PHYS 104 Discoveries in Physics • 6 Cr.


Introduces physical reasoning and basic concepts in physics. Hand-on activities demonstrate fundamental concepts in geometric optics, electricity, and motion. Designed for students with little or no previous physics. Appropriate for general students including those preparing for PHYS 114 and K-12 teachers. Not sufficient preparation for PHYS 121. Prerequisite: MATH 099.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • The student will demonstrate acquired analytical problem solving skills and apply them to problems from different topic areas. The student will demonstrate this objective when they:
    • Gather and process data
    • Classify and organize the information according to inherent regularities
    • Identify properties or characteristics as being important or unimportant (relevant or irrelevant)
    • Define the problem
    • Represent the problem graphically, verbally or mathematically
    • Translate from one type of representation to another
    • Decompose the problem into constituent parts
    • Conduct the actions identified above and assemble the solution
    • Present the solution (construct a written or verbal synthesis)
  • The student will propose and refine physical models based on observation, discussion with other observers, and physical reasoning
  • The student will demonstrate the ability to apply general science principles from the three topic areas
    • Ability to generalize rules learned in one area to unfamiliar but similar settings
    • Ability to apply principles to problems found in every day workplace and home settings.
  • The student will demonstrate the ability to apply proportional reasoning to numerical problems.
  • The student will demonstrate an understanding of the concept of the light ray as a physical model and draw ray diagrams as tools for the description of observations of optical phenomena and for the analysis of optical systems
  • The student will demonstrate an understanding of fundamental elements of current electricity. In particular the student will demonstrate the ability to
    • Recognize the role of the completed circuit and interconnecting wires
    • Be able to distinguish between the flow of “stuff” in a circuit and the potential drop that is associated with this flow.
    • Associate Ohms law as the proportion between these concepts
    • Apply the above elements to predict the outcome of changes made to elementary circuits
    • Apply the above elements to trouble shoot faults in home and office electrical connections
  • The student will understand the concepts of potion, velocity, acceleration
  • The student will interpret graphs of position, velocity, acceleration, and relate these to the motion of every day objects
  • The student will understand the role of vectors to describe position, velocity, and acceleration
  • The student will be able to make elementary vector computations