Course Syllabus

PHY 2053 Course Syllabus

Course Details

Course Instructors

The primary instructors for this course are:

Profs. Kathryn McGill and Heather Ray

Additionally, there will be 8 teaching assistants available to help you during your discussion sections and in office hours.

The office hour schedule and contact information for the instructors and teaching assistants can be found using the "Contact and Office Hours" link in the left menu .

Communication with the instructors: Only messages through the official course e-Learning mail tool are guaranteed a response. Your instructors receive tons of spam e-mails at their ufl accounts so direct e-mails there have a very high likelihood of being missed. Copy your messages to both Profs. McGill and Ray. If you have to e-mail the instructors directly (e.g. because you cannot access Canvas), you MUST send the e-mail from your Gator-link account (it is how we know you are who you say you are) and PHY2053 MUST appear in the subject line.

Communication with your TA: Again, as with your instructors, please only use Canvas to message your TA.


The course is run through Canvas. The web site for the course is accessed through UF e-Learning, or directly at:

This site will contain important announcements, posted lectures, homework solutions, answers to taken exams, and course grades. Copy and save the URL above. If e-Learning goes down (rare, but not unheard of) you will still have access to these materials by pasting the URL into your address bar, taking you directly to the site.


The required text (e-book) is College Physics: A Strategic Approach by Knight, Jones, and Field (4e). You will need to set up a MasteringPhysics account in order to access the e-text. Please refer to this document for instructions; note that there will be a Pearson Help Desk at the UF Bookstore on Friday, August 23rd from 10 am - 4 pm to assist you with any troubles.


Homework will be presented and submitted through ExpertTA. To access the homework, click the "Assignments" link in the left-hand navigation menu. Clicking on an assignment and launching the app will take you directly to the assignment in ExpertTA. The first time you do this, you will be asked to pay for your access privileges. Please see the screenshots in this document for help navigating this process.


High school algebra and trigonometry, or the equivalent.


This course is a first semester of algebra-based introductory physics (“Physics 1”). The topics covered include kinematics, Newton’s laws, circular and rotational motion, equilibrium, elasticity, energy, momentum, fluids, oscillations, waves, and sound. It is typically followed by a second semester course, PHY2054 (“Physics 2”), covering electromagnetism.


The purpose of this course is to provide you with a foundation in the concepts, fundamental principles, and analytic techniques needed to solve problems arising in the context of Newtonian mechanics. Examples include knowing how to calculate the maximum height of a projectile, the tension in a support beam, the velocity of an object after a collision, the pressure at a given depth in a fluid, and the resonant sound frequencies in an open pipe. The course is designed for people who have already had a basic introduction to physics in high-school or otherwise.


By the end of this course, you will have a solid foundation in the concepts, principles, terminology, and methodologies used to describe motion (translational, rotational and combined) of simple objects, the basic properties of matter, harmonic oscillations, and wave motion. Specifically, you will be able to:

  • Analyze particular physical situations, and thus identify the fundamental principles pertinent to those situations,
  • Apply fundamental principles to formulate mathematical equations describing the relation between physical quantities in these particular situations,
  • Solve mathematical equations to find the values of physical quantities,
  • Communicate unambiguously both the principles that apply to a situation and the results of specific calculations resulting from the steps above.


Course Schedule

The detailed course schedule, including the topics covered and exam dates, is available on the Course Schedule page.


Your grade is determined by your performance on the following in-class and out-of-class components: 3 exams, weekly quizzes, and on-line homework.  In addition you can earn extra credit through discussion section participation and in-class H-ITT questions. The points these components contribute to the total grade is shown in the following table:

Item Points


H-ITT 3 course extra credit 20%
Discussion Section Attendance 5 quiz extra credit 20%
Exam 1 25 0%
Exam 2 25 0%
Exam 3 25 0%
Discussion Quizzes 20 10%
Homework 5 20%
Total Course Points 100 NA

Grading Scale

Your course grade will not be assigned based on a curve, but will be based on the following 100-point fixed scale:

A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D-
85 80 76 72 68 64 60 55 50 45 <35

The advantage of the fixed scale is that you are not competing with other students to “get ahead of the curve”. Everyone who works hard can do well in the class, and to the extent that it helps you learn, we encourage collaboration.

The final grade you have earned in this class is boosted by extra credit in HITT, extra credit from participation in recitation, and by the forgiveness factors (see below).  This is a large amount of extra points and can easily make the difference of an entire letter grade in your final course grade. 

There will be no additional curve applied.  However, we do round up (0.5 percentage points and up gets rounded up to the next integer percentage point.  59.0% does not get rounded up to 60%).

Note: A grade of C- is not a qualifying grade for major, minor, Gen Ed, or College Basic distribution credit. For further information on UF's Grading Policy, see:

Forgiveness Factor

A combination of planned and unforeseen factors may cause you to miss some classes or discussion sections, additionally, it is likely for most of us to have a bad day or week (for any number of reasons) during the semester.  We use a forgiveness factor as a make-up policy to accommodate circumstances that may arise throughout the semester that may hinder your performance in the online HW, the discussion quizzes and participation, and the H-ITT. The forgiveness factors are given in the table above. They are calculated at the end of the semester and mean that you can miss the stated percentage of work associated with that component but still score 100% of the credit for it.  

ex: if you have scored total points in one of the grade components Ncomp and that grade component has a forgiveness factor of 10%, the number of points entering the final grade calculation (Ngrade) will be:

N_{grade}=N_{comp}+10\:\%\:\times N_{comp}=N_{comp}\times 1.10, N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 , N g r a d e = N c o m p + 10 % × N c o m p = N c o m p × 1.10 ,

up to the maximum number of grade points that can be awarded for that component (e.g. you cannot get more than 5 points for the homework component). In the following sections, we describe the different grade components and list their corresponding forgiveness factors.  


There are two during-term exams and a final exam. Each exam is worth 25 points (out of 100) of the total grade. There is no forgiveness factor for exams. Exam 1 is on September 30th, 2019 from 8:20 pm to 10:20 pm and will cover chapters 1 to 5, inclusive. Exam 2 is on November 15th, 2019 from 8:20 pm to 10:20 pm and will cover chapters 6 to 10, inclusive. The Final Exam is on Tuesday December 10th  from 10 am to 12 pm and will be cumulative. The date and time for each exam, and the chapters it covers are also listed in the Course ScheduleExams will not likely take place in the lecture hall in the physics building. Room assignments where you will take an exam will be announced in the days leading up to the exam and posted on the course e-Learning page.

You should bring a calculator, #2 pencils, an eraser and your picture ID (preferably Gator One ID Card) to the exam. If you are on either the vet or med school track you should be aware that the GRE, required for Veterinary programs, provides their own simple calculators, while the MCAT does not permit calculators at all. In this class, to prevent over-reliance on programmable and/or graphing calculators, we will not allow the use of them on quizzes and exams. Thus, for example, the TI-83 and TI Nspire are not permitted. Scientific calculators that have a simple memory stack (allowing storage of intermediate calculations), have trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions (in radians or degrees), and use exponents are permitted. Calculators may not be shared and may not have electronic communications capability. Cell phones as calculators are not allowed.  Private formula sheets are not allowed. Use of either constitutes academic fraud. Scratch paper and an official formula sheet for the exam will be provided.

During-term Exams I and II will be assembly exams. In addition to these regular exam dates, there are also two conflict exam dates, to be announced as soon as we have the information (Update Sept 24th: E1 Makeup is Thurs Oct 3rd, 820 - 1020 pm.  E2 Makeup is Wed Nov 20th, 820 - 1020 pm.  Final Makeup is Thurs Dec 12, 12:30 pm).  A student who will miss an assembly exam due to an exam conflict or any other foreseeable reason that is approved under UF attendance policies should request in advance to take the conflict exam instead of the regular exam. A student who has an unforeseeable absence from an exam should contact the instructor as soon as possible, normally within 24 hours after the missed exam. If the unforeseeable absence is excused by the instructor, the student will be expected to take the conflict exam unless they have another exam conflict or reason that is approved under UF attendance policies. The conflict exam will cover the same subject matter as the regular exam and in a similar format, although the exams will not be identical.

In-class Quizzes and Discussion Sections

Discussion Sections will meet twice per week. During the first week of classes (starting Tuesday August 20th), you will only need to attend the second Discussion Section of the week (the first one will not meet). Quizzes start on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019. A quiz will usually be administered during the first 20 minutes of the second discussion section meeting of a week, i.e. MW discussion sections have quizzes on Wednesday, TR have it on Thursday, and WF have it on Friday.  The first quiz (Quiz 0) is used to gauge the basic math skills of the class, and is not counted toward your final grade.

The quizzes will test how well you have learned the concepts and methods of the assigned homework problems. The quiz questions will be related to, but rarely identical to, the online homework problems. The problems may be restructured to provide guidance, allow awarding of partial credit, and discourage memorization of a solution formula.

There will be two questions on each weekly quiz. Each question will be graded on a 4 point scale. You are expected to do the problems on your own, without any notes or other help (i.e. there are no outside formula sheets allowed for the quizzes; instructors will provide formula sheets). In solving the homework, you can get help in discussion section, office hours, from tutors and from other students. In the end, however, you must have learned the methods needed to do the quiz problems on your own.

Make-up quizzes are permitted provided you have a valid documented excuse (e.g. doctors excuse for illness, official UF sanctioned event).  Submit requests through the Makeup Quiz Request module in Canvas.  There are 3 Makeup Requests Modules available through Canvas; if you use up the 3 requests and require more please contact the instructors directly.  The make-up quiz must be taken within 3 weeks of the missed quiz (not within 3 weeks of the request for approval of the makeup). There will be no make-up quizzes given after 5 pm on Monday, December 2nd, 2019.  You have until Monday, December 2nd, 2019, to request any re-grade or to question any grade discrepancy pertaining to the quizzes. The quiz portion of the course will count for 20 points (out of 100) toward the total grade. There is a 10% forgiveness factor for the discussion quizzes

In addition, you will have a chance to earn extra credit in this course through your participation in recitation.  You can earn up to a total of 5 extra credit points in this way.  These are not course points, but points that are added to your total quiz score. 

ex: you end the semester with 40/80 quiz points and no participation points.  With the 10% forgiveness factor this becomes 44/80 quiz points, or 11/20 course points (where your final course grade is calculated out of 100 points).  If instead you earn 5 participation points your quiz points becomes 45/80 before the forgiveness factor, 49.5/80 after forgiveness, or 12.4/20 course points.  That extra 1.4 course points could be enough to move you up a letter grade.

Mechanics Surveys

There are two surveys that are a new addition to some of our introductory-level courses. No preparation is required for either survey; they are designed as course benchmarks. You will receive full points for fully participating in these surveys (i.e. you can answer every survey item incorrectly and still get full points for completing the survey).

The first survey will be administered during the first week of classes during discussion section, and the second will be administered within the last three weeks of the course. Each survey is worth 4 quiz points - and again, you get full points for completing the surveys, regardless of how you answer.

Online Homework

The HW assignments for PHY2053 will be organized through Expert TA. Before you begin your first week of work, you will need to register your account. Read this document for instructions on registering and using Expert TA.

Weekly homework sets will be due on Mondays at 12:05 am and will be open for a period of 14 days prior to the deadline. The homework sets will count for 5 points (out of 100) toward the total grade. There is a forgiveness factor of 20% for the homework sets. You get 5 attempts to get a question right. You will lose a portion of that part value as a deduction for each incorrect submission attempt. For multiple choice or true/false type questions credit will be deducted for incorrect attempts. Deduction per incorrect answer = 100%/(# of options - 1). Full solutions to homeworks will be available after the due date in the homework system.

You should follow appropriate practices of academic honesty when working on the homework problems.  In doing the online homework, discussions with colleagues and/or tutors about methods of posing and solving a homework problem are acceptable and encouraged. Using a formula that is specific to the problem, derived by someone else to input answers is considered cheating. Even if you worked through a formula with classmates, you will still benefit from re-deriving the result on your own. Some of the exam and quiz questions will be based on the homework problems, and you will not have the opportunity to get help from anyone else during those tests. Treat the homework as practice for the exams and quizzes: derive, on your own, any result that you submit and attempt to do so using the provided formula sheet and minimal reliance on your calculator. 

In-class H-ITT

Each lecture will feature a few in-class H-ITT questions. These are intended to
a) encourage engagement with the material presented in the lecture (which has been shown to help with learning and retaining the material) and b) provide immediate feedback to both the instructor and the students as to the understanding of the newly presented material (thus promoting a relevant review by the instructor or questions by the students). The H-ITT questions sets will count for 3 extra credit course points. There is a 20% forgiveness factor for the H-ITT questions. The in-class H-ITT questions begin to count on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019. You should, however, get your remote sooner to participate in practice questions that will help you become familiar with the system before the questions start counting toward your grade points.

Participation requires that you purchase the H-ITT remote transmitter associated with the in-class student response system. Information on compatible remotes is found on the H-ITT remote and registration instructions page. Responses made via this transmitter will be recorded. Correct responses are worth 2 points, and (to encourage participation) incorrect responses will be worth 1 point. Responding for other students (using their H-ITT remotes) is considered cheating by both parties.  

To get the credit for H-ITT points, you must BOTH register your remote through Canvas (this links the remote points to your name), and register your remote with the auditorium H-ITT system every single time you enter the classroom (this allows the HITT system to see any use of the remote). To register your remote in Canvas (or re-register a new remote if your breaks) use the link "HITT remotes and registration instructions" Quiz in Canvas and follow the instructions on that page. It is your responsibility to purchase the correct model remote, to observe that your remote is functioning properly, and that you are sending on the correct channel (see HITT Registration Survey for link to instructions for setting the remote channel). It is recommended that you set the channel at the start of each lecture. Lights on the remote and the remote code appearing on-screen will indicate that your answer has been recorded in the system.

Discussion section participation

You will be able to earn up to 3 points per week in Discussion Section starting September 3rd. At the end of the semester, the total points you earned out of the total possible will be used to scale the 5 extra credit quiz points mentioned above. For example: say the total number of points for the semester is 36, and you earn 25 of them. Then, at the end of the semester, you will have (25/36)*5 points added to your final total quiz score.

The 3 possible points will be earned in the following way:

  • During your first discussion section day, you will be writing your own problems and solutions based on the homework. You will work in groups of ~4, and you will receive 2 points if you turn in both a question and a reasonable attempt at a solution (the solution does not have to be correct to earn full points, but it can't be random equations either); 1 point for turning in a question without a solution (or with a solution that is not a reasonable attempt a the the answer); 0 points for not attending and/or not submitting any question at the end of section. We will select the best problems every week and compile them into a study guide before each exam, and we will include one of those selected problems (with modified numbers) on each exam.
  • After the quiz on the second discussion section day, you will receive 1 point for participating in the remainder of discussion section.

How to succeed in this course

For tips and suggestions on how to approach this class and the appropriate amount of work required to master the topics we'll be covering see the page: How To Study For PHY2053


UF Policies

Attendance Policy

Please consult the official University Policy for Attendance, linked from the UF Registrar’s web site.

Academic Honesty

The UF Honor Code applies to all aspects of this course. It is required that you report any possible infractions to your instructor immediately.

Violations of the UF Honor Code, including any identified online homework related academic fraud, will be processed to the full extent of the Honor Code. If the Dean of Students Office confirms a first violation, the automatic minimum penalty will be a failing grade in the course. Otherwise, the student will be referred to the Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. According to the Honor Code, a student who receives a course grade penalty is not permitted to withdraw from the course.

All University of Florida students are required to abide by the University's Academic Honesty Guidelines and by the Honor Code:

The Honor Pledge

We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied:

"On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment."

Full documentation about the honor code can be found at the following link:

Accommodating Students With Disabilities

Dr. Ray will be handling all DRC students this semester. Please message her ASAP to set up an appointment to hand in your letter (described below) and discuss your needs.

Students requesting classroom accommodation for disabilities must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation in printed format to the instructor when requesting accommodation. You will need electronic ATR forms for exams and for quizzes. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the office as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations.

More information about the Disabilities Resource Center can be found at

Other Information

Outside Help Services

The Teaching Center in Broward Hall (tel. 392-2010) offers a range of free services, including individual tutoring in physics.

Counseling and Mental Health Resources

Students facing difficulties completing the course or who are in need of counseling or urgent help should call the on-campus Counseling and Wellness Center  (352-392-1575;

Online Course Evaluation Process

Students are expected to provide professional and respectful feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing course evaluations online via GatorEvals. Guidance on how to give feedback in a professional and respectful manner is available at Students will be notified when the evaluation period opens, and can complete evaluations through the email they receive from GatorEvals, in their Canvas course menu under GatorEvals, or via Summaries of course evaluation results are available to students at


Course Summary:

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