December 6, 2022



We want to maintain a reasonably flexible and laid-back approach to the classroom, but at the same time we need to maintain standards of politeness while ensuring that students can be successful. To this end there will be a participation grade which includes but may not be entirely limited to

  • Students must be seated within three (3) minutes of the bell.
  • Habitual tardiness will be addressed more aggressively than a rare event.
  • Students are expected to arrive with their materials including a calculator and a pencil.
  • Side conversations during instruction are inappropriate and discourteous.
  • Under no circumstances may a student study for a non-physics class during physics.
  • If a student completes the assigned work early, that student will generally be requested to serve as a peer tutor for other students in the class. This promotes learning for both, enhances the inclusive environment and helps the entire class to move forward.
  • Students who are advancing more rapidly may be offered more challenging work.

The random seating chart has really improved the quality of the class. Grades have improved significantly, and the class is more inclusive. We will continue to use the random seating chart.

Quality of Work & Late Work

  • Use a pencil for all graphs, sketches and computations. Erase mistakes completely and do not use cross-outs.
  • Work neatly or be prepared to be marked down and to re-do the work.
  • All numbers require units.
  • All graphs must use as much of the graph as reasonably achievable, and both titles and axis labels are required every time.
  • Always support your answer by showing work to support your reasoning.
  • Except in the case of an absence, late homework is not accepted.
  • Lab reports will be marked down 10% every calendar day that they are late.
  • Students are responsible for checking the calendar and the website.

General & Honors Physics
2014 – 2015 General Information

Dr. Robert F. Szalapski
The Harley School – Physics

§ 1. Contact Information

Web site:

We will make extensive use of my web site, Every student must have an account on this website. My Google calendar is embedded on the “Students/Harley Physics” page, and it will be updated frequently. A wide variety of links and down-loadable resources are available here.


This is the fastest and most reliable form of communication. My Harley e-mail is, and associated with my website I have

Communication is a good thing, and more is generally better.

§ 2. Syllabus

This is an algebra-based physics course. For students of Honors Physics it will be roughly at the level of a Regents physics course, but with far more concern for depth of understanding. For students of General Physics there will be more a more conceptual and less mathematical approach. The fall will be fairly traditional with a focus on kinematics, Newton’s Laws and conservation of energy. This will prepare us beautifully to focus on energy and sustainability issues and to take advantage of the Commons in the winter and spring.

§ 3. Grading

I like exploration, and to the greatest possible degree this course will be hands-on and exploratory. To me Physics is like seeing into the secret blueprints of Creation, and Understanding is a great motivation. I do not like tests and grading, but we will have them in order to prevent the collapse of the fabric of Western Civilization as we know it. Points will be assigned in four major categories as shown in the pie chart to the right. Explanations of each category will be given below. The result will be an allegedly useful measure of something that hopefully correlates with actual learning.

§ 3.1. Homework (10%)

Anticipate homework on a daily basis that could take the form of reading, writing, problem solving, preparing for laboratory activities and maintaining the class binder. While 10% may seem to be a small piece of the pie, success in the course correlates very strongly with performance on daily homework.

§ 3.2. Quizzes (10%)

Quizzes may be announced, but in the even that they are unannounced they will pose little challenge to students who have completed the homework.

§ 3.3. Labs (30%)

Labs take at least 25% of the allotted course time and are a very big part of the class. Data must be recorded in a laboratory notebook, but lab reports will be prepared and submitted electronically. The format will be described in a separate document. Please note that exams will cover lab work.

§ 3.4. Exams (50%)

Exams will cover concepts, problem solving and laboratory practices. You should expect some multiple-choice questions, some essay questions and some problems. The final exam grade will be entered in the grade book twice, and the lowest exam grade will be dropped. This means that either one exam is dropped outright or the final is weighted as an ordinary exam.

§ 4. Text Book

We will be using an on-line textbook: Conceptual Physics, Paul G Hewitt, Prentice Hall School Division (2006),
ISBN13: 978-0131663015, ISBN10: 0131663011.


§ 5. Class Binder

It is a class requirement that you have a course binder with section dividers for the different graded elements of the course. Maintaining the binder will be part of your homework.

§ 6. Calculators

Bring either a scientific or a graphing calculator every day!

§ 7. Cell Phones

Cell phones serve no constructive purpose in the classroom. They should be silenced and out of sight – preferably left in your locker.

§ 8. Personal Items

Every day you should bring your book, your binder, your calculator and writing implements. If you bring anything beyond these items they must fit in a bag that is stowed under your workspace or chair on the instruction side of the room. Clutter is a classroom hazard considering the amount of movement that will take place.

§ 9. Food, Drink & Gum

You may have water in a non-spill container which you keep on your workspace on the instruction side of the room. Nothing else is permitted, and even water is not allowed on the lab side of the room or near computers and equipment.


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