Goals of HMC Physics

Educational Goals

We hope that students will

  • be inspired by the elegance and simplicity of the physical laws that govern the world;
  • be inspired by their own ability to understand subtle phenomena from first principles; and
  • appreciate developments beyond classical physics, including the counterintuitive yet understandable and enormously successful theories of
    special relativity and quantum mechanics, and the extraordinary precision with which their predictions have been verified.

Learning Goals

Throughout the core physics courses, students will develop their skill at

  • applying mathematics to describe motion and other aspects of the physical world;
  • solving multistep physics problems by applying fundamental principles;
  • using dimensional reasoning;
  • estimating quantities and scaling behavior;
  • using appropriate approximations;
  • communicating their understanding clearly using sketches, diagrams, English, and algebra as appropriate.

In the laboratory course, students will learn

  • to design and conduct experiments;
  • to take care to eliminate extraneous influences;
  • to keep careful records;
  • to bound the uncertainty in observations and to propagate that uncertainty as they analyze the results;
  • to compare observations to a theoretical model; and
  • to limit their conclusions to those justified by their results.