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PHYS 121 C: Mechanics

TTh 1:00pm - 2:20pm / PAA A102
Th 5:00pm - 6:20pm / KNE 130
Suzanne White Brahmia
Suzanne White Brahmia

Syllabus Description:

Welcome to PHYS 121C, my name is Suzanne White Brahmia, and I will be your lecture instructor. This is the first of a three-quarter sequence of introductory calculus-based physics. You should find this course challenging and stimulating, and I hope that you also find it interesting and enjoyable. Upon successful completion of this course, you will:

  1. Understand the meaning of calculus-based models, apply them to problem solving and develop your own mathematical models that describe the physical world.
  2. Apply Newton's laws and conservation principles to understand the following: linear, rotational, projectile, circular and planetary motions

Getting started

  • The required material for this course can be found here.
  • Information on accessing the online homework and in-class quiz system can be found here.

Class components

  • This class consists of the following components. Each component provides a different way of learning the material, and a different professor is in charge of each component.
    • Lectures (Professor White Brahmia):
      • Reading Quiz: Students who do well in this course come to class having done the reading, and then use class time to engage in problem solving and discussion. 

The course (and grading system) is designed to reward students for having read the assigned reading (see schedule below) before class. There is also a penalty for not having done the reading. Once you have done the assigned reading complete the lecture reading quiz. This allows me and you to assess which material to focus on.

      • In-Class Polling: Lecture is highly interactive and an important part of the learning cycle in this class.

A significant fraction of class time will be used for in-class polling using questions designed to help your learning. You are required to bring an internet-enabled device to lecture (cell phone, laptop, tablet), so please contact me if you do not have access to internet-enabled device. These questions are intended to be answered after you've had a chance to discuss with your neighbors - they are not quizzes. The intention is to help focus your learning as you learn, not to test you while you are learning. The grading system is set up such that if you come to each lecture and answer (correctly or incorrectly) you will get full credit. Your in-class clicker score will not be adversely affected by incorrect answers, but it will be affected if you are missing class. 

      • Lecture Homework: a weekly lecture homework allows you to practice longer, quantitative problems, developing the skills that form the foundation to any quantitative field of study. The exams reflect heavily on the Lecture Homework.

    • Labs (Professor Cobden): Lab consists of eight in-class labs and an online pre-lab and post-lab associated with each lab. All important lab information can be found under the "Lab Information" menu on the left. But please note that you will receive a grade of 0.0 for the entire 5 credit course unless you do both of the following: 
      • Attend at least 6 lab in-class sessions
      • Earn at least 50% for the total of the lab on-line components 
    • Tutorials (Professor Shaffer) ("quiz section" in registration): These will focus on developing your conceptual understanding of physical laws though a scaffolded discovery process. All important Tutorial information can be found under the "Tutorial Information" menu on the left.

Contact info

  • Below is the contact information. In order to get a prompt response, be sure to contact the correct person. Contact your lab or tutorial teaching assistants (TAs) with questions about your lab or tutorial section, including missed or incorrect grades. Contact the lab or tutorial instructors for special accommodations or lab and tutorial related questions, or if your emails to your TA go unanswered. Contact me for special accommodations or course related questions in lecture, or emails to others that go unanswered for more than a week. Contact the 12X administrator for questions regarding registering, overloading, etc... Contact the undergraduate adviser if you are interested in becoming a physics major.
  • Lecture instructor Suzanne White Brahmia <>
    Lab instructor Prof. David Cobden <>
    Lab TA Lab schedule and TA contact information.
    Tutorial instructor Prof. Peter Shaffer <>
    Tutorial TA Tutorial schedule with TA contact information.
    12X Administrator Susan Miller <>
    Undergraduate adviser Margot Nims <>

Weekly assignment due times

  • Done via Due
    Lecture reading quizzes MasteringPhysics 12:30 PM before each class
    Lecture in-class quizzes Learning Catalytics  During class
    Lecture homework MasteringPhysics Tuesdays at 11:59 PM 
    Lab pre-labs and post-labs  MasteringPhysics Sundays at 11:59 PM
    Tutorial pretest Link* on tutorial page Mondays at 9:30 AM
    Tutorial homework Paper in tutorial course pack Mondays at 2:00 PM
  • *Note the link becomes available on Friday afternoons, and once started you have 15 minutes to complete. You will be given full credit for an honest attempt.


  • Lectures are from 1:00 PM to 2:20 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays in lecture hall A102 of the PAA. I will post slides under the "Files" menu on the left before class, and I will update them after class. If you cannot attend lecture, you can find recordings of the lectures under the "Panopto Recordings" menu on the left.
  • The Thursday 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM slot is used for exam preparation and exams as listed below. The room will be announced closer to the date; we will not meet any other Thursday.
  • The exam dates are
    • Midterm exam 1 on April 26th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall 130.
    • Midterm exam 2 on May 17th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall 130.
    • Final exam on Friday, June 8th from 2:30 PM to 4:20 PM in Kane Hall 110.
  • Note that there are no make-up exams. So, students with outside professional, service, or career commitments (i.e. military service, ROTC, professional conference presentation, NCAA sports, etc.) conflicting with the exam dates must contact me early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures. Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.
  • Here is the schedule for exams, textbook reading, tutorials, and labs (schedule).

Getting help

  • If you have a physics question use the "Discussions" menu on the left. I will monitor this a few times per week and will respond if needed. You can also use this to organize study groups, or if you are confused about an aspect of the syllabus etc.
  • I have heard that there is a Facebook group, but I will not monitor it and it is in no way related to me.
  • There is a physics study center where students are encouraged to work cooperatively in small groups before seeking assistance from teaching assistants.
  • Students can also get help from teaching assistants at CLUE.
  • You are strongly encouraged to visit me (or Prof. Fu or Prof.Detwiler regularly during office hours in the physics study center (see bullet above)   
  • I am available:
    Tuesdays from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
    The two other professors are available:
    ◦ Mondays from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
    Tuesday from 11:30 AM to 12:30PM
    Thursday from 8:45 AM to 9:45 AM

For private matters, please contact me directly to set up an appointment.


  • Details on how your grade will be calculated can be found here.

Access and accommodation

  • Your experience in this class is important to me, so if you have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical), please see details here

Safe campus

  • I am committed to ensuring a safe environment on campus. I suggest you check out the resources available here. These include services if you have a lab or tutorial that is late at night and need someone to walk with you.
Catalog Description: 
Basic principles of mechanics and experiments in mechanics for physical science and engineering majors. Lecture tutorial and lab components must all be taken to receive credit. Credit is not given for both PHYS 114 and PHYS 121. Prerequisite: either MATH 124 or MATH 134, which may be taken concurrently. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:41pm