 121 ended well. I managed to pull off 100% on the two homework assignments, quiz 1 and test 1. It probably helped that those assignments were identical to what I had seen last spring before withdrawing from the class. The first week’s assignments are fairly straight forward.

Week 2 on the other hand is brutal and makes you question why in the world you are putting yourself through this class online. At least I am right now after two very long days of homework problems. Topics covered in lecture include:

  • From acceleration to position
  • Generic equations of motion
  • Free fall
  • Vector arithmetic
  • 2D Kinematics
  • Rotational motion

The lectures are fine for the most part, although the rotational motion lecture is a bit tough to follow if you haven’t seen polar coordinates before. Part of my complaint with the homework problems is some pretty challenging problems are given and you are only given six attempts to get the right answer. Sometimes the hints are helpful, other times there aren’t any hints. Perhaps its the order that homework 2-1’s problems were delivered in that made things so rough? Maybe in the future starting with some warm up problems before you hit students with the most challenging ones would be nice? Enough complaining… it is Physics for Engineers!

I did get through all of the problems from set 2-1, but two problems gave me a lot of trouble. The dreaded flower pot problem and then one with the Enterprise coming up fast on an Klingon star ship. Must have been Picard at the helm of the Enterprise problem because we needed to figure out what acceleration was needed to avoid a collision. Kirk probably would have just used torpedoes. If I can remember, I’ll try and post how I solved those two problems after Tuesday.

On Homework 2-2, I’m halfway done after spending the majority of the afternoon working on them. Hoping to wrap up that set tomorrow afternoon. My brain is pretty mushy right now unfortunately and after a quick glance, looking at the remaining problems after a good nights sleep will be best.

On the PHY 122 side of things an Error Propagation Exercise was due Wednesday and I was able to get that turned in well in advance. That one requires a little bit of work with partial derivatives from MAT 267. If you haven’t taken that course yet, the TA and professor have videos that walk you through what’s needed and have been very quick to respond to questions.

Lab 1 – Constant Velocity Motion in One Dimension is due Monday 8/29, but after reaching out to the professor and TA I was able to reuse a lot of my work from the lab work I had done last Spring. That was a huge time savings. I was able to get that lab submitted this morning so glad that one is done.

I am going to get started on Lab 2 Constant Acceleration Motion in One Dimension this weekend. The lab manuals take a bit to decipher, then it takes a little bit of work to setup the data in Logger Pro, perform all the calculations and find all the questions buried in the lab manual and lab template. All calculations have to typed into the lab report and using the Equation Editor in MS Word takes a bit of time. I’m definitely getting faster with that tool. I didn’t really care for Google Docs’ Equation Editor. Definitely recommend Microsoft’s. Lab 1 had a 10 page write up by the time it was all said and done.

A new addition that showed up on 8/24 is the FSE 201: Engineering Undergraduate TA class. It’s a one unit class that has a couple of assignments over the Fall semester. I wasn’t expecting to see it until Session B, but I’d rather get the couple of assignments out of the way now well in advance of their due dates. There are a few things to do for 201 over the next few weeks. I should have more to report on that next week after I’ve had time to sift through all the information that was just sent out.


ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 1 Update

Year Two has begun. This session I’m taking PHY 121 – Physics I and PHY 122 – Physics I lab. I had started them back in Spring 2016, but had to withdraw partway through. This time around, I don’t have MAT 266 and not as many obligations pulling on me so should go much better. I’ve completed MAT 265, 266 and 267 and I’m hopeful that with a stronger mathematics foundation and the vector calculus work that was done in MAT 267, I’ll be in good shape for Physics.

Most of the lectures for PHY 121 were available Monday even though the first official day of class was 8/18 . This first week we’re going through Concepts of Motion and Kinematics in 1 Dimension. Lectures videos were on the following:

  • Motion Diagrams
  • Velocity-Acceleration
  • Coordinate Systems and Graphs
  • Sketching Problems
  • Instantaneous Velocity
  • Instantaneous Acceleration

For PHY 121, each week we have two homework assignments, a quiz and a test. Homework is worth 30% of our grade, quizzes 10%, tests 30% and a final exam at 30%. Looks like the lowest two homework, quiz and test scores will be dropped. Homework and Quizzes are done on the Mastering Physics site and tests and the final will be done in Blackboard.

This session, instead of, PHY 121 has switched over to RPNow for test and final exam proctoring. I took the Math Pretest using RPNow and it’s a bit unsettling to be honest. It’s completely unattended as far as I can tell. You certify your ID is correct, your desk is clear, it’s really you, etc. No one to check. The session is recorded and I’m guessing reviewed at a later time. Hopefully I have an irrational fear about failing a proctored activity 3-4 days later due to something out of place. Definitely not my intent to cheat the system given the amount of time, money and effort that goes into this. The professor says he will reach out to us if anything seems off which is good. His concern is we’re not talking to anyone while testing and that we’re not looking up answers on the Internet. Seems reasonable to me. Even with that said, I would still rather pay $20.00 to for the extra piece of mind that a live person is there to assist if anything goes wrong and make sure the testing environment is secure. Hopefully, it gets better, but right now, not a big fan of this new proctoring service.

The professor will release the weekly homework and quiz set on Wednesdays and work will be due by Tuesday of the next week. Quizzes and Tests are also due on Tuesdays. This is different than how the mathematics courses have handled assignments. With math and Webworks, all assignments were available to work on any time so I was able to work ahead as time permitted. Downside of that is a constant feeling that I had to keep working on assignments since I always had something to work on. On the plus side, with a weekly assignment release is that all students will be working on the same material at the same time and when the homework problems are done, one can focus on topics for the upcoming test.

I was able to get Homework 1-1, 1-2 and Quiz 1 completed. A couple of questions that really tested your understanding of motion diagrams and acceleration. Also, a couple of problems requiring calculus derivatives as well.

PHY 122 – Physics 1 Lab is a 1 unit course that is graded separately. There are seven labs due each week on Monday, with the last due on Saturday. Over the next few days need to knock out a syllabus quiz and then do an Error Propagation Exercise. Our first lab is due on 8/29 and is exploring constant velocity in one dimension. A nice bonus is the lowest lab is dropped.

This physics lab uses a virtual lab system found at They are pretty neat to mess around with. The data generated from the various labs is dropped into Logger Pro where we can generate graphs and some different calculations. ASU provides LoggerPro which is nice.

The weekly labs seem to match up pretty well with what we’ll be studying in Physics 121. Videos are also provided to give instruction on how to do the labs which look pretty good. Last spring the TA would do weekly Q&A sessions to go over the labs. Hopefully that will happen this semester as well. I haven’t done much with PHY 122 yet, but now that my PHY 121 homework is complete, I’ll be turning my attention to the first exercise and lab.

ASU Summer 2016 Session B Week 7 Update

I wrapped up MAT 267 – Calculus III Tuesday. I did better on the final than the third exam. Overall, if my math is correct I was able to pull off a solid B in this course. A bit disappointed I wasn’t able to earn an A but still a respectable score to walk away with given the accelerated nature of the course and my commitments outside of school.

I definitely learned a few important things this semester. For one, make sure you know what your calculator is capable of. I found out late Sunday night that there is a function on my TI NSpire CX that will calculate a definite integral if you feed it correctly. I’ve definitely got a lot of practice calculating those by hand, but you can’t dismiss the time savings and accuracy of having a tool that will do those for you.

Outside of school, I volunteered back in late 2015 to be an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Golden Empire’s National Youth Leadership Training. I spent the last Thursday thru Sunday up at Camp Lassen and took my final Tuesday. I was able to get in a bit of study time, but didn’t get to all of the items I’d hoped to review. I hope my involvement has helped the youth who are participating though. With these ultra accelerated summer sessions, in hind site, not sure I would take on both Calc III and NYLT, but the greater good prevails and hopefully my participation in NYLT has had a positive impact on the scouts.

Next up, I’ll be taking a break from math and be diving back into Physics 121 and 122. Classes resume 8/18. Until then, time to enjoy a few beers, video games and time with my wife and kids before I start year two.


ASU Summer 2016 Session B Week 6 Update

I failed Exam III last Saturday. Not really any other way to put it. 11 questions in 2 hours with some very challenging multiple integrals and I couldn’t solve them fast enough or correctly. Appears to be switching sign errors for the most part.. Extremely frustrated right now over my performance on that exam given I’d spent close to 60 hours trying to master the materials over the past week. Excuses won’t change it, just need to learn from what I did wrong and move on. I can tell you though that working out triple integrals by hand that take 30 minutes when a computer can do it in under 30 seconds doesn’t seem like a good use of time and resources.

At this point, we have 7 assignments in Chapter 13 and the Final left. I must do well on the final to salvage this course. Definitely not pulling an A like I had visioned when I started this 6 weeks ago. Hoping that the professor will make some adjustments, but doubtful. I heard from a friend and he scored comparable to me and the discussion boards have been full of unhappy posts this afternoon.

Enough on that.

Week 6 brings us to

  • Vector Fields
  • Line Integrals
  • Fundamental Theorem of Line Integrals
  • Green’s Theorem

Week 7 is really short. Our final will be on Tuesday 8/9 and we wrap up the last three lectures on

  • Curl and Divergence
  • Parametric Surfance and their Area
  • Surface Integrals

Not too much add, back to the books.