Week 2

Reading: PSE Chap 1, Physics and Measurement
Topics: This week, we finish our discussion length, time and other units, unit conversions, dimensional analysis. We will also focus on orders of magnitude and how to estimate quantities.

Homework and Laboratory Exercises: Due Wednesday of week 3. Lab due Thursday of week 3.

  1. Pendulum laboratory experiment
    • Study the guidelines for how to keep a laboratory notebook.
    • Suspend a pendulum bob from a thin cord. Pull it back, release it, and measure the time for one oscillation. How far did you pull it back? How long was the pendulum? What is the weight of the bob? Be sure to estimate and record the uncertainty in each of your measured quantities.
    • Repeat this procedure for several different cord lengths, recording your procedure and data in your lab book notebook
    • Using Logger Pro, make a (beautiful) plot of the period of oscillation as a function of the pendulum length. Be sure to clearly label your axes and make your data points large and visible (but not too large).
    • Does your data behave as you expect, based on dimensional analysis? Fit an appropriate mathematical function to your data to see if it matches your expectations.
    • Print your plot and fix it into your laboratory notebook. Explain what you learned from your experiment and what you would do differently if you were to do the experiment again.
    • Scan and submit all of the laboratory notebook pages from our pendulum experiment this week.
  2. Estimate the speed of the earth as it orbits around the sun. Hint: the earth is bit under 100 million miles from the sun. Solution.
  3. Estimate the number of spiders inside your house. Explain your reasoning. Solution.

Quiz: our first quiz will be on Monday of week 3. It will cover material from weeks 1 and 2.

Registration for College Credit: Wisconsin Lutheran College is requiring students in this course who are interested in obtaining college credit to apply by September 15, 2023. Please apply in the application link below for each class you are wishing to apply for college credit.


Students will have until October 21, 2023 to drop the course with Wisconsin Lutheran College. Once students apply we will wait for Wisconsin Lutheran College to confirm eligibility and requirements for college credit and communicate out further information. Please reach out to Mr. Davis if you have any questions.

Classroom problems: As a reminder, these are some of the problems we worked out in class…
  1. Dimensional analysis: determine how the period of a pendulum depends on its length and the acceleration of gravity.
  2. Dimensional analysis: determine how the frequency of a stretched vibrating string depends on its length, tension, and mass per unit length.

General College Physics