Laboratory Policies

Physics 107 – Introduction to Classical Physics Lab


The laboratory experience enables each student to develop a better understanding of physics through a hands-on, cooperative learning environment.


Throughout the semester we will be using projectile launchers, ballistic pendulums, pith balls and other equipment to demonstrate various physical concepts. The most important piece of equipment we will use is your brain – bring it! We also ask that you bring the following for each lab:

Pen/pencil, calculator, lab handouts/notebook and textbook

Lab Notebook

For this lab you need to purchase a 3-ring binder. All labs can be found in Lyceum. You should download/ print each lab prior to your arrival at lab. All completed labs should be kept in your notebook along with any other handouts you are given. Note: you cannot print the lab handout once you are in lab.

Some of the labs you will be doing this semester are fairly new. We would like to hear your feedback about the labs in a continuing effort to improve them. Lab assignments are structured as follows:

Pre-Lab: Each lab has a pre-lab section which you are required to complete before coming to lab. We will check your pre-lab for completeness as you enter lab each week, so please be prepared to turn in your completed pre-lab to one of the lab instructors when you arrive. Your pre-lab will be graded and returned to you in lab.  Note: if you are more than five minutes late for lab, you will not receive credit for your pre-lab.

Lab: Each lab is designed to fit into a 1:20 hour time block. You should be able to complete each lab in the assigned time assuming you are on time, have completed the pre-lab and are prepared to work efficiently. We do not want you to rush; however, there is not a lot of time to dawdle. Non-lab activities including excessive chit-chat, checking e-mail or other off-topic activities are not permitted as they will prevent you from completing your lab appropriately. It is not possible for lab to run late because there may be other labs immediately following you or other pre-scheduled commitments which might limit the instructors’ availability after lab.

The labs you will do are intended to be interactive. You are expected to work with your lab partner(s) throughout the lab while completing lab activities, thinking through problems and predicting outcomes to procedure steps. Remember that the one place in lab in which you will never be incorrect is in a prediction, so be appropriately broad-minded and thoughtful when making predictions!

You will also be asked to check in with a lab instructor at various points throughout the lab. We want your lab experience to be rewarding and efficient; to that end we want to double check your work along the way to make sure you are continuing on the right track. We will sign your lab at these points to indicate that you have checked in. It is important to your understanding of material as well as your overall grade that you check in as asked!

Homework: Each lab has a homework section immediately following the lab. The homework is intended to take an additional 1-1 ½ hours to complete. The purpose of the homework is to practice and further develop your understanding of concepts from lab and/or to analyze data taken in lab. The completed lab and homework should be turned in to the correct drawer in the collection bin outside the lab:

  • Monday lab sections: Thursday (of the same week) by 11:00 AM
  • Tuesday lab sections: Friday (of the same week) by 11:00 AM
  • Make sure to keep returned work in you notebook!

Missed Lab: To excuse an absence from lab and be allowed to make up the lab, you must obtain a dean’s excuse. If you need to miss a lab, you must contact Mark Nordberg at 786-6042 ( as soon as possible to arrange to make up the lab. To make up a lab you are expected to pre-schedule a time to attend a different lab section during the same week unless this is not possible and is covered by the dean’s excuse. Failure to complete all 11 labs in physics 107 will result in a failing grade for physics 107.

Lab Grading Policy

Labs will be graded on a 25 point scale. The following guidelines will be used to grade your labs:

5-point category: these problems are generally rare, but will result in a 5 point deduction from your lab grade. Thoughtful pre-lab preparation will help you to avoid most of these.

  • a) misunderstanding of the basic physics concepts
  • b) serious omission of requested work
  • c) careless or unsafe lab procedure/ not following instructions
  • d) per day, lab turned in later than 21 hours after due date.
  • e) pre-lab not completed; arrival at lab without copy of printed lab

3-point category: these problems have a substantial negative impact on the quality of your work or the ability of lab instructors to grade your work.

  • a) minimal time/effort; over reliance on lab partner
  • b) inappropriate behavior; disruption to others
  • c) disorganized work; hard to follow
  • d) poor measurement technique; uncertainty not minimized
  • e) missing or improper uncertainties; data not taken individually by all lab partners when requested
  • f) missing/inadequate calculations or explanations
  • g) question/response left blank

2-point category: these problems are less serious but do indicate a concern about the thoroughness of your lab.

  • a) missing or improper units on measured/ calculated quantities
  • b) answers to calculations not shown clearly
  • c) lab turned in late (less than 21 hours after due date)