AOS 330: Class Information and Policies

Last updated 9/2/2015

Contact Information

Instructor: Prof. Grant W. Petty
Office: AO&SS 1329
Phone: 263-3265
e-mail: gwpetty ‘at’ wisc.edu
Office hours: 2:30–4:30 Thursdays; or by appointment or walk-in (when available)
TA/Grader:  Luke Odell e-mail: leodell ‘at’ wisc.edu
Office: AO&SS 1439 or 1403; Office hours: Wednesday, 2–4  (in 805)
Class e-mail list (reaches everyone in class): atmocn330-1-f16@lists.wisc.edu

Required Reading

A First Course in Atmospheric Thermodynamics.  Do NOT purchase this book through a bookstore or online vendor, as you will pay way too much!  The book will be available for $5 per copy on the first day of class.

Tests, Homework, and Grading

Class grades will be based on two midterms, each counting for 20% of the grade, and a cumulative final which will count for 30%.  Problem sets and labs together will count for 30% (equal weight). Homework assignments and preliminary due dates are posted here

Be aware that the schedule may be revised depending on the pace at which we actually cover the material.  Homework will be handed in at the beginning of class on the due date. Lab assignments will usually be conducted in class on Fridays, with the writeup due the following Friday.

Please note that it is often difficult or impossible to offer makeup labs to students who miss the lab period.  If you have to be absent for a legitimate reason, please make advance arrangements with the TA if at all possible. I encourage you to work together to understand the class material and the homework problems. 
IMPORTANT:  I will not give credit for homework solutions that appear to have been copied nearly verbatim either by or from one of your classmates.

For both homework and test problems, I will typically give 2/3 credit (or more) for clearly deriving the correct  symbolic solution (where applicable), with the remaining 1/3  awarded for the correct numerical answer (including correct units). You must clearly spell out all assumptions, formulas used, and all non-trivial intermediate steps in order to receive full credit. If there is an error in your solution, I will award partial credit only if (a) I can clearly identify where in your solution the error(s) occurred, and (b) there is no obvious inconsistency in units and/or an unreasonable numerical result that you should have been able to easily spot as erroneous.

Late homework will be marked off 1/3 for each class period that passes beyond the time that it is due, including the class period on the date that is due.  Exceptions will be made only for legitimate, documentable medical or family emergencies or, in other cases, with prior approval from me.

During all tests, you will be permitted to have your calculator. Tests will be closed-book, closed-notes.  Test questions will assume that you have (1) been to lecture, (2) carefully worked through ALL required reading, and (3) understood how to solve the assigned homework problems.  If something is in the assigned reading, it is fair game even if I don’t say it in class.

Grades will not be assigned according to a curve.  Instead, I use a fixed grading scale that is intended to measure the students’ mastery of the material and basic problem solving skills covered in this class. I will shoot for the following cutoffs:
A above 90%
AB above 85%
B above 80%
BC above 75%
C above 70%
D above 60%
Some minor adjustments of the cutoffs (usually slightly downward) may be made in the final grading to allow for unplanned variations in the difficulty of the tests or homework assignments.  Note however that I do not use rounding — a cutoff of 80% means 80.00000%.

Office Hours and Appointments

This year, I will hold scheduled office hours.  That said,  if you’re in the building at other times,  feel free to check my office and see if I’m available.  Alternatively, if you can’t make regular office hourse and want to be sure of catching me when I’m free, e-mail me first and we’ll work out a time to meet.

I encourage you to see the TA or me any time you have trouble understanding the homework problems or need additional clarification of the material presented in class.  Since I often find myself answering the same question repeatedly from a series of students (usually the day before the homework is due!), it would be nice if you could discuss a problem first with your classmates and, if no one knows how to do it, come see the TA or me as a group, so you can all hear the answer at the same time!

Class E-mail List

In the past, AOS 330 students have used the class e-mail list (see above) to organize after-hours study sessions.   I encourage this.  Also, when someone sends me a question via e-mail, I will often (not always) send my answer to the entire class (with the original student’s name deleted to avoid embarrassment),  so that everyone gets the same hints and clarifications.   Please check your e-mail regularly so that you don’t miss this kind of information.