Physics 110/111/114/115 Labs

Course Support
Lab Contents


Physics lab sessions consist of one two-hour period per week, with most experiments given two periods to complete. During the first period the experiment is set up, data is taken and some preliminary calculations are made. During the second period the calculations and error analysis are completed and conclusions are drawn. You are required to come prepared for the lab by having read and understood the experiment and any related material, and having completed any homework assigned.

All experimental work is done in the lab and recorded into a lab notebook called a logbook. The logbook is left in the lab at all times; no work in the logbook is permitted to be done outside the lab. Any materials (such as quizzes, formals, notes) from a previous physics lab course are not permitted in the lab. In addition to the work done in the lab, there are two formal reports assigned during the term that are to be completed at home.

The physics lab sets as its standard a research lab in industry or university. Students are expected to conduct themselves professionally. The grading of work is based on what is expected in scientific research.

Overview of Physics Labs

First year physics labs provide enthusiastic students with several broad-ranging opportunities, such as:

In addressing these objectives, the physics lab is independent from the course. Although the experiments will roughly follow the material taught in the course, the theory and background of an experiment may not have been covered in the course. You are expected to learn material for the lab in addition to your course work. New material will be covered in the lab as well as in the classroom.

Fundamentally, you will find that the physics lab differs from biology and chemistry labs in that the physics lab does not provide detailed step-by-step procedures, but rather expects you to develop your own approach to experiments. The goal here is for you to learn an accepted approach to conducting experiments in general through the practice of conducting specific experiments.

You will, however, be constrained by Specifications in all the work that you present.  Specifications for the publication of your work will be presented in class, in the Appendices, and in the Supplements section of the manual.