Biology Counts, Past and Present

Spring 2024
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 35
12 Credits per quarter
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Biology Counts, Past and Present is a one-quarter, lower division program that combines the disciplines of biology and mathematics. How tall is that tree?; how big a role can a peat bog or eelgrass bed play in mediating climate change through the absorption of carbon?; how fast could aTyrannosaurusrun? Biology is often viewed as a field in which mathematics plays little role, particularly compared to physics, but in this program we will examine how mathematical thinking is an important tool in developing a deep understanding of both modern ecosystems and ecosystems of the past.

Our study of biology will include the development of key skills and content knowledge in ecology and organismal biology including botany, zoology and paleontology. In the mathematics workshops, we will study scientific notation, unit conversions, and linear, quadratic, exponential, and logarithmic functions. These functions will be approached algebraically, numerically, graphically, and verbally with emphasis linking these multiple representations. This program will make use of the Evergreen campus to look at biodiversity and identify common plants and animals, physical processes in the environment like biogeochemical cycles and climate that affect those organisms, and ecological systems. Labs will focus on basic physiological and evolutionary processes. Students will learn how to apply mathematical concepts and insights both to the data they collect in the field and lab and to broader questions like how we can use what we know about modern organisms to try to better understand extinct organisms. Collaborative learning will be emphasized. Strong emphasis will be placed on developing mathematical skills and concepts to prepare students for future work in math and science and to enhance students' mathematical literacy.

Our learning goals will include the development of analytical and critical thinking, quantitative and symbolic reasoning, reading, and writing skills. Weekly activities will include lectures, field work, labs, and workshops. Students will be expected to contribute actively to the learning community and will be evaluated on regular homework assignments, lab, field, and workshop reports, quizzes, and engagement with the program.


Spring 2024 Registration

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Studies or careers in biology, ecology, mathematics, education, and other natural sciences

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$66 total fee: $16 for a math textbook (printing charge), $50 for required lab fee


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule