skip page navigationOregon State University

Physics Writing Intensive Course
PH317X: Experimental Physics
Winter 2020 as PH317X; subsequent winter terms PH317
Last update: 20 February 2020

Instructor: Janet Tate, Weniger 485, (541) 737-1700;
Office Hours: By appointment
TA: Elena Wennstrom
Class time: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays 2:00-4:00 pm
Location:Weniger 232

PH317 is a 3-credit WIC (writing-intensive curriculum) course offered to Physics majors. PH317 provides a research-like experience, gives you the opportunity to frame your own experimental questions, work together in teams , and communicate your results just as you would in a real research laboratory. The emphasis is on discovering how to make the most of the equipment you have at hand, modeling the experimental set up (including its limitations and inherent uncertainty), and learning some fundamental physics through experiment and writing. You will propose and conduct an experiment of your own and comunicate the results to your peers. All through the process, you are encouraged to explore how the physical principles and experimental methods are applied in modern research.

Week 1
Introductory material Lab safety, lab culture & working collaboratively, statistics and uncertainty
Week 2-5
X-ray physics - absorption and diffraction You will measure x-ray emission, absorption, Bragg diffraction and learn about the uses of these in modern materials science. This section includes in-class writing and peer review leading to a polished technical report.
Week 6-8
Statistical physics - Brownian motion You will measure Brownian motion of polystyrene microshperes suspended in a fluid and track their motion with a ccd camera. You will analyse the motion using ImageJ and other spreadsheet programs. This section includes in-class writing and peer review leading to a polished technical report.
Week 9-10
Design an experiment You will propose and conduct an experiment (or experiments) that extends or is related to one of the previous two (with some suggestions to help). This section includes a report that may be oral or written.

Learning outcomes
Baccalaureate Core 1. Develop and articulate content knowledge and critical thinking in the discipline through frequent practice of informal and formal writing. (assessed by ungraded writing assignments, notebooks).
2. Demonstrate knowledge/understanding of audience expectations, genres, and conventions appropriate to communicating in the discipline. (assessed by technical report, oral presentation, peer review).
3. Demonstrate the ability to compose a document of at least 2000 words through multiple aspects of writing, including brainstorming, drafting, using sources appropriately, and revising comprehensively after receiving feedback (assessed by technical report)
General 1. Acquire new knowledge about physical phenomena (here, x-raydiffraction and Brownian motion) and use appropriate physical models to predict the results of experiments (assessed by technical report, presentations, quizzes).
2. Demonstrate technical and organizational skills by using, describing, and troubleshooting equipment and experimental procedures and by organizing collection, storage and evaluation of data (assessed by lab notebooks).
3. Analyze the quality, accuracy and precision of measurements and draw valid conclusions from the experimental data (assessed by lab notebooks, technical report, quizzes).
4. Participate in a scientific team, collaborate, assign and accept roles (assessed by individual reflections, technical report, peer review).
5. Provide peer review to team members (evaluate by peer review assignment).
6. Communicate scientific results and process (assessed by technical report, presentation, lab notebook).