Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHY 101
Course Title:
Fundamentals of Physics I
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduction to Physics. Includes mechanics, vectors, energy, simple machines, satellite motion, and the theory of special relativity. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

After completion of this course, students will
1) Apply knowledge of mechanics and vectors to explain natural physical processes and related technological advances.
2) Use an understanding of elementary mathematics along with physical principles to effectively solve problems encountered in everyday life, further study in science, and in the professional world.
3) Design experiments and acquire data in order to explore physical principles, effectively communicate results, and critically evaluate related scientific studies.
4) Assess the contributions of physics to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of physics in its historical and cultural context.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

 At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade.  The methods may include one or more of the following tools:  examinations, quizzes, homework assignments,laboratory reports, research papers, small group problem solving
of questions arising from application of course concepts and concerns to actual experience, oral presentations, or maintenance of a personal lab manual.
The student will be evaluated on  written tests covering both lecture and lab experiences, required lab reports, and on turned- in homework questions (verbal skills and reasoning in written format) and problems (quantitative in a few cases).

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The instructor will be required to cover the goals and objectives listed in this Course Content Guide.  The Course Content Guides are developed by college-wide subject area faculty and approved by
     The goal is to develop knowledge and skills in relation to the
     general concepts of science and the foundations of physics.
          1.1  To discuss the fundamental measurement (historically and
          presently) of:
               a.   size of the earth
               b.   size of the moon
               c.   distance to the moon
               d.   distance to the sun
               e.   size of the sun
          1.2  To briefly discuss the role of mathematics in science.
          1.3  To describe the scientific method and its relationship to
          1.4  To discuss various aspects of science in their
          relationship to physics, including:
               a.   the scientific attitude
               b.   the relationship between science art and religion
               c.   the relationship between science and technology
               d.   the reasons physics is regarded as the basis of
          1.5  State units of length, time, area, volume, mass and
          density in the metric system and in the English system.
          1.6  Measure and calculate the above quantities using the
          appropriate measuring devices.
          1.7  State the precision of measurement.
          1.8  Define: area, volume, density, radius, diameter,
     2.0 MOTION
     The develop an understanding of motion in a straight line, and
     motion along curved paths such as a projectile or vehicle.
     Objectives:  Lecture 2.1 to 2.4, lab
          2.1  To discuss the concept of relative motion
          2.2  To discuss the vector nature of motion - including the
          difference between straight line and curved motion (2 or 3
          dimensional motion)
          2.3  To discuss the example of two dimensional motion -
          projectile motion
          2.4  To discuss circular motion as a special case of curved
          2.5  To experimentally investigate the concepts of distance
          and displacement, speed and velocity, and acceleration.
          2.6  To experimentally show that in uniformly accelerated
          motion, distance depends upon the square of time.
          2.7  To experimentally investigate the relationship between a
          falling body and one sliding/rolling down an incline.
     3.0 MECHANICS
     The goal is to gain an awareness of how the principles of physics
     apply to mechanics.
          3.1  Define: work, energy, momentum.
          3.2  State units of the above quantities in both the metric
          and English systems.
          3.3  Describe and differentiate between: kinetic energy and
          potential energy.
          3.4  Give practical examples of conservation of energy (energy
          3.5  Define: power, friction.
          3.6  Give examples and compare: sliding, static, and rolling
     The goal is to develop an understanding of simple machines and how
     they function.
          4.1  Define and illustrate the following types of simple
          machines: lever, screw-thread, inclined plane, pulleys, wheel
          and axle.
          4.2  Describe gears and gear ratios.
          4.3  Give practical examples of the simple machines, and
          calculate the theoretical mechanical advantage (TMA) and the
          actual mechanical advantage (AMA) for each.
          4.4  Compare the efficiency of different simple machines, and
          the effects of friction on them.
     The goal is to develop an understanding of angular forces.
          5.1  Define: torque, centrifugal force, centripetal force.
          5.2  Units (metric and English): angular distance, motion,
          velocity, acceleration, force, and momentum.
          5.3  Describe "conservation of angular momentum" and give
          5.4  Give practical examples of angular forces (lab activity).
          5.5  Describe power transmission devices (lab activity).
     6.0 VECTORS
     The goal is to develop an understanding of vectors.
          6.1  Diagram and describe vectors and resolution of forces.
          6.2  Use the appropriate units in solving vector problems.
          6.3  Define center of gravity, moment, moment arm.