Department of Chemistry, Physics, & Geology

Fall 2020          Course: PHYS 201 (001 and 002) - General Physics I
Credit hours:
4                 Co-requisite:

Pre-requisite: Completion of General Education Quantitative Skills requirement with a grade of C or above. 

Remote Instruction                      Course  Schedule


Professor: Dr. Ponn Maheswaranathan (Mahes), 213B Sims.
Virtual Office Hours: WebLink T,W,R 10 - 11:30 AM & T,R 8-9 PM, or by appointment.
Cell Phone: 803-504-9399 , E-mail:

Textbook: College Physics, by OpenStax, Free Online Textbook,
Students need to register for one of the lab sections, PHYS 201L.
Physics laboratory will start during the second week, Sept. 2-3.   

Course Description:

The PHYS 201-202 sequence covers the major branches of classical physics: PHYS 201 deals with mechanics, fluids, wave motion, and sound while PHYS 202 covers thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and optics. The course emphasizes understanding of fundamental physics concepts and principles as well as the development of conceptual and analytical problem solving skills. Physics concepts, principles, and mathematics (algebra and trigonometry) will be used in solving interesting and challenging real world problems. 

General physics I introduces students to the role of scientific reasoning in solving introductory physics problems (e.g. describing motion and calculating force, forces involved in circular motions, how automobile air bags reduce injury during a collision, and describing the laws that govern wave motion). They will apply the scientific methodologies of inquiry during the laboratory, PHYS 201L, and write well-reasoned conclusions. They will also be introduced to the history of scientific discovery (e.g., topics and devices are introduced with historical perspectives) and learn that the theories in physics evolve into laws after continuous re-evaluations and arguments. In addition they will see how the scientific advances made in a laboratory transforms into useful technological devices (e.g., the development of the transistor from vacuum tube to silicon chip). 

  Course Objectives:

University-Level Competency 1:
Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems. Winthrop University graduates reason logically, evaluate and use evidence, and solve problems. They seek out and assess relevant information from multiple viewpoints to form well-reasoned conclusions. Winthrop graduates consider the full context and consequences of their decisions and continually reexamine their own critical thinking process, including the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments.
PHYS201-201L contributes to the development of the first University Competency; Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems.
The General Physics I course introduces students to the role of scientific reasoning via solving introductory physics problems (e.g., problem solving in kinematics with stopping distance of automobiles, solving equilibrium problems with free-body-diagrams, calculating the lifting force on an air plane, and determining the resonant frequencies of vibrating strings and air columns).

General Education Requirements:
Listed below are the fundamental student learning objectives (1 and 2,3,4,6) for natural science courses as well as examples of how they will be fulfilled in PHYS 201. Upon completing this course, students will be
1. Conversant with the following classical physics concepts: mechanics (eg., kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation, work, energy, power, rotational motion), fluids (eg., Archimedes’ principle, Pascal’s principle, and Bernoulli’s principle), wave motion, and sound. This competency will be assessed using homework, tests and final exam.
2. Able to apply the scientific methodologies of inquiry. (e.g., In the co-requisite laboratory, PHYS201L, students will use scientific methods of inquiry to design and perform experiments and investigations). The students’ ability to fulfill this requirement is assessed using their lab reports.
3. Able to discuss the strengths and limitations of science. (e.g., In the co-requisite laboratory, PHYS201L, students will use experimental error & accuracy during experimental design and data collection & analysis). The students’ ability to fulfill this requirement is assessed using their lab reports.
4. Able to demonstrate an understanding of the history of scientific discovery. (e.g., topics and devices are introduced with historical perspectives. They will see how the scientific advances made in a laboratory transform into useful technological devices: development of the transistor from vacuum tube to silicon chip). This competency will be assessed using tests and final exam.
6. Able to communicate about scientific subjects including (lab courses only) the defense of conclusions based on one’s own observations. (e.g., In the co-requisite laboratory, PHYS201L, students will write well-reasoned conclusions based on data and analysis of their experiments and investigations). The students’ ability to fulfill this requirement is assessed using their lab reports.

Writing Component: The General Education Writing Component will be incorporated into this course by requiring the following writing assignment of at least 10 pages: In the co-requisite laboratory, PHYS201L, students will perform 13 labs and write lab reports. In these lab reports, they will write conclusions, a page long for each lab, for at least 10 labs, for a total of at least 10 pages of writing. The students’ ability to fulfill this requirement is assessed using their lab reports. 25% of the course grade for PHYS 201 comes from PHYS 201L. 

Statement concerning course management: Any student enrolled in courses at Winthrop regardless of modality (traditional in-person, online, hybrid, telepathy, ...) is entitled access to all campus resources. These resources include, but are not limited to, admissions counseling, recreational facilities, and health, library, and academic services. Questions regarding access to these resources should be directed to the assigned academic advisor.

Masking Expectations: Winthrop requires that all students adhere to safety practices that will minimize the transmission of COVID-19 within the campus community. Accordingly, students are expected to engage in social distancing and wear a cloth face mask while on campus. Failure to comply with this requirement in the classroom will result in dismissal from the current class meeting. Repeated violations will be reported to the Dean of Students as a violation of the Student Conduct Code. Students with conditions that prohibit the wearing of a face mask should discuss this with their instructor and/or contact the Office of Accessibility to arrange appropriate accommodations. 

Attendance and Participation:
Students are encouraged to follow all the lectures and to actively take part in classroom activities. Regular attendance and good participation efforts will help in the final letter grade assignment for borderline cases. Winthrop’s student class attendance policy, which stipulates that “attendance” is measured by course activity participation in online learning modalities, will be followed. Not completing the assignments on or before due dates is considered as absence from the course.

Chapter sections, video lectures, questions, and problems are assigned for each lecture. It is important that you read the chapter and follow the lectures.     
After that you need to answer the assigned questions and solve problems. Homework will be administered using Blackboard. Get help when needed.     

Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access:
Winthrop University is committed to providing accessible learning experiences and equal access to education for all students. The syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. If you are a student with a disability (including mental health concerns, chronic or temporary medical conditions, learning disabilities, etc.) and you anticipate or experience academic barriers due to the condition, please contact The Office of Accessibility (OA) for information on accommodations, registration, and procedures. After receiving approval for accommodations through OA, please make arrangements with me as soon as possible to discuss your accommodations so that they may be implemented in a timely manner. OA contact information:; 803-323-3290; 307 Bancroft Hall Annex.

Winthrop’s Academic Success Center:
Winthrop’s Academic Success Center (ASC) is a free resource for all undergraduate students seeking to perform their best academically.  The ASC offers a variety of personalized and structured resources that help students achieve academic excellence, such as tutoring, academic skill development (test taking strategies, time management counseling, and study techniques), group and individual study spaces, and academic coaching.  The ASC is located on the first floor of Dinkins, Suite 106.  Please contact the ASC at 803-323-3929 or  For more information on ASC services, please visit

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Student Conduct Code: The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in

Syllabus change policy: The instructor will make changes to this syllabus as deemed necessary for the progression of the course.

Tests & Final: Three tests (10% per test, total 30%) and a comprehensive final (25%) are scheduled as follows.


Tests and Final


Content Description


Test #1

1,2, & 3

Kinematics in one dimension, Kinematics in two & three dimensions, and Projectile, Circular, & Relative Motions.  


Test #2

4,5,6, 7, & 8

Newton's laws of motion, Friction, Circular motion, Work, Energy, Power, Conservation of Energy, Center of Mass, and Momentum.

11-12-20 Test #3

9,10, & 11

Rotational Kinematics & Dynamics, Angular Momentum, Equilibrium, and Fluids.


16 & 17

Hooke's law, Simple Harmonic Motion, Wave motion, and Sound.

12/08/20, 2-4:30 PM

Final Exam

1-11, 16,17



Points & Grade:
Tests: 30%, Homework: 16%, Laboratory: 25%, Course Evaluation: 4%, and Final: 25%.
The letter grade will be assigned as follows:

100% - 90% = A     89% - 87% = A-    86% - 84% = B+    83% - 80% = B           79% - 77% = B-   
    76%-74% = C+   73% - 67% = C     66% - 64% = C-     63%-60% = D (CR)      59%- 0%  = F
(UN)     [A to C-] = S