Matter and Motion

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Spring 2020
Class Size: 16
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Vauhn Foster-Grahler
mathematics, education, anthropological mathematics
organic chemistry

Observation of the natural world reveals an underlying order, which scientists try to understand through model building and experimentation. Physical scientists seek to reveal the fundamental nature and composition of matter and its interactions; such understanding forms the essential background for our modern technological society. This rigorous program integrates first-year college chemistry and physics with math to explore how scientists make sense of the natural world. Students will work to develop a firm background in college-level science, becoming prepared for further intermediate and advanced work in the mathematical and physical sciences.

In order to support student success, we are offering multiple credit options in this program. The full 16-credit program includes calculus, calculus-based physics with lab, and general chemistry with lab. The 12-credit option includes algebra-based physics and general chemistry (both with lab). A 10-credit option will include calculus and calculus-based physics with lab, and a 6-credit option will include just algebra-based physics with lab; students interested in either of these option should contact the faculty for a signature.

Students with questions about the various credit options or about their readiness for any portion of the program should contact any of the faculty team via email, with particular questions about chemistry to Lydia McKinstry, about calculus to Vauhn Foster-Grahler, and about calculus and physics to Krishna Chowdary.

The work will be intensive and challenging but also exciting; students should expect to spend at least 50 hours per week engaged with material during and outside of class. Important for success will be a commitment to working hard and effectively in groups. The program will include readings, lectures, labs, workshops, seminars, and projects, along with homework sets, writing assignments, quizzes, and exams. Students can expect to spend at least a full day in lab each week, maintain lab notebooks, and write formal lab reports.

All areas of the program will emphasize the use of mathematical methods and critical thinking and the development of proficient writing and speaking skills. Successful students will improve their conceptual understanding and problem-solving abilities, their ability to collaborate effectively, and gain hands-on experience in physical science. Students will apply these skills and knowledge to complex problems showing the rich inter-connectedness of mathematical and physical systems.

Fall quarter calculus will engage with the techniques, concepts, and applications of differential calculus. Winter quarter will focus on the techniques, concepts, and applications of integral calculus and separable differential equations. In spring quarter, the topics will include the geometry of space, sequences, series, partial derivatives, and multiple integrals. Throughout the year these topics will be approached with rigor and linked to models in the physical sciences.

Fall quarter general chemistry will include fundamental concepts of atomic structure, stoichiometry, and the periodic table. Winter quarter will build on this foundation, emphasizing kinetics, thermochemistry, and acid-base chemistry. Spring quarter will emphasize acid-base equilibrium and the relationship between free energy and equilibrium.

Fall quarter physics begins the study of classical mechanics, focusing on matter and its interactions at the macroscopic and microscopic levels, fundamental conservation laws, and introducing computer modeling. Winter quarter concludes our study of classical mechanics and begins the study of electricity and magnetism. In spring, we finish our study of electric and magnetic interactions and waves.

By the end of the program, successful students will be prepared for upper-division work that has a general chemistry prerequisite, and depending on the track chosen, will be prepared for upper-division work in mathematics and physics. Particular upper-division Evergreen science programs that students may be prepared for include: Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics (2020-21); Environmental Analysis (2020-21); Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions (2021-22); and Mathematical Systems (2021-22).

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

chemistry, mathematics, physics, other natural sciences, medicine/health care, engineering, and math and science education.


Credits per quarter


Proficiency in high school algebra II/intermediate algebra is required for general chemistry and algebra-based physics. Students entering the calculus-based physics track must also have completed the equivalent of Pre-Calculus I and II with satisfactory, or higher achievement.

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.
Special expenses:

Math and science textbooks can be very expensive. However, those texts cover the entire year, and students will be required to have access to these texts for successful completion of the program. Used versions of most of your textbooks are readily available. A graphing calculator with a computer algebra system is recommended.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 16
25% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 9:00 am
Purce Hall 7 - Classroom

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:


2019-04-12Vauhn added to teaching team