College Physics I

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHY 131

       Course Name: College Physics I

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 2 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

MAT 122 or concurrent enrollment in MAT 122.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces physics. Algebra and trigonometry are used throughout the course. Content includes kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, energy, momentum, gravity, rotational dynamics, simple harmonic motion, fluid mechanics, and heat. Intended for liberal arts, life science and health science students.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Use scientific notation to convert the values of physical quantities from one unit system to another.
  2. Explain the meaning of the terms:  displacement, velocity and acceleration.
  3. Solve problems relating to motion with constant acceleration.
  4. Explain the basic steps in solving physics problems.
  5. Convert a physical situation into a mathematical equation and show the steps in the mathematical derivation of key formulas.
  6. Differentiate a vector quantity from a scalar quantity, compute the components of a vector, and be able to apply vectors to the study of motion in two dimensions: forces, linear momentum and angular momentum.
  7. Explain Newton's three laws and analyze physical situations involving frictional, gravitational, and other forces.
  8. Differentiate between the translational motion equations and the rotational motion equations.
  9. Analyze stability and equilibrium using torque and Newton’s laws.
  10. Calculate the center of mass of a geometrically simple object.
  11. Compare and integrate force, work and energy into a coherent framework.
  12. Analyze physical processes using conservation of energy.
  13. Analyze collisions/physical processes using conservation of linear momentum and/or angular momentum.
  14. Calculate the position, velocity, acceleration, period and energy of an object undergoing simple harmonic motion, given sufficient information.
  15. Discuss the concept of strength of materials and apply to inanimate structures and living objects.
  16. Discuss concepts and analyze fluids under static and dynamic equilibrium conditions and to apply these to living systems.
  17. Calculate and measure the thermal properties of solids, liquids and gases.
  18. Apply the principles of heat, heat transfer, heat capacity, evaporation, etc., to living systems.

General Education Learning Outcomes:

  1. Think Critically – identify, define, analyze, interpret, and evaluate ideas, concepts, information, problems, solutions, and consequences. This includes the ability to compute and comprehend quantitative information and to engage in the scientific process.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Introduction
    1. What is Physics?
    2. Measurement
    3. Dimensions, Systems of Units
    4. Derived Units
    5. Unit Conversion
    6. Significant Figures
    7. Scientific Notation and Powers of 10
  2. Linear Motion
    1. Distance and Displacement
    2. Speed and Velocity
    3. Uniform Acceleration
    4. The Acceleration Due to Gravity
    5. Problem Solving in Physics
  3. Vectors and Multidimensional Motion
    1. Resolution of Vectors
    2. Velocity in Two Dimensions
    3. Uniform Acceleration in Two Dimensions
    4. Projectile Motion
    5. Relative Velocities in Two Dimensions
  4. Newton's Laws of Motion
    1. Newton's First Law of Motion
    2. Newton's Second Law of Motion
    3. Weight Distinguished From Mass
    4. Newton's Third Law of Motion
    5. Tension
    6. Friction
  5. Rotational Kinematics and Gravity
    1. Angular Measure
    2. Angular Velocity
    3. Uniform Rotational Acceleration
    4. Circular Motion and Centripetal Acceleration
    5. Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation
  6. Equilibrium and Torques
    1. Torques
    2. Second Condition of Equilibrium
    3. Center of Gravity and Center of Mass
    4. Equilibrium and the Human Body
  7. Work and Energy
    1. Work
    2. Power
    3. Kinetic Energy
    4. Potential Energy
    5. Work and Energy
    6. Conservation of Mechanical Energy
    7. An Application of Mechanical Energy
    8. Conservation of Total Energy
  8. Impulse and Linear Momentum
    1. Impulse
    2. Collisions
    3. Elastic Collisions in One Dimension
    4. Inelastic Collisions
  9. Rotational Dynamics
    1. Torques and Moments of Inertia
    2. Work and Rotational Kinetic Energy
    3. Translational and Rotational Energy Combined
    4. Angular Momentum
    5. Directional Property of Torque and Angular Momentum
  10. Simple Harmonic Motion
    1. Producing Simple Harmonic Motion
    2. A Description of Simple Harmonic Motion
    3. Mechanical Energy in Simple Harmonic Motion
    4. Some Other Simple Harmonic Motion Systems
  11. Some Properties of Materials
    1. Stress and Strain
    2. Elastic Moduli
    3. Strength of Materials
    4. Strength and Scaling Laws
  12. Mechanics of Fluids
    1. Density
    2. Pressure and Pascal's Principle
    3. Measurement of Pressure
    4. Buoyancy and Archimedes' Principle
    5. Hydrodynamics and Continuity
    6. Work‑Energy and Bernoulli's Equation
    7. Applications of Fluid Flow Equations
  13. Temperature, Gases, and Kinetic Theory
    1. Temperature
    2. Temperature Scales
    3. Thermal Expansion
    4. Gas Laws
    5. Kinetic Theory of Gases
  14. Heat and Heat Transfer
    1. Latent Heat of Phase Change
    2. Conduction
    3. Convection
    4. Radiation
    5. Evaporation and Humidity
  15. Thermodynamics
    1. The First Law of Thermodynamics
    2. Reversible Thermodynamic Processes
    3. Heat Engines and Refrigerators
    4. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
    5. The Refrigerator

Laboratory Exercises: A minimum of ten laboratory exercises will be chosen from the following list:

  1. Experimental Uncertainty (Error) and Data Analysis
  2. Measurement Instruments (Mass, Volume, and Density)
  3. Uniformly Accelerated Motion: Free Fall
  4. The Addition and Resolution of Vectors: The Force Table
  5. Projectile Motion
  6. Centripetal Force
  7. Friction
  8. Conservation of Linear Momentum in 2-D Collisions
  9. Work and Energy
  10. Torques, Equilibrium, and the Center of Gravity
  11. Simple Harmonic Motion
  12. The Thermal Coefficient of Linear Expansion
  13. Specific Heats of Metals
  14. Archimedes' Principle: Buoyancy and Density
  15. The Simple Pendulum and Simple Harmonic Motion
  16. Rotational Motion and Momentum of Inertia
  17. Conservation of Angular Momentum and Energy
  18. The Ballistic Pendulum

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lecture, demonstration, problem solving, cooperative learning, and discussion methods will be used throughout the course. In addition, laboratory demonstrations and hands-on activities will be performed, and selected videos may be shown.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. The required readings will include the textbook, laboratory manual, and selected material supplied by the instructor.
  2. Mathematics and problem solving will be used. Basic algebra will be used throughout the course. A review of these skills may be necessary. Students should be aware that such a review might be needed and should seek appropriate assistance. Students will be expected to use a hand‑held scientific calculator throughout the course.
  3. Laboratory practice includes correct setup of the apparatus, performing the experiment, collecting and analyzing the data, and submitting a write-up as required by the instructor. Students are required to locate, retrieve and replace all needed lab equipment at designated places and clean up the work area before leaving.
  4. Students will be expected to write at least six laboratory reports. The instructor will determine the experiments that will be written up.
  5. Team work is encouraged and needed for efficient lab work.
  6. Safe work practices, as established by the instructor, must be strictly followed by all students.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Text equivalent to:  Physics, Giancoli, 7th edition, Prentice Hall, 2013, or equivalent

Lab activity handouts produced by Oakton Community College’s Department of Physics will be available electronically.

Calculator:  Any Scientific Calculator. However, the instructor may require a specific calculator to be used during quizzes and exams.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

This may vary by instructor. In general, methods of evaluation will include tests and quizzes that include an opportunity for students to demonstrate problem solving ability and conceptual understanding of the material. Homework will be assigned, but its inclusion in the student’s grade may vary by instructor. Lab write-ups will be required but their format and weight on the student’s grade may vary by instructor.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance policy is determined by the instructor.

Tutoring services are available through the Learning Center.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at