Course Syllabus

Welcome to PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.


Course Description

A basic introduction to the current physical understanding of our universe, from an examination of basic principles of physical law, their application to the behavior of objects, and the use of the scientific method in driving advances in this knowledge. 


Course Introduction

PHYS101 is the first course in the Introduction to Physics sequence. In general, the quest of physics is to develop descriptions of the natural world that correspond closely to actual observations. Given this definition, the story behind everything in the universe, from rocks falling to stars shining, is one of physics. In principle, the events of the natural world represent no more than the interactions of the elementary particles that comprise the material universe. In practice, however, it turns out to be more complicated than that.

As the system under study becomes more and more complex, it becomes less and less clear how the basic laws of physics account for the observations. Other branches of science, such as chemistry or biology, are needed. In principle, biology is based on the laws of chemistry, and chemistry is based on the laws of physics, but our ability to understand something as complex as life in terms of the laws of physics is well beyond our present knowledge. Physics is, however, the first rung on the ladder of our understanding of the physical universe.

In this course, we will study physics from the ground up, learning the basic principles of physical laws, their application to the behavior of objects, and the use of the scientific method in driving advances in this knowledge. This first of two courses (the subsequent course is Introduction to Electromagnetism) will cover the area of physics known as classical mechanics. Classical mechanics is the study of motion based on the physics of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. While mathematics is the language of physics, you will only need to be familiar with high school level algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The small amount of additional math and calculus that we need will be developed during the course.


This course is comprised of the following units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Physics
  • Unit 2: Motion in a Straight Line
  • Unit 3: Kinematics in Two Dimensions
  • Unit 4: Dynamics
  • Unit 5: Circular Motion and Gravity
  • Unit 6: Work and Energy
  • Unit 7: Momentum and Collisions
  • Unit 8: Statics and Torque
  • Unit 9: Angular Momentum


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • explain the difference between a theory and a law;
  • identify the values of the most common metric prefixes;
  • compare and contrast distance and displacement;
  • define and distinguish between vector and scalar physical quantities;
  • solve dimensional kinematics problems;
  • describe the effects of gravity on an object's motion;
  • add and subtract vectors;
  • separately analyze the horizontal and vertical motions in projectile problems;
  • determine the net force on an object;
  • use Newton's second law of motion to analyze dynamic problems;
  • solve problems involving springs;
  • compare and contrast the physical properties associated with linear motion and rotational motion;
  • state Newton's law of gravity in words;
  • use the laws of gravity and circular motion to solve problems involving planets and satellites;
  • define the work done on an object by a force;
  • describe the relationship between work done and the change in kinetic energy;
  • describe the concept of potential energy and how it relates to work;
  • solve dynamics problems using conservation of energy;
  • describe the distinction between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources;
  • state Newton's second law in terms of momentum;
  • use conservation of momentum to solve collision problems;
  • define the conditions necessary for a rigid body to be in equilibrium;
  • solve statics problems;
  • solve kinematics and dynamic problems involving rotational motion;
  • compare and contrast the dynamics of linear and rotational motion; and
  • apply energy concepts to rotational motion. 

Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also 38 unit assessments and other types of practice quizzes in this course. These are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course’s “Activities” menu.


Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor’s Direct Credit Program. If you are seeking to earn college credit, you must opt to take and pass the Saylor Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and require the presence of a proctor. Upon passing that final exam you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate, and will be eligible to earn an Official Transcript. For more information about applying for college credit review the “Guide: College Credit Opportunities”. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details (fees, technical requirements, etc.)

Note: There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no imposed wait period between attempting the non-credit certificate-bearing exam and the credit exam. Some credit exams have a maximum number of attempts allowed, which will be detailed on the exam’s instructions page.


Tips for Success

PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 126 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Pay special attention to Unit 1, as it will lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, explanatory material presented in the latter units.
  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it’s advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.
  • Occasionally, Flash may be required to run certain multimedia and/or interactive applications in the course. Should you be prompted to enable Flash, click the option to allow or follow these instructions for enabling Flash on your computer or laptop.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional credit recommended final exam that accompanies this course, then you will also need access to a webcam enabled computer. A webcam is needed so that our remote proctoring service can verify your identity, which will allow Saylor Academy to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional technical guidance check out Saylor’s tech-FAQ and the Moodle LMS tutorial.


Fees

There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course does contain an optional final exam that will provide students an opportunity to earn college credit. Access to the exam itself is free, though it does require the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring is $25 per session.



Last modified: Friday, August 10, 2018, 3:57 PM