Welcome to PHYS 205B - Summer Term

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PHYS205B - Summer 2023 - CRN: 51148

This is a Blended Course (in person + online)

Course is offered in a compressed timeline (6 weeks vs 18 weeks)

course dates:  June 12 - July 20  [Final Exam held in person on 7/20]


Instructor Contact Information:

Erik Veach  -  erik_veach@cuesta.edu


Required Availability:

The lecture and lab content for this course are divided roughly in half between face-to-face meetings and online assignments.  You are required to be present during the in-person scheduled class times as there will be in-class assignments, lab experiments, and exams given during those times. 

The in-person portions of this course will be delivered during the following days/times each week:

M/T/R:  9:30am-10:50am  and  11:30am-12:50pm

Typically the first session each day will be for lecture and in-class activities and assignments and the second session will be for lab experiments.   Exams will all be done in person during the scheduled class times.



Welcome to PHYS 205B!  I am excited to be your instructor for this class.  The PHYS 205 course sequence is designed to provide students with a solid fundamental understanding of physics.  Its goal is to motivate students to use science as a means of understanding the world in which they live.  PHYS 205B covers the following topics: Light and Optics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Modern Physics.  For a detailed description of course outcomes, please refer to the Cuesta College website (www.cuesta.edu) .  The prerequisite for this course is completion of PHYS 205A.

How much time should you expect to spend on this compressed timeline class?

Your weekly time commitment is determined by the term length for the course.  Students taking the course during a standard 18 week semester should plan on twelve hours per week dedicated to the class.  This includes 3 hours per week in lecture and three hours per week in lab/doing lab activities and 6 hours working on problems and preparing for assessments.  Students who take the course during a shorter term should plan on taking the ratio of 18 divided by the shorter term length and multiplying it by the hours to compute the time commitment for non-standard terms.  For example, a six week term requires 36 hours per week dedicated to the class with 9 hours per week in lecture and 9 hours per week in lab/doing lab activities and 18 hours working on problems and preparing for assessments.


Is a Hybrid/Blended Learning Modality Right for You? 

You CAN succeed in an online class, but it does take extra self-motivation and organization.  Before enrolling in a hybrid learning class, students should make an honest assessment of their level of personal discipline and ability for independent learning style that a hybrid course requires. You will be working on your own and learning with the help of computer software, internet forum discussion questions, tutorials, and videos. You have to be proficient with and enjoy working with computers. Please take the following exploratory Self-assessment survey Links to an external site. and judge for yourself.

Necessary Computer Equipment/Skills:

You must have a computer, either a PC with a recent version of Windows or a Mac, as well as internet access and e-mail.  You will also need a printer.  You can find specific requirements at the Technical FAQs page. You will need a reliable internet connection to access the course learning system, known as Canvas, and view the online lessons, complete online assignments, and take online quizzes.  Computer skills required are downloading and printing documents, using your @my.cuesta email account, accessing your Canvas account, uploading documents to Canvas, posting discussion questions, and watching videos.  Assistance with basic computer skills are not provided as part of this class.  You must also have the ability on your computer or phone to scan a document as a pdf (there are free apps for phones).  During the term, you will be required to create graphs and do analysis using Excel or Google Sheets.  If you do not have Excel, there are computers in the library with Excel, or you will need to find a computer with Excel that you can use.  Google Sheets is free to all Cuesta students by logging in to Google using their @my.cuesta.edu email account.

Accessing the Course and Early Participation:

This course will be made available through Canvas sometime during the week prior to the start date for the course.  An email will be sent to all students with login instructions during that week.  Students must activate their Canvas account and complete the sample quiz and introduction assignment prior to the first day of class.  Failure to do so may result in the student being dropped from the course.  Accommodations will be made for late adds.

Class Participation/Late Work

All students in this class must work through the material at approximately the same pace so that they can help each other and participate in class discussions.  Therefore, it is important to keep up with the material and submit all assignments on time.  Late assignments will be penalized 20% for each day late.  All quizzes will be offered online during a specific time window and all students must complete them within that time frame.  Exams are all done in person at the same time by all students.  If you have an illness or other serious issue that keeps you from keeping up with the material, contact me as soon as possible so that I can work with you on any possible accommodations.


I can be reached at my email address, which I check several times each day.  I will also stay a few minutes after class each day to answer questions.  I will provide discussion forums in Canvas for your to discuss the course with your peers as well as with me.  I also will provide access to one-on-one assistance through schedulable appointments via Zoom available several days/times per week.  There will be a link within the Canvas page for this course that will take you to a page where you can select from the available appointment times.

How to Get Help with Course Material:

I am here to help you learn and enjoy the course material.  If you are having trouble, please contact me early, and often.  Free online tutoring is available at Net Tutor. and in person free tutoring is available at Student Success Centers. at both the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles campuses.   Other additional assistance is available from The Student Success Center as well, such as the possibility of checking out a Chromebook to use for this course.


The online content for the course will be delivered through Canvas in Modules.  Modules are designed for the student to complete the material in a specific order.  The first module is an Orientation Module.  Subsequent Modules will contain course content on pages.  The course schedule and approximate assessment dates are contained in the course syllabus.


PHYS 205A  or equivalent


Course Description:  

Presents the principles of geometric optics, physical optics, static and dynamic electricity and magnetism, introductory DC and AC circuit theory, modern physics topics (relativity, particles and waves, atomic structure, radioactivity and nuclear reactions) using trigonometry.


Required materials:

    • Canvas account (free to all Cuesta students)
    • Google Apps access (free with your @my.cuesta.edu email address)
    • Either a scanner, or access to a scanner, or a scanning app on a smart phone or tablet.  You will need this to scan your quizzes, tests, and labs and upload them as a pdf file into Canvas.  If you are on the Cuesta College campus, you may use the photocopier in the Student Success Center to scan documents and email them to yourself (see any tutor for help).  Some free scanning apps are:
      • For iPhone, try: AdobeScan, Cam Scanner, Genius Scan, JET Scanner, or PDF Photos
      • For Android, try: AdobeScan, Cam Scanner, easyPDF, or Image to PDF
      • Alternatively, you may write directly in the document using a tablet or computer and save as a pdf.
    • Scientific Calculator
    • This course uses an online open source textbook via openstax.org Links to an external site. so there are no textbook costs required

Student learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Describe and quantify geometric and physical behavior of light. (E.g., model image formation by lenses, or interference/diffraction by slits.)
  2. Describe and quantify behavior of electric forces, fields, potential energy, and potentials. (E.g., given certain materials, or configuration of point charges, apply superposition to find net result at a certain location.)
  3. Describe and apply conservation laws of current and potentials to circuits. (E.g., given circuit with ideal/non-ideal emfs, resistors, capacitors, switches, determine currents and potential differences.)
  4. Describe and quantify behavior of magnetic forces, fields, fluxes, and induction. (E.g., given configuration of current-carrying wires/loops, determine resulting forces, induced emfs, or induced currents on other objects, or in time-varying circuits.)
  5. Describe and quantify phenomena in modern (post 19th century) physics such as relativity, atomic physics, nuclear physics, etc. (E.g., describe why certain systems demand non-classical models, and be able to quantify behaviors of these systems.)


Homework:  Homework assignments will consist of assignments administered through the online homework system.  Other types of homework may be assigned.  In addition to the homework problems, extra problems will be provided for students who need more practice.  If you are not able to complete the assigned problems without help (looking at the book or your notes, watching a tutorial, etc.), then you need to do more practice problems until you no longer need assistance. The goal isn’t just to do problems until you get them right; the goal is to do problems until you can’t get them wrong! Your homework is graded partially on effort and partially on correctness. I will drop your lowest homework score.

In Class and Online Assignments:  There will be a variety of activities done during class, as well as supplemental online assignments, throughout the course.  These are mostly graded on effort and are provided as a means for you to further practice and perfect your physics problem-solving skills, and to better understand the topics being covered.  

Quizzes: There will be regularly scheduled quizzes.  These quizzes are designed to help you determine if you are ready for the larger assessments (midterm and final exam).  I will drop the lowest quiz, but there are no make-ups.  Quizzes are all done within Canvas and are automatically graded.  You will be given a time frame during which you can take your quiz, but once you begin you will need to complete it within the allotted amount of time for that quiz.  

Midterm Exams:  There will be three mid-term exams, each covering approximately one-third of the course.  Midterm exams are done in person during scheduled class times.

Final Exam:  The final exam will be comprehensive and will assess your understanding of all topics covered throughout the course.  The final exam will be given on the last scheduled day of the course.  There will be a modified time schedule for that day to ensure sufficient time for you to complete the test.  This will be explained on the first in-person day of class.  You MUST be present IN PERSON on the Final Scheduled Day of Class as the Final Exam is a REQUIRED assignment.

Laboratory:  Labs will consist of some face-to-face components and some online components.  Your lab instructor will go over the labs and meetings that will be face-to-face.  I will drop your lowest lab score.


Homework 10%
In-Class Activities 10%
Online Assignments 10%
Quizzes 10%
Lab Assignments 10%
Midterm Exams 30%
Final Exam 20%

Letter Grades:

A            85-100%
B            70-84.9%
C            60-69.9%
D            50-59.9%
F             49.9% or lower

Plus/Minus grades:   Plus/minus grading will be used in borderline cases, usually based on the final exam score (state law does not allow grades of “C-” at CA Community Colleges). 

Academic Honesty:

The purpose of this course is to improve your mastery of concepts in physics.  If you copy work from other sources (other students, the internet, your friend, etc.) for homework, quizzes or the final exam, this will be detrimental to your understanding of the material and will make it less likely for you to succeed in this course and future courses.  Therefore, cheating will hurt you more than it will help.

Academic dishonesty in any form, including plagiarism, copying, using the internet when instructor not to or allowing another student to copy off of you will not be tolerated.  Do not copy anyone else's work!  This is not learning, it is cheating.  If you violate the academic honesty policy, you may receive a “0” for the assignment AND an equivalent assignment, or an F for the course.  See the Cuesta College Catalog.

While you are encouraged to study in groups, assignments turned in must represent your own work, which means your own thoughts in your own words. No one learns effectively by merely copying someone else's assignment or using the internet.

Add/Drop/Withdraw Policy

Please see Cuesta's Student Planning Calendar for add/drop deadlines.  Since participation is important in this course, students must continually participate in order to stay in the class.  Students who continually turn in assignments late, or who miss a significant number of assignments will be dropped if this occurs before the "W" date. If you decide to withdraw, you must do so according to Cuesta’s drop policy.

Regular and Effective Contact:

Regular and effective contact will be met through in person class time, as well as communication with me via email and Zoom.  I will provide feedback on your assignments, both in class and online. I will do my best to respond to emailed questions as soon as possible.  Assignments will be graded, with comments, as soon as possible to provide you with assistance as you proceed through the course. 

Authenticating Student Identity will be conducted using the Learning Management System (Canvas) and the online homework system, which requires students to log into the program using a secure login and password to access. You must use your official Cuesta College email address for the online homework system (like albert_einstein@my.cuesta.edu).

Netiquette and Online Course Participation:

    • Use respectful and professional language in your forum discussions. Respect the learning progress of your peers.
    • Please do not use texting language, lol (SCNR).
    • Use proper capitalization and complete sentences.
    • Avoid ALL CAPS as they come across like YOU'RE SCREAMING.
    • All messages are public, so be professional and courteous when you post.
    • Make your posts and replies specific to a particular problem or issue.

Technical Issues? 

For issues related to accessing Cuesta's Canvas Site, email: support@my.cuesta.edu


Disability Services:

If you have a disability that could affect your learning or participation in this course, please contact DSPS at 546–3148 as soon as possible. They will work with me to provide any necessary accommodations.  If you require accommodations for this course, please take advantages of the services that DSPS provides.  DSPS information can be found at the DSPS website.



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