Physics 206 — Mechanics

Texas A&M University, Spring 2021

All University Physics Sections

Dept of Physics & Astronomy » PHYS 206 common webpage

COVID-19 safety and precautions

Click to expand for the continued precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic

Important dates

Add/drop deadline 5:00 pmMon Jan 25
Exam I 6:00 pmFri Feb 12
Exam II 6:00 pmFri Mar 12
Spring Break Mar 19–21
Exam III 6:00 pmFri Apr 9
Comprehensive 6:00 pmFri Apr 23
Q-drop deadline 5:00 pmFri Apr 30

Course Core Objectives

At the end of the semester a student is expected to master the following core objectives:

  • Critical Thinking: the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication.
  • Communication: to include effective development and interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral, and visual communication
  • Empirical and Quantitative Skills: to include the manipulation and analysis of numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions
  • Teamwork: to include the ability to consider different points of view and to work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal

Course overview

Physics 206, Newtonian Mechanics for Engineering and Science, is the first semester of a two-semester sequence in introductory physics, intended to introduce students to the basic principles of Newtonian mechanics and harmonic motion. We will cover topics in mechanics, Newton's Laws, the concepts of energy and work, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational motion, gravity, harmonic motion and waves. This corresponds to chapters 1–12 and 14 of Mosca and Tipler's Physics for Scientists and Engineers. The course is taught with pre-lectures, lectures, recitations and in-class particpation. The pre-lectures present the core concepts prior to class and allows more time for problem-solving strategies in class as compared to traditional lectures. The recitation is meant to practice problem-solving and to sharpen your reasoning about physics in a smaller class-size setting than the main lecture (which will have close to 150 students in it). The material is presented at a level that requires signficant algebra and trigonometry, as well as some basic calculus.

Upon successfully completing this course, you will have come to understand the basic principles governing the motion of objects, learned to think more critically/scientifically, and developed the skills needed to attack difficult problems. These are all skills that will serve you strongly in your future courses and careers, even if you never again consider a block sliding down an incline.

Course Schedule

The weekly class schedule gives an outline of the course, but is by no means definitive; check with your professor for a more complete schedule of your specific sections. Your weekly homework, pre-lecture and bridge assignment due dates are listed on Sapling's calendar and may be adjusted as the semester progresses to accomodate the pace of the class; you should refer back to that calendar often. Information about the format of the recitations as well as problem sets used by your recitation leader may be found here.


Name Sections Lectures Syllabus E-mail
Melconian 213–218 Online TR 9:45 am11:00 am pdf
Mahapatra 467–472 Online TR 1:30 pm2:45 pm pdf
Kolhinen 473–478 Online TR 6:45 pm8:00 pm pdf
Teizer 479–484 Online TR 3:15 pm4:30 pm pdf
Saslow 485–490 Online MWF 10:40 am11:30 am pdf
Kocharovsky 491–496 Online MWF 12:00 pm12:50 pm pdf
Ko 561–566 Online MW 5:35 pm6:50 pm pdf
Teizer 567–572 Online TR 11:30 am12:45 pm pdf
Jastram 573–578 Online MW 7:20 pm8:35 pm pdf
Saslow 579–584 Online MWF 1:35 pm2:25 pm pdf
Kocharovsky 585–590 Online MWF 9:20 am10:10 am pdf
Name Sections Lectures Syllabus
Melconian 213–218 Online TR 9:45–11:00 am pdf
Mahapatra 467–472 Online TR 1:30–2:45 pm pdf
Kolhinen 473–478 Online TR 6:45–8:00 pm pdf
Teizer 479–484 Online TR 3:15–4:30 pm pdf
Saslow 485–490 Online MWF 10:40–11:30 am pdf
Kocharovsky 491–496 Online MWF 12:00–12:50 pm pdf
Ko 561–566 Online MW 5:35–6:50 pm pdf
Teizer 567–572 Online TR 11:30–12:45 pm pdf
Jastram 573–578 Online MW 7:20–8:35 pm pdf
Saslow 579–584 Online MWF 1:35–2:25 pm pdf
Kocharovsky 585–590 Online MWF 9:20–10:10 am pdf

Zoom information

All information/links for the online component of the course (lectures, recordings of lectures, recitations, exams) may be found here: zoom-info-2021A.php. You will need to authenticate with your TAMU NetID to access any Zoom meetings or videos.


Pre-lectures and Bridge assignments

Course Components

Learning objectives
Sapling Learning
Math preparation

Course Evaluation

Exams 80% (all sections)

As listed on the class schedule, there are 3 common midterms on the evenings of Fri Feb 12th, Fri Mar 12th, and Fri Apr 9th. In addition, we will be having a common comprehensive exam covering all of the material in the course on Apr 23rd, the Fri before classes end. All exams will be online, begin at 6:00 pm, and are multiple choice. Exams are graded in terms of learning objectives. The complete list of learning objectives that a student is expected to master at the end of the semester is posted at In the end, the final exam grade will be based on the fraction of learning objectives achieved. Any LO with a passing grade in the comprehensive exam will trump the results for that LO from the 3 midterms. However, if a LO is not passed in the comprehensive exam, it will count just like other midterms in the cumulative passing criteria.

Online homework 5% (3% for honour sections)

Submitted and graded using Sapling Learning

Recitations 5% (all sections)

The grade for recitations is based on participation. See this page for more information. We strongly suggest you be an active learner and actively participate in the discussions of these smaller class-sized recitations.

Pre-lectures and Bridge assignments 5% (3% for honour sections)

In Sapling Learning, there are pre-lecture videos to introduce concepts followed by Bridge assignment questions to assess how well you grasped the core physics concepts.

i>clickers 5% (3% for honour sections)

A personal response system used for in-class participation and/or quizzes.

Honours assignments 6% (honours only)

Only applicable to sections 213–218. The instructor will provide details in class.

Resources available to you

Course strategies: A link to (Dr. Melconian's) advice you may find useful …?
Office hours: Hopefully all of you feel comfortable taking advantage of your professor's office hours if you have any questions.
Supplemental Instruction: The Academic Success Center at TAMU will be providing free weekly supplemental instruction led by a student who recently completed (and did well in!) PHYS 206. Quoting a pamphlet about this program: SI is a program in place to help students succeed in historically difficult courses (no, this isn't an "easy A" course). It has been proven that students who regularly attend SI sessions score 1/2 to a full letter grade better in the course.
This semester's SI leaders for PHYS 206 UP (not the Don't Panic flavour of PHYS 206) are Mahirah S. and Daniel G. You may find their Zoom meeting times and link on the ASC page Both SIs are available for any PHYS 206 student, they are not only for Prof. Saslow's or Kocharovsky's lecture sections; there are simply too many lecture sections to have an SI for each one.
Recitations: Your teaching assistant (TA) should be an invaluable resource for you! Go to recitations armed with questions (just like you should come to the lectures!) and get the TA to help clear up any misconceptions or difficulties you may have. Another person explaining another way (and also who was more recently in your shoes) may resonate better with you; this is, after all, the whole point of the recitations.

Mechanics Scholars Competition

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, it is unclear yet whether the Mechanics Scholars Competition will be held this semester. If not, those enrolled in PHYS 206 may take it next time it is offered. This page will be updated as soon as there is any more information.

Further information

Math readiness: link to some simple quizzes to test how prepared you are in math.
Formula sheets: link to the formula sheets that will be provided to you for each midterm and the comprehensive exam.
Previous exams: link to the midterms and finals from PHYS 206 last year (with answer keys). Note that this course adopts a common midterm exam policy: all sections of PHYS 206 will write the same midterms at the same time; your professor is only one of a number of faculty that will be contributing problems to the midterms.
Academic calendar: link to the Registrar's academic calendar. Includes important dates, holidays and deadlines. Note that all sections of PHYS 206 write a comprehensive exam the evening of Fri Apr 23 (6:00–9:00 pm). Therefore we will not be having a final exam during finals week.
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"Texas A&M University students are responsible for authenticating all work submitted to an instructor. If asked, students must be able to produce proof that the item submitted is indeed the work of that student. Students must keep appropriate records at all times. The inability to authenticate one's work, should the instructor request it, may be sufficient grounds to initiate an academic misconduct case" (Section, Student Rule 20).

You can learn more about the Aggie Honor System Office Rules and Procedures, academic integrity, and your rights and responsibilities at

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Texas A&M University is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. If you experience barriers to your education due to a disability or think you may have a disability, please contact Disability Resources in the Student Services Building or at (979) 845-1637 or visit Disabilities may include, but are not limited to attentional, learning, mental health, sensory, physical, or chronic health conditions. All students are encouraged to discuss their disability related needs with Disability Resources and their instructors as soon as possible.

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With the exception of some medical and mental health providers, all university employees (including full and part-time faculty, staff, paid graduate assistants, student workers, etc.) are Mandatory Reporters and must report to the Title IX Office if the employee experiences, observes, or becomes aware of an incident that meets the following conditions (see University Rule 08.01.01.M1):

Mandatory Reporters must file a report regardless of how the information comes to their attention – including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Although Mandatory Reporters must file a report, in most instances, you will be able to control how the report is handled, including whether or not to pursue a formal investigation. The University's goal is to make sure you are aware of the range of options available to you and to ensure access to the resources you need.

Students wishing to discuss concerns in a confidential setting are encouraged to make an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

Students can learn more about filing a report, accessing supportive resources, and navigating the Title IX investigation and resolution process on the University's Title IX webpage.

Statement on Mental Health and Wellness

Texas A&M University recognizes that mental health and wellness are critical factors that influence a student's academic success and overall wellbeing. Students are encouraged to engage in proper self-care by utilizing the resources and services available from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Students who need someone to talk to can call the TAMU Helpline (979-845-2700) from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. 24-hour emergency help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255) or at