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 Student Handbook.

 

Course Description

Discover what we understand about the physical underpinnings of our universe by examining the basic principles of physical law, their application to the behavior of objects, and how the scientific method is used to drive advances in knowledge.

 

Course Introduction

In general, the goal 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 the material universe is made of. 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 includes 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 will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.

 

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.

 

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 calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

There are also end-of-unit assessments and practice problems in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.

 

Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit Program. If you want to earn college credit, you must take and pass the Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and requires a proctor. If you pass the Direct Credit exam, you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate and be eligible to earn an official transcript. For more information about applying for college credit, review the guide to college credit opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details like fees and technical requirements.

There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no waiting period between attempts for the not-for-credit exam and the Direct Credit exam. You may only attempt each Direct Credit final exam a maximum of 3 times. Be sure to study in between each attempt!

 

Tips for Success

PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 38 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 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 we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
  • 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 entirely 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 for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional Direct Credit final exam, then you will also need access to a webcam. This lets our remote proctoring service verify your identity, which is required to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.

 

Fees

This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course also has an optional final exam that can give you an opportunity to earn college credit. This exam requires the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring for this optional exam is $25 per session.

Last modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 11:36 AM