ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 7 Update

PHY 122 should be interesting this week. The past 5 labs the instructor and TAs have provided lab report templates. This week, no lab template and we’re supposed to come up with our own. This week lab is on collisions which should be fun. We are to explore 5 different types of collisions and it was recommended to create either an Excel spreadsheet to help with the momentum and kinetic energy calculations or create it through LoggerPro. I ended up going the Excel route and that worked out pretty good.

It did take a lot of time to gather the data and type up all the data analysis on the lab. I have to derive one more equation and then write up the discussion and conclusion section. For a 1 unit class, PHY 122 takes up way more time than I thought possible.

PHY 121 has been brutal. I can’t believe how long it took to get through all of the week 6 homework over the past weekend. For me, this stuff just takes longer than I think it will. I do have a 2 year old helper during the day though so that could be part of it.

On the week 6-2 homework a lot of the questions had multiple parts and were a bit complicated. Not to mention that the problems were picked from four chapters in the book. I’m still not as comfortable with all of the material as I would like to be although I did adequately on Test 6 Tuesday.

Week 7 has us looking at

  • Universal Gravitation
  • Gravitational Potential Energy
  • Oscillations
  • The Pendulum

Only two chapters in the book which is a nice change.

I wrapped up the 7-1 homework set on gravitation and it was much more straightforward than the last two weeks which was a relief to be honest. I plan to wrap up 7-2 which covers the oscillations and pendulum chapter over the weekend.

Test 6 was better than I thought. It was enough to knock out my lowest test score. Hopefully my last test on Tuesday will be a good one. Definitely not in any failure, but at this point, my final exam performance will dictate my final grade in PHY 121.

We’re definitely in the home stretch now. The final is coming up on 10/7 and I started last week my preparations. I’ve been running through the end of chapter problems and have some topics I need to do a bit more studying on, but I think the pieces are coming together.

I did get a surprise Monday. I wasn’t expecting to see my session B MAT 275 – Modern Differential Equations or MAT 343 – Applied Linear Algebra courses to be available in blackboard, but they showed up. I have the same professor for both math classes so should be interesting. I haven’t looked too much into the classes yet. The assignment dates for one still show last session so I think there is a little bit of updating in the works. Not to mention Physics is still consuming most of my of waking hours.


ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 6 Update

According to the professor, Week 6 is the toughest week. I didn’t think it could get more complicated than Week 5, but I was wrong! Didn’t do that great on Test 5 last week so anticipating that it will be one of the two tests that are dropped. So much new information to process and I am struggling a bit with energy conservation still.

I started going back through the text book and working problems which is helping me fill in some of the gaps. Also hoping the book problems will help in preparation for the final that is coming up October 7th. Probably should have been practicing a lot more book problems earlier on in the course, but I can’t travel back in time. At first was thinking that the assigned work and lectures would be sufficient, but for me, I need more practice to figure this stuff out.

Week 6 we’re “only” working on:

  • Conservation and Non-Conservative Forces
  • Force and Potential Energy
  • Pseudowork and System Energy
  • System Energy Examples
  • Internal Energy
  • Collisions
  • Energy of a Closed System
  • Torque
  • Angular Momentum
  • Static Equilibrium

Yes, that is 10 topics. The two homework assignments are larger than previous weeks with 14 and 15 problems for 6-1 and 6-2 and so far the problems in 6-1 have had multiple parts. Took me most of Wednesday to get through 7 problems and I hope to wrap up the other 7 in Homework 6-1 today.

Our PHY 122 lab this week is exploring uniform circular motion. No more dynamics track. The lab has us investigating how mass, velocity, radius and centripetal force relate and how friction behaves on circular motion.

I’ve been doing really well on the PHY 122 labs. Only complaint is they take a lot of time to decipher the lab manuals, gather the data, run the calculations and write up the discussion section. I was able to get all but the discussion written up yesterday on Lab 5 and plan to wrap that up over the next few days so I can submit it on Monday.

Back to work!

ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 5 Update

PHY 121 continues on. A better performance on Test 4 than on Test 3 so feeling like some of the missing pieces are falling into place. Not a perfect score, but a B+ on it. Still a bit shaky on some topics. Michel van Biezen’s videos on YouTube have been great. I spent a bit of time going through his videos earlier in the week. I need to do a little bit better job actively solving the examples he works. Definitely could use another week or so to digest all this information and work problems.

Week 5 finds me venturing into some new topics in PHY 121- Part II of our textbook moves from Newton’s Laws into Conservation Laws. I don’t remember much about these topics from my physics course at UCR almost 20 years ago so interested to learn more.

Week 5 topics include:

  • Momentum and impulse
  • Momentum conservation
  • Center of mass
  • Kinetic Energy and Work
  • Work by variable forces
  • Potential energy and mechanical energy

PHY 122’s fourth lab has us looking at Friction this week. This had a lot of really great information on coefficient of static and kinetic friction courses. In retrospect, I should have looked ahead a bit more at the labs. There was some good information in the lab manual that would have helped me out a week or so ago.

ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 4 Update

I’m feeling a bit lost this week in PHY 121. I’m missing something and haven’t quite figured out what yet. Didn’t do as well as I would have liked on Test 3. My perfect streak has ended. Lowest 2 tests are dropped, but still annoyed with my performance last Tuesday. Also doesn’t help when your batteries die in your calculator. Definitely will have a spare ready to go next time.

The grading scale is curved a bit so doing fine, but frustrated. I did manage to get the homework problems from week 3 solved, but had to do a bit of searching to figure out a few of the problems.

This PHY 121 class moves so fast. I keep comparing to UCR’s Physics 40A class and I think we spent the later half of a 10 week class on Newton’s Laws. We flew threw those topics in a week! If I did this over again, I would seriously consider taking physics at a junior college just to have more time to absorb the material.

Homework 4-1 was really frustrating. Only 9 problems, but still took the majority of a day to complete.  I still need to work on 4-2 and the Week 4 quiz this weekend, plus study up more on Newton’s Laws a bit. Definitely glad I am halfway done with this class.

PHY 121 Week 4 has us moving into:

  • Newton’s Third Law
  • Strings, Pulleys and Constraints
  • Dynamics of Circular Motion
  • Non-inertial Reference Frames

In the PHY 122, Lab 3 has us working with Newton’s Second Law of Motion. We’re still working with the KET dynamics track, but this time working with loading the cart up with various masses and then attaching a string and pulley system. Definitely starting to get more complicated. Our TA posted an instructional video early in the week which was really nice.

So far I’m doing well on the PHY 122 labs. 100%s on Labs 1 & 2 which is nice. These definitely take a lot of time to write up.

ASU Fall 2016 Session A Week 3 Update

Wrapped up Week 2 with much more success than I did last spring. Definitely took a lot of work (and some luck!) but was able to pull off perfect scores on the physics homework assignments, quizzes and test 2. Hopefully I can carry that trend the rest of the way through. 

A fellow student sent over a link to some YouTube videos by Michel van Biezen that have been extremely helpful. Professor Biezen’s video walk through problems in a few different ways. I was able to get a few new ideas on how to solve some of the more complicated problems I faced through his videos. 

Week 3 in Physics 121 we are going to be turning our attention to:

  • Newton’s First Law
  • Newton’s Second Law
  • Newton’s Third Law
  • Free Body Diagrams
  • Gravity, normal force and friction
  • Using Newton’s Second Law

Should be some good stuff!

Homework set 3-1 wasn’t too bad. 11 problems, but each problem had a bunch of questions attached. Certainly not as painful as the week 2 homework assignments. I still need to get started on Homework set 3-2 and the Quiz and my plan is to complete those Friday and Saturday. 

I wish PHY 122 was going smoothly. Lab 2 has been a pain in the butt. We were tasks with exploring constant acceleration in one dimension and free fall using the KET Physics lab site and Logger Pro. Seemed straightforward enough, but unfortunately for the free fall component of the lab, we’re to use Logger Pro’s video analysis capabilities that were removed in version 3.11. Took me quite a bit of time last Sunday to find a work around. 

Vernier has a Video Physics and Graphical Analysis application available for the iPad and I was able to load the video and gather some data. Hopefully it will be good enough for the lab. Apparently the video analysis capabilities were removed for the Windows version of Logger Pro due to security vulnerabilities with Apple’s QuickTime video program. Video Analysis works fine if you have a Mac, but unfortunately, I don’t have a Mac. 

So after trying to work ahead on Lab 2, the teaching staff changed the template, a few extra things were added and the TA provided the data we needed to analyze for the free fall component of the lab. I’m slightly annoyed since I had gotten started over the weekend using the old template. I then had to rework part of the lab and move all my data and analysis to the new template. I sure wish this stuff would have been sorted out sooner. I’ve spent a lot more time on this lab than I probably should have. For a 1 unit class PHY 122 is turning out to require a lot of time unfortunately. 

I did finally get graded work back and received 9 points on the Error Propagation Exercise and 30/30 on Lab 1. I sure hope after all this work on Lab 2 I get full credit! 

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.