Labs at Pomona College

This page provides links to lab materials that we used for the Six Ideas course at Pomona College during the 2001/2 academic year. These materials are very much a work in progress (indeed, we are planning a massive revision of the lab during the 2005/6 academic year), and some documents are missing (for a variety of reasons), but these materials are offered as is to help give you some ideas about developing a lab program to go with a Six Ideas course. All the links here are to PDF files. All materials here are copyrighted: please ask for permission before using.

Lab Reference Manual: This is a booklet that we hand out at the beginning of each term to provide students with background information about data analysis, graphing, writing lab reports, thin-lens optics, and so on. Students are required to read selected chapters (and do the exercises) before coming to certain labs. This material was written by Alma Zook and myself, with help from Torrin Hultgren, Alex Hui, and others.

Fall Term Experiments: These are the handouts we give to students during the fall term of 2001. (There is no lab 11.)

Spring Term Experiments: These are the handouts we give to students during the spring term of 2002.

Supporting Software: These are home-built computer programs we use to support the labs. All Mac versions are in .bin format; all Windows versions in .exe format. All programs are freeware. Mac OS9 programs will run in "Classic" mode on OS X.

  • RepDat (Mac OS9,Win): This program makes it easy to compute standard deviations and uncertainties of repeated measurements (after students have learned to do these calculations by hand).
  • PropUnc (Mac OS9, Win): This program uses a Monte Carlo method to compute the uncertainty of calculated quantities.
  • LinReg (Mac OS9, Mac OSX, Win): This is a graphing and linear-regression program. Now includes the functions of RepDat and PropUnc.
  • UncMean (Mac OS9, Win): This program computes the uncertainty of the mean for a user-selected number of simulated measurements. We use this program in lab F05 to argue that the uncertainty of the mean is proportional to one over sqrt(N).
  • RadDecay (Mac OS9, Win): Safely simulates radioactive decay (used to supplement a teacher-controlled demonstration of real radioactive decay in lab S10).
  • Squiggle (Mac OS9, Win): Timer program that makes it easier to take lots of data during the original version of lab S11.

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