PHYS 1010, 1410 & 1420

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General Information

The most up-to-date information can be found on the Yorku Moodle site. (

These labs serve as the practical teaching experience for PHYS 1010, PHYS 1410, and PHYS 1420. The labs are located in 102C and 102D Bethune College.Select your course below to view your lab schedule. The schedule also appears in the Lab Manual which you can pick up from the York Bookstore.

NOTE: Be sure to pick up a copy of the lab manual from the bookstore, and preform the prelab exercise for Experiment 1 before coming to your first lab.

Check the schedule carefully to see which weeks you have experiments, and in which order you will be performing them.

Lab Coordinator

The lab coordinator is responsible for the administration of these labs. Should you have issues such as- you wish to change lab sections, you have missed your scheduled lab time, or other matters for which the TA cannot assist, please see the lab coordinator during the office hours listed below.

Lab CoordinatorMatthew George
Office Hours TW 3:00pm 4:00pm
Location Petrie 113
Emailmgeorge (at)

Teaching Assistants

The Teaching Assistant is responsible for providing you the physics knowledge, and the practical know-how required in order to complete these experiments successfully in a timely manner. You should pay careful attention to what they have to say, and heed their advice. They will also be responsible for marking your lab report. They have the authority to deny entry or remove from the lab any student they feel is: acting in an unsafe manner, arriving more than 15 minutes late, grossly unprepared, causing major disruptions, or attempting to stay beyond the 3 hour limit.

Help Sessions

There will be help sessions in room 102C and/or 102D Bethune. Drop by and get expert help with your prelab exercises, get a sneak peak at the apparatus for your next experiment, and get prepared. The schedule of the Help Sessions will be determined shortly.

Lab Rules

  1. Lab safety is the number one priority. If you are unsure on how to operate the equipment, or believe you may be doing something which might cause harm to you or your classmates, stop and and ask the TA for clarification.
  2. If you are purposely misusing the equipment in a manner which is obviously unsafe, you will be told to leave, and receive a mark of zero for this experiment.
  3. Show up on time- the TA will give a short presentation at the beginning of each lab, where you will learn some very useful information. If you show up late, you will miss this. If you show up more than 15 mintues late, the TA can forbid you from performing the experiment, and you will receive a mark of zero.
  4. You must leave the workstation as you have found it! All the equipment must be exactly in the manner in which you found it. All scraps of paper, eraser bits, and other garbage must be cleaned from the station before you leave. Failure to do so will result in a loss of up to 30% for that lab.
  5. Each lab session is 3 hours, there are no provisions made for extra time. 15 minutes before the end of the lab, you should start cleaning up you workstation, and leave the room by the end of the lab session.
  6. Report broken or damaged equipment to the TA immediately. You are not responsible for broken equipment, you will not be charged, and your mark will not suffer. We need to know of broken equipment so we can fix or replace it before the next lab session.
  7. No more than two students working together as lab partners is allowed.
  8. A valid medical note is the only acceptable reason for missing a lab. This must be presented to the lab coordinator in order to be considered for scheduling or an exemption.

Prelab Preparation

You will know from the posted schedule which experiment you will be doing. Before coming to do the experiment, you are expected to read the appropriate section of the manual. Be sure you understand the theory involved, consult your textbook, and plan your practical work. Most of the experiments contain prelab exercises which must be completed on a separate sheet of paper before you come to the lab. This preparation is most important. It is unlikely that you will be able to finish the experiment satisfactorily or learn from them if you do not prepare beforehand. There may be short, unannounced quizzes on the experiment during some labs.

Lab Reports

A sample lab report is included in the lab manual (appendix F).

We do not require you to write an elaborate report for each experiment. The report should include name, name of partner, title and date. The experimental data, whenever possible, should be summarized in the form of a table, with title, column headings, units and experimental errors. Graphs should have titles, axes labelled and units included. Errors of all measured quantities should be indicated on graphs in the form of error bars. Calculations should be shown and organized in a logical way, with short comments and explanations. Just formulas with substituted data are not acceptable. Calculations of errors is an important part of the lab report (next section in the manual provides more information regarding error calculations and rounding of final result and its error).

You are encouraged to record in your report for future reference any comments regarding the theory or method or apparatus which enhance your understanding. Your report should resemble a research scientist's day-to-day experimental log rather than a polished scientific paper.

It is preferred that you write laboratory reports in notebooks, which encourage better organization and neatness. Do not tear pages out of the books, if a mistake is made, simply cross out the mistake neatly. Two books will be required to be used alternately throughout the year. Light weight coil notebooks are suitable. Put your name and lab time clearly on the outside.

The three-hour session should be sufficient for the taking of measurements and for calculations and conclusions, etc. Be punctual - latecomers will find it difficult to complete the assignment. All lab reports, finished or unfinished, must be handed in to your demonstrator by the end of the three-hour lab session. Your report will be marked by the demonstrator whose name appears on the top of the attendance list which you sign. It will be your responsibility to collect your report from this demonstrator during your next laboratory session. At this time you should discuss with your demonstrator any matters concerning the report(s).

Lab Marks

Depending in which course you are enrolled (1010,1410,1420) the amount your lab marks contribute to your final mark can vary from 10%-20%. The course requires 11 labs, and your lowest of the 11 will be dropped when calculating your final lab mark. Your lab reports will be marked by the TA, with some fraction for the prelab, error analysis, results, answers to questions, neatness and completeness.

Lab Partners

Some students claim that they learn more while working with a lab partner; others prefer to work alone. For certain experiments where basic techniques, etc. are explored, you will be required to work individually - this will be stated in the lab outline for those particular experiments. For the other experiments we will try to provide sufficient apparatus so that you may work with another student who has been assigned the same experiment or alone, as you prefer. For a few of the experiments the mechanical work is so difficult that one person cannot perform the experiment satisfactorily. If two students work together, each should take a turn at reading all the instruments and although both will have the same data, each student must submit an independent report, with independent calculations.

Lab partners are randomly assigned. This facilitates meeting many friends, promotes social skills as well as reduces the probability of dishonesty when doing lab work. The details of how lab partners are assigned will be explained in the first lab.

Lab Safety

Scientists very commonly live to a grand old age in spite of their daily encounters with many hazards. The main reason for this is that a scientist doing an experiment is paying very close attention to everything that happens, is expecting the unknown and can react quickly to it. Your best protection against accidents in the lab is a constant thoughtful alertness which never permits your actions to become "mechanical" and "reflex".

Specific hazards which exist in particular experiments will be stressed in the respective lab outline. Please pay very careful attention to these warnings and act accordingly.

Notify the TA or lab coordinator of any accident or injury no matter how insignificant it may seem.

In the case of a fire, at the sound of the fire alarm in the building, the university stipulates that everyone must leave the building. In the case of a fire in the lab, the TA is responsible for taking the appropriate action to curb it, but the students must leave the building immediately.

A 24-hour Emergency Services Telephone Centre operates on York Campus and can be alerted by calling 33333 on all campus telephones or 736-2100 Ext. 33333 on public telephones. Health services are located in York Lanes.

Academic Honesty

Students will certainly discuss and talk about their studies with their friends and this can be very useful; but any work that you hand in must have been done by yourself. This is the only way to test your own competence and to prepare yourself for positions of responsibility after graduation. If scientists are dishonest, they are useless.