Physics

  • Nadine Gergel-Hackett, Karl Zachary

    Mary Baldwin College offers a minor in Physics and a major in collaboration with our consortium school Washington & Lee University (W&L) in Lexington, Virginia.

    A student pursuing the major is required to have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 and have an average GPA for at least 3 physics courses taken at MBC of at least 3.7 prior to registering for any courses at W&L. The student is also expected to provide her own transportation to W&L.

  • Requirements for the Major in Physics
    41 semester hours in physics and 25 semester hours in supporting courses

    PHYS 201
    PHYS 202
    PHYS 260
    CHEM/PHYS 321
    Modern Physics*
    Optics*
    Electricity and Magnetism*
    Newtonian Mechanics*
    Quantum Mechanics*
    Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering*
    PHYS 400 and PHYS 401
    One of the following lab courses: PHYS 207 Laboratory Computer Applications*, Nuclear Physics*
    Two additional science courses selected from CHEM 221 or higher, or Computer Science 200-level or higher

    Supporting Courses:
    MATH 211
    MATH 212
    MATH 301
    MATH 302
    MATH 306
    CHEM 121
    CHEM 122

    * Courses offered at Washington & Lee University

    Requirements for the Minor in Physics
    19 semester hours in physics and 16 semester hours in supporting courses

    PHYS 201
    PHYS 202
    PHYS 207
    PHYS/CHEM 260
    CHEM/PHYS 321

    Supporting Courses:
    MATH 211
    MATH 212
    CHEM 121
    CHEM 122

    Note: Students may substitute Physics courses at Washington & Lee for PHYS/CHEM 260 and CHEM/PHYS 321. Please see you advisor for more information.

  • Civic Engagement Opportunities

    • Courses throughout the physical science curriculum discuss the relevance of scientific principles to public policy and social issues.
    • Students are encouraged, particularly through the local chapter of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates and the national physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma, to engage local schools and organizations such as the Girl Scouts in hands-on experience with science and tutoring.

  • 100 Exploring the Physical World (3 s.h.) (NSyllabus
    This is a course for students who like to learn by doing: hands-on activities linking core chemistry and physics principles to the real-world are emphasized. The objectives of the course are to give an appreciation of the process and content of physical science and to provide experience in learning by the inquiry method. Topics are selected based on general interest and appropriateness for early and middle education. Cross listed as CHEM 100.

    131 Introduction to Astronomy (3 s.h.) (N)
    A descriptive survey of astronomical observations and conceptual models for non-science majors through readings, discussions, and observations. Students will develop a basic understanding of the structure and properties of the earth, moon, planets, sun, and stars based on simple physical concepts and astronomical models. This course assumes no previous background in college science or mathematics.

    157 Wilderness, Scientific Advance, and American Culture (3 s.h.) (T)
    For course description, see CHEM 157 in the Chemistry listing.

    201, 202 General Physics I, II (4 s.h. each) (N: 201 only) 201 Syllabus202 Syllabus
    A foundation for further study in physics, biology, chemistry, and pre-medicine. Topics include the phenomena of classical mechanics, wave motion and sound, fluids, electricity, magnetism, and light, each developed from first principles, often historic discoveries. Equations for physical laws use algebra, trigonometry, plane geometry, and calculus, as appropriate. Laboratories provide direct familiarity with natural phenomena. Recommended background: high school physics. *Prerequisites: MATH 211–212, which may be taken concurrently.

    207 Electrical Circuits (4 s.h.) Syllabus
    This self-paced laboratory course covers basic introductory level circuits, including basic DC Circuits, Ohm’s Law and Kirchoff’s Rules, Resistance, Thevenin and Norton Equivalents, Op-Amps, digital circuits, and transient circuits. *Prerequisites: PHYS 201 and PHYS 202.

    209 Experimental Modern Physics (3 s.h.)
    Experimental Modern Physics is a laboratory/lecture course that explores the groundbreaking ideas of modern physics. Through a combination of computer simulations and laboratory experiments, students will explore topics such as Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, quantization of mass and charge, atomic structure, and nuclear decay. *Prerequisites: PHYS 201 and 202.

    210 Modern Physics (3 s.h.)
    This course introduces students to the special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Topics include atomic structure, wave properties of matter, the hydrogen atom, many-electron atoms, and statistical physics. *Prerequisites: PHYS 201 and PHYS 202.

    260 Introduction to Materials Science (3 s.h.) (RSyllabus
    Materials science encompasses the structure and composition, synthesis and processing, performance, and properties of materials. This survey provides a holistic introduction from the combined viewpoints of physics and chemistry. Topics: crystalline structure, band theory, defects, and electronic, optical, and thermal properties of materials. Cross listed as CHEM 260. *Prerequisites: PHYS 202 and CHEM 122, which may be taken concurrently.

    270 Undergraduate Research (1–3 s.h.)
    Students do original research in accordance with ability and background under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Students are expected to devote 4 hours per week to the project for every credit hour. A written report will be submitted to the department each semester of enrollment. Cannot be used to meet elective course requirements for a major or minor in physics. May be repeated for credit. Total research credit to be used toward an undergraduate degree not to exceed 6 hours. *Prerequisites: PHYS 202, consent of instructor and submission of a research contract to the department.

    321 Physical Chemistry I: Thermodynamics, Statistical Thermodynamics, and Kinetics (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see CHEM 321 in the Chemistry listing.

    360 Advanced Topics in Materials Science (3 s.h.)
    This course offers a more rigorous examination of the core topics of Introduction to Materials Science. The theoretical basis for mechanical, thermal, magnetic, and optical properties of materials is examined. In addition, microstructures, composites, and nanostructures are examined. Cross listed as CHEM 360. *Prerequisite: PHYS 260 and CHEM 221.

    370 Undergraduate Research (1–3 s.h.)
    Students do original research in accordance with ability and background under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Students are expected to devote 4 hours per week to the project for every credit hour. A written report will be submitted to the department each semester of enrollment. Cannot be used to meet elective course requirements for a major or minor in physics. May be repeated for credit. Total research credit to be used toward an undergraduate degree not to exceed 6 hours. *Prerequisites: PHYS 202, PHYS 260, consent of instructor and submission of a research contract to the department.

    400, 401 Senior Research (2 s.h. each) (M: both 400 and 401)
    Seminar and independent research leading to the completion of a thesis required of majors in the senior year. The student, under supervision of staff members, experiences research as it is carried out in practical situations and presents findings orally and in writing. Satisfactory completion of the research project and the oral defense of the thesis fulfill the senior requirement for physics majors.

    Note: Directed inquiries, teaching assistantships, and internships in physics are available on an individual basis.