Instructor: Andrea Lommen, KINSC L108, alommen ‘at’ haverford ‘dot’ edu

Textbook: Introduction to Electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths, 4th edition

Thank you to Steve Boughn for his problem sets, and thanks to Kate Daniels for the format of this course. The text on this page in particular, was almost completely written by Kate (with a few changes) and I have her permission to use it here.

The format of each class will be a very short (25 min) review lecture highlighting the important points of your reading. The rest of the time will be devoted to collaborative problem solving. Since not all the relevant material will be covered in the lectures, it is essential that the assigned reading be completed each Monday. The textbook by Griffiths gives an excellent intermediate-level treatment of electrodynamics. It is well written in an informal style that lends itself well to self study.

I adore E&M for its mathematical beauty. Let me say that another way that sounds less fancy. All of E&M can be derived from 4 equations (Maxwell’s Equations). We don’t get there until the end, but along the way I hope to point out that there really are very few equations. There’s a bunch of math you have to deal with, and we’ll spend the first week getting used to that, and then you’ll keep getting more familiar with that as we go on.

While the primary purpose of this course is a formal, mathematical introduction to electrodynamics including Maxwell’s Equations and radiation, applications to other areas of physics and astrophysics will be highlighted in the assignments and workshops.

Class Structure:

To do electrodynamics one must become expert in mathematical tools used to do electrodynamics problems and also develop a clear understanding of how these problems relate to the physical concepts at hand. These tools and concepts are widely applicable to a range of topics in physics and beyond!

The pedagogy for this course is designed to lead you toward realizing your best inner physicist. I will provide a strong scaffolding and support for you to make steady progress. In order to succeed, you must consistently (and persistently) do the reading, practice the mathematical tools, review what you did, put it back into the context of the reading, practice some more, and review again. We will be making several passes at the material with the aim of deeply learning the subject matter.

Collaboration is also absolutely critical for success! One of the major barriers to becoming a thriving physicist is the myth of the lone, brilliant physicist. This is not how it happens, not even for Einstein. Our understanding and creativity is deepened when we work together. To do this effectively, we must build trust in each other so that we can be vulnerable enough to openly and constructively embrace the discomfort of not knowing. Practically speaking, this means that we will work many of the problems in class and in collaborative groups outside of class. You are independently responsible for doing the reading before you arrive. Over the semester you will produce a set of notes and completed problems called PRETTY COPIES. You will use these PRETTY COPIES for the QUIZZES.

Here is the specific process we will go through for each topic:

Before Class:

Reading & Notes: Reading assignments are due on Monday each week as listed on the grid (see tab above) It is required that you do the reading before class and take notes! As you read, take the time to stop and think, what does this mean? Do I really understand this step? Could I explain it to my classmates if they are confused? The reading should be your main focus before class. Your notes do not have to be beautiful and they do not have to be perfect, just functional and thoughtful. On Moodle there is an assignment called READING NOTES where you should submit a single PDF of your notes. These are typically due at 11:59 PM on Mondays.

Problem Sets: Each week’s readings has an associated problem set listed under PROBLEMS in the SCHEDULE. Take some time to look at these before you get to class, but you do not need to complete them. However, you should think about them and jot down a framework for solving each problem.

In Class Work:

Pre-Class Summary: I will begin each class with a brief, guided discussion to summarize the major points from the reading. The purpose of this is to make sure we are all on the same page, allow time for general questions, and to place the topics covered in the reading into the big picture context. I will not give a lecture that repeats what is in the book.

Problem Set Discussion: We will spend the majority of class collaborating on the problem sets and developing problem solving strategies. I will ask each of you (at some point or another) to present your group’s work so we can discuss your group’s proposed strategies as a class. There is no single way to solve most physics problems. These in class sessions will provide the foundation for later collaborative and independent work.

After Class:

First Draft Solutions: After strategizing each problem in class, you will need to submit a single PDF of your FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS to that week’s problem set in two places: (1) on Moodle and (2) to your collaborator (described below). Do NOT spend hours working on these. FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS should be a tidied up version of what you’ve worked out in class already. It may be useful to meet with your collaborator(s) to clarify what we talked about. However, as soon as you’ve done this initial work, submit it. I grade FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS by simply looking to see if you’ve written down your thoughts for each problem while they are fresh. I expect there to be something written for each problem since we talk about each problem in class. In fact, there won’t be time for much more than this since your FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS are due by Thursday evening at 11:59 PM.

Collaborators: Throughout the semester, you will be matched with a Collaborator (or few) with whom you can bounce ideas off of, compare notes with, and who will also provide you with feedback on your FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS. You will need to schedule a regular time to meet with your Collaborator each week. When your collaborator gives you their FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS, you will have 24 hours to give feedback to your Collaborator. This is a relatively simple task, but incredibly helpful for your collaborator. On Moodle there is a document called the PEER EVALUATION FORM. This is a simple rubric for you to use to evaluate each problem from your collaborator’s FIRST DRAFT SOLUTIONS. Once you complete the PEER EVALUATION FORM for each problem, give it to your Collaborator to help them identify where to focus for their PRETTY COPY SOLUTIONS. Then, complete the COLLABORATION PEER EVALUATION quiz on Moodle. This practice has many purposes, but more than anything it is meant to help build a supportive community between peers that you can lean on throughout your time at Bryn Mawr (and after!).

Pretty Copy Solutions: Once you have strategized each problem on your own, discussed in class, submitted a first draft, and received feedback from your Collaborator you should feel like you understand every step of each problem very well. On your own, write a PRETTY COPY of each of your solutions — show all steps, explain all steps, reference equations used, and put it in context. These are due at 11:59 PM on Tuesdays. These will be the only resource allowed during QUIZZES!

Quizzes: I will assign a quiz once every week or so on Wednesdays as indicated on the SCHEDULE. These will open on Moodle at 12:01 AM and close at 11:59 PM. These are the only thing that you are expected to do independently. They are short assessments that focus on conceptual understanding and completion of the PRETTY COPY SOLUTIONS. You will have 15 minutes to complete the quiz. The only resource you are allowed to use for these is your PRETTY COPY SOLUTION for the specific problem indicated in the QUIZ. Be prepared to submit a PDF of your solutions. Do not discuss the QUIZ until the day after it is due.