Counting on the Brain

Winter 2017 quarter

Taught by

physics education research, cognitive abilities development and assessment, adult and continuing science education
  • UG

Neuroscience continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of biology and is at the cutting edge of technical and conceptual advances in the life sciences. If you want to know how animals (including humans) touch, hear, see, smell, and remember things, then you need to study ions, molecules, cells, neural networks, brain structure and behavior. We will first learn about the function of the brain’s cellular computers: neurons. We will learn how neurons differ from other cells, how they generate electrical signals, and how they communicate with one another via synapses. We will then investigate how neurons cooperate in circuits by studying five sensory systems: vision, touch, hearing, taste and smell. Cellular and molecular mechanisms will be emphasized alongside the physics and mathematics of neurobiology. In the mathematics workshops we will study linear, exponential, and logarithmic functions using a problem-solving approach to college algebra. Collaborative learning will be emphasized. Strong emphasis will be placed on developing students' quantitative skills in order that they be prepared to undertake future scientific programs.

Our learning goals will include development of analytical and critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, reading, and writing skills. Weekly activities will include lectures, presentations, labs, workshops, and seminars. Students will be required to submit weekly homework assignments, lab and workshop reports, and seminar papers and to contribute actively to the learning community. Students who successfully complete the math portion of the program will receive five credits of Algebraic Thinking for Science and be prepared for precalculus I.

Note: This program will be repeated spring quarter.  Students taking the program winter quarter should not register for the spring repeat.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biology mathematics physics

Preparatory For

biology, mathematics, physics, health sciences, education, and other natural sciences.


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, January 9th at 9am (Lecture Hall Classroom 7)

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online

May be offered again in

Spring 2017


2016-11-14Change to the description: a graphing calculator is not required.
2016-05-04New winter opportunity added.