General Physics I

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHY 221

       Course Name: General Physics I

       Credits: 5 (4 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

MAT 250 with minimum grade of C.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course presents fundamental elements of physics with quantitative methods utilizing vectors, and differential and integral calculus. Content includes kinematics and dynamics, conservation of energy and momentum, angular momentum, elastic properties of matter, simple harmonic motion, resonance, kinetic theory of gasses, and thermodynamics. Intended for engineering and physical science students.

IV.   Learning Objectives

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

  1. Apply Newton's Laws to solve problems related to projectile motion, circular motion, rectilinear motion, rotational motion and accelerated reference frames.
  2. Analyze problems using the work-energy theorem, potential energy and kinetic energy, and conservation of energy.
  3. Analyze problems using the laws of conservation of linear momentum and angular momentum.
  4. Explain the conditions under which the laws of conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, and conservation of angular momentum are valid.
  5. Measure and calculate the various quantities relating to circular motion including satellite and planetary motion.
  6. Apply Newton’s Laws to solve problems related to oscillatory motion including the mass on a spring and the simple pendulum. Explain the effect of resistive forces on oscillatory motion and the concept of resonance.
  7. Explain the conditions for, and solve problems related to, systems in static and dynamic equilibrium.
  8. Measure and calculate the various quantities relating to heat, temperature, thermal expansion, heat conductivity and elementary thermodynamics.
  9. Apply the ideas of pressure, Archimedes Principle, and Bernoulli’s Principle to determine the behavior of fluids under various conditions.
  10. Apply the relationship between torque and angular momentum to solve problems dealing with rigid body rotation as well as general rotation.
  11. Explain the differences between systematic and random error and how each effects measurements.

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. Standards of Measurement, Dimensional Analysis, Significant Figures
  2. Motion in One Dimension: Displacement, Velocity, Speed, Acceleration, Constant Acceleration Equations, Free-Fall.
  3. Two dimensional motion, Vectors, Coordinate Systems, Components of a Vector, Unit Vectors, Addition of Vectors, Uniform Circular Motion, Relative Velocity.
  4. Force, Newton’s Laws, Mass, Weight, Free-Body Diagrams.
  5. Friction, Dynamics of Uniform Circular Motion, Nonuniform Circular Motion, Velocity-Dependent Forces.
  6. Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, Kepler’s Laws, The Gravitational Field.
  7. Work, Work Done by a Constant Force, The Scalar (Dot) Product, Work Done by a Varying Force, Work-Kinetic Energy Theorem.
  8. Potential Energy, Conservative and Nonconservative Forces, Conservation of Mechanical Energy, Gravitational Potential Energy, Power.
  9. Linear Momentum, Conservation of Linear Momentum, Collisions and Impulse, Elastic and Inelastic Collisions, Center of Mass, Motion of a System of Particles.
  10. Rotation of Rigid Objects About a Fixed Axis, Angular Quantities, Rolling Motion, Rotational Energy, Moment of Inertia, Torque, Angular Momentum of a Rigid Body.
  11. The Vector Product, Angular Momentum of a Particle, Conservation of Angular Momentum.
  12. Static Equilibrium, Conditions for Static Equilibrium, Center of Gravity, Elastic Properties of Solids.
  13. Fluid Mechanics, Pressure, Archimedes Principle, Bernoulli’s Principle.
  14. Oscillations, Simple Harmonic Motion, The Simple Pendulum.
  15. Temperature, Thermal Expansion, The Ideal Gas Law, Thermal Equilibrium.
  16. Kinetic Theory of Gasses, Molecular Speeds, Changes of Phase.
  17. The First Law of Thermodynamics, Heat and Internal Energy, Heat Capacity, Specific Heat, Latent Heat.
  18. Second Law of Thermodynamics, Heat Engines, Carnot Cycle, Entropy.

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 emphasized. Differential and integral calculus 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 for Scientists and Engineers, Knight, 3rd edition, Addison Wesley, 2014.

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