Physics 6C Lab Manual - Introduction


This lab series is very similar to the Physics 6A and 6B series. Please refer to those lab manuals for general information.

Important: This manual assumes that you have already taken the Physics 6A and 6B labs, and that you are familiar with Microsoft Excel. In addition, it assumes that you are able to perform all the operations associated with Data Studio (particularly for Experiment 5); call up sensors; use them to take various measurements; produce, title, label, and vary the appearance of graphs; perform calculations on the measured variables in Data Studio, and use the results to create graphs.

Note to TAs: You should have taught a Physics 6A lab section before teaching a 6C lab. If you have not, you should make sure that you have gone through all the Data Studio operations for an experiment (particularly Experiment 5) before teaching it.

Note to Instructors: The thermodynamics experiment, Experiment 5, requires two lab sessions to complete. It consists of two parts: a measurement of absolute zero using the Ideal Gas Law, and an experiment with a heat engine. For the experiment to be assigned two sessions, you would have to make the request at the beginning of the quarter, and possibly omit the radioactivity or photoelectric experiment. If you take no action, the default option is that the experiment will be assigned one session, and the students will just do the absolute zero measurement. (Later in the quarter up to the week before the experiment, you could request that the students do the heat engine part of the experiment instead of the absolute zero measurement.

It is essential that you follow the general rules about taking care of equipment and reading the lab manual before coming to class.

As before:

Lab grade = (12.0 points)
− (2.0 points each for any missing labs)
+ (up to 2.0 points earned in mills of “additional credit”)
+ (up to 1.0 point earned in “TA mills”)
Maximum score = 15.0 points

Typically, most students receive a lab grade between 13.5 and 14.5 points, with the few poorest students (who attend every lab) getting grades in the 12s and the few best students getting grades in the high 14s or 15.0. There may be a couple of students who miss one or two labs without excuse and receive grades lower than 12.0.

How the lab score is used in determining a student's final course grade is at the discretion of the individual instructor. However, very roughly, for many instructors a lab score of 12.0 represents approximately B− work, and a score of 15.0 is A+ work, with 14.0 around the B+/A− borderline.


  1. In the Physics 6 series, each experiment is worth two points (out of 15 maximum points). If you miss an experiment without excuse, you will lose these two points.

  2. The equipment for each experiment is set up only during the assigned week; you cannot complete an experiment later in the quarter. You may make up no more than one experiment per quarter by attending another section during the same week and receiving permission from the TA of the substitute section. If the TA agrees to let you complete the experiment in that section, have him or her sign off your lab work at the end of the section and record your score. Show this signature/note to your own TA.

  3. (At your option) If you miss a lab but subsequently obtain the data from a partner who performed the experiment, and if you complete your own analysis with that data, then you will receive one of the two points. This option may be used only once per quarter.

  4. A written, verifiable medical, athletic, or religious excuse may be used for only one experiment per quarter. Your other lab scores will be averaged without penalty, but you will lose any mills that might have been earned for the missed lab.

  5. If you miss three or more lab sessions during the quarter for any reason, your course grade will be Incomplete, and you will need to make up these experiments in another quarter. (Note that certain experiments occupy two sessions. If you miss any three sessions, you get an Incomplete.)