PHY 220/230 - Laboratory Sections

Laboratories are designed with a number of outcomes in mind. We certainly want to investigate many of the concepts and phenomena that you meet in the lecture part of the course. We also want you to be proficient in the use of the computer to take and analyze data and to report the results of your investigations. Learning experimental techniques and working with each other as you investigate these phenomena shows you how researchers work together and share ideas. Thus we will do a variety of things in the lab, which may or may not be exactly in synch with your class schedule. We want you to act and feel like researchers who need to know a variety of skills and information in order to investigate the world in which they live.

General Information:

(1) Each student has a specific lab section and should attend that section. Absences from the lab are not allowed. If you find it necessary to miss a lab, please contact me so that you can attend the other lab section. Changes in lab days should be cleared with me before the lab day. Make up labs can be performed only during the same week when they are normally scheduled.

(2) You will normally work in pairs. You may choose your own laboratory partners. I will interfere in such choices only if it becomes apparent that the partnership is lopsided, i.e., one person doing all the real work and the other acting only as recording clerk. During the course of the semester you will change partners several times in order to experience the different approaches that different partners bring to the lab.

(3) Laboratory sessions will usually begin with a short lecture explaining specific procedures to be followed. A lab notebook will be required for recording data and doing analysis and conclusions. The notebook reports will be the primary source of your lab grade. Since this is a continuation of a previous course, you may choose to utilize the notebook that you began in Physics 120 or 130 if it is the specified size. A spiral-bound notebook with 8.5"x11" pages and a pocket to contain the lab handouts is required.

(4) For most experiments, the theory will have already been covered in class and the methods or procedures will be specified on the instruction sheets. Thus, the handout instructions should be included as part of each report in the pocket in the notebook so that this information does not need to be copied into the notebook. Each lab should have the following at the top of the beginning page:

Good lab reports should allow the educated reader to duplicate your entire experiment from what the contents include. Thus, all information should be well labeled and all units included. You will need to provide:

(5) For each experiment, the finished lab notebook should be turned in before you leave the lab.

(6) During the semester, you will be given instruction in the use of the lab computers. These new computers are different than the ones you have used previously in the Physics laboratories. The computers allow the rapid acquisition and analysis of data and help reduce the time and tedium of such routine tasks as tabulating and graphing. Computers have become a part of professional practice in the sciences and you need to be exposed to their use and understand what they can and cannot do.

(7) Food and drink are not allowed in the laboratory at any time.