2013-14 Catalog

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Offering Description

Introduction to Natural Science


Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters

James Neitzel biology, biochemistry , Mario Gadea (F,W) civil engineering , Kristopher Waynant
Fields of Study
biology, chemistry and physics
Preparatory for studies or careers in
biology, chemistry, environmental studies and health-related fields. This program will prepare students for more advanced work in biology and chemistry, such as in the programs Molecule to Organism and Environmental Analysis.

This introductory-level program is designed for students who are prepared to take their first year of college-level science using an interdisciplinary framework. This program offers an integrated study of biology, chemistry, and physics that serves as an introduction to the concepts, theories and structures which underlie all the natural sciences. Our goal is to equip students with the conceptual, methodological and quantitative tools that they will need to ask and answer questions that arise in a variety of disciplines using the models and tools of chemistry, biology, and physics. . Students will also gain a strong appreciation of the interconnectedness of biological and physical systems, and an ability to apply this knowledge to complex problem

Program activities will include lectures and small-group problem-solving workshops, where conceptual and technical skills will be developed. There will be a significant laboratory component--students can expect to spend at least a full day in lab each week, maintain laboratory notebooks, write formal laboratory reports and give formal presentations of their work. Biology laboratories in this program will include participation in the SEA-PHAGE program coordinated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the use of bioinformatics tools on a bacteriophage genome. We will make extensive use of mathematical modeling in all program activities.

Seminar will enable us to apply our growing understanding of scientific principles and methodology to societal issues such as genetic testing and engineering or the causes and effects of climate change. In addition to studying current scientific theories, we will consider the historical, societal and personal factors that influence our thinking about the natural world. Students will be exposed to the primary literature of these sciences and develop skill in writing for diverse audiences. During spring quarter, students will have the opportunity to design and carry out their own laboratory investigations, the results of which they will present in talks and papers at the end of the quarter.

All laboratory work and approximately one half of the non-lecture time will be spent working in collaborative problem-solving groups. It will be a rigorous program, requiring a serious commitment of time and effort. Overall, we expect students to end the program in the spring with a solid working knowledge of scientific and mathematical concepts, and with the ability to reason critically and solve problems.

Students completing this program will have covered material equivalent to one year of general biology and general chemistry, with a significant amount of physics.

Schedule and Location
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 18th, 2013 Preparatory work for students joining the program in winter quarter has been clarified.
April 3rd, 2013 This program now begins in Fall. Two visitors have been added; enrollments have been increased and the description has been updated.