Atoms to Galaxies (updated 9 January 2019)

Physics 102

Spring 2019


Dr. Brian Clark, best to go through Reggienet, can do

Office Hours:

As an online course, there are no set office hours. If we need to discuss course related material, please pose a question on the weekly discussion forum site. General administrative questions can be posed on the general course questions forum. If you need to speak about your grade or other private administrative issues, please email me and include a phone number. Do not link a course material related question to an administrative or grade question.

Class Meetings:

Online for lecture: Please access the course through Reggienet

Moulton 204/202 for Hands-On Activities and Tests (the room is normally open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm)

Audio Link:


Online Course: This course is offered in a blended format. The normal classroom instruction is offered in a purely online format. That means there are no office hours and no in person meetings with the instructor. This section is ideal for individuals who like to work on their own schedule, prefer to listen to recorded instructional content at their leisure, and are comfortable exchanging ideas in an online discussion forum.

Any content or concept questions must be asked in the discussion forum. Schedule and administrative questions that do not involve individual grade issues or other private course related issues should be posed in the general course questions forum. Everyone must have the opportunity to see the question and response. You won't always get a direct answer. The goal is for you to learn not memorize.

The only questions that should be sent to me directly are specific question that pertains to your grade or your particular situation that should remain private according to university policies. Please send these question to me in a private message through Reggienet. That way there is always a back-up copy of the message in Reggienet. Do not include issues that are not required to be kept confidential.

If you create an message that links your grade with a content question, I may ignore both. As an example consider the question: I am getting a C in the course and want to do better. Can you explain how energy depends on ….. Please notice that the leading sentence is not relevant to the content question. If you want an email exchange about your grade then email me (via Reggienet) only about the grade. I do not always respond directly to emails that don't follow these guidelines, but wait until I send out a weekly course message. Any response that I can send to the whole class without violating any appropriate confidentiality will be sent to the whole class, usually weekly. If I send out too many emails, then they just get ignored. I try to respond to questions posted in the discussion forum in a timely manner.

Do not attempt to communicate via WebAssign. I do not look at communications via WebAssign. All communications must go through Reggienet. Translation: any requests coming through WebAssign are not received.

As you read this syllabus, please note that assignments are best completed earlier in the week to allow for unexpected events including accidents, illnesses, and personal emergencies. There are almost no accidents, illnesses, or personal emergencies that will allow you to drop or make up regular work. If you choose to put off work for any reason, then you accept responsibility for events that might prevent you from completing the work before it is due. As an example: You like to do your work on Thursday afternoon and evening, but you get sick on Thursday with the flu that lasts for a couple of days and are unable to complete all of the assigned work. My response is that you should have completed your work earlier in the week. This is an online course, so you can work a bit ahead and be ready to participate in the discussion forum and answer homework questions as soon as they are posted. There is a little room for making up a missed test, but only if missing the test can be justified to my satisfaction.

Text: You will need the online version of An Introduction to Physical Science (13 th edition by Shipman, Wilson, and Higgins). Please look at the online WebAssign site before you make a monetary commitment to the course materials. The online site gives you about one week of free trial access, in my experience. The online version includes access to the online tests and homework that we will use. You can obtain the material directly through the WebAssign site (this path seems to work well for many students), or find access cards at the local bookstores. Click here to get to WebAssign, the class key is ilstu 8818 4730. The link takes you to a screen and you want to click on the Class Key link in the upper right corner of the window (at least that is where it was on my computer). If you already have experience with WebAssign then you don't really need this help. I have selected an online textbook and WebAssign's testing package as the default. That will be the most cost effective route for most people. I will assume that you have ready access and have read the appropriate material throughout the semester. If you want or need a hardcopy of the book, that is up to you. You will regularly access online presentations and discussion forums through Reggienet. Most of the online notes have links to short lectures (most are between 10 and 20 minutes in duration) that I have recorded. You will also need Hands on Activities for Physics 102 by Ansher and Goderya, and it can be purchased at either bookstore by campus. You are also responsible for checking your email and the course Reggienet site for messages and any other information regularly since the course is delivered in a primarily online format. I suggest at least twice a day.

Course Objective: The objective of this course is to help you achieve a reasonable level of scientific literacy. We achieve this by doing a survey of mostly conceptual physics topics with some numerical applications. We also discuss the interaction of science, technology, pseudoscience, and their impact on society.

Grading: Your grade is determined by a combination of tests, homework, and hands-on activities (also called labs). The tests and homework are completed online, while the hands-on activities are completed on campus (Moulton Hall Rm 204/202). There will be four tests throughout the semester, a homework approximately every week, and ten hands-on activities. There will also be an online discussion forum available that does not contribute to your grade. It is provided to allow you to ask questions and get responses from classmates or the instructor. You are expected to complete all of the assigned work. In general, there are no make-up times for any of the assigned work. If a test is missed then your right to a make-up is determined on a case by case basis. It is better to let the instructor know in advance if you will miss a test. Since you will have multiple days or hours to complete every task, there are very few reasons why the work cannot otherwise be completed. There is even a seven to fourteen hour window for each test.




400 pts (4 x 100 pts)

Weekly Homework

140 pts (14 x 10 pts)

Hands-On Activities

100 pts (10 x 10 pts)


The final grade for the course is determined based on total earned points out of a possible 640 points.

Final Grade

Total Required Points (~%)


544 (85)


480 (75)


416 (65)


352 (55)

Homework: As you can see most weeks will consist of an online homework through WebAssign and a hands-on activity. A good way to study is to work together. That is one purpose of the online discussion forums. That does not mean post solutions to weekly homework questions. But you can provide guidance on how to approach a question for all to see. If you post a solution to a homework problem while the homework is active, you receive no credit for that week's homework. You cannot expect to do well on the four tests if you cannot work the homework questions leading up to the tests. Anticipate homework being activated on Sunday night or Monday morning and active through 11:59 pm Saturday. Consider homework due at 8:00 pm on Thursday. The time after 8:00 pm Thursday is an automatic grace period to allow for technical difficulties (server crashes, etc) and illnesses. I expect to leave the discussion forum(s) active throughout the semester so that discussion on old topics or homework can continue and you can refer back to them as you study. Do not discuss content on the tests on the discussion forum. Once the grace period has expired on homework, anyone can post homework solutions without penalty. This in one reason why late homework cannot be accepted.

Hands-on-activities:  The activities room (Moulton Hall 202 and 204) is scheduled to be open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The activities are normally due by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, but they will be accepted as late as Friday at 4:00 p.m. provided that the activities room is open. There are no make-up times for activities. The classroom in which you complete the activities is an open classroom, so you may complete the activities at a time of your choosing within the time window for the specific activity. The classroom serves approximately 450 students. If a significant number of individuals put off an activity until near the due date, then the room may be very crowded and a computer or apparatus may not be available. Do not procrastinate! If you have any questions about a graded hands-on-activity, please contact the course TA per the instructions in the frequently asked questions section.

Tests: Tests will be timed. You are on your honor not to have anyone helping you, or using the internet, book or any other source as a test aid, without my permission. You will take the tests in the Hands-on Activities room (MLT 204/202) with a lab monitor present. You will be allowed one equation sheet that I will provide as a pdf file that you can print and take with you to the test. Make sure that it prints properly before you go into the test. Tests will generally be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I may assign students to a specific day if it looks like the lab will be congested. You need to inform me in the first week of classes if you have a test day constraint. You must be available one of the two days. With a seven to fourteen hour test window, I am very suspicious of the validity of excuses that prevent students from completing the tests as assigned. Check with other teachers and employers now. Don't wait for the last minute and create a problem that will cause you to get a zero on the test. If for some reason there are technical difficulties on the part of the physics department or WebAssign, the make-up test day is the next day (Thursday). Please note that test 4 is not comprehensive and will occur during the last week of classes. As a blended course it does not have a time earmarked for the last test during finals week. This course qualifies as an exception to the normal rules of Success Week.

Participation: Your participation is expected and required.  I will assume that you have read all discussion forum posts. I will hold you responsible for any information that appears in a discussion post or course email. 

Course Outline: The following is a tentative list of material to be covered, homework problems, and Hands-om Activities. The date for each Monday is provided. Go to Webassign to access tests and homework. Go to Reggienet to access discussion forums.





Hands-On Activities

1. 1/13



Introduction and Measurement

2. 1/20



3. 1/27


Force and Motion


4. 2/3


Work and Energy


5. 2/10


Test 1

Work and Energy


6. 2/17


Temperature and Heat

7. 2/24


Waves and Sound


8. 3/3


Test 2

Optics and Wave Effects


9. 3/17


Electricity and Magnestism


10. 3/24


Atomic Physics

11. 3/31


Nuclear Physics


12. 4/7


Test 3

Nuclear Physics


13. 4/14

15 & 16

Place and Time, The Solar System


14. 4/21


The Universe


15. 4/28

Test 4

Note the exception to Success Week for

Test 4. 4/30-5/1 reflects the planned test days.

Frequently Asked Questions: Here are answers for several common questions or situations that come up each semester.

Something isn't correct about by lab (hands-on-activity) score. What is the next step? First contact your teaching assistant (TA) (Mr. Benjamin Tennant) ( (replace the .at. with @ ) and ask your question. If you cannot resolve the issue with the TA, then email me. If you ask me about it without first contacting your TA, I will likely not respond very quickly. Do copy me on any email that you send your TA.

What is my current grade? To get an estimate of your grade, sum your points on Reggienet and WebAssign and divide by the total possible points on those assignments. The percent estimates for grades are provided above. If I have already reported your total points in one of the columns in Reggienet, which I do several times through the semester, don't add it to your total. I expect to include part of your WebAssign score in a column in Reggienet for calculating mid-term grades.

I am one point short of the next letter grade. Will the grades be curved? No. Individual test scores will be adjusted if there is a problem on a test. At the end of the semester, grades are based on the advertised grade boundaries. I have already made the decision that if you don't reach the minimum points for a higher grade, then you have not earned the higher grade.

Can I make up past work if my computer was broke or my internet connection was broken or …. there was not any internet connectivity where I went for a couple of days? No. It is an online class. Make sure you have internet access when needed.

Is there any extra credit? No.

What is the best way to study for the tests? Is there a study guide? The best study guide for each chapter is the review material starting with the Key Terms. All of the questions at the end of each chapter included in the sections that we cover, in whatever form, are the study guide. The tests are derived from those questions so you should do your best if you can answer the questions in the review section at the end of each chapter. Any review or guide that I put together would be an abbreviated form and eliminate important material.

What material is on the test? Look at the syllabus and course emails.

Can I use the calculator mode on my phone for the test? No. You are not allowed any electronic devices that would connect you with the outside world. Your cell phone is just a small computer designed specifically to connect to the outside world. Use a regular calculator. I would even be happy if you wanted to use a mechanical slide rule.

Dr. Clark hasn't responded to a question sent by email. Why? Perhaps you sent a question that has been answered elsewhere and I am waiting to send the reply until the weekly email to everybody. If there is any way that I can send the reply to everybody, I will. If I receive a question that links personal questions with questions that could be asked on the discussion forum in front of the whole class (as discussed above), don't expect a speedy reply. I am not trying to be a jerk. I am requiring you to follow the rules that make an online course work. This is one online course with multiple students, not an interface for multiple students doing an independent study course.

How do I get tutoring for this course? While there is no official tutoring for this course, there are two places where you can seek tutoring help. The physics club often offers tutoring in 213 Moulton Hall. University College offers tutoring at the Julia N. Visor Academic Center.

How do I find out what I missed if I added the class late? Read all of the past course messages (the Message tab) on Reggienet, read the syllabus and listen to the associated mp3 file, and work through the online presentations up to this point. You cannot make up assignments that were due before you added the course.

When do I know that I am correctly registered for the class? When you can see the course in Reggienet you are correctly registered. Until then, I have no way of knowing if you are a student and will act as though you are not, according to university policy.

What are the online presentations? They are recorded lectures that you can work through at your lesiure. They mostly follow along with the material in the textbook. I try to provide an alternate presentation to the book. I expect you to read the textbook and work through the pdf slide presentations.

What assignments/tests are timed? All assignments have due dates and times. At this point only the tests have a time limitation from the point when you start the test. Of course you are not allowed to go past the due date and time. Webassign homework is set to allow multiple attempts (currently 5) to provide the correct answer for credit. You can continue to work Webassign homework as many times as you like and incorrect answers do not reduce your score. That is, once you receive credit for a correct answer on a problem, your score for that problem won't be reduced if you enter an incorrect response at a later time.

Final Note: You are responsible for all material covered in the course, regardless of your level of participation. Only your own work will contribute toward your grade. You are obligated to follow the Illinois State University Code of Student Conduct. Failure to do so may result in failure of this course.