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Introductory Physics Courses

The Department of Physics offers three two-semester introductory physics courses every year. Part I of each course is offered in the fall semester and Part II of each course is offered in the spring. Each of the three courses fulfills the Saint Anselm College "one year of the same laboratory science" core curriculum requirement. Students signing up for these courses are not required to have taken a physics course in high school. While descriptions of these courses are included in the Catalogue Listings, the following additional information has proved useful to students in the past:

INFORMATION APPLICABLE TO BOTH CLASSICAL PHYSICS AND GENERAL PHYSICS

Students enrolled in either Classical Physics or General Physics attend three fifty-minute lectures per week. Each student is required to attend one 2.5-hour laboratory session every week as well. Note that while four laboratory sessions are scheduled per week, each student is required to attend only one of these sessions each week. At the beginning of the semester, each student is assigned to either the Monday, the Tuesday, the Wednesday, or the Thursday laboratory section, and attends laboratory every week on the corresponding day. Laboratory sessions are joint sessions involving a mix of students enrolled in General Physics and students enrolled in Classical Physics.

Professor Schnick is currently (2003-2004) teaching both General Physics and Classical Physics.
 
 

CLASSICAL PHYSICS

The Classical Physics course is a standard calculus-based physics course. Students registering for this course are required either to have already taken a calculus course or to take a calculus course at the same time they are taking Classical Physics. The course has a heavy emphasis on problem solving. Students make much use of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, as well as calculus in this course. Some rudiments of calculus are introduced as part of the course at a utilitarian level so that those students who are taking calculus as a co-requisite can use some calculus techniques before studying them in the calculus course. Classical Physics is typically taken by chemistry majors, biochemistry majors, and students participating in the 3-2 Cooperative Engineering Program. Some biology majors take this course instead of the General Physics course discussed below, and, occasionally, a non-science major takes this course in fulfillment of the college's laboratory science requirement.
 
 

GENERAL PHYSICS

General Physics is an algebra-based physics course typically taken by biology majors and natural science majors. Non-science majors occasionally take this course in fulfillment of the Saint Anselm College laboratory science requirement. This course places heavy emphasis on problem solving. Students are not required to use calculus in this course. General Physics includes all the topics covered in Classical Physics and: atomic physics, nuclear physics, and special relativity. In that more topics are covered and calculus is not used, the topics that are covered, are covered at a more superficial level than they are in Classical Physics--but not much. General Physics is a rigorous and challenging course.
 
 

COMPARISON BETWEEN GENERAL PHYSICS AND CLASSICAL PHYSICS

In comparison with General Physics, Classical Physics treats fewer topics at a more sophisticated level. It is difficult to say whether this course is more difficult or less difficult than General Physics.

In support of the statement that Classical Physics is the easier course: Calculus is the "language of physics" so the explanations given in lecture can be presented in the most natural, concise, and straightforward manner. One tends to delve into topics more deeply in Classical Physics so that students tend to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and are better able to apply them. Students have fewer topics to deal with in Classical Physics.

In support of the statement that Classical Physics is the more difficult course: A greater degree of mathematical sophistication is demanded of the student. The student is expected to show a deeper level of understanding of those topics studied in Classical Physics than in the same topics studied in General Physics. Note that a more thorough treatment of a subject area sometimes means a discussion of more theories or laws associated with the subject area, hence, the fact that fewer subject areas are addressed in Classical Physics than are addressed in General Physics does not necessarily mean that less information must be dealt with by the student.

CONCEPTUAL PHYSICS

Conceptual Physics has no prerequisites other than those needed for acceptance into Saint Anselm College. The course is typically taken by non-science majors who choose to take physics to meet their Saint Anselm College laboratory science requirement. Some mathematics is used in the course. Mathematical methods are taught to the students as needed for application of the physics concepts. Students attend three fifty-minute lectures and one one-hour and fifty-minute laboratory session per week. Four laboratory sessions are scheduled each week. For laboratory sessions, the class is divided up into three sections. Each section is scheduled for one laboratory session per week.

Prof. Guerra is currently (2003-2004) teaching Conceptual Physics.