First step - Read the instructions!

For you to get the most from your lab sessions you need to come to class prepared. The first thing you should do a few days before you go to lab is read through the instructions for the lab and watch the videos if any. You should then be ready to do the lab preparation exercise.

Lab Preparation Exercise

Each week before your lab you should complete a lab preparation exercise (for short, “lab pretest”) that you will find on the Blackboard area for your PHY 123-L## lab section under Assignments. The assignment will typically go “live” Thursday (around 1:15 pm) of the week before the lab for which it is the pretest. Note that the assignment will be available to you until the end of M_F classes (Friday May 06 at 11:59 PM). You will also be interviewed by the TA in form of a quiz when you come in to the Lab. The interview by TA will determine whether you came prepared or not and will count 20% toward your grade for the lab sessioin.

Please do read and understand the MapleTA syntax. Since these assignments use MapleTA, you'll need to use a special but simple syntax to enter formulas. This syntax is probably similar to those you've seen or used before.

Many PHY 123 students initially have trouble with the MapleTA syntax. We hope the following remarks will be useful. Mathematical equations are almost always written using special symbols many of which are NOT on computer keyboards. This means that one cannot enter the mathematical symbols “directly” with one push of a keyboard button. Instead, there has to be some “syntax” in the computer software that interprets a series of keyboard strokes to create a symbol. That's the “input part”. The “output part” depends on whether the computer monitor-screen (or printer or …) is able to display the desired symbol. A so-called WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing program used with the proper hardware does this interpretation/conversion “on the fly” and displays the symbols for you.

IMPORTANT: The way we are using it, MapleTA is NOT such a WYSIWYG progam. The MapleTA syntax you have to use, examples of which are given below, is NOT processed to display mathematical symbols when, for example, you hit the return key at the end of a line, etc. Do NOT expect to see what you type in converted into mathematical symbols. That is why we need to tell you what words or letters to use to represent variables, parameters, etc. that go into “physics equations” we are using. When, in the online lab pretests, you are instructed to use a certain word or letter to represent something, you must use that word or letter as given.

Here are some common examples for the MapleTA syntax:

To multiply different quantities: is 2*x*y in Maple TA syntax

To put a to the power of b: is a^b in Maple TA syntax

Square Root: is sqrt(x) in Maple TA syntax

Exponential: is exp(x) in Maple TA syntax

Absolute Value: is abs(x) in Maple TA syntax

Scientific Notation: is 1.2E6 in Maple TA syntax

Lower indices: is x_0 in Maple TA syntax

Greek symbols:

is alpha in Maple TA syntax

is delta in Maple TA syntax

is Delta in Maple TA syntax

is eta in Maple TA syntax

is theta in Maple TA syntax

is kappa in Maple TA syntax

is lambda in Maple TA syntax

is mu in Maple TA syntax

is pi in Maple TA syntax

is rho in Maple TA syntax

is sigma in Maple TA syntax

is tau in Maple TA syntax

is phi in Maple TA syntax

is omega in Maple TA syntax

is Omega in Maple TA syntax

() i.e., parentheses: Don't be afraid to put (nested) parentheses around factors in algebraic expressions you enter! They may help solve “problems” you're having.

Numbers and units:

The figure shows a screenshot of an answer box for a number and and an answer box for units from a MapleTA-served problem. You need to know how to enter quantities into both of them. Notice next to the number box is a a blue underlined Num. If you click on it from inside a MapleTA online session, a window will open that tells how to make numeric entries in several different styles. You don't enter the number in that window. Return to the window with the number box and enter the numeric value in the number box in MapleTA-approved syntax. Next to the units box is a a blue underlined Units. If you click on it from inside a MapleTA online session, a window will open that tells how to enter units. The second column gives the definition of each unit the MapleTA syntax can handle, and the third column gives its name. The first column gives what you must type on the keyboard to enter a given unit. Notice that the syntax for the units is case sensitive. For example, N (upper-case) is what you type for the force unit newton. If you type it in lower-case, it will not be accepted as correct. You don't enter the units in that window. Return to the window with the units box and enter the units in the units box in MapleTA-approved syntax.

In the lab rooms (A-119 and A-121) Physics Building)

Each lab section has a TAs assigned to it. Your TA will start each lab period with an introduction lasting around ten minutes, you should come on time. You and your partner will then begin making measurements and doing the exercises given in the lab manual. Soon after your TA's lecture he/she will discuss with you what you are planning to do or have been doing to determine how well each of you understood the lab and to help explain difficult points. It is based on these interviews you will be assigned 50% of the lab grade. If you do well, you get a Satisfactory grade. If, however, the TA feels that you did a poor job you will be given a grade of Unsatisfactory. This means you will get only half credit for the lab. It is possible that the two students in a pair do not receive the same grade.

Since all work is done in class you should count on being in lab for the full 1 hour 50 minutes. Therefore, it is crucial that you come to lab on time. After the semester is underway, we will enforce this by instructing the TAs to give extra penalty based on how late you are and how often you are late.

Note that you can not redo a lab to improve your score and that your grade for a given lab is awarded to you by the TAs before you leave the lab room. In this course you do not prepare a written lab report to be submitted after the lab session.

Things to take to lab

  • A printout of the pdf version of the Lab manual
  • A printout of the pdf file for the Lab “worksheet”
  • Your lab notebook (must have graph paper on at least one side of every page). It should be a bound notebook (NOT a looseleaf binder) that has lined paper on one side of each page and graph paper on the other side of the page. Such spiral bound notebooks should be available in the campus (or other) bookstore(s). An example of one is shown at Please do NOT use a “composition notebook”. The pages are small, and they have only crude “graph paper” printed on them, 4×4 quad as I recall.
  • Your calculator
  • Your own earbuds or headphones if you want to listen to the videos while doing the lab. As just about everyone has an ipod/phone/other mp3 player we figure it's better you use your own than to try to provide you with these. Each computer has two headphone jacks.

After the lab

You should try not to forget what you have learned in each lab! There will be some clicker questions and some problems on the exams that are directly related to the labs. Moreover, we hope what you learn in lab will be useful for you for years to come.

phy123on/instructions.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/19 10:57 by kdehmelt
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