Models of Motion

Fall 2023
Winter 2024
Spring 2024
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 32
12 Credits per quarter
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Scientists make observations, gather data, look for patterns, build models, and use those models to explain and predict behavior in the natural world. Powerful models in physics help us explain fundamental interactions involving matter and energy, such as the structure of atoms through galaxies, or the generation of cleaner energy. New models require new mathematical methods—for example, calculus was developed partly to understand models of motion.

Join us for a deep exploration of mathematics and physics integrated with studies of their historical and cultural contexts. We will create rigorous mathematical and computational models of the physical world to gain insight and skills in calculus and calculus-based physics. We will experience how mathematicians and physicists make sense of, and intervene in, the natural and human-created worlds. Our aim is to learn together to think and communicate mathematically and scientifically. Students who complete the program should be well-prepared for upper-level undergraduate study in mathematics and physics.

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.

Calculus will cover material typically taught in the first year of a traditional calculus sequence. We will study the techniques, concepts, and applications of differential calculus and integral calculus, topics in multivariable calculus (partial derivatives, multiple integrals), and sequences and series. Throughout the program, math topics will be integrated with physics.

Physics will also cover material typically taught in the first year of a traditional calculus-based physics sequence. We begin with the study of classical mechanics (focusing on matter and its interactions at the macroscopic and microscopic levels, fundamental conservation laws, and introducing computer modeling). We also study thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves, and special relativity.

The work will be intensive and challenging but also exciting. Students should expect to spend at least 35 hours per week engaged with material during and outside of class, working hard and learning together. The program will have a significant laboratory component, using hands-on investigations and computational tools to explore and analyze the nature of mathematical and physical systems; this work will take place in a highly collaborative environment. Workshops, lectures, and seminar discussions will also allow for collaborative work on math and physics problems as well as an opportunity to explore connections between history, cultural contexts, theory, and practice. Students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning in individual and collaborative contexts, including in-class work, problem sets, writing assignments, presentations, quizzes, and exams.

By the end of the program, successful students will be prepared for upper-division work in mathematics and physics. Particular upper-division Evergreen science programs that students may be prepared for include: Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences (Fall 2024) and Mathematical Systems (Winter-Spring 2026).

Anticipated credit equivalencies (for the full-year sequence):

Calculus I, II, III (12 credits)

University Physics I, II, III with Laboratory (18 credits)

Science Connections and Communications Seminar (6 credits)



Proficiency in precalculus, including algebra and trigonometry, is required. Students will be expected to enter the program ready to begin study of calculus. Faculty will provide study materials prior to fall quarter to help students prepare for the program and self-assess their readiness.

Fall 2023 Registration
Winter 2024 Registration

Signature Required

Students will need to demonstrate prerequisite knowledge equivalent to mathematics and physics content covered in fall quarter. Contact Krishna Chowdary ( for more information.

Spring 2024 Registration

Signature Required

Students will need to demonstrate prerequisite knowledge equivalent to mathematics and physics content covered in fall and winter quarters. Contact Krishna Chowdary ( for more information.

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

Studies or careers in physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering, other mathematical and physical sciences, medicine, and math and science education

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First Meeting

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