Counting on the Brain

Fall 2021
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

This program is now meeting fully in-person instead of hybrid. Contact the faculty with any questions.

This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First year students will get 14-credits from this program, and 2-credits from a Greener Foundations course. In order for first year students to complete registration, you will also need to register for the Greener Foundations section specifically designed to work with this academic program, using CRN 10113.

Counting on the Brain is a one quarter, lower division program that combines the disciplines of neurobiology and mathematics. 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 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. 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, presentations, labs, workshops, and seminars. Students will be expected to contribute actively to the learning community and will be evaluated on regular homework assignments, lab and workshop reports, seminar papers, and engagement with the program. Students who successfully complete the math portion of the program will receive six credits of Algebraic Thinking for Science and be prepared for precalculus I.

Modes of teaching include online synchronous and asynchronous lectures, workshops and seminars. In-person labs will be held every other week provided COVID restrictions are lifted.

To successfully complete this program, students will need reliable, high speed internet for synchronous/asynchronous activities, a computer, and access to Canvas daily. Students should expect to participate in approximately 5 hours of synchronous meetings per week using Zoom in Canvas. Additionally, a pen-enabled tablet or a small dry erase board with markers is required.

All lectures, assignments, and learning materials (with the exception of in-person labs) will be posted to Canvas in the event a student is unable to attend the synchronous activities for any reason.

This program will repeat in winter quarter. Students who take the program in fall can not take the program in winter.


Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10001
Fr (14): 10004

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

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

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$65 for a required math text provided by the faculty and lab fee. 


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

First Meeting

SEM 2 E1105 - Lecture