Course Syllabus


Course Overview

Course Code and Semester: Physics 10L, Class Number 24079, Spring 2019
Course Description
: Practical application of basic concepts and principles of physics: Motion, forces, gravity, matter, energy, momentum, rotation, oscillation, sound, heat, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, light, quantum physics, atoms, nuclei, and relativity. (Satisfies CSU area B3; IGETC area 5C)
Recommended Preparation: Physics 10 (completed or concurrently enrolled) and Math 201 (elementary algebra) or Math 202 (geometry)

Who should take this course?

  • Non-science major students who need to satisfy a physical science with lab requirement (need to take Physics 10 also; Physics 10L satisfies the "with lab" part).
  • Intended physics and engineering major students, wanting to go deeper into topics covered in Physics 10, if they are not ready to take Physics 4A yet.
  • Students who want to see all the fun demos and lab activities in Physics 10 first-hand.

Please make sure that you have taken Physics 10 or that you are concurrently taking Physics 10. While we will review relevant concepts before each lab, you are expected to have seen these concepts before (even if it was a long time ago). Please check with your transfer institution, if you are not using this course to satisfy IGETC or CSU GE requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students set up laboratory equipment safely, plan and carry out experimental procedures, identify possible sources of error, reduce and interpret data, and prepare clear written reports.
  2. Students apply simple formulas to calculate measurable quantities that describe the physical environment related to the concepts of physics.
  3. Students explain and discuss physical principles underlying laboratory experiments.

Instructor Information


Hi there!  I am Dietmar Krauss-Varban, and I am co-teaching this class with Andrew (see below).  While I have a peralta e-mail address, you will get the fastest response if you contact me at  I will at times use Canvas for important general announcements, but please do not use Canvas to send me messages (use the above e-mail address, instead).

self-at-CoA-Emeritus-2018-05-24-square.jpg Hi! My name is Andrew Park, and I am team-teaching this class with Dietmar this semester. The best way to contact me for course-related matters is through Canvas Conversations tool (for non-course matters, best way is by email:

Office Hours

Face-to-face office hours for this class are held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Mondays in ATLAN 100 (immediately before lab). ATLAN 100 is in Peralta Science Annex (street address: 860 Atlantic Ave., Alameda, CA). Andrew also holds office hours online on Slack. Sign up at using your Peralta email address. The hours are held online Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. ConferZoom meeting can be set up through Slack, if video conferencing is needed. 

If these hours do not work, please message your instructors to arrange a time. For the quickest possible response, please message both instructors. We usually respond within 24 hours (often sooner).

Course Materials

Great news! Your course material is free! The lab manual is available on Canvas and printouts will be provided at each lab session. You are expected to be taking (or have taken) Physics 10. The textbook you are using (or have used) for Physics 10 will be sufficient for this class. Hewitt's Conceptual Physics is a popular textbook widely used at this level.

Intro to Physics LogoIf you do not currently have a textbook for Physics 10, you are recommended to use Introduction to Physics by Andrew Park. This is the textbook for Andrew's Physics 10. It is available online on and as a PDF (version 10.1, size 103 MB). This is an adaptation of OpenStax College Physics, which is a textbook at the level of Physics 2A and 2B.

Finally, you are strongly recommended to keep a single notebook as your lab notebook. While you could get through the course without a lab notebook, this lab notebook will be the sole reference you can use during the exams. So we strongly recommend that you keep a good, well-organized lab notebook.

Important Notes


You will have one written midterm exam on March 4 and one written final exam on May 20. The exams are held in class, and together they account for 50% of your grade in this class. The exams cover the topics and concepts you have seen in lab and will test you on how well you understood the procedures and exercises you went through in the lab. You will be allowed to use your lab notebook during the exams, so please keep good notes in your lab notebook.

If you anticipate an unavoidable conflict with the exam schedule above, please let us know as soon as possible, so that we can try to work out an alternate arrangement.

Group Presentation

In lieu of a second midterm exam, there will be a group presentation on April 29. More information will be forthcoming during the semester. If you anticipate an unavoidable conflict with this schedule, please let us know as soon as possible, so that we can try to work out an alternate arrangement. The group presentation will be worth 20% of your grade in this class.

ADA Accommodation

Students who may need accommodation for their disabilities are encouraged to contact Disabled Students Program and Services (available in Room D-117 or by phone, 510-748-2328) as soon as possible in the semester so that reasonable (and legally-mandated) accommodations may be made. Usual accommodations made include extended exam time and/or transcription service. Most students with a diagnosed learning disability (such as ADHD or ADD) are eligible. If you are not sure whether you are eligible, please check with a DSPS counselor. The details regarding the nature of your disability are confidential and not shared with your instructor.

Instructors' personal note: In our experiences, many students who should have utilized DSPS service do not use them and suffer consequences academically. The goal of DSPS (and ADA in general) is that you should be judged on your ability, not disability. For those students who are eligible, DSPS accommodation is what will help you express your full potential (not a special treatment or something to be stigmatized against).
Talk to a DSPS counselor today; the worst that can happen is they will tell you you are not eligible and you wasted a little bit of time.

Tutoring and Academic Support

Physics tutors are usually available in the Math Lab on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resources Center (L 202D). Register for the free COA course, Learning Resources LRNRE 501, 24 hours in advance of using any tutoring services.

Online tutoring: Following services had been available in the past, but we had trouble verifying their availability for Physics 10L this semester. we are providing this information on AS-IS basis, but please do let us know if it worked or didn't work for you.

Tips for Success in Physics 10L

Heed the following advice to maximize your chance of success in this class:

First, here's a little bit on the design of this course. This course is designed to reward two things: (1) the effort you put into the lab, and (2) your understanding and knowledge of physics. For those just wanting to pass this class, we have a good news: our goal is to pass every student who stays engaged with the course to the end of the semester (so, stick with the class, and you will be able to pass it, no matter where you come from). But what about those who want to get a B or an A in this class?

Here's what we recommend for those who want to put in the effort:

  • First, attend every lab. Come in prepared with prelab questions answered, ready to turn in (more below). Keep good notes for the lab in your lab notebook. Particularly for a lab course like this one, attendance is the first step towards success.
  • Second, review feedback on your prelab question answers. Your prelabs will be graded and returned to you (online) within the week. As you review feedback, check your lab notebook to make sure anything you did not previously understand is captured in your lab notebook. Remember: you can use your lab notebook during the exam!
  • Lastly, prepare for the midterm exam, group presentation, and final exam. We are available to provide feedback and guidance as you prepare. Please make use of the office hours and let us help you.

We believe it is possible not only for every one of you to pass this class but also for everyone to do so with a grade of B or better—all that is needed is a little bit of effort on your part.

Calendar and Assignments

This online course syllabus is hosted on Canvas which makes the calendar and assignments available to you at one glance (through Midterm Exam; we are working on the remainder of semester currently). Please look on your right for the calendar of assignments and course events (or go to your Canvas Calendar), as well as weighting of assignments for your course grade. Please look below for summary of course assignments. Fine-print details are below—we encourage you to read through them (this is our contract for the semester), but we will remind you of anything that is important.

The Fine Print - Course Policies

Please read on for the full listing of course policy. If you would rather skip it, that is fine; we will remind you of anything that is important.

  • Registration: After the last day to register for classes (see Course Calendar), you must be registered in the class in order for you to receive credit. No students can be added after this date.
  • Attendance: Attendance is particularly important for this lab class. So please come to every class, ready to work, with prelab questions completed. Also, instructor may drop a student if the student misses two or more weeks of class (i.e. two meetings) without being excused (See pg. 31 of College of Alameda 2017-2019 catalog for the college policy on attendance.
  • Academic Integrity: Everything you turn in must be your own work. If you use sources other than those provided in the course, please clearly cite it and give credit where it is due. Allowing another student to copy your own work also constitutes academic dishonesty. Please refer to pg. 237-246 of College of Alameda 2017-2019 catalog for the college policy on academic dishonesty and possible disciplinary measures.
  • Schedule Subject to Change: Assignment and exam schedules are subject to change. Any changes will be announced through Canvas, and all efforts will be made to accommodate students.
  • Late Assignments: All assignments are due on the date noted. Most assignments should be submitted on paper in person (exceptions may be granted as needed). Grades and feedback will be posted on the no-submission assignments on Canvas. Exams will be extended only in rare circumstances arising out of a situation beyond the student's control.
  • Allowed/Prohibited Items during Exams:
    • Allowed: calculators without communication capability, lab notebook (which you will turn in with the exam), paper-bound foreign language dictionaries, writing instruments (pencil and pen), and a water bottle.
    • Prohibited: communication devices of any kind (cell phones, pagers, etc.), electronic devices other than a calculator, English-to-English dictionaries or any other books including the textbook.
  • Holistic Grading Rubric: A holistic grading scale is used for grading prelab questions, selected portions of the lab notebook, and each grading criterion of the presentation.
    • 5 (out of 5 points possible): "Excellent understanding." The student clearly understands underlying concepts; one or two minor reasoning mistakes can appear on a "5" solution, if they don't lead to larger conceptual errors.
    • 4: "Good understanding." The student understands the main concepts and problem-solving approaches but is missing one major concept, or made one major mistake that may involve conceptual misunderstanding.
    • 3: "Fair understanding." The student remembers some basic concepts but needs to include and integrate several additional major concepts in their reasoning.
    • 2: "Poor understanding." The student mentions some laws and principles from memory that may be relevant but shows little understanding of how they are relevant.
    • 1: "No understanding." The student writes down something that may (or may not) be relevant.
    • 0: "Blank." Blank answers.
  • Course Assignment Weights: assignments (including exams) count for your overall course grade in following proportions (Note: During the semester, Midterm Exam may appear to have 50% weight on Canvas; this is only to provide an accurate final grade estimate, assuming your Final Exam is similar to your Midterm Exam. The weights used after conclusion of semester are as below):
    • Prelab Questions: 10%
    • Lab Notebook: 20%
    • Midterm Exam: 20%
    • Group Presentation: 20%
    • Final Exam: 30%
  • Course Grading Scale: The letter grades are assigned following this course grade scale:
    • A: 85 to 100%
    • B: 70 to 85%
    • C: 50 to 70%
    • D: 40 to 50%
    • F: below 40%
    The instructors reserve the right to exercise discretion on the margins around this scale.
  • List of Topics: Following are titles of lab activities (some are tentative and may change)
    • Lab 1: Introduction to Physics Lab (Measurements and Errors)
    • Lab 2: Projectile Motion (Acceleration)
    • Lab 3: Dynamics (Newton's Laws)
    • Lab 4: Conservation of Energy
    • Lab 5: Calorimetry
    • Lab 6: Thermodynamic Processes
    • Lab 7: Standing Waves
    • Lab 8: Static Electricity and Circuits
    • Lab 9: Electric Motor
    • Lab 10: Lenses and Images
    • Lab 11: Speed of Light
    • Lab 12: Photoelectric Effect / Atomic Spectra
    Nearly all major topics of physics in introductory physics are covered. 

Course Summary:

Date Details