Syllabus for PHY251
Laboratories will begin on January 11
For the regular lab experiments you will take data and generate graphs that will be the same as those of your lab partner. However, any hand-written interpretation or answers to questions are to be done independently by each partner (see Plagiarism section below). Lab partners will be randomly assigned each week. For the practical labs you will work alone, so it is essential that both partners are capable of doing every aspect of each experiment. A schedule of the experiments is available from the course web page found here.
You will find it essential to prepare (i.e. read and study the materials for the laboratories) before you come to class. Being prepared before you come to lab will enable you to finish on time, and help you get a higher grade. During the first 5 minutes of every lab period a closed book quiz will be given aimed at testing your readiness to perform that day's experiment. Arrive on time or you will miss the quiz and the points. The quiz cannot be started when there is less than 1 minute to go in the 5 minute allotted time.
All materials to be graded must be completed during your lab period and handed in to the instructor before you leave the lab; there will be ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS. The lab report consists of a cover sheet (that can be downloaded from here) plus any spreadsheets (both data and formula views from Excel) and plots requested. Please print out and fill in the cover sheet (except for your lab partner's name) each week BEFORE coming to lab. At the bottom of any graph must be a statement of what is being plotted, and when a straight line fit is done, you must a quote its parameters (e.g. slope and its uncertainty). In addition, your hand-written answers to the questions at the end of the lab write-up should be turned in with your data.
During practical labs, no outside notes, use of the Internet, calculators or discussions with other students are allowed. Students making use of unauthorized help on any lab (or practical) will receive a 0.0 for that lab and an Academic Dishonesty Report will be filed. For practical labs each student will perform one of the experiments that was done earlier in the semester by him or herself. The lab materials for the practical will be posted on the course website the week before the lab. It will be worth 20 points and you'll have 45 minutes to complete it. During the week of a practical (there are two), half of the class will do the lab during the first 45 minutes and the other half during the last 45 minutes of the lab period. A schedule will be arranged a week before the practical.
All labs, including the practicals, will be graded by your instructor on a 20 point scale and will be handed back at the beginning of the next lab. The points will be distributed roughly as follows: quiz (4 pts), acquisition of data (4 pts), graphs and calculations (6 pts), and answers to questions (6 pts).
Your grade will be based on the total number of points for the labs and quizzes except for any initial Computer Tools & Uncertainties lab. Since the instructors for the various sections do not necessarily grade identically, the scores for a given instructor's sections will be considered as a group for grading purposes. Each of the groups will receive approximately the same average grade in the course, so that there is no advantage to having one instructor over another. Within a group, the grades will be assigned strictly in order of points achieved. The grade will be determined by a curve, not a "straight scale". Save the graded lab reports and quizzes returned to you by the instructor. You will need all of these if, at the end of the semester, you think your grade was incorrectly calculated.
Plagiarism or copying will not be tolerated. Lab partners are expected to turn in copies of the same Excel spreadsheets and graphs BUT answers to the questions and comments on graphs are not to be the same. Lab partners turning in identical answers (or slightly modified versions) will BOTH receive 0.0s for that lab. Any lab report that copies directly from the lab manual will receive a 0.0. Lab reports from previous semesters may not be used as reference material during the lab. If an instructor sees a student looking at a previous version of the lab (either electronically or on paper) during class the student will receive a 0.0 for that lab. In all cases an Academic Dishonesty Report will be filed as required by the university for any penalty grade given (see MSU's policy on Academic Integrity at https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/academic-integrity/index.html).
Because personally participating in each laboratory is an essential part of this course, you must be present for each session. Should you find yourself in a position where you must miss a session, to be "excused" you should contact your instructor before lab and be prepared to provide an explanatory note with suitable documentation. Make-up labs will be limited to attending another lab section during the same week (as the equipment changes each week) that has less than 20 students enrolled. Please note that most sections are currently full so it may not be possible to find room in another section for a make-up lab. If you miss a lab for an unanticipated reason, such as illness, to be "excused" you must notify your instructor by email no later than 24 hours after the missed lab and be prepared to provide suitable documentation (i.e. a note from your doctor).
YOU are required to find open lab slot for a make-up by searching the Schedule of Courses ("PHY" & "251") for a section with less than 20 students registered. Email the instructor of THAT section at the email address listed here. Do not show up at that section without a confirmation from that instructor or you will not be admitted. To ease the burden on students who miss a lab due to a legitimate reason, the lowest lab score of the semester (which can be one of your practical labs) will be dropped before computing your grade. Absences that are not excused will receive a 0.0 for that lab and cannot be used as your dropped score.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Students with disabilities and/or any other special needs should identify themselves to the instructor during the first week of class. You must provide a copy (or an email) of your VISA from the RCPD office to both your instructor and the lab coordinator (Prof. Bromberg) by the end of the second week of class. Individual arrangements will be made to accommodate those needs on a case-by-case basis. It may not be possible to honor VISAs that are presented to the instructor after the second week of class. For example, you will not be allowed extra time on the practical lab if you did not give your VISA to the instructor at the beginning of the semester.
Your lab instructor is in charge of all aspects of laboratory procedures. Please confer with your lab instructor if you have a problem, since they can ordinarily solve most of them. Communications regarding the day-to-day operations (such as a missed lab) should be directed to your lab instructor, NOT the lab coordinator. Your TA will provide you with their email address and office hours at the beginning of the semester. If you have concerns about a score on a lab you must make an appointment to meet with your lab instructor outside of lab time. TAs will not respond to questions concerning individual lab grades while a lab section is in session. A list of the instructors by section and their email addresses can be found here.
Only if your instructor is not able to address the issue to your satisfaction, should you contact the lab coordinator, Prof. Bromberg. Please arrange an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.