Models of Motion


Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters

Taught by

physics, biomedical engineering, optical imaging and microscopy
linguistics, mathematics


This introductory math and science program is open to students of all class levels who meet the math prerequisite: proficiency in precalculus, including algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

In this introductory program, we will integrate material from first-year university physics and calculus with relevant areas of history and scientific literature as we explore how mathematicians and physicists make sense of, and intervene in, the natural and human-created worlds. Students will be supported in developing a firm background in college-level science, becoming prepared for further work in the mathematical and physical sciences. Our aim is to learn to think and communicate mathematically and scientifically.

Scientists gather data, make observations, look for patterns, build models and use those models to predict behavior. Powerful models in physics help us explain interactions involving matter and energy. New models require new mathematical methods—for example, calculus was developed partly to understand models of motion. Even with powerful mathematics, a model may yield answers only in simplified circumstances. We can analyze more complicated physical systems by simulating them on a computer. Learning how to create and apply mathematical and computational methods to models in physics will be one of the major goals of this program.

The program will have a significant laboratory component, using hands-on investigations and computational tools to explore and analyze the nature of mathematical and physical systems; this work will take place in a highly collaborative environment. Workshops and seminar discussions will also allow for collaborative work on math and physics problems as well as an opportunity to explore connections between history, theory and practice. The program is intended for students with solid high-school level backgrounds in science and mathematics—in particular, a good grasp of precalculus (including algebra and trigonometry) will be assumed. Equally important for success, however, will be a commitment to working hard and learning together.

The work will be intensive—students should expect to spend over 50 hours per week engaged with material during and outside of class. We will learn process and content through readings, lectures, labs, workshops, seminars and projects. Students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning in individual and collaborative contexts, including in-class work, homework, papers, presentations and exams.

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

mathematics, physics, other natural sciences, engineering and math and science education.
Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Final Schedule and Room Assignment


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$100 per quarter for physics kits.

Special Expenses

Students will need to have devices capable of scientific calculation and graphing, such as graphing calculators or (recommended) smartphones/tablets/laptops with appropriate software.


Date Revision
May 9th, 2014 Fees have been reduced to $100 per quarter.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Variable Credit Options

Students with previous background in calculus are encouraged to take the program for 16 credits as the integration of calculus and physics enhances learning in both. However, students who have taken calculus may consult with faculty about partial-credit options.

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 44


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10122
So - Sr (16 credits): 10125
(1-16 credits): 10126

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students will need to demonstrate prerequisite knowledge equivalent to mathematics and physics content covered in fall quarter. Contact Rachel Hastings ( for more information.

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20071
So - Sr (16 credits): 20072
(1-16 credits): 20073

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students


Students will need to demonstrate prerequisite knowledge equivalent to mathematics and physics content covered in fall and winter quarter. Contact Rachel Hastings ( for more information.

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30055
So - Sr (16 credits): 30056
(16 credits): 30057

Go to to register for this program.

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