Courses / Physics / 5 units / PHYSICS 21S: Mechanics, Fluids, and Heat with Laboratory

Mechanics, Fluids, and Heat with Laboratory

5 units
June 26 - July 21, 2017

How are the motions of objects and the behavior of fluids and gases determined by the laws of physics? Students learn to describe the motion of objects (kinematics) and understand why objects move as they do (dynamics). Emphasis on how Newton’s three laws of motion are applied to solids, liquids, and gases to describe phenomena as diverse as spinning gymnasts, blood flow, and sound waves. Understanding many-particle systems requires connecting macroscopic properties (e.g., temperature and pressure) to microscopic dynamics (collisions of particles). Laws of thermodynamics provide understanding of real-world phenomena such as energy conversion and performance limits of heat engines. Everyday examples are analyzed using tools of algebra and trigonometry. Problem-solving skills are developed, including verifying that derived results satisfy criteria for correctness, such as dimensional consistency and expected behavior in limiting cases. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and interactive group problem solving in discussion sections. Labs are an integrated part of the summer course.


High school algebra and trigonometry; calculus not required.


  • This is an accelerated, four-week course that is equivalent to the first quarter of college-level physics plus lab.
  • Students enroll in both Section 1 and Section 2 for lecture. In addition to the lecture, there is a 3-hour discussion/lab section three days a week that students enroll in in Axess.
  • This course follows a non-standard schedule. Please see the Summer Session Non-Standard Schedule Calendar for special deadlines.


PHYSICS 21S Syllabus - 2016