Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (PHYS*1070)

Code and section: PHYS*1070*01

Term: Fall 2008

Instructor: Diane de Kerckhove, Martin Williams, Michael Massa


Course Information


(1 of 4U Physics, OAC Physics, PHYS*1020), 4U or OAC Mathematics


Name Office Extension Email
Diane deKerckhove MacN 328 x53984
Martin Williams MacN 212 x58546
Mike Massa MacN 404 x52625

Quiz Room Supervisor

Name Office Extension Email
Cindy Wells SCIE1101A 52445

(Please contact the Quiz Room Supervisor with course related inquiries and email to report any errors in your WebCT records.)

Students in this course will need to use WebCT to write REQUIRED pretests, perform a simulated experiment on radiation (pretest #11), and check their term marks. As soon as possible, you should check that you can log in to WebCT:

  • Use a web browser to go to:
  • Follow the WebCT login instructions.

Text & Other Materials

  • Text: (required) Physics for the Biological Sciences, 4th Edition, Hallett, Hunt, McFarland, Renninger, Stinson, Sullivan. Available in the Campus Bookstore (1st floor MacNaughton) or the Co-op Bookstore (Johnston Hall).
  • Handbook for PHYS*1070, 2006 Printing: Available in the Quiz Room SCIE1101A ($15.00, CASH ONLY)*.
    * The Quiz Room will be open for the sale of manuals on Sept. 8, 11&12 (9-12/1-4) After Sept. 12th this item may be purchased in the Quiz Room during normal Quiz Room hours 9-11am and 1-3pm Monday – Friday.
  • The following items are available on WebCT;
    (a) Solutions to Self-Tests in the Study Guides
    (b) Sample Final Examinations
    (c) Sample Quiz on each study guide
  • Calculator (get one with trig functions, ex, etc.) (graphing calculators are not allowed).
  • This Course Outline: includes important dates or deadlines, lecture schedule, evaluation information, personal record sheet, etc.

Add Drop Forms

Instructor's signature is not required in this course.

Lost and Found

"Lost and Found" is in the Quiz Room (SCIE1101A).


Day Time Section Location
Mon.,Wed.,Fri. 2:30 – 3:20pm Sec 01 MacN105
Mon.,Wed.,Fri. 11:30am - 12:20pm Sec 02 MacN105
Wed. 7:00 – 10:00pm Sec 03 MacN105

Final Exam

Saturday, December 6, 2008
11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Deadlines and Important Dates

Students must show their U of G photo id card in order to write a quiz.

NOTE: Only 1 quiz attempt per time slot allowed on same quiz group.

Thursday, September 4th - Quiz Room Opens for writing

Week Date Quiz
1 Mon. Sept. 8 Lab Room (MacN304) open.
3 Fri. Sept. 26 Last day Quiz #1
5 Fri. Oct. 10 Last day Quiz #2 
7 Fri. Oct. 24 Last day Quiz #3
9 Fri. Nov. 7 Last day Quiz#4
11 Fri. Nov. 21 Last day Quiz #5
11 Fri. Nov. 21 Last day Laboratory (MacN304) is open.
12 Fri. Nov. 27 QUIZ ROOM CLOSES FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27th at 3:00 pm

Your 1st attempt should be at least 3 time slots before the deadline to allow for a possible 2nd or 3rd attempt.

Pretests must be passed with a minimum of 60% before the required quiz is attempted. Allow at least 1 hour for your grade to be processed.

Labs must be signed/sealed by t/a in the lab room at least 24hrs before attempting the related quiz.

Lab experiment sign-up sheets are inside macn 304. It is strongly recommended that you sign up for your labs early in the semester to ensure that all labs can be completed by the lab quiz deadline dates.

Please note: lab sign-up is restricted to 1 hour time slots which is sufficient time to collect the required data. Read over the lab material before arriving to ensure that no time is wasted at the station. Once you have collected your data please move to the centre tables to complete your calculations. If you decide to complete your calculation at a later time be sure that your book is signed and sealed by a t/a before you leave the room.

Quiz Room Hours (SCIE1101A)

Times given are when the door opens and closes.

Day Time
Monday – Friday 9:00 – 11:00am
1:00 – 3:00pm
Monday 5:30 - 7:30 pm

(max. 250 students–room closes at max. or 7:30 whichever comes first)
(*Monday evening quiz room sessions begin in week 3 (Sept. 22)

Lab Room Hours (MacN 304)

Extra opening times may be added depending on enrolment.

Day Time
Monday 12:00noon – 4:00pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00am – 3:00pm
Friday 10:00am – 1:00pm

Closed Monday, October 13th.

Tentative Lecture Schedule 

Week Lecture Week Topics Study Guide
0 0 Fri. Sept. 4th INTRODUCTORY CLASS  
1 1-3 Sept. 8 Introduction to waves
Waves and traveling waves
Superposition and standing waves
2 4-6 Sept. 15 Acoustic resonance
Energy, power and intensity of sound
The ear
3 7-9 Sept. 22 Snell’s Law
The visual process
Refraction at a spherical surface
4 10-12 Sept. 29 Lenses
General object-image concepts
The human eye, eye defects and their correction
5 13-14 Oct. 6 Electromagnetic waves
Diffraction and interference
6 15-17 Oct. 13 Wave properties of particles Orbitals; the wave equation 4
7 18-20 Oct. 20 Energy levels and light absorption
Linear molecules
Ring molecules
8 22-24 Oct. 27 The spectrophotometer
Beer’s law
Rotation and vibration
Fluorescence and phosphorescence
9 25-27 Nov. 3 Radioactive decay, half-life
Absorption of radiation
Radiation dose
10 28-30 Nov. 10 Coulomb’s law
Fields and potentials
11 31-33 Nov. 27 Current, voltage and circuits
Ohm’s law
Simple circuits
12 33-36 Nov. 24 Final exam info
Problems and review
Professor evaluation

How the Course Works


Students' study schedules at University are often based on a crisis-to-crisis approach (When's my next midterm exam?) rather than on organized learning. To reduce this problem, Introductory Physics for Life Sciences is offered using a "Personalized Instruction" method which gives the student some flexibility in scheduling study time.

The central idea of this teaching method is the accommodation of both the student who needs or likes formal lecture teaching and the student who prefers guided self-instruction. Indeed, in this course, any combination of these two extremes may be mixed to the student's own taste.

Many thousands of students have taken this course and almost every semester has seen some modification, usually minor, in the operation of the course. The present version of the study materials incorporates a large number of constructive suggestions made by students. We hope you will continue to point out errors, omissions and weaknesses so that the course and its teaching materials can be regularly upgraded. We are confident that this thoroughly tested learning concept will continue to be met with enthusiastic approval from the majority of our students.


Formal lectures will be given and you will find a detailed timetable of dates and topics in this course handout. Students may attend all of the lectures or select only those topics in which they feel they need lecture support. You are strongly advised to attend lectures until you are sure that the self-study method works for you. In any case, the entire course content will be covered in these lectures. Whether you attend lectures or not, it is your responsibility to check the quiz room for important weekly notices regarding the course.


The Handbook contains the eight Study Guide modules (SG 1 to 8) for this course. These eight modules cover the entire course and are designed so that you need never actually attend a lecture if you follow their advice scrupulously. (You must, however, do laboratory work.) Each module provides you with:

  1. a brief introductory discussion of what the module is about,
  2. the educational objectives of the module,
  3. a detailed study guide (reading and problem lists, etc.)
  4. self tests,
  5. answers to problems, and sometimes
  6. extra problems.

These self-study modules are your chief help; the Study Guide is a teacher at your side constantly and should be studied with care.

Course and Quiz Organization and Preferred Path

Note: #’s 9,10&11 is in reference to lab quizzes which require completion of specific labs.

Quiz #1 requirements

  • Waves SG.1
  • Acoustics SG.2
  • Pretest 1 (on-line)

Quiz # 2 requirements

  • Optics SG.3
  • Pretest 2 (on-line)
  • Experiment 2 (MacN304)
  • Experiment 3 (MacN304)

Quiz #3 requirements

  • Diffraction, etc. SG.4
  • Pretest 3 (on-line)
  • Experiment 4 (MacN304)
  • Experiment 6 (MacN304)

Quiz #4 requirements

  • Light Absorption SG.5
  • Observed Abs. SG.6
  • Pretest 4 (on-line)

Quiz #5 requirements

  • Pretest 5 (on-line computer lab exp 7)
  • Experiment 8 (MacN304)

Ionizing Radiation SG.7 and Electricity SG.8 will be tested on the final exam (at least 3 questions each unit)

Diagnostic Quizzes

You can in principle try quizzes in any order. However, note that quizzes are withdrawn on specific dates (see above), so these should be attempted as appropriate. Also, note that some quizzes may require knowledge of material from previous quizzes. A noncredit PRETEST must be completed on each Study Guide before its Quiz for credit can be written. The PRETESTS are available on WebCT. See page 10 for details. PRETESTS are available for Modules 7 and 8 even though there are no quizzes. These are strongly recommended for study purposes. There are no PRETESTS for the 3 lab quizzes with the exception of pretest #11 which is actually a computer lab required for quiz #5(11).

Each PRETEST is an aid to help you learn the material contained in the associated Study Guide. When you have passed the PRETEST (min. 60%), you should have acquired a basic understanding of the material in the Study Guide (see below). The format of the PRETEST is DIFFERENT from that of the QUIZ. A sample of each QUIZ is provided on WebCT for you to look at. The QUIZ tests mastery of that material,
and so you may find that you do not pass the QUIZ on the first attempt (below for detailed information).

Regardless of the combination of formal lectures and/or self-study you use to acquire knowledge in the course, the question is "how do you demonstrate this knowledge and receive credit for it?" When you think you have mastered the contents of the required modules, and have passed (60%) the associated PRETESTS, you should go to the Quiz Room where you may request a Diagnostic Quiz. This quiz is designed to test your mastery of the material. Note however a very important point. There are far more study guide topics than there are quizzes that you are expected to write. Consequently, the quizzes have been grouped by topics into the five groupings shown on page 6 and your request is limited to one of these five groupings. For example, you can request quiz #1 from the quiz 1-2 group but you cannot limit to a request
for a quiz on waves or a quiz on acoustics. Your quiz will be randomly choosen between these two topics. It is therefore very important that you come prepared for both and have passed the pretests for both.


You will need your University of Guelph photo ID card in order to write a quiz. . The time allotted for each quiz is 20 minutes. When you have completed the quiz, it is marked immediately by a tutor in your presence (If you absolutely cannot stay to have your quiz marked, you may leave it. It will be marked at the end of the quiz period and the mark posted. It will be available for you to look at for two further quiz periods.). In this way, no time is wasted teaching you things you already know, but the quiz will isolate those things (if any) you don't know. The tutor will give you help on the spot. It is important to emphasize the diagnostic aspect of this quiz; diagnosis is its prime purpose. It is of no value to write one if you are not prepared; you are wasting everyone's time. The level at which you are considered to have "mastered" the material is 80%, i.e., the "pass mark" is 8 out of 10.

Each module that is mastered contributes 10% toward your course mark. (See evaluation above) If you do not get 80% on your first attempt (and you may not), it doesn't matter. There is no stigma attached to failing this quiz; that is not its purpose. You may go away, study, and try again. The quiz will have served to show you what you must study for that module. Remember it remains the case that the next quiz you get within the group may be on a different module and so it is very important to come prepared for all topics in the group. Obviously there must be a limit to the number of times you may write quizzes on a single group, and this has been set at three. Also, you may not attempt more than one quiz for each group in a single quiz period.

During quizzes (and the final examination), you may use a pocket calculator (graphing calculators are not allowed). In the quiz room, each desk is provided with a sheet of formulae. A copy of this sheet will be included in the final exam. No material in the form of quizzes or paper may be taken from the Quiz Room and all paper used when writing a quiz must be turned in. You should visit the quiz room during the first week of the semester to see how the system operates.

As shown on above, there are 5 quizzes to be completed. There is no quiz on SG 7 or 8, although the experiments related to SG 7 and SG 8 are covered in Quiz 11. There will be at least 3 questions each on SG 7 and 8 on the final examination. Of course you can also expect questions on modules for which you did not write quizzes.

Self-paced study is a new experience for most students. At best, it permits you to work ahead in physics early in the semester, freeing study time for other courses during heavy weeks. At worst, there is a temptation to leave things too late. To help pace students, deadlines are placed on quizzes. 


There are 6 experiments to be done, associated with S.G. units 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 (see above). Five of these experiments are done in the lab room (MacN 304) and they may be performed in any order, at any time the lab is open (see above for hours of operation). The laboratory operates as an open lab, but you must reserve a space. An experimental station may be reserved up to three weeks in advance by signing a sheet posted just inside the laboratory door. Each station can be reserved for 1 hour. There is also one computer simulation (Experiment 7) which can be done at the Physical Sciences Microlab (MacN 315), the library, from home, or from any location which is connected to the internet. To obtain credit, there is a certain minimum amount of each experiment that must be completed during the 1 hour lab period (see detailed instructions in lab manual). Once your lab is complete you must have the laboratory instructor sign and stamp your Lab Pass Sheet (back pages of your lab manual) which you take to the quiz room when making your first attempt at related quiz. Notice that the lab instructor does not assign a mark to your lab work, although he/she may refuse to accept it if he/she judges the work to be inadequate. Your understanding
of the material is tested in the quiz on the associated Study Guide.

Experiment 7 is a computer simulation, which can be done anywhere there is a computer connected to the internet; the CPES microcomputer lab is in MacN 315, home, library, etc. You can access Pretest 11 from your WebCT page found at (see above). When you have completed the experiment, this information will automatically be transferred to your record (allow at least 1 hour).

Remember that labs are a requirement to attempt some quizzes. Note: Have your labs signed/stamped at least 24 hrs prior to attempting related quiz.

Evaluation of Quiz Marks

Quizzes are marked out of 10

  • Quiz marks 8/10 or higher receive 10 out of 10 (highest possible mark per unit)
  • between 4.0/10 and 7.5/10 (inclusive) receive 2 marks per attempt†
  • less than 4/10 receive zero

† This 2% mark does not add to a mark of 10. It is awarded on the condition you do not receive a “pass” on any attempt on a unit quiz. See the examples below.

Four examples:

  1. A student earns 4.0/10 on the first quiz attempt, 6.0/10 on the second quiz attempt, and 8.0/10 on the third quiz attempt. Mark received: 10 out of 10.
  2. A student earns 4.0/10 on the first quiz attempt, 5.5/10 on the second quiz attempt, and 7.5/10 on the third quiz attempt. Mark received: 6 out of 10.
  3. A student earns 2.5/10 on the first quiz attempt, 4.0/10 on the second, and 7.5/10 on the third. Mark received: 4 out of 10.
  4. A student earns 7.5/10 on the first quiz attempt and tries no further quizzes. Mark received: 2 out of 10.

SUMMARY OF MARKS: quiz marks 50% (5 x 10.0) + 50% (final exam) = 100%

ACCURACY OF RECORDS: It is your responsibility to use WebCT to check that your marks are recorded correctly. Please check your record often and report any discrepancies immediately to the Quiz Room Supervisor. As an aid, a ‘Personal Record Form’ is attached to this handout. You should use this form to record your quiz attempts, etc., and from time to time check the computer record against your personal record.

ILLNESS: If you are away for brief periods of time due to illness or for compassionate reasons, see the Quiz Room Supervisor about consideration of extension of deadlines, etc. For an extended illness, etc. (> 1 week), you should obtain a medical certificate or similar documentation and consult the instructor or the quiz room supervisor. If you miss the final examination because of illness or for other reasons, consult regulations in the current Undergraduate Calendar.

COURSE NOTICES: From time to time, notices pertaining to the course will be given in lectures and/or posted by the Quiz Room door or inside the quiz room (SCIE1101A). You should check this door and room weekly for notices and reminders, etc. It is your responsibility to keep yourself informed regarding these special announcements.


  • Help may be obtained from the lecturer before and after lectures, or in his office.
  • Help Room (MacN 318) – The hours will be posted on WebCT.
    NOTE: This Help Room is for help in physics courses PHYS*1070 and 1080.
    The help room will open in week 3. Help will be available in the quiz room during weeks 1 and 2.
  • Help may be obtained in rooms MacN 304 or 304A. These are the lab rooms for this course and PHYS*1080. When these rooms are open you may obtain help with course-related problems from the instructors, but remember that their first priority is to help students who are doing experiments.
  • The Solutions to the Self-Tests (which are on reserve in the Library) and the set of 3 sample final examinations will be helpful. These are available through WebCTnd the College Microlab (see next item).
  • College Microlab (MacN 315): Computerized tutorials can be accessed here. Follow the instructions on the bulletin board beside the entrance to the room. Then follow the instructions posted in the workstation you have chosen. By following instructions on the computer screen, you will sooner or later obtain a screen which allows you to select WINDOWS. Once you are in WINDOWS, you can use the mouse to click on your choices when applicable. Double click on the icon PHYSICS TUTORIALS and you will see a number of them listed, including the radiation lab.

    Other useful ones for this course are:
    - Dimensional analysis Trigonometry
    - Logarithms Graphing simple functions
    - Graphing log paper Oscillating functions
    - Graphing Exponential growth and decay
    - Solutions to the Self-Tests

Final Exam

The final examination will consist of approximately 20 questions with multiple-choice answers. Sample final examinations are available through WebCT. Normally there are 2-3 questions based on each of Study Guides 1-6 and 3 questions each on Study Guides 7 and 8, for which there are no quizzes. At least half of the questions on Study Guides 1-6 are based on Quiz questions for these Study Guides. Many students have found that the final examination is difficult, even with a perfect mark on the Quizzes. This is because mastery of all of the Study Guides is required in order to achieve a perfect mark on the final examination. A thorough review of all of the course material is highly advisable in preparing for the final examination.

Biophysics Pretests

Before any Quiz can be written for credit, a PRETEST must be taken and passed at the level of 60%. Allow at least 1 hour prior to attempting related quiz. These PRETESTS are designed to permit a self-examination of the basic concepts and objectives of the module in question. Each PRETEST consists of 5 to 10 simple questions in one of 4 formats:

  1. multiple choice
  2. true or false
  3. pairwise matching
  4. enter a number or symbol

The PRETESTS are delivered using WebCT and so can be taken from any location which has computers connected to the internet (MacN 315, Library, home, etc.). Login instructions are given on pg. 1.

Follow the login instructions and the instructions which follow enabling you to take the PRETEST. Upon completion it will be marked and an explanation provided for every question for which you selected the wrong answer. These should be studied carefully.

When you obtain at least 60% on the PRETEST, you may proceed to the Quiz Room to write a QUIZ for credit. (Allow at least 1 hour for your mark to process before attempting related quiz).

If you failed to get 60%, you must repeat the Pretest until 60% is obtained. Pretests are allowed every 4 hours.

Of course, you get the maximum advantage from these PRETESTS if you do them without help and, as much as possible, without aids (textbook, etc.).

It is a serious academic offence to copy, print or otherwise store the pretests or to attempt to alter them in any way.

Also available on WebCT is a SAMPLE QUIZ for each Study Guide, similar to quizzes that you will write in the Quiz Room.