PHYS 100 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description


This course is designed to prepare you for success in Physics 211. The main focus of the course is to give you a leg up on the problem solving skills and physical reasoning that are at the core of the Physics 211-214 curriculum: how to turn a word problem into mathematical expressions, solve the math, and understand the physical significance of the result!

The basic cycle of Physics 100 can be summarized as follows:

  1. Introduction and first chance to think about it (prelectures and checkpoints)
  2. Untangle it (lectures)
  3. Challenge yourself (homework)
  4. Close the loop (discussion)
  5. Test your understanding (computer-based quizzes, "Quests")

For each unit, we'll go through the same weekly cycle:

1) The first exposure you will have to the material will be in the prelecture. These are online videos designed to introduce the key ideas/concepts of the lecture. Do this on your own prior to lecture ( This first step should be taken very seriously, as all of the following items depend on this initial exposure to the material (due by 8 AM on Fridays). Along with the pre-lecture, you will be required to work through a brief checkpoint ( Each checkpoint will check your understanding of the prelecture material (due by 8 AM on Fridays). There are no "bad" checkpoint answers. You will receive full credit if you give it your best shot and answer all the questions. We use your responses to the checkpoint questions (including explanations) to create the lecture.

2) The lecture will be a highly interactive experience, where you'll work with other students to discuss and answer questions based on what you heard about in the prelectures. You will participate through iClickers and will get full credit if you give your best shot. You can also earn "extra-credit" for the questions in lecture that you answer correctly.

3) The homework covering each week's material is split in two: Homework A (usually due 8 AM on Tuesdays) and Homework B (usually due 8 AM on Fridays). Homework problems ( are designed to test your understanding of the concepts as well as get started practicing some basic problem-solving skills.

4) To cap things off, a weekly discussion section will go over the concepts you have learned about in the prelectures, lectures, and homework. You will work together with 2 or 3 other students on qualitative and quantitative problems that are designed to solidify your understanding of the week's material. These discussions go through some of the toughest ideas in the unit and give you some additional practice. Your job is to work with your teammates to think about some hard ideas. A teaching assistant (TA) and undergrad learning assistant (LA) will regularly visit with your group to help you construct your understanding. You'll submit your group's work at the end of each discussion section for a grade, which depends on how articulate and thought out your explanations are, not just whether you give the correct answer or not.


5) In addition to this weekly sequence, the course has occasional Quiz/Tests, Quests. Quests give you a chance to test your understanding of the material and to prepare yourself for the exams in the course. The questions on a Quest are of similar style as the questions on the actual exams, but a Quest differs from exams by being shorter (50 minutes). Just like exams, you'll take your Quests at the computer-based testing facility (CBTF). In addition, before each Quest we provide a practice Quest so that you can become familiar with the content of the Quest before taking it. There are five Quests in the semester, along with an optional 6th Quest that replaces your lowest Quest grade.

There are two exams in this course: a midterm and a final. The final exams are longer, and you'll also take them at the CBTF.

Course Rules and Procedures

Anti-Racism and Inclusivity

The Grainger College of Engineering is committed to the creation of an anti-racist, inclusive community that welcomes diversity along a number of dimensions, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, disability status, class, age, or religious beliefs. The College recognizes that we are learning together in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, that Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous voices and contributions have largely either been excluded from, or not recognized in, science and engineering, and that both overt racism and micro-aggressions threaten the well-being of our students and our university community.

The effectiveness of this course is dependent upon each of us to create a safe and encouraging learning environment that allows for the open exchange of ideas while also ensuring equitable opportunities and respect for all of us. Everyone is expected to help establish and maintain an environment where students, staff, and faculty can contribute without fear of personal ridicule, or intolerant or offensive language.

If you witness or experience racism, discrimination, micro-aggressions, or other offensive behavior, you are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the course director (Eric) if you feel comfortable. You can also report these behaviors to the Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART) ( Based on your report, BART members will follow up and reach out to students to make sure they have the support they need to be healthy and safe. If the reported behavior also violates university policy, staff in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution may respond as well and will take appropriate action.

COVID-19 Rules

To attend an in-person lecture or discussion section, you must have building access granted in the SaferIllinois app to attend class.

If you ever have to make a choice between health/safety and physics, please choose health/safety. Don't come to class if you are sick. We have good policies for excused absenses and make-up work, so there is no penalty if you have to miss a class or two because of illness. If you are facing challenges that go beyond these, please get in contact with me (Eric) and we'll work it out.

Following University policy, all students are required to engage in appropriate behavior to protect the health and safety of the community. Students are also required to follow the campus COVID-19 protocols. 

Students who feel ill must not come to class. In addition, students who test positive for COVID-19 or have had an exposure that requires testing and/or quarantine must not attend class. The University will provide information to the instructor, in a manner that complies with privacy laws, about students in these latter categories. These students are judged to have excused absences for the class period and should contact the instructor via email about making up the work.     

Students who fail to abide by these rules will first be asked to comply; if they refuse, they will be required to leave the classroom immediately. If a student is asked to leave the classroom, the non-compliant student will be judged to have an unexcused absence and reported to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution for disciplinary action. Accumulation of non-compliance complaints against a student may result in dismissal from the University.

Academic Integrity

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Code should also be considered as a part of this syllabus. Students should pay particular attention to Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity. Read the Code at the following URL:

Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade. Every student is expected to review and abide by the Academic Integrity Policy: Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Infractions include, but are not limited to:

Violations of any of these rules will be prosecuted and reported to the student's home college.

All aspects of the course are covered by these rules, including:

Safety Announcements

See the general Emergency Response Recommendations issued by the University.

Excused Absences

The excused absence policy is described below. For issues not covered by this policy, let me (Eric) know.

The only course components eligible to be issued a grade of EX are discussions and exams (except for the final). Please submit your excused absence no later than 12 business days from your absence via the Excused Absences application. For more information regarding this course's excuses policy, please refer to the Attendance Policy page.

Academic Integrity

All activities in this course, including documentation submitted for petition for an excused absence, are subject to the Academic Integrity rules as described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.

Religious Observances

Illinois law requires the University to reasonably accommodate its students' religious beliefs, observances, and practices in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work requirements. You should examine this syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts between course deadlines and any of your religious observances. If a conflict exists, you should notify your instructor of the conflict and follow the procedure at to request appropriate accommodations. This should be done in the first two weeks of classes.

Disability-Related Accommodations

To obtain disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES, you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603, e-mail or go to If you are concerned you have a disability-related condition that is impacting your academic progress, there are academic screening appointments available that can help diagnosis a previously undiagnosed disability. You may access these by visiting the DRES website and selecting “Request an Academic Screening” at the bottom of the page.

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Obligation

The University of Illinois is committed to combating sexual misconduct. Faculty and staff members are required to report any instances of sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX Office. In turn, an individual with the Title IX Office will provide information about rights and options, including accommodations, support services, the campus disciplinary process, and law enforcement options.

A list of the designated University employees who, as counselors, confidential advisors, and medical professionals, do not have this reporting responsibility and can maintain confidentiality, can be found here:

Other information about resources and reporting is available here:

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Any student who has suppressed their directory information pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) should self-identify to the instructor to ensure protection of the privacy of their attendance in this course. See for more information on FERPA.