Matter and Motion

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Spring 2021
Class Size: 32
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter
Variable Credit Options Available

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Taught by

Vauhn Foster-Grahler
mathematics, education, anthropological mathematics
biology, biochemistry

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. 

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. The program will include readings, lectures, labs, workshops, seminars, and projects, along with homework sets, writing assignments, quizzes, and exams. In order to build a strong learning community students will benefit from live virtual instruction with faculty in addition to faculty-developed videos and resources. Students will complete weekly hands-on remote lab activities in chemistry and physics, maintain lab notebooks, and communicate their findings in writing.

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 will cover mechanics, focusing on matter and its interactions at the macroscopic and microscopic levels, motion, fundamental conservation laws, and introducing computer modeling. Winter and spring quarters will cover electricity & magnetism, thermodynamics, waves, optics, special relativity, and quantum physics.

By the end of the program, depending on the subjects studied, successful students will be prepared for upper-division work. Particular upper-division Evergreen science programs that students may be prepared for include: Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics (2022-23); Environmental Analysis (2022-23); Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions (2021-22); and Mathematical Systems (2021-22).

In addition, first-year students will participate in Greener Foundations, and other students will study scientific communication in seminar.

To successfully participate in this program, students will need reliable internet access, a computer/laptop/Chromebook with a camera and microphone, dry erase board and markers or pen-enabled tablet. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 15 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Canvas and Zoom.  Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require.

 Greener Foundations (fall quarter only): This program will incorporate Greener Foundations, a holistic course designed for first-time, first-year students. Faculty and staff collaborate to bring study skills, academic planning, health and wellness education, advising, and more into the classroom. More information can be found on the college website at  Greener Foundations  .

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

chemistry, mathematics, physics, other natural sciences, medicine, engineering, and math and science education


Credits per quarter
Variable Credit Options Available

Variable Credit Options:

Students wishing just to take calculus should register separately for the 4-credit Calculus I (fall), Calculus II (winter), and Calculus III (spring) course.

Students may consult with faculty about partial-credit options. Partial-credit options may include 10 credits of calculus and physics, or 10 credits of calculus and chemistry.

Fields of study: 

Proficiency in precalculus, including algebra and trigonometry, is required.

Online learning:
  • Complete Online Learning - This offering delivers all of its instruction online.

Student fee for at home lab kits: $50.00 per quarter.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 32
25% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, January 4, 2021 - 9:00 am

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:


2020-08-05This program is now fully remote for fall