Labs for PHSC 11600/11700

Lab Schedule


PHSC 11700: Winter Quarter

Week Days Experiment
1 Jan 3-Jan 5 NO LAB
2 Jan 8-Jan 12 NO LAB
3 Jan 15-Jan 19 NO LAB
4 Jan 22-Jan 26 Renewable Energy I: Solar Cells
5 Jan 29-Feb 2 Renewable Energy II: Wind Turbines
6 Feb 5-Feb 9 Renewable Energy III: Energy Storage
7 Feb 12-Feb 16 Solar Absorption Spectrum I: Diffraction
8 Feb 19-Feb 23 Solar Absorption Spectrum II: Fraunhofer Lines
9 Feb 26-Mar 2 NO LAB
PHSC 11600: Autumn Quarter
Week Days Experiment
1 Sept 25-Sept 29 No Lab
2 Oct 2-Oct 6 No Lab
3 Oct 9-Oct 13 No Lab
4 Oct 16-Oct 20 Pendulums
5 Oct 23-Oct 27 Cratering
6 Oct 30-Nov 3 Radioactivity I: Detecting Radiation
7 Nov 6-Nov 10 Radioactivity II: Measuring Half-Life
8 Nov 13-Nov 17 Radioactivity III: Radiodating
- Nov 20-Nov 24 THANKSGIVING BREAK
9 Nov 27-Dec 1 No Lab

The structure of the lab


One of the main purposes of the physics labs in this course is to learn how scientists study the world around them. With a focus on the scientific process of asking questions and doing an experiment, students can learn how to think like a scientist.

Each lab has a similar structure.

  • Students will work in groups of 3.
    • Designate one person to be the official record-keeper. (This role will change week-to-week.)
    • All students are expected to contribute ideas to the notebook, but the record-keeper will serve as something like the “group leader” (keeping records, making sure that the group has enough data, and asking questions to the group when things aren't clear).
    • All students are expected to work with the equipment and get experience handling apparatus and taking data.
  • Each group will keep an electronic lab notebook.
    • The group should work on the notebook throughout the period, and the TA may ask to look at as they walk around checking on groups.
    • It is not formal, but it should be neat and organized.
    • It is a record of work done, and it is a place to make sketches, do quick calculations, or to write thoughts or questions.
    • Do not delete or erase. Instead, carefully indicate sections that you want to change (e.g. by making them a different color and adding a note); the notebook is a record of everything, including mistakes.)
  • The group notebook is also the report for the group which will be graded. In addition to text, feel free to include photos or drawings in the report.
    • Did you build something? Make a sketch.
    • Did you observe something? Record what you see.
    • Did you ask a question? Write it down.
    • Did you collect data? Make a table.
    • Did you calculate quantities? Show your work.
    • Did you make a plot? Put a copy in the report.

The scientific method

For this lab, we will consider the process of scientific investigation as being made up of the following five stages:

  • Observation
  • Hypothesis and Prediction
  • Experimentation and Analysis
  • Communication
  • Revision

Not every lab period will include every step. Some labs will focus on one part of the process only, while others will look at the process as a whole.

Grading


You will receive a single grade for each experiment out of a maximum of 10 points. This grade is based on an in-lab participation score (4 points, awarded individually) and a group lab report submitted electronically to the TA at the end of the lab period (6 points, awarded as a group).

Grading is based on the following rubric:

Acceptable (4) Needs Improvement (2) Not Acceptable (0)
Participation (Individual) Participates in a meaningful way in all aspects of the lab including group discussion, class discussion, data taking, record keeping, analysis, and clean-up. Is distracted or reluctant to participate, or is missing for part of the lab period. Allows partners to do most of the work. Arrives late or leaves early. Takes a superficial data set with no attempt to analyze data and improve measurements in order to leave the lab early. Is disruptive or otherwise disrespectful to the group or the class.
Acceptable (2) Needs Improvement (1) Not Acceptable (0)
Report: Experimental Procedure (Group) Experimental procedure adequately described, including diagrams as needed. Reasons given for decisions made regarding procedure. Sources of uncertainty are clearly described. Decisions regarding how uncertainties will be estimated are presented clearly. Some elements of the experimental procedure are omitted or unclear. No justification given for choices made during the experiment. Important sources of uncertainty were missed. No reasons presented for how uncertainties were estimated. It is unclear how the experiment was performed. No uncertainties considered.
Report: Data and analysis (Group) Data are clearly presented in tables and graphs. All tables and graphs are appropriately labeled and include units. Uncertainties in data are estimated and justified, and their impact on the results is discussed. Some data not recorded. Tables or graphs inadequately or incorrectly labeled. No units assigned to measured values. Uncertainties estimated but not justified or discussed. No data present in report. Data presentation is confusing and does not relate to description of experimental procedure. No treatment of experimental uncertainties.
Report: Conclusions (Group) Conclusions are clearly supported by the data. Comparison of data to models or predictions include assessment of uncertainties. Conclusions are overstated based on the data. Conclusions are contradicted by the data.

Your TA will grade your group's report and return it with a grade before your next lab period.