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PHYS 114 A: Mechanics

MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm / * *
T 5:00pm - 6:20pm / * *
Kazumi Tolich Picture
Kazumi Tolich

Syllabus Description:

Topics covered

  • Phys 114 covers the following topics:
    • scaling
    • one dimensional kinematics
    • vectors and two dimensional motions
    • forces and Newton's laws of motion
    • circular motion
    • torque
    • rotational dynamics
    • center of gravity
    • static equilibrium
    • elasticity
    • momentum and impulse
    • energy, work and power

Getting started

  • The platform for online assignments is MyLab and Mastering through which you also access the e-textbook, College Physics A Strategic Approach, 4th edition, by Knight Jones Field.
  • Please note that you have already purchased the access code for the eTextbook and MyLab and Mastering as a part of your registration fee.
  • Information on how to access MyLab and Mastering can be found here.
  • Troubleshooting for common issues with MyLab and Mastering is listed at the bottom of this page
  • Slack will be the primary space where you can communicate with your peers and your TAs.
  • Use your UW email to join our Slack workspace.
    • Get Slack running on your device. Here are useful tips and features for using Slack. We highly recommend downloading the mobile or desktop app, and turning notifications on so that you don't miss messages from us.

Getting help and working collaboratively

  • It is very important to work collaboratively.  If at all possible, please do arrange with fellow students to work through assignments together. 
  • During the week, the TAs and we will hold office hours on Zoom where you can ask questions. Click Office hours for the office hour schedule. 

    Use Slack or the Discussion Board  for physics questions or syllabus related questions. Students are encouraged to answer each others' questions, but we will also monitor this frequently and will respond if needed.

Contact information

  • For personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, etc... send an email with your course (Phys 114), your UW netID (the part before in your email address) and name as it appears on Canvas to us.
    • the instructors, Alvaro Chavarria and Kazumi Tolich at, for personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, etc...
    • the program coordinator at for administrator questions related to registering, overloading, etc...

Class components

Lectures and tutorials will not be held at the scheduled times. You will work at your own pace before due dates. Engagement will occur through peer discussions on Slack and office hours through Zoom. 

The details of each component are described below:

    • Exams (60 % of grade): 
      • All exams are open-book and administered on Canvas. Communication with others in any form or using tutoring sites such as is not permitted.
      • Dates:
        • Midterm exam 1 on April 27th starting between 4:55pm and 5:15pm (PDT) for 1 hour.
        • Midterm exam 2 on May 25th starting between 4:55pm and 5:15pm (PDT) for 1 hour. 
        • Final exam for 1 hour and 50 minutes. You can take either of the options below that fits your schedule better.
          • Option 1: on June 8th starting between 2:25pm and 2:45pm (PDT)
          • Option 2: on June 10th starting between 8:25am and 8:45am (PDT)
      • 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 us early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures. Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.
      • Your overall exam score will be based on one of the following methods that give you the best score:

        • Method 1: 40% from your two midterm exams and 20% from your final exam
        • Method 2: 20% from your best midterm and 40% from your final exam
      • We will design the exams such that a student who understands some of the material very well but needs some improvement in the remaining material should get a score around 65%. If the class average on a given exam is less than 65%, then all the scores for that exam will be adjusted upward so that the average is 65%. Scores will not be adjusted downward even if the class average is higher than 65%.

      • If a student is found responsible for misconduct during an exam, a score of zero would be given for that exam for this student, and this zero will not be dropped from the grade calculation.

At the end of the quarter your scores of the following assignments will be scaled by 1.25 (but not allowed to go over 100%).

    • Pre-lecture reading quiz (25 % of grade):
      • After reading the assigned reading for each day (see schedule below), you should complete the quizzes related to the reading on MyLab and Mastering.
      • You have up to 5 attempts for each question. For each wrong answer 10% of the grade is subtracted.  Note that practice problems, adaptive follow-ups, and dynamic study modules available also through Mastering are not graded, but great for your study.
    • Lecture/tutorial video quiz (10 % of grade):
      • You should watch the lecture or tutorial videos and answer video quizzes. The videos and associated slides will become available under the Panopto Recordings and Files.  Quizzes will be embedded in these videos.
      • You will be graded based 80% on participation and 20% based on correctness.
    • Tutorial Pre-test (5 % of grade):
      • You should complete the pre-test on Canvas. Once you open, the pretests are available for only 30 minutes, and after time is up, your answers will be automatically submitted. Please keep a record of your confirmation page.
      • They are graded based on an honest attempt, so you will receive credit as long as you have attempted most of the questions, even if you run out of time. 


  • Your final weighted percentage is converted to a grade point using the following thresholds. 

  • grade point final course score   grade point final course score   grade point final course score   grade point final course score
    4.0 93 3.0 78 2.0 63 1.0 48
    3.9 91.5 2.9 76.5 1.9 61.5 0.9 46.3
    3.8 90 2.8 75 1.8 60 0.8 44.6
    3.7 88.5 2.7 73.5 1.7 58.5 0.7 42.9
    3.6 87 2.6 72 1.6 57    
    3.5 85.5 2.5 70.5 1.5 55.5    
    3.4 84 2.4 69 1.4 54    
    3.3 82.5 2.3 67.5 1.3 52.5    
    3.2 81 2.2 66 1.2 51    
    3.1 79.5 2.1 64.5 1.1 49.5    
  • This document describes how you can estimate your projected grade.

Reading schedule

Research Study Information

This course is part of a research project  examining student reasoning ability and attitudes about physics with the goal of  improving physics teaching.  By enrolling in this course you are automatically included in the study. Early in the quarter, students will have an opportunity to learn about the study and to remove themselves from the study if they wish. Your instructor will not know whether or not you participate. Later in the quarter, this link will become active and allow you to review the details of the study, contact a member of the research team, or remove yourself from the study.

Access and accommodation

  • Your experience in this class is important to us, 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

  • We are committed to ensuring a safe environment on campus. We suggest you check out the resources available here.

Religious Accommodations

Academic integrity and student conduct

  • The University takes academic integrity and student conduct very seriously. Behaving with integrity and respect is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. Acts of academic misconduct may include, but are not limited to, cheating by sharing questions and answers on exams.
  • Please note that screenshots or recordings of instructors, other students, and course materials during active video (Zoom) participation sessions are strictly forbidden. Streaming or posting inappropriate materials on any course platform is also not allowed. 
  • All the course materials including exam and quiz questions, lecture notes, lecture videos are intellectual properties of the instructor and the University Of Washington. Distributing them in any form without permission is forbidden.  
  • The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution.
  • More information can be found online at
  • If you’re uncertain about if something is academic and behavioral misconduct, ask us. We are willing to discuss questions you might have.
Catalog Description: 
Principles of mechanics using algebra-based modeling with an emphasis on applications in life sciences. Maximum 5 credits allowed for any combination of PHYS 114, PHYS 117, PHYS 121, and PHYS 141. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
February 3, 2021 - 9:31pm