Applied Physics

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHY 101

       Course Name: Applied Physics

       Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 3 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

MAT 070 with grade of P

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces physics. Content includes mechanical systems, electrical systems, thermal systems, fluid mechanics, and electromagnetic waves. Intended for students in technical programs.

IV.   Learning Objectives

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

  1. Convert a physical quantity from one unit system to another.
  2. Explain the meaning of the terms velocity, speed and acceleration.
  3. Explain the concept of a vector and demonstrate how vectors are added and subtracted.
  4. Identify the forces acting on an object and apply Newton’s Laws to determine the motion of an object.
  5. Analyze physical processes using conservation of momentum and conservation of energy.
  6. Calculate the work done by a force and the resulting change in kinetic energy of an object.
  7. Explain rotational motion by applying torque and conservation of angular momentum.
  8. Explain the basic ideas of fluid statics including the factors determining whether an object sinks or floats.
  9. Explain the concepts of, and relationships among, temperature, heat, and thermal expansion.
  10. Explain the production and propagation of sound waves and relate these properties to acoustic phenomena.
  11. Discuss the conditions necessary for producing static electric charges and be able to explain various static electric phenomena.
  12. Demonstrate how to connect simple circuits using voltage sources, wires, and resistors and demonstrate how to measure and calculate voltage drops, currents, and resistances.
  13. Outline general electrical safety procedures when using electrical equipment.
  14. Explain the origin of magnetism and its applications and calculate quantities associated with electromagnetic induction, transformers and power production.
  15. Explain the relationship between light and electromagnetic waves and calculate and classify various properties of light such as wavelength, frequency, energy and power.

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. Newton’s First Law of Motion – Inertia
  2. Linear Motion
  3. Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Forces and acceleration.
  4. Newton’s Third Law of Motion
  5. Momentum
  6. Energy
  7. Rotational Motion
  8. Gravity
  9. Projectile and Satellite Motion
  10. Properties of matter: Atomic structure, solids, liquids, and gasses.
  11. Temperature, Heat, and Expansion; heat transfer, changes of phase.
  12. Vibrations, waves and sound.
  13. Electrostatics
  14. Electric Current
  15. Magnetism
  16. Electromagnetic Induction
  17. Properties of light, color, reflection and refraction, waves.

Laboratory Activities

A minimum of ten laboratory activities will be chosen from the following list. Additional activities are at the discretion of the instructor.

  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
  19. Operations of a Current Limiting Power Supply
  20. Ohm's Law
  21. Ammeters and Voltmeters
  22. Resistances in Series and Parallel
  23. Joule Heat
  24. The RC Time Constant
  25. EMF and Terminal Voltage
  26. The OpAmp
  27. OpAmp Applications
  28. Resistivity
  29. Multiloop Circuits: Kirchhoff's Rules
  30. Electromagnetic Induction
  31. The Diode
  32. The Oscilloscope and AC Circuits
  33. Reflection and Refraction
  34. Spherical Mirrors and Lenses
  35. Air Column Resonance: The Speed of Sound in Air

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. The comprehensive study of mechanical, electrical and thermal physics, requires that students have basic algebra skills. A review of these skills may be necessary. The student 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: Conceptual Physics, Hewitt, 12th edition, Addison Wesley.

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

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.