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.


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