ASU Spring 2017 Session A Week 3 Update

This week PHY 131 had the first of three tests. I did okay, but not ecstatic with my performance. There were 12 questions and 60 minutes to take the exam. Initially the plan was to take it Tuesday, but the Respondus Lockdown Browser tool developed issues with Windows 10 workstations so after waiting around all day Tuesday, the professor gave an extension and switched over to the RPNow proctor service. Same service we used for PHY 121 and MAT 275 & 343 last semester. I was really nervous going into the test and it definitely could have been worse.

Out of the three questions I missed, one I used the wrong formula on. A second, I used the wrote down the wrong distance rushing to finish before time ran out, and the third I thought there was enough information, but apparently there wasn’t to answer the question. I usually have plenty of time to spare, but not this time. Definitely a stressful ordeal even being open notes and open book. Hopefully the second test goes smoother. That’s scheduled for February 10th.

To prepare, I did a lot of practice problems, but the majority of the exam was conceptual questions. Questions like the Stop to Think ones scattered through the Mastering Physics book. Not too many homework problem type questions requiring a lot of number crunching. I went through the majority of Michel Van Biezen’s videos as well as the exercises in the Study Area on the Mastering Physics site. Read the chapters a couple of times, took notes, rewatched lecture videos… I probably wouldn’t have missed 2 of the questions if I slowed down and didn’t make careless mistakes. Oh well, live and learn. It was a fair exam and I’ve learned from what I missed. If those questions show up on the final, I’ll be better prepared.

Both the professor and the TA were very responsive and helpful troubleshooting the issues with the Respondus Lockdown Browser on Tuesday. Within 10 minutes of emailing that I was having issues, the TA actually called me on the phone to troubleshoot. The professor emailed me back and forth to gather information. Even though this is an online class and the test didn’t start off or go as planned, it is good to know that the teaching staff genuinely cares about the success of students no matter where he or she is located.

In addition to the first test, Homework 4 is due Friday covering Chapter 28 on The Electric Potential. This has 15 problems, plus most questions seemed to have a few sub questions. Had to dig up some of mechanics topics like Conservation of Momentum, Work and the Kinetic + Potential Energy equation stuff to solve some of the problems. I need to keep reviewing those topics since they keep showing up every few chapters!

PHY 132 continues to take up a ridiculous amount of time for a 1 unit class. The labs are interesting, but the write ups take FOREVER for me to put together. This week’s lab had us looking at Electric Field and Electric Potential. I worked with two different online simulators that were pretty cool. Seems the labs are a little bit ahead of the lecture so it took me a while to figure out what part of the lab was able.

This week’s lab required a lot of screen shots and of the 19 pages, 10 were full of screen shots. The rest a mix of paragraphs, tables and equations. A different grader evaluated my write up for Lab 2 and I missed a few points on the cover page abstract for not putting enough of the results in that paragraph. Slightly irritating since I did close to the same thing I did on Lab 1 and everything else was correct. Oh well, I’ll give ’em more in the abstract next time.




ASU Spring 2017 Session A Week 2 Update

It’s been a busy week! This week in PHY 131 I studied

  • Chapter 26 – Electric Field
  • Chapter 27 – Gauss’ Law

Two 14 problem homework assignments were due and I was able to get those knocked out well in advance. Some questions were rather straight forward but others were pretty complicated. Chapter 26 requires a bit of integral calculus and figuring out the electric fields can be a bit tricky. Chapter 27 finds us using surface integrals, but weren’t too bad.

My first test in PHY 131 will be next week on Tuesday 1/24.The test covers chapters 25, 26 & 27. It’s worth 15% of my grade. The professor provided a practice test for us to work through on the Mastering Physics site and I’ve been going through the problems. In addition, I’ve been working through the ActivePhysics questions also on the Mastering Physics site and watching Michel Van Biezen’s videos on Hopefully I’ll have the major concepts down by Tuesday. A bit nervous

In PHY 132 our first lab on Coulomb’s Law was due on Wednesday. I still can’t believe how much work goes into the labs. Multiple parts, a lot of sample calculations and questions to answers. Didn’t have to work with error propagation at all on this lab. I’m working on breaking up the work for the labs over a few days. The prelab quiz wasn’t too bad. I think there were four questions and I had a 15/15 on my first attempt. I got my lab back this morning and had an 85/85 so hopefully I can continue that for the next six labs.

ASU Spring 2017 Session A Week 1 Update

Winter break is over and it’s back to the books. Spring 2017 Session A official started up on Monday 1/9. Both PHY 131 – Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism and PHY 132 – Physics II Lab Blackboard sites were available Friday 1/6. These two classes are the last two pre-requisites before I can dive in on the electrical engineering course work next session. Pretty excited to be so close to taking EEE 202 Circuits I next session provided all goes well this session.

PHY 132 has 7 lab assignments and 7 prelab quizzes due each week. The labs have us using LoggerPro for data analysis. ASU provides the software so no extra purchase necessary. Also, rather than purchasing lab equipment, we’re using two simulation websites.

The KET Virtual Physics Labs were used for PHY 122. This will be the first time I’ll be working with the University of Colorado Sim Labs. It looks like there are quite a few that might be interesting to tinker with. No lab assignments were due the first week, but there was a syllabus quiz and has a exercise reviewing error analysis.

There was an exercise practice problem with the pre-lab quiz system (worth no points mind you). I struggled for far too long on a problem that was asking the following:

Calculate the value of the error (only) with two decimal places: 
(6.3 +/- 0.2) / (2.6 +/- 0.1)

I don’t know why I didn’t catch what was going on  with this problem right away. It turns out that you’ve got something in the form f(x,y) = x/y hidden in there. Took me a while to figure out what I was looking at. Hopefully this helps someone:


PHY 131 covers 11 chapters from the Mastering Physics Textbook. Each chapter has a homework assignment with 14 problems. Some problems have multiple parts. Homework is worth 30% of our grade. There are three tests, each worth 15% and a Final Exam at 25%.

In PHY 131 we start off in Chapter 25 of the Mastering Physics book. The professor recorded 5 video lectures presenting the new topics and works out a few example problems. In addition, the TA has a video that gives some tips on the homework problems if you get stuck. The homework problems are done through the Mastering Physics website. You only have 6 attempts to get a problem correct which adds more stress than I would like, but it is what it is.

In PHY 131 week one covered:

  • Coulomb’s Force Law for Point Charges
  • Concept of Electric Field

I was able to get all of Chapter 25’s homework assignment completed and have gotten a start on Chapter 26. The problems so far are pretty complicated, but pretty interesting.


2016-2017 Winter Break

After wrapping up the Fall 2016 semester I went offline for a few days. Didn’t spend much time on the computer at all. Got caught up some TV shows, played some video games, hung out with my wife and kids. Just enjoyed not having school work for a few days.

It took a few days for final grades to be posted, but I walked away with an A in MAT 343 Linear Algebra and an A- in MAT 275 Differential Equations. The class seemed to do poorly on the final exam with an average of 45% if I remember correctly (ouch!). The professor made some beneficial adjustments. A bit annoyed it wasn’t an A, but regardless it feels great to have all the ASU math wrapped up.

After recuperating from MAT 275 and MAT 343 I’ve been keeping busy working on professional development units for my PMP certification. I’m a member of PMI and through that membership, I’ve got access to a lot free webinars on that will count. I’ve been listening to those daily and getting close to being done with all that I need for this cycle.

I’ve also been tinkering around a little bit with a new Arduino Due board. A local artist incorporates lights, sound and movement into his work and was curious if an Arduino would be able to play various wave files to accompany his painting. Results look promising and the cost appears to be lower than the what he has been using in the past. Once the sound part is working, he may want to look into a motion sensor and motor control, but I’ll tackle those if they come up. I’ll try and post some more information on what I’ve been working on once a few more parts arrive to finish up that project in the next few weeks.

I must confess, I’ve been a bit lazy in regards to reading ahead in my physics textbook. I didn’t get much done there. Spring 2017 Session A officially starts up on Monday 1/9. I’ve heard rumors already that some classes are already online, but nothing as of this morning for PHY 131 and PHY 132. I’m sure I’ll see them soon enough and it will be back to studying soon.