Opening day letter to students and parents

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Physics course description


Welcome   to room 405 and the world of physics, from Mr. Halverson.  In this course, we will be studying how the world works, and how physics affects our everyday lives.  You will learn to think about the topics we study, analyze and discuss them, and retain this knowledge and skill.  We will conduct experiments and lab exercises, and you will carefully observe the results, and use math skills to better understand them, so that you can draw conclusions.  It is a college-prep level class, accepted by UC as a lab science course.  It involves a lot of calculations and equations, so your math skills are important.        

my goals for this course are to stimulate your interest in physics, to bring your analytical skill up to college level, and to teach you the fundamentals of physics.  What are your goals?     


Textbooks  our textbook is Conceptual Physics by Hewitt, published by Pearson.  We have a class set, and you will have a copy at home.    


Requirements  You will need a simple calculator to help with the frequent numerical problems in this course.  Also, you need a bound notebook of at least 100 pages, and a 3-ring binder with 4 divider tabs.  Create tab labels as follows: notes, labs, other work and grade record.  A 2 inch binder works well, to hold all your physics papers including the notebook.  You should also have some loose binder paper for the frequent class work. Bring your binder to class every day.  The binder will be part of your grade, checked for organization, neatness and completeness. 


Communication  If youíre having trouble of any kind in the course, talk to me!  I want you to succeed and will help you.  Iím usually in my room at lunch and after school.  Ask me in class if you want to set up a particular day or time to meet.  Have your parents call me at 826-6033, or send e-mail to me at   


Assignments and deadlines      When you turn in written work, please include your name, date and period number.  The weekly plan is on the board, as well as the dayís agenda.  Read them!  Health warning: failure to notice assignments and due dates will be hazardous to your academic health.  There is a 50% penalty for late work.   Homework more than a week late is not accepted, lab reports lose 25% per week, and there are no makeups of any kind more than a month overdue.  


Makeup work   Students who are absent a lot are at risk to fail this course.  After an absence, it is your responsibility to ask me how to make up the work you missed.   After an excused absence, you have one day to make up the work for every day you were absent.  If your absence is unexcused, I will count it as late work.   You will not be allowed makeup privileges for work you missed because of cutting class, in-house, or suspension.


Attendance at labs  Lab activities are a big part of this course, so it's important that you be here for them!  If you miss a lab on an excused absence, you will have an opportunity to make it up after school the next week on a day that I announce, or that we agree on.  If you know you canít make it that day, be sure to let me know and weíll try to work something out.  Failure to show up for your makeup lab will earn you a zero on the lab.  


Website  We have a class website, at    You can access it through the high school home page.  Check the website occasionally, it contains resources such as class policies, demonstrations and links relating to our curriculum.  I selected them to help you, to provide references and links that will make the course more understandable and enjoyable.


Grades   The grade you earn measures your performance in these areas:

            1) Homework and classwork: includes reading guides, designed to help you to study our textbook, illustrated exercises in class, and the required physics binder = 25% of your grade. 

            2)  Lab studies and projects: some are quick and small, others more complex.  The bigger labs usually require some data analysis (math!) and discussion (English!) = 40%

            4)  Quiz and test results: there can be a quiz any time without warning.  Unit tests will be about once a month = 35%.


Classroom expectations   

My part:  I will organize this course so we can learn together in a way that stimulates your mind and challenges your abilities.  I will relate what we study to the real world, and plan frequent labs and other hands-on experiences.  I will look over your work carefully, and make suggestions how to improve it.    


Your part:you will be in your assigned seat, ready to begin when the bell rings.  Frequent absences will ruin your grade!  You will do your own work on tests and quizzes, and cooperate in other areas such as discussions and labs.   If I catch you copying someone else's work, I will confiscate both papers.  The copier and the one who allowed the copying both get zero.  When you are beyond the limit of good behavior, I will let you know with a brief warning.  For serious or repeated misbehavior, you will receive detention, or suspension from class.   Please follow basic habits of respecting people and property.    Please leave your phones off.


How to do well   Your keys to success in this class are showing up every day, paying attention, working independently to study and review, and turning in high quality work on time.  Frequent absences are likely to ruin your grade.  

Reminder: our class website is


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