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Taking intro Mechanics 2nd semester freshmen year as a physics major?

  1. Oct 26, 2011 #1
    In my college students who don't have AP credit for calc I are required to delay physics a semester till they are done with calc I. Because of this students take E@M sophomore year and have to take a intro waves and thermo class 2nd semester sophomore year. This means students don't take sophomore level classes like modern physics till junior year. I find this policy that they have is unacceptable and I want to talk to the head of the physics department about it. I want to tell him that physics majors should take mechancis and calc I together because the mechanistic isn't very calc intensive and it should be up to them to learn the math needed for mechancis. What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2011 #2
    Often one can get approval from department heads to waive certain rules such as prereq courses, as long as you present justifiable evidence that you are competent to complete such a task. However, rules are there to abide by, and if you cannot present a strong argument, then good luck. (This applies to my University, perhaps not yours.)
  4. Oct 26, 2011 #3
    As a physics major it should already be assumed you are competent to complete such a task. I want the physics department to change there rules because it's hold the physics students back.
  5. Oct 26, 2011 #4


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    This is something that you should have discussed with your academic advisor. He/she will know how "intensive" the calculus requirement is for the first semester mechanics, and whether it is a good idea or not to take those two courses concurrently.

    In the end, it is your decision, and you also have to lie in the bed that you make.

  6. Oct 26, 2011 #5
    I'm taking Mechanics. I don't have the problem I want to do this for all of the other freshmen that don't have AP credit unlike me.
  7. Oct 26, 2011 #6
    I'm asking if you guys agree with my position that freshmen physics majors should take Mechanics 1st semester.
  8. Oct 26, 2011 #7
    I'd say it depends how intensive the calculus gets. The Mechanics I that I have taken used principles from both Calc I and Calc II.
  9. Oct 26, 2011 #8
    As someone in the Mechanics class it's not extensive at all. As a matter of fact the mechanics class itself is to easy. We don't even do variable force problems with air resistance.
  10. Oct 26, 2011 #9
    How will you be able to do problems involving non-constant acceleration/power without knowing the concept of a derivative?
    How will you be able to do problems involving impluse/work/rotational interia if you don't know what an integral means?

    I don't know about your physics class, but these topics came into play early on in the semester, a lot sooner then they would have been presented in a calculus one class.

    Granted, some students probably will be able to look into their calculus book, and understand these concepts before the class gets there, but as the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
  11. Oct 26, 2011 #10
    They do come up but they come up quickly also in a calc I class. Again in most schools students take calc I and Mechanics at the same time. That model has worked but for some reason my school doesn't do that. Because of that we have students taking there first upper tier class in senior year because they couldn't take mechanic freshmen year.
  12. Oct 26, 2011 #11
    Again, it really depends on how much calculus is really used. Theres no way I could have completed my mechanics I without Calc II, as numerous integral problems were presented that required a thorough understanding of integral calculus and its techniques.
  13. Oct 26, 2011 #12
    Alright I see where you guys are coming from. Some of your classes required some calc II while mine doesn't. I guess tmr I'll go and have a talk with him about the mechanics class and how calc I shouldn't be prequ for the class but rather a coequ
  14. Oct 26, 2011 #13
    Good luck!
  15. Oct 26, 2011 #14


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    If it's other people (not you) who are affected by the requirement, shouldn't they be the ones to petition the department chair about changing it? (with the help of your opinion that the material covered in the course doesn't justify the requirement)
  16. Oct 26, 2011 #15
    Good point. I never talked to them about it but considering nothing been done I doubt they tried. I guess non of them care about missing out on Mechanics for one semester because they don't see how it will delay them from taking upper division classes. Physics majors do take a class which is kind of like a popular science class on steroids. It's seminar like but is no substitute for a Mechanics class.
  17. Oct 26, 2011 #16
    I think you should be able to do it if you study some calculus on your own. Basically what you need to know is how to computer derivatives and integrals (and what they mean) and even those don't come up in all topics.
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