Instructor: Joanna Atkin
Office: D1B17 (down the hall from the main office).
Class webpage: and on D2L.

Meeting time and location: 4:00-4:50 pm Monday for section 100 and 4:00-4:50 Tuesday for section 200, in Duane G1B30.

Office hours: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM on Tuesday or by appointment.

Lab Coordinator: Scott Pinegar
Office and contact: Duane G2B78A, Tel: 492-6840, email:

Textbooks: “An Introduction to Error Analysis”, 2nd Ed." by John R. Taylor (recommended).

Needed Equipment: You will need to use a “clicker” for this class, which is available at CU bookstore for about $40.

Goals and topics: This course is designed to be complementary to the theory courses, Physics 1 and 2. You will get to apply the physical concepts you learned there, in order to develop a feeling for how the concepts relate to measurable quantities and what they mean. You’ll gain some insight into what it means to set a level of confidence in the accuracy of your result, and to appreciate that uncertainty is an essential part of any measurement. Through the lectures, readings, and associated exercises you’ll learn some techniques by which we quantify and interpret measurement uncertainty. This is important for comparing different results, and will help you to develop a basis for judging good science.

Course Format (please read carefully):

There are 15 laboratory experiments available, of which you will complete six. All lab experiments take two lab sessions. Two of the labs (M1 and E1) will be done by all the students, working in pairs. Lab M1 (The Simple Pendulum) will be done in week 2 and 3; Lab E1 (Circuits) will be done in weeks 6 and 7. In weeks 4 and 5 you will choose from the other Mechanics labs (M2-6), and in weeks 8 and 9 you choose from the E&M labs (E2-4). For the four remaining weeks you can choose between the rest of the Mechanics, E&M, other Other labs (O1-5).

For the required M1 and E1 labs, you work in pairs to make measurements, and record data. However, you must work individually for your lab reports. For other labs, you may work on labs individually or in pairs. Again, your lab report must be an individual effort. Identical lab reports will receive zero credit.

There are only three different stations for each experiment; therefore, to ensure that the lab you want is available, you must reserve the lab by signing the reservation book in the lab. Note that you only sign up for a lab after you are done with your current one.

You should start on your lab write-ups in class. If you need more time, you can work on them home, but your lab notebooks may not be removed from the 1140 lab under any circumstances. All graphing and most of the data analysis will be done using Mathematica. The completed write-up will consist of a Mathematica document and a few pages in your lab notebook. You should check some sample lab write-ups on the wall in G2B66 to be familiar with the format, and ask your TA for help.

In order to complete the experiment and the write-up during your lab periods, it is essential that you carefully study the lab instructions before coming to lab. There is a set of pre-lab questions at the end of the lab instructions, and these must be completed and turned in (to the wood homework box in the G2B66 lab, and NOT in the Help Room area) immediately before starting your first lab session for each new experiment (Note that you are NOT to work on the pre-lab questions during the lab session).

If you desire extra time to complete your lab, you can come into the 1140 lab at most times of the week from 8 am to about 5:30 pm to work (check the lab schedules and look for the open lab sessions). However, this extra time cannot be used in place of your regular class time, but only in addition to your regularly scheduled class time. Final lab write-ups are due at 4 pm, 3 working days following the last scheduled lab session for that experiment, although many can finish and turn in the lab report at the end of the second lab session (again, turn in to your lab session’s box in the wood homework cabinet in the 1140 Lab, Room G2B66). You will get less than full credit for any lab report that you turn in late. Labs cannot be made up later, so you must stick to the schedule. You need to talk to your TA if you have special circumstances that prevent you from completing lab reports on time.

There will be four homework assignments on error analysis. These assignments will be announced in lecture (Monday or Tuesday), and will be due the Wednesday eight days later. You must deposit them by 4:00pm in your lab session’s box in the wood homework cabinet in the 1140 Lab, Room G2B66 There will be an online midterm.

PHYS 1140 is a one-credit course. For most classes at CU, the work load peaks near the end of the semester. In this course, you will have completed all the work two weeks earlier, and most of the work is concentrated at the start of the semester.

Your final grade consists of the following four parts:
a) 4 Homework assignments plus clicker points: 20% (clicker points are extra credit up to 2% -- your homework score is weighted less the better you do on clickers).
b) 6 completed lab write-ups: 50%.
c) Pre-lab questions: 20%.
d) Midterm quiz: 10%.

The average grade for this course is about a B. At the end of the semester, we will normalize the lab scores so that each TA has the same average score for his/her sessions, in order to compensate for any differences in grading habits (unless we have clear evidence that some sessions are “smarter”). The TAs’ will have the option of raising or lower your final grade by 1/2 letter grade, based on your in-class performance. Reasons for lowering the grade include: chronic tardiness or unexcused absence, lack of familiarity with the lab instructions, poor understanding of the physics principles used. Reasons for raising the grade include: asking insightful questions, unusually high level of preparedness, excellent lab technique. Under normal circumstances, the grade will not be changed.

University policies

Disabilities: If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to your professor a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner (for exam accommodations provide your letter at least one week prior to the exam) so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact Disability Services at 303-492-8671 or by e-mail at If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see Temporary Injuries under Quick Links at Disability Services website ( and discuss your needs with your professor.

Religious observances: Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. In this class, you should notify me at least two weeks before any anticipated class absences. See full details at

Classroom Behavior: Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, color, culture, religion, creed, politics, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression, age, disability, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records. See policies at and at

Equity and Discrimination: The University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. The University of Colorado does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status in admission and access to, and treatment and employment in, its educational programs and activities. (Regent Law, Article 10, amended 11/8/2001). CU-Boulder will not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment based upon Protected Classes or related retaliation against or by any employee or student. For purposes of this CU-Boulder policy, "Protected Classes" refers to race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or veteran status. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at 303-492-5550. Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies, and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be obtained at

Academic Honesty: All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. All incidents of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council (; 303-735-2273). Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty member and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Other information on the Honor Code can be found at and at