Friday, November 14, 2008

Get a T-shirt today!

The T-shirt design is finished! To order a T-shirt, give $13 in cash or check (written to SPS) to a representative - Lori, Lily, Greg, Bruno, or Anthony Hamzeh. Be sure to specify what size you want. We only order the t-shirts once, so don't procrastinate or you may miss your chance. For a bigger view, click the image.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Helpful Hints

First, two important links:

We asked some of the other majors what they wish they would have known on their first day. Here’s a bit of what they said:

  • Read the book. Don’t expect college to be like high school. There is a lot of information you need to know, and reading the book helps a lot.
  • Don’t be shy. Ask for help, especially from the upper classmen. If you aren’t sure if you are doing something right, why not ask someone who’s done it wrong before.
  • Try not to work alone. Go to the physics lounge (Room 2144) and/or talk to your classmates. Working with others helps you learn so much more quickly. There’s almost always someone in there - day, night or weekend. It’s our main hang-out for the year; take advantage of it. If you don’t like to study in the lounge, there are always classrooms open. Your JACard accesses a lot of them.
  • Just about all the computers on the floor are hooked up to the S: drive, and a lot of them have helpful programs that you can use.
  • You don’t always need to wait until office hours to ask a professor a question; they are all really nice and willing to help. Just drop in if the door is open. Due to the new engineering major, classes are going to be a lot larger than normal. So, this year it’s extra important to make sure you build a rapport your professors. All the professors teaching 240 this semester are really nice and they are always willing to help.
  • Getting a professor’s help is the easiest way to get a better grade. A lot of people pay good money for one-on-one help for physics from students, by talking to your professor you get it for free from someone with a doctorate.
  • Don’t wait until you are completely lost to ask questions. If you wait till a week before the final to ask for help, you’re sunk.
  • Ask questions in class! Chances are, if you are lost and confused in a class of 90, there are others lost with you.
  • Do the homework. Tests reflect homework problems. If you understand the homework, you’ll be fine on all the tests.

That’s about all, if you have anymore advice (or questions), feel free to post a comment. Good luck and have fun!

Planning Your Physics Classes

The department has put together a very nice checklist of all the classes you need to take, along with a suggested order. Here's the link.

You’ll have to decide which track you would like to take, then declare it. To declare it, go to the registrar’s office on the second floor of Warren Hall (near card services). There is a form that you’ll need to fill out and have your advisor sign. This is also how you declare a minor. To know what classes the numbers represent go here and scroll down to the class number. You’ll notice that your current schedule matches the top line of any of those tracks, so you don’t have to decide yet.

Gen-Ed Scheduling

Planning Your Schedule
To plan out your schedule fellow students can be your number one resource. Ask a lot of questions; most of the time we are all willing to help. If you are uncomfortable talking to other physics majors, visit your advisor. He/she walked you through your first semester, but after that you have to figure it out for yourself so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You will hear this a lot: make friends in the department and get to know the physics lounge (Room 2144). It can be intimidating at first, but it will become your home away from home. There is just about always someone there.
Also get to know Kim. Her official title is secretary, but really, she runs this place. If you have any general questions, ask her. She either knows the answer, or can point you in the right direction. You’ll find her in Room 2186, along with the department head Dr. Whisnant. By the way, all the physics rooms are on the second floor of Phys/Chem.

General Education
Gen-eds are silly, tedious and often get in the way of the classes that involve actual learning. Sometimes it’s tempting to get done with the gen-eds as soon as possible, so you can finally get on with the fun classes you came here to take; physics. Depending on your learning style, that might be a bad idea. The upper level physics classes get harder, and it’s nice to have a break from all the thinking. Gen-eds can offer you that break.
On the other hand, gen-eds are typically a completely different thinking style from science, and some students have trouble shifting gears to the monotonous “memorize-and-regurgitate” style of other disciplines. How you pick your schedule is completely up to you.

Each semester you want to take 1-3 gen-eds, depending on your workload. Here is a link to your gen-ed checklist. There is also a book you get during orientation with all of this information in it. Here's the link.
That site also has a link to a “Requirements Checklist.” Note that here you click on the link for the year you arrived at JMU, not the year you plan to graduate.

Again, talk to other physics majors. Find out who the best professors are, and which gen-ed classes or professors you may want to avoid.

Friday, July 25, 2008

First post!

Welcome to the first SPS blog. A new year is about to start here in the physics department. We have a new addition to the teaching staff! Dr. Sasha Landsman will be teaching Physics 260 this fall. Hopefully she’ll enjoy her new home.

Freshman buddies are going to be assigned soon. If any of the upper classmen want to be a mentor, let Lori know (

We are hoping to have a lot of fun events and activities this year. Picnics and holiday parties of course, but also more game nights, bowling, movie nights, soccer, capture the flag, and of course, the new tradition of HotLavaMostExtremeAmericanGladiatorBanzukeNinjaWarriorChallengeExtraordinaire.

If you have any ideas of fun things to do just let an upper classman know and we’ll try to set it up (if its legal—no more liquid nitrogen water bottles).