Dr. Deardorff juggling 3 clubs while standing on the shoulders of a student

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Physics 100, Spring 2010

Instructor:  Dr. Duane L. Deardorff

Course | Book | Philosophy | Course work | Grades | Resources

Class Schedule | Web Project | Student Groups  

Class times and location

Class meets:  MWF  10:00 to 10:50 a.m. in 215 Phillips Hall

Instructor contact information

Duane L. Deardorff
Office hours:  by appointment
Office: 203 Phillips Hall
Office phone: 962-3013
E-mail: duane.deardorff@unc.edu
 Assistant instructor: Kristen Alexander

Course description

Physics 100 is an introductory physics course for non-science majors.  This course utilizes working objects found in everyday life to motivate the understanding of basic physics concepts.  Students investigate objects such as computer memory and tape recorders, roller coasters, refrigerators, light bulbs, automobiles, clocks, laser printers, and magnetically-levitated trains.  Physics topics include Newtonian mechanics, rotational motion, energy, fluids, heat, thermodynamics, vibrations, sound, electricity and magnetism, electronics, light, electromagnetic radiation, nuclear radiation, and relativity.  While advanced mathematics is not required for this course, basic math with some trigonometry and simple algebra is utilized.  Proportional reasoning, estimating, and graphical interpretation are also utilized.  Verbal and written communication of scientific ideas is emphasized throughout the course.  
     Why take this course?
    Note:  This course does not have an associated laboratory.  If you are looking for a similar course with a lab, then Physics 101 is what you seek.


How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 4th ed. by Louis A. Bloomfield (published by John Wiley and Sons, 2010)
Note:  While class references will be made to the 4th edition of this text, earlier editions could suffice for much of the course.

Instructional Philosophy

Through this course, you will have the opportunity to analyze the physical world around you and improve your critical thinking skills. The instruction for this course places significant emphasis on qualitative physical reasoning as an important foundation to quantitative problem solving. The instruction focuses on student-centered learning and involves active participation from the students.  The instructor will act more as a "coach" who facilitates student learning, as opposed to a "lecturer" who transmits knowledge without necessarily requiring thought or action on the part of the student.  Since the instructional focus is on learning rather than teaching, students are expected to take more responsibility for their own learning than might be required in a more traditional lecture format.  To the extent possible, the instruction is aimed to meet a variety of learning styles.  You are encouraged to spend a few minutes examining your own learning style using the on-line Index of Learning Styles survey.
Critical Thinking
Most students take this course to fulfill a General Education perspective requirement, so the level of instruction is not as rigorous as a course for students who plan to major in physics.  However, you will be expected to comprehend fundamental concepts and apply physical reasoning to a variety of situations.  Many students find physics difficult because it goes beyond memorization by requiring higher level thinking skills (levels 4 through 6 below).  Learning physics is also like learning a foreign language since new words and symbols must be understood and applied correctly within the context of various physical situations.
Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain:
    1.  Knowledge - memorization of facts, words, and symbols
    2.  Comprehension - understanding the meaning of knowledge
    3.  Application - applying concepts to various situations
    4.  Analysis - breaking apart complex ideas
    5.  Synthesis - putting individual ideas together to form a complete explanation
    6.  Evaluation - judging the merits of individual ideas and making decisions
Not only are these skills needed for physics, but employers consistently rank critical thinking and problem-solving ability near the top of their list of desired traits in valued employees.
Collaborative Group Work
This course encourages collaborative teamwork, which has multiple benefits for you both as a student and in your career.  Most jobs require at least some interaction with other people, and consequently, most employers place a high value on their employees' ability to work well with other people. Also, many good ideas and solutions to problems grow out of discussions with colleagues. As many teachers will attest, you will find that the concepts covered in this course will become clearer to you as you discuss and explain problem solutions to your peers. As you work together, you should help your peers to understand confusing points, ask each other questions, and carefully critique any group assignments. You can learn a great deal by teaching each other!

Course Work


Course grades (+/-) will be assigned based on your overall, weighted class average as follows:

Weighting Scheme and Letter Grade Divisions
Class Participation10%-+

Web Project
Exams (3)*

Final Exam

    *Your final exam score can replace your lowest midterm exam score. No makeup exams are allowed.

Learning Resources