Department of Chemistry, Physics, & Geology

Spring 2022        Course Syllabus

Course: PHYS 250-001, Matter and Energy, 4 credit hours.                       
Prerequisites: Completion of General Education Quantitative Skills Requirement with a grade of S or C or above.

Professor: Dr. Ponn Maheswaranathan (Mahes), 213B Sims.
Office Hours: Tu & Th 11-12:30 AM (In-Person, Sims 213-B) and ,
                         Su, Tu, & Th 8-9 PM (virtual WebLink ) or by appointment.   
Cell Phone: 803-504-9399,


Online, Asynchronous.


Physical Science, Tillery, Bill W. 12th Edition, McGraw-Hill. 
ISBN 9781260411393 (e-book or physical text acceptable.) 

  Course Description: An introductory course in physics and chemistry primarily intended for education majors, incorporating the science curriculum standards of  South Carolina. Notes: Restricted to ECED, ELEM and SPED majors.

Course Goals:

Student Preparation:
It is valuable and important to do some personal study.  This should include reading the chapters in the textbook, reviewing the lecture notes, doing any suggested homework problems, and asking the instructor questions about topics that are unclear.

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.
PHYS250 contributes to the development of the University-Level Competency 1, Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems. Some of the ways this competency is strengthened in PHYS250 include extensive quantitative problem solving, explanation of mechanisms of actions for physical systems in the universe, and the application of mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, nuclear physics, astronomy and chemistry to predict various outcomes of physical situations in the universe. 

General Education Natural Science Objectives

Listed below are the fundamental student learning objectives (1 and 2,3,4,5,6,7) for natural science courses as well as examples of how they will be fulfilled in PHYS 250.
Upon completing this course, students will be

1. Conversant with the following physical science concepts: motion, energy, temperature & heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, chemical bonds & reactions, nuclear reactions, solar system, universe, weather, and climate. This competency will be assessed using homework, tests and final exam.

2. Able to apply the scientific methodologies of inquiry. (eg., Observe the difference between heavy objects falling versus lighter objects; observe using the scientific method, particularly by experimentation, that when friction can be ignored, all things fall with the same constant acceleration. This, of course, confirms Galileo’s discovery over 400 years ago). 

3. Able to discuss the strengths and limitations of science. When discussing the Big Bang, science can provide enormous detail about the events that took place just after this event 13.8 billion years ago.   But science breaks down at the moment of creation, in very much the same way that happens at the point of singularity at the center of a black hole. 

4. Able to demonstrate an understanding of the history of scientific discovery. (e.g., topics and devices are introduced with historical perspectives).  When discussing Newton’s discoveries of the 3 laws of motion, the universal law of gravitation, and the invention of calculus, we talk about the plague hitting London in 1665-1666, and just as any college would do when the lives of the students are threatened, Cambridge University shut down and sent students home.  The year of 1666, Newton had the freedom to think about the physical universe, those discoveries are among the very foundations of physics. 

5. Able to discuss the social and ethical contexts within which science operates. Students are required to write two essays one of the topics is the safety of nuclear energy and its effect on environmental and health hazards issues.

6. Able to communicate about scientific subjects including the defense of conclusions based on one’s own observations. Students are asked to write an essay about renewable energy, and asked to research peer reviewed scientific journals and/or websites, answer the question: why society does not simple make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy such as solar power, or wind turbines? 

7. Able to discuss the application of scientific knowledge to the social sciences and to non-scientific disciplines. (e.g., application of technology in everyday life)   Students will be able to discuss how knowledge of astronomy and physics has been useful in everyday life from pre- historic times to now. Students are able to discuss how these disciplines drive our technology and scientific knowledge forward as we explore the physical universe.

Writing Component: The General Education Writing Component will be incorporated into this course by requiring the following graded writing assignments consisting of 19 pages of writing. This will amount to 25% of the total grade. A genuine effort to complete the written work must be put forth in order to pass the course.

  1. Two Essays, 6 pages of writing, double-spaced, 10% of the total course grade, from scientific articles appearing in PEER REVIEWED sources on two topics TBA on Blackboard.  At least 750 words (three pages) for each essay. Source must be listed on a fourth page labeled WORK CITED (MLA format preferred). Essay 1 will be due around the middle of the semester, and essay 2 will be due on the last day of class.
  2. Writing assignment with homework/tests/final (for example questions for thought, definitions, and explanations) 4 pages of writing, 5% of the total grade.
  3. Discussion Board Postings in Blackboard, 10% of the total course grade.

Homework: Homework will be assigned in Blackboard as the semester progresses and they must be turned in electronically in Blackboard. Your homework grade is worth 10% of your total course grade. 

  Global Learning Initiative components of this course are the following: 
Historically cultural bias tends to hinder scientific progress.  The most direct result of this for humankind is to stymie engineering and technical advances.  For example, where would we be technologically if the Romans had not looked at Hero’s engine as a novelty more suited to being a child’s toy then what was to become the driving force during the industrial revolution, the steam engine. A culturally independent understanding of the physical universe can only be attained via the modern scientific method, which by its very nature includes cross cultural peer review.  The course will include historical components that examine the inaccuracies of certain cultural biases in explanation of physical phenomenon. We will see how scientific understanding has helped the transition into modern day international cooperation across cultural lines that have contributed to our advanced technical engineering.  Scientific international cooperation advances humanity, some of the most notable examples being the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the World Wide Web, and the International Space Station. 

COVID-19 Statement: During this pandemic period each student is expected to act in the best interest of the WU community by behaving responsibly to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks inside buildings and classrooms, unless alone in a private office. All members of the campus community must follow campus guidance on masking. Please do not attend class if you have fever or any signs of the COVID virus; do not attend class if your roommate or someone you have close contact with acquires the virus and be respectful of others to remain COVID-free. Students who violate WU guidelines will be asked to comply. Continued failure to comply may result in referral to the Dean of Students Office as a student conduct violation.

COVID-Related Absence: Students should contact Health Services regarding a positive test, close contact, or enhanced COVID-like symptoms. Any student who has either tested positive, has COVID-like symptoms, or has close contact with someone who has COVID, must contact Health Services. Students should log in to the Patient Portal to schedule a TELEPHONE TRIAGE Appointment w/ COVID as the reason and upload the positive test result if applicable. Health Services will communicate with the student on what steps to take next, and if need be, the Dean of Students Office will get absence verification for required isolation and quarantine. Students who verify their absences through the Dean of Students Office often minimize any academic impact caused by missed class time. Health Services will only provide dates of absence, not medical information. Please note, residential students who test positive or are a close contact are expected to follow their personal COVID Quarantine and Isolation Plan. 

  Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access:
Winthrop University is committed to providing access to education.  If you have a condition which may adversely impact your ability to access academics and/or campus life, and you require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Accessibility (OA) at 803-323-3290, or, Please inform me as early as possible, once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Accessibility.

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

The Office of Victims Assistance Syllabus Statement:
The Office of Victims Assistance (OVA) provides direct services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking as well as campus-wide educational programming to prevent these crimes from occurring. The staff provides counseling services and assists with obtaining sexual assault forensic exams, STI testing/treatment, pregnancy prevention, housing options, legal prosecution, and access to other support services including assistance with class or course problems resulting from victimization (i.e. missed classes, trouble concentrating or completing assignments). The OVA is located in 204 Crawford and can be reached at (803) 323-2206.  In the case of an after-hours emergency, please call Campus Police at (803)323-3333, or the local rape crisis center, Safe Passage, at their 24-hour hotline, (803)329-2800. For more information please visit:

Winthrop’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA)
 identifies and assists highly motivated and talented students to apply for nationally and internationally competitive awards, scholarships, fellowships, and unique opportunities both at home and abroad. ONCA gathers and disseminates award information and deadlines across the campus community, and serves as a resource for students, faculty, and staff throughout the nationally competitive award nomination and application process. ONCA is located in Dinkins 222B. ONCA webpage:

Student Conduct Code:
 The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in the “Student Conduct" website and the Student Handbook. 

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

The attendance policy
found in the Undergraduate Catalog (see: Academic Regulations: Class Attendance Policies) will be followed, if absences exceed 25%, student will receive a grade of N if withdrawn before the withdrawal deadline, and an F or a U if afterwards, unless warranted by documented extenuating circumstances. 

Cheating and plagiarism
in any form including during online tests and final exam is not permitted.  Carefully refer the Winthrop University Student Handbook.

Course Requirements: Two tests & Final exam administered Online using Blackboard’s Lockdown browser and webcam (includes writing component), Two Essays, and Homework are assigned as follows:  




Test #1



Test #2




See Blackboard schedule, includes writing 


Writing Component

Essays, Postings in Discussion board, and written answers in Tests & Final.


Final Exam (cumulative)






Grading System: 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      59%- 0% = F