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2013-14 GTAS UND CPSL rules Pre-laboratory work Time to be spent in the lab
To keep the labs operating smoothly our department works hard all year round. During the summer months we update the lab manuals and design new exercises. At the beginning of each fall semester there is a 3-day long orientation for GTAs. Every week GTAs participate in a two-hour-long lab meeting
where they review and practice the lab exercises and discuss how to guide the lab so that they know the tricky part of the lab and how to deliver it.
The lab supervisor is expected to work around the clock to ensure the smooth operation of lab instruction.
Behind the scenes our Machinist Rob Czapiewski repairs broken equipment. Also he builds apparatus for the labs and for physics demonstrations. Without him our labs cannot operate.
The physics lab supervisor has to maintain the physics labs, that is, to keep the labs in order and check the condition of the lab equipment (including computers) and if necessary to replace them. Proper lab scheduling is vital so that two labs do not use the same equipment at the same time. Constant communication with course instructors is also important, or else you would end up doing lab before learning what it is about. We try not to let this happen any more than absolutely unavoidable.
The purpose of CPSL is to refine your understanding of physics content using lab equipment working as a group. Therefore CPSL instruction is designed assuming that the students have seen the material in lecture before they come to the lab.
By the time you come to the lab we expect you to have at least some familiarity with the physics concepts involved and to be ready to work with them and even tackle harder problems like the seemingly undefined problems you might face in the real world. Quite likely they will be like problems you face in upper-division courses in your field that might involve physics concepts.
There is no use doing the lab exercises if you haven't done the assigned reading. If you are not ready for the lab you will not learn much from it. You won't know what's going on. Lab activities will appear to you as just busy work, painful and dull. But if you are prepared you should find that you can really get into it; you should get some real satisfaction and gain much needed confidence. Pre-lab exercises are designed to check your readiness for the lab and to make sure you are really there. In other words, pre-lab questions check your reading and give you some idea what you are doing in lab.