Models of Motion
Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters
In this introductory program, we will integrate material from first-year college 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. We will study the fundamental laws of nature and the mathematics used to describe them, investigating the nature of motion, space, time, infinity, matter, energy, light, heat, and electromagnetism (to name just a few). 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.
One of the major goals of this program will be to learn how to create and apply mathematical and computational methods to models in physics. Scientists make observations, look for patterns, and then build models and use those models to understand and predict the behavior of the natural world. The development of many mathematical methods—most notably calculus—has been motivated by the desire to understand the behavior of physical systems. In a related way, computer simulations allow for examination of physical behavior for which the mathematical models are too difficult (or time consuming) to solve by hand. Students will learn both the underlying mathematics and how to create and use such simulations.
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 and challenging but also exciting; students should expect to spend more than 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, weekly homework, papers, presentations, and exams.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day