Integrated Natural Sciences (INS)

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

John Kirkpatrick
environmental chemistry, molecular biology and ecology, oceanography

This program integrates general chemistry, physical and environmental geology, and general biology, providing a rigorous and intensive foundation in the natural sciences. It is intended for students who are interested in pursuing more advanced coursework in biology, chemistry, and the earth sciences.

Biological and chemical processes have shaped Earth over time: rock is the product of chemical reactions, the origin and evolution of life created an oxygen-rich atmosphere, and biogeochemical processes are the foundation of ecological function. This yearlong interdisciplinary program will focus on transformations of matter and energy in and between living and nonliving systems. This will provide an opportunity to gain an understanding of biological, chemical, and physical earth processes on a variety of scales. The nature of living organisms will be examined on molecular, cellular, and physiological levels within the context of their evolutionary history. Chemical topics of equilibria, thermodynamics, and kinetics will provide a framework to understand biological and ecological systems. Students will engage with these themes using an experimental approach to develop critical and quantitative reasoning skills.

Fall quarter will integrate topics of biology, chemistry, and geology through the study of early Earth history. Earth materials (rocks and minerals) and processes that form and alter them will be examined. Molecular structure and properties will enhance our understanding of biological function at the molecular level. These will be covered through the study of genetics and inheritance, structure and synthesis of DNA and proteins, and how these molecules are integrated into cells.

In winter quarter we will learn how fossil fuels and mineral resources are formed, as well as the impacts associated with their extraction and use (e.g., climate change). Chemical concepts of kinetics and equilibria will enhance our geological studies. Biology content will focus on a more organismal level by examining important concepts in animal developmental biology, reproduction, and physiology.

In spring quarter we will examine equilibrium reactions in greater depth and begin our study of thermodynamics. We will further examine evolutionary processes on a macro level through the study of plants, diversification of life, and ecology.

Program activities will include lectures, small group problem-solving workshops, laboratories, field work, and field trips. We expect students to end the program in spring with a working knowledge of scientific and quantitative concepts, the ability to reason critically and to solve problems, and with hands-on experience in natural science. Students will also gain a strong appreciation of the interconnectedness of biological and physical systems, and an ability to apply this knowledge to complex problems.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: chemistry, biology, geology, environmental science, and health sciences.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Students are expected to be proficient in math at the algebra II or precalculus level.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in: