PH 350 - Advanced Lab I - Fall 2003

Course description: Statistical evaluation and plotting of experimental data using spreadsheets and graphics software.  Selected experiments in interfacing instruments and computers.

Textbook: "Practical Physics" by G. L. Squires, 4th Edition (2001).

Instructor:  Dr. David Renneke, Science 205, 794-3403,

Schedule of Experiments

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Exp. Title Room
Sep. 9, 11 Sep. 23, 25 Sep. 16, 18 1 Dartboard 108
Sep. 16, 18 Sep. 9, 11 Sep. 23, 25 2 Conservation of Momentum 108
Sep. 23, 25 Sep. 16, 18 Sep. 9, 11 3 Thermal Radiation 107
Sep. 30, Oct. 2 Oct. 14, 16 Oct. 7, 9 4 Adiabatic Gas Law 107
Oct. 7, 9 Sep. 30, Oct. 2 Oct. 14, 16 5 Vibrating Bars and Plates - 1 - 2 108
Oct. 14, 16 Oct. 7, 9 Sep. 30, Oct. 2 6 Inverse Square Law 107
Oct. 21, 23 Nov. 4, 6 Oct. 28, 30 7 Rutherford Scattering 108
Oct. 28, 30 Oct. 21, 23 Nov. 4, 6 8 Stefan Boltzmann Law 107
Nov. 4, 6 Oct. 28, 30 Oct. 21, 23 9 Heat Transfer and Hot Objects 107

Meetings in Classroom 203

Date Chapters Topics
Sep. 4, 7:30 pm 1-3, 11 Organize into groups, object of the course, introduction to errors, treatment of a single variable, graphing
Sep. 11, 7:30 pm 4, 5 Treatment of functions, method of least squares, complicated functions
Nov. 6, 7:30 pm   Hour exam - Chapters  4, 5 and 11 in "Practical Physics"

Lab Reports

For your lab reports, you may use the two sheets that are supplied or type the equivalent information using a word processor. After completing the information corresponding to the title page, the report should follow the basic format given below.


All data obtained in the experiment should be presented in a neat form with all measured quantities clearly labeled and the appropriate units indicated. Often it is convenient to put the data in the form of a table. Typically record all data to the nearest tenth of the smallest division of the scale used. Also record the uncertainty values for all measurements.


If you write a spreadsheet or use one that is supplied, include a hard copy in your lab report. All of the raw data should be written on your data page as it is collected even if it appears on the spreadsheet. Typical spreadsheets contain both raw data and quantities that are calculated.

Several experiments have Excel spreadsheets written for them. To use them, click on Start and choose Lab Experiments, PH 350, then the particular experiment.


Set up an example of each calculation made in the experiment. That is, write the equation in algebraic form, substitute representative numbers, and write the results with the correct number of significant figures and units. For example

F = mg = (0.251 kg) (9.80 m/s2) = 2.46 N

If a series of calculations is made using just one particular equation, it is necessary to show only one sample calculation. Perform the necessary error analysis, which may include calculations of the percent error, percent difference, and "delta something" using the appropriate error equation.  Use the techniques of the textbook, "Practical Physics", to determine the error equations.


In experiments that require graphs it is recommended that you use Origin.

Summary of Results

List the essential results that have been obtained in the experiment such as the bottom-line calculated values and the percent error. For example, if the object of the experiment is to determine the ratio of e/m, you would list your calculated value and the percent error when compared to the standard value of 1.76 x 1011 C/kg.


Briefly discuss any conclusions which may be drawn from the experimental results and explain your sources of error.


Answer all the questions that are at the end of the write up, using complete sentences.

Other comments

It is important that lab reports have a neat appearance and be easy to read. When an experiment calls for describing your observations in words, be precise, thorough and use good English.  Although you work in groups and consult with each other, these descriptions, the discussion and the answers to the questions should be in your own words.

All lab reports are due one week after the experiment is performed. A report handed in after that will be graded as usual but will have 5% deducted for each school day that it is late.

Regular lab attendance is very important. Not only is the lab experience itself valuable, but many experiments are more difficult and time consuming without a lab partner. Any experiment not performed will contribute zero to your final average.

Grade distribution:  Experiments - 90%, Exam - 10%.

Last update:  September 1, 2003