PHYS 409:  Special Topics – Advanced Laboratory
Spring 2019

Lectures:  10:40-11:39am MW,  Mainiero 60

Instructor:  David Chappell, Ph.D.

Office:  MA 64

Phone:  909-448-4598

email:  dchappell at

course webpage:

Course Description

This is a project-based course in which students work to design, construct and implement an advanced physics experiment. The course is designed to expose students to different research topics in physics and to encourage students to do research independently and in a professional manner. At the end of the course the students will produce a research paper and give an oral presentation on their research.


PHYS 203, PHYS 204, MATH 202


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Design an experiment to acquire quantitative measurements of a physical system
  • Work effectively as part of a collaborative team to design experiments, troubleshoot equipment an analyze results
  • Analyze experimental data and formulate conclusions that follow logically from that analysis
  • Write clearly, analytically and purposefully using professional scientific language
  • Clearly present scientific ideas, data and theories orally to a professional audience
Lab notebook10%
Project updates10%
Research paper drafts10%
Research paper50%
Oral presentation20%
Lab notebook

Most of the this course will be spent in lab conducting experiments. Anytime that you are working on your project, you should be taking detailed notes in your lab notebook. You can use a bound notebook or an electronic the option of taking notes in a bound notebook or electronically using the departmental Lenovo laptops. Notebooks will be submitted every week. You will receive a weekly grade on your progress.

Project updates

Every Monday at the beginning of class each lab group will give a short update on the work they did on their project the previous week. The update should include a 1-2 slide PowerPoint presentation and should last about 5 minutes. The PowerPoint presentation file is to be submitted on Blackboard before class on Mondays.

Research paper

At the end of the semester, you will submit the final draft of your research paper. However you will be submitting drafts of the paper throughout the semester. A rough draft of your paper will be due every other week during the semester. The drafts should be submitted to me on Blackboard or via ShareLaTeX if you choose to write your paper in LATEX. After submitting a draft, you will need to schedule an appointment with me during my office hours to go over the draft.

Oral Presentation

During finals week we will have a Physics Symposium where each lab group will be giving a 15-20 minute oral presentation of their research in front of the Physics Department and other guests.