Physics 317 Syllabus, Fall 2008
St. Lawrence University
Daniel W. Koon, Instructor

Text: No text is required for this lab, but you need to buy a lab notebook and a glue stick.

Course overview: This junior level lab is designed to prepare you to do independent research. With that goal in mind, each lab will require you to collect data, analyze data, complete error analysis, and communicate the details of that work. You will be exposed to some basic physics equipment that you may see again in your careers. A primary objective is to foster a spirit of independence and inquisitiveness in the lab. Toward that end, many of the labs will be completed on your own.

Course requirements: The requirements for this course will consist of writing lab reports, keeping a detailed lab notebook, and doing a video capture project of your own design which will be presented orally.

Lab Notebook: Your lab notebook is an important part of this course. Each experiment that you conduct should be well documented in your notebook. In order to determine if you have been complete, a good question to ask yourself is "could someone with my background in physics repeat this experiment if they were given my lab notebook?" Your notebook should be detailed. Your lab notebooks will be collected typically one week after your experiment is completed. Each experiment will be graded separately. One notebook grade will be dropped.

         It should include information about the objective of the experiment. What is the point of the experiment? What are you trying to learn? Include an introduction to the experiment.

         It should include information about the procedure. What equipment did you use? How did you put it all together? Pictures almost always important. If you measured something, you should explain what equipment was used and how the measurement was made.

         It should include all of the data that you take. Tables are very useful. You may start a table and find you need more columns. It is ok to start over. If you use variables, define them. As you take data, think about how you are going to estimate error. For each type of measurement, you should include how you are going to estimate the error. What is the uncertainty involved in the measurement.

         Write down anything you observe during your experiment. Does the experiment lead you to ask other questions? Do you have trouble with any equipment? If so note your difficulties and how you solve them.

         Your analysis should be included in your notebook. You should use your notebook to record any calculations you make. You should include graphs of your data. You should indicate what conclusions you can draw from the graphs of your data.

         You should include a conclusions section that indicates what the overall results are, that summarizes the conclusions that you can draw from your experiment, and that describes issues with the experiment and how you might improve on it if you were to repeat it.

Lab reports: You will turn in two formal lab reports. These should follow a formal lab write up procedure similar to the 221 and 222 labs. You will be given two handouts on formal lab reports and there will be a report writing workshop and a report exchange. Each formal lab report you complete will include two drafts. The due dates are on the report schedule (see the link below).

A half a letter grade will be deducted from your report grade for each day that the report is late, no exceptions. It is very important that you finish your labs in the allotted time. If you are unable to finish the experiment in class, you must finish it on your own time. The first draft is not graded, if it is turned in late, a half letter grade will be deducted from your final report grade.

Experiments: You will be completing three longer experiments and two shorter experiments in this course. You will not have a lab partner for the longer experiments; you will work individually. On the short experiments you will work in groups. Each long experiment is allotted three weeks (or so) allowing plenty of time to collect the data AND complete the analysis in the lab. The experiments are described below. If you click on the links below, you will download PDF versions of the instructions.

Mechanical Resonance

-In this lab you will investigate the phenomenon of resonance by measuring the resonance frequencies and quality factors of a free-standing metal rod and a Chladni plate. You will use an oscilloscope, function generator and lock-in amplifier in this experiment.

Electrical Resonance
-In this lab you will investigate the phenomenon of resonance by measuring the resonance frequency and quality factor of several electric circuits. You will determine how those parameters change as various circuit values of resistance and capacitance are changed. You will use an oscilloscope, function generator and lock-in amplifier in this experiment.

Electrical Charge Transport

-In this experiment you will investigate how the resistivity and Hall coefficient of metals and semimetals vary with temperature. You will use vacuum equipment, an evaporator, four-wire resistance measurement techniques and cryogenic techniques.


Video Project

-This is a lab that you will design and conduct on your own. The project must involve and experiment where the data can be collected using a video camera. You will need to write a brief proposal for your project. Projects will be approved on a first come first serve basis, so if you turn in your proposal early, you have a better chance of being able to perform your proposed idea. You will give an oral presentation on your video experiment to the class

Download Proposal Form

Download "How to choose a camera"


Lab notebook

35 %

Lab reports 2@ 20% each

40 %

Video project

25 %

Lab due dates and experiment schedule (Link coming later)

Academic Honesty:

The student handbook states on page 149 that "All students at St. Lawrence University are bound by honor to maintain the highest level of academic integrity. By virtue of membership in the St. Lawrence community, every student accepts the responsibility to know the rules of academic honesty, to abide by them at all times, and to encourage all others to do the same." You are responsible for your own work. In this class you will be expected to use reference materials to complete the introduction of your lab reports. The materials you use should be cited properly. You are expected to cite the lab instructions if you draw from them in your reports. You are also expected to create your own images using a digital camera or a drawing program where appropriate.

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