Course Syllabus

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”  --Richard Feynman


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Advanced Topics in Physics

Instructor: Mahshid Pourmand

Room #: 250

Office: 358




Welcome to Advanced Topics in Physics! This course will focus on the type of questions that physicists are currently working on, rather than things that were studied a century or more ago. These are some fascinating and at times crazy sounding topics!  

First we will do some activities related to the “nature of science.”  A list of topics that will be included follows: relativity – both special and general, quantum mechanics, superconductivity, lasers, semiconductors, field theory, standard model of subatomic particles (fundamental building blocks of matter), and other topics as time permits like Plasmonics and Metamaterials.

This course will also focus on developing both student and science skills such as data analysis, experimentation, questioning and observation, presenting, and collaboration.

This course is being offered at the Honors level this year.  



  1. Be on time.
  2. Be ready to learn - have an engaged mind.
  3. Bring all necessary materials with you to class (or your work station at home).  See below for details.
  4. Be respectful of both your teacher and your peers.
  5. Be patient and kind. 
  6. Be respectful of any class equipment.  Use it only as it was designated to use.
  7. Work collaboratively with your peers in a respectful and constructive manner during group work – we will be working with groups and partners A LOT in this class.  Make a good reputation for yourself, and give every person you work with a fresh opportunity to be a better partner. 
  8. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated in any way. Procedures as outlined by the Student Handbook will be followed if anyone is caught copying others work or letting someone else copy their own work.  Penalties for cheating will be determined on a case by case basis.  Please be mindful of doing your own work on Google Docs.



  • Textbook: Giancoli, Physics: Principles with Applications, 6th edition (no need to bring to class)
  • Laptop and charger (or fully charged laptop…)
  • Notebook ( simple spiral bound notebook)
  • Writing utensil
  • Scientific calculator
  • Mask
  • Headphones



  • Projects: During each unit, you will do a project that will involve writing a paper, preparing a presentation, making a video, or creating a website on a topic in modern physics.  This will count for 35% of a term grade.  There will be between 2-3 projects per term.
  • Labs/Activities:  There will be regular lab activities, online simulators, or other in-class activities that you will do during each unit.  These will count for 35% of a term grade.
  • Homework: Problems and other assignments from the textbook will be assigned and collected.  This will count for 15% of a term grade.
  • Participation/Discussions: You should come to class prepared to discuss topics in assigned readings and review problems done for homework.  In addition, you will post comments/questions in Canvas online discussion boards.  This will count for 15% of a term grade.


Students who are unhappy or concerned about their grade(s) should talk to me. I am always willing to discuss your grade and how you are doing in class.  My job is to make sure you succeed, so if there is a problem, we should discuss it.  However, this should be done by appointment NOT during class time. You are also encouraged to see me for extra help if you need it.  You can also email me if you need help.  Don’t wait until it is too late to change your grade! 


Class Policies

  • When in doubt, stay out!  If you need to be out sick, even on your designated presentation day, please stay home. 
  • If you miss class and have an excused absence, please email me so we can discuss what you missed and the best way to catch you up.  If you know you will be out for an extended period, please let me know so we can work out a way to catch you up!
  • No late work is accepted beyond the last day of the unit, unless extenuating circumstances exist.  If you have an extenuating circumstance please discuss it with me so we can work out the best way for you to stay up to date and successful in class!  Please make sure to take the initiative to reach out to me if you need an extension or extra help and I will be as flexible as possible to help you!
  • No extra credit - be proactive, and not reactive about your grade!
  • Masks must be worn and maintained at all times.
  • Bottled beverages only in the classroom (must have a lid).  No food (unless medically necessary).
  • Wash your hands!  There are hand sanitizer stations around the room.  If you walk by one, sanitize your hand!



  1. The nature of science
  2. Gravity and Relativity
  3. Models of Atom
  4. Quantum Mechanics
  5. Semiconductors and Nanoscience
  6. Standard Model and Particle Physics
  7. Extra topics (If time permits)