Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHY 201
Course Title:
General Physics
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introductory physics (algebra based) for science majors, pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-chiropractic and pre-physical therapy students. Topics include mechanics including statics, forces and motion energy, collisions, circular motion and rotational dynamics. Prerequisites/concurrent: MTH 111 and its prerequisite requirements. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This is a pre-calculus introductory physics course for pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-chiropractic and pre-physical therapy students and students working toward a degree.  Topic of study is mechanics, and includes statics, forces and motion, energy, collisions, circular motion and rotation.  This course meets college transfer, Oregon Block Transfer and program requirements as listed above.  

Intended Outcomes for the course

After completion of this course, students will
1) Apply knowledge of linear motion, forces, energy, and circular motion to explain natural physical processes and related technological advances.
2) Use an understanding of algebraic 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.

Course Activities and Design

 Principles and techniques are presented through lectures and class demonstrations.  Students must register for lecture and one laboratory.  Laboratory work will be performed in order to clarify certain facts in the lecture material. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will provide a syllabus that details 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.   Specific evaluation procedures will be given in class.  In general, grading will be based on accumulated points from homework assignments, tests, a final exam, and labs.  

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


The goal is to develop knowledge and skills in fundamentals of measurement.  


1.1  Demonstrate the use of the metric system.

          a. Introduce the "SI" system of units and the standards they are based on
          b. conversion of units
          c. prefixes, from very small to very large 

1.2  Introduce the concept of "significant figures."

          a. in laboratory measurements
          b. in calculations and problem solving 

1.3  Use vectors in calculations

          a.  vectors and scalars
          b.  components of vectors
          c.  graphical solutions to vector problems
          d.  analytical solutions to vector problems


The goal is to gain an understanding of accelerated motion.

2.1  Distinguish speed from velocity and solve appropriate problems involving these concepts.
2.2  Define uniform acceleration.
2.3  State the equations for uniformly accelerated motion and understand their derivation.  Solve problems involving these equations.
2.4    Explain the special conditions that define "free fall" as a special case of uniformly accelerated motion.
2.5    Introduce the concept of projectile motion and solve appropriate problems. Emphasis is put on x-y independence.


The goal is to develop knowledge and skills in the understanding and use of Newton's Laws.  


3.1  Explain Newton's First Law of Motion and its applications.
3.2  Explain Newton's Third Law of Motion and be able to apply it.
3.3  Explain Newton's Second Law of Motion and its application.  This must include the definition of force and how it is related to mass and acceleration, of weight and how it is related to mass, of inertia and how it is related to acceleration.
3.4  Develop the ideas of Newton's Law of Gravitation, with emphasis on it being an inverse square law.
3.5  Delineate the role of friction forces in motion problems.


The goal is to develop an understanding of the relationship of work, power, and energy.  


4.1  Define work and solve problems involving this quantity.
4.2  Define power and solve problems involving this quantity.
4.3  Define SI units of energy.
4.4  Define kinetic energy (KE) and solve problems involving this quantity.
4.5  Explain the Work-Energy Theorem and solve problems involving this theorem.
4.6  Explain gravitational potential energy (GPE) and solve appropriate problems.
4.7  Explain conservation of Mechanical Energy in terms of GPE and KE. Solve problems in specific cases, for example, a swinging pendulum.


The goal is to gain knowledge and an understanding of the concept of momentum.  


5.1  Explain the concept of linear momentum.
5.2  Grasp the nature of and importance of conservation as a physical principle.  Develop the conservation of energy, of mass, of mass-energy, and especially of linear momentum.
5.3    Define Impulse and how it relates to force, time and change in momentum.
5.4    Delineate elastic and inelastic collisions and use these ideas in the solution of appropriate problems.
5.5    Define the center of mass and how it relates to conservation of momentum.


The goal is to develop an understanding of rotational motion.  


6.1    Define angular displacement, angular velocity, and angular acceleration along with their vector nature.
6.2    Derive a set of angular-motion equations by analogy to the linear-motion equations previously studied.
6.3    Explain how tangential speed, velocity and acceleration relate to angular parameters.
6.4    Study centripetal force.
6.5    Apply the above concepts to orbital motion.


The goal is to gain knowledge and understanding of torque, rotational equilibrium, and angular momentum.   Objectives:

7.1  Explain the equilibrium of a point object.
7.2  Define torque and solve problems involving this phenomenon.
7.3  Study the conditions for rotational equilibrium and apply this knowledge.
7.4  Define the center of gravity.
7.5  Study the analogy of torque and angular acceleration to force and linear acceleration.
7.6  Develop an understanding of the conservation of angular momentum.