PHYS-131: General Physics I

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
General Physics I
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
92.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
92.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
MATH-103 or MATH-112 or MATH-165 or MATH-175 with a C or better or placement into MATH-180 on the placement test or passing grade on the physics pretest.
Catalog Course Description

Introduces the principles of physics, including units on mechanics, heat, and sound. Partially fulfills the physics requirement in pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, teaching, and law. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

The goal of this course is to provide students in pre-professional programs experience with scientific thinking through working with the physical principles covered in the course.

Core Course Topics
  1. Units and basic trigonometry
  2. Vector addition and subtracting using components
  3. Kinematics of straight line motion
  4. Projectile motion
  5. Newton’s laws
  6. Circular motion
  7. Work and energy
  8. Impulse and momentum
  9. Torque and equilibrium
  10. Simple harmonic motion
  11. Fluids
  12. Heat and temperature
  13. Heat transfer methods
  14. Sound
  15. Interference and standing waves
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Use sine, cosine, and tangent correctly.
  2. Determine if a quantity is a scalar or a vector.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to add or subtract vectors using components.
  4. Calculate the magnitude and direction of a vector from the components.
  5. Describe the motion of an object using the appropriate kinematic quantities.
  6. Apply the equations for constant acceleration correctly.
  7. Analyze the motion of an object in free fall.
  8. Describe the motion of a projectile.
  9. Determine how the angle of launch affects properties of the projectile’s motion.
  10. Explain how Newton’s laws are related to the forces acting on an object.
  11. Apply Newton’s laws correctly in problems.
  12. Describe the motion of an object making a circular path.
  13. Determine the direction of the velocity and acceleration for uniform circular motion.
  14. Describe the motion of an object in terms of work, kinetic energy, and potential energy.
  15. Categorize a force as either conservative or nonconservative.
  16. Apply the conservation of mechanical energy correctly.
  17. Describe the changes in motion in terms of impulse and momentum.
  18. Categorize a force as either internal or external.
  19. Apply the conservation of momentum correctly.
  20. Explain why the location where a force is applied matters.
  21. Define the center of gravity of an object and explain how it is related to objects tipping over.
  22. Describe objects undergoing simple harmonic motion using the appropriate vocabulary.
  23. Explain why objects oscillate back and force.
  24. Apply the conservation of mechanical energy to oscillations.
  25. Explain why certain objects sink and other objects float in a fluid.
  26. Apply Pascal’s principle for hydraulic systems.
  27. Apply Archimedes’ principle to objects immersed in a fluid.
  28. Define heat as a form of energy.
  29. Explain how heat is related to phase and temperature changes.
  30. Demonstrate the difference between a mechanical wave and an electromagnetic wave.
  31. Illustrate how different properties of a medium affect the speed of a wave.
  32. Describe a wave using the terms wavelength, frequency, amplitude, and speed.
  33. Explain why people hear different frequencies of sound if the source or listener are moving.
  34. Categorize the interference between two waves as constructive or destructive.
  35. Demonstrate how beats are created by wave interference.
  36. Explain how standing waves are produced.
  37. Apply the concept of standing waves to musical instruments to determine how the size of the instrument determines the frequency of sound played.
  38. Predict the outcome of an experiment.
  39. Analyze experimental data using graphs and/or calculations.
  40. Predict the outcome of a related experiment using data from an experiment already performed.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Student learning will be assessed through classroom examinations including a cumulative final exam. Students will submit a written lab report for each experiment performed. The lab report will be used to determine if the student followed instructions, collected the data correctly, analyzed the data, and was able to draw the correct conclusions from the analysis. Problem solving skills will be evaluated using assigned problems turned in by hand or using an online homework site and on the class exams. Conceptual understanding will be evaluated through classroom discussions and on the class exams.


Standard General Physics Textbook


General Education Categories
  • Natural Sciences
Institutional Outcomes
  • Scientific Reasoning
MTA Categories
  • Category 6.1: Natural Sciences
  • Category 6.2: Natural Sciences with Laboratory Experience

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2020
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date