Capstone courses are the culminations of physics topics in the OSU undergraduate physics curriculum. These courses occur in the senior year of undergraduate study. Their purpose is to synthesize and extend relevant physics topics that have been covered in the lower-division and Paradigm courses.

The Capstone courses have more traditional distinctions than the Paradigms courses. While the Paradigms aim at helping students develop deep knowledge of canonical problems, Capstone courses aim at expanding students' breadth of skills in a specific physics topic area.

For example, in the Classical Mechanics Capstone, students are asked to solve problems that combine topics from their sophomore level physics courses (kinematics, Newton's laws, energy, angular momentum, etc). Students are also expected to use techniques that were introduced as derivations in these sophomore courses (like solving differential equations that arise from a Newtonian analysis of a system). Students are also introduced to advanced, alternative formulations of mechanics: Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods, and given opportunities to solve some problems using more than one method or by selecting from several methods. This course expects students to be familiar with math methods learned in the Paradigms courses (i.e. vector calculus, solving differential equations, matrix methods, etc.). Once students are familiar with the Lagrangian techniques, students are presented with a Lagrangian formulation of coupled oscillations (which was introduced using a Newtonian formulation in the Periodic Potentials Paradigm).

An advantage of the Paradigms are the multitude of perspectives students are exposed to by the numerous Paradigms instructors. The longer length of the Capstone courses allows a single instructor to give an overview from a single perspective, allowing for students to get a sense of a coherent story. Capstone courses are used to summarize the basic skills students have acquired as undergraduate physics majors, synthesizing and extending these skills to new situations, and presenting topics in an order more consistent with the traditional groupings topics in physics courses at other institutions.

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