2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Introduction to Natural Science: Navigating Observation and Theory

Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Benjamin Simon microbiology , Rachel Hastings (F,W) linguistics, mathematics , Dharshi Bopegedera physical chemistry
Fields of Study
biology, chemistry and mathematics
Preparatory for studies or careers in
biology, chemistry, mathematical sciences, environmental studies, teaching and health professions.
Proficiency in intermediate algebra.

This program is a rigorous introduction to important knowledge and skills students need to continue in the natural sciences and environmental sciences. We will cover key concepts in general chemistry, general biology, and pre-calculus mathematics. Students who have completed pre-calculus will have the option of pursuing work in introductory calculus.

The integration of biology, chemistry and mathematics will assist us in asking and answering questions that lie in the intersections of these fields. Such topics include the chemical structure of DNA, the mathematical modeling of biological population growth, and the equations governing chemical equilibria and kinetics. Our laboratory work in biology and chemistry will also allow us to observe phenomena, collect data, and gain first-hand insight into the complex relationship between mathematical models and experimental results.

Program activities will include lectures, laboratories, workshops, scientific writing and student presentations. Disciplines will be integrated throughout the year so students can understand the natural world from multiple perspectives.

During fall, we will focus on skill building in the laboratory and acquiring the basic tools in chemistry, biology and mathematics. By winter quarter, students will increase their ability to integrate disciplines, moving between established models and experimental data to ask and seek answers to their own questions.

The student presentations will require students to actively participate in conversations on current topics in science. Students will engage library research, writing and oral presentations to communicate their knowledge of these topics to others. A spring quarter component will be a library or laboratory research project and presentation of their findings at the college's annual Science Carnival. This opportunity will allow students to use their knowledge of science to teach schoolchildren (in K-12) in order to improve their own understanding of science.

This program is designed for students who want a foundation in science using an interdisciplinary framework. It will require 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 will also gain a strong appreciation of the interconnectedness of biological, chemical and mathematical systems, and an ability to apply this knowledge to complex problems.

Upon completion of the program, students will have completed one year of general chemistry with laboratory, general biology with laboratory and two quarters of mathematics (precalculus and possibly calculus for students who are prepared).

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