About PHYS 100

Physics 100 is the first semester of a one year algebra-based course, Physics 100 and Physics 105, that provides a general introduction to the subject designed for students whose principle interest is not the study of physics. Physics 100 does not use calculus techniques. Students comfortable with calculus would be better served through Physics 200/205, which covers the same material but which uses ideas and techniques from calculus to provide a much more coherent view of some topics.


You should also know that taking PHYS 100 does not preclude you being a physics major. If you wish to switch (or add) the physics major, please let your instructor know.


Topics covered include estimates, dimensional analysis, kinematics and dynamics in 2D, Newton’s Laws, energy and momentum conservation, rotational dynamics, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics. Lots of dynamics in there because physics is all about motion and how things change their motion!


Educational goals for this class are to help you think “like a physicist:” that is, to synthesize data, solve problems, and construct mental models from concepts to help you form a worldview that can help you appreciate the physical world with which you interact. These goals link with Hamilton College’s educational goals, especially 1) Intellectual curiosity and flexibility and 2) Analytic discernment.

Course Information

Instructor: Jon Gaffney; jgaffney@hamilton.edu; Office: G052; Phone: 4228

Spacetime Coordinates: 9:00-9:50 am MWF, Science Center G041

Office Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 10:00-11:00 am, or by appointment. Unavailable Thursdays.

Lab: You must be enrolled in 100L, which meets Tu, W, or Th 1-4 pm.

Text: College Physics, 3rd Edition, by Knight, Jones, and Field.

Other requirements for each class: Scientific calculator, writing utensil, good attitude.

Additional resources: Please be aware of the QSR Center. I require you to visit there at least once, and you may find it useful beyond that. I will use Blackboard for communication purposes, and please check your email at least once daily for messages.


Information regarding specific policies can be found on Blackboard; located here is merely a summary of them.













Final Exam



There is no curve in the course. Specifically, “no curve” means that grading is not a zero-sum game! You are all on the same team, so help each other learn!


Lab grading is determined by the lab instructors. They will report a score to me.


Homework grading is a completion score. Late homework is not accepted. Feedback is provided in proportion to the effort provided. You may use resources, but you must cite them. See Blackboard for a more detailed and nuanced explanation for the homework policy.


Quizzes will be short and typically include definitions (short exercises or written answers) and/or problems that are nearly identical to homework problems. They will usually be given when homework is due, and you will be allowed to use your homework on the quiz (I will collect quizzes and homework together in class).


Participation refers to ways you can take an active role in the learning culture for the class both during and outside of our meeting times. There are many ways you can do this; see Blackboard for more.


Midterms will be held in evenings of September 14th, October 10th, and November 16th, 7-9 PM, and the Final exam will be Monday, December 11th, 7-10 PM. In preparing for the exams, you may create a 1-page “cheat sheet” (8.5x11, one side only) that may include anything except worked-out problems, and which must be handwritten (unless you have a specific need that prevents such; speak with me). You are allowed a scientific calculator on the exams, but no additional materials.


Other Policies:


Collaboration is encouraged both during class and outside of class. However, collaboration must be balanced with the ethical considerations of respecting others’ work and not claiming as one’s own. Make sure you understand the Honor Code and its supporting materials; you will be held tightly to it. You are expected to cite sources on your homework assignments. Further nuance and explanation of this policy can be found on Blackboard.


Technology is ubiquitous in our society, and it is important to balance its value as a tool for both investigation and communication with its detriment as a distraction for oneself and others in terms of learning. While I do not actively constrain your use of technology, I ask that you do the following:

1) please inform me if your use of technology is a required part of your learning;

2) please use technology respectfully regarding both your and others’ attention to the course

3) constrain yourself to the Honor Code. If you are unsure, leave your device in your pocket.

Further explanation of this policy can be found on Blackboard.


Universal Access is a goal that I have for this course. I will be recording our class meetings and posting those on Blackboard. When possible, I will provide slides before class. I will also try to provide both written and oral solutions to problems. I will strive during lecture to be respectful of auditory and visual constraints (e.g., large, clear writing; repeating questions). I will try to provide opportunities to give each of you a voice in class both literally and by including a variety of activities. However, I am still learning and ask for gentle feedback regarding ways I can improve. I will appreciate your feedback.


Accommodations are available in case my efforts for UA are not sufficient for you personally. Hamilton College will make reasonable accommodations for students with properly documented disabilities. If you are eligible to receive an accommodation(s) and would like to make a formal request for this course, please discuss it with me during the first two weeks of class. You will need to provide Allen Harrison, Associate Dean of Students (Elihu Root House; (315) 859-4021) with appropriate documentation of your disability. Please visit Hamilton’s accessibility website for more information. Please note that medical issues, including those that are related to biological sex (e.g., pregnancy) are expressly suitable for accommodation.