Resources and community for teaching physics for life sciences

Physics Topics

Life Sciences Topics

Resource Types


Frequently Asked Questions and Technical Support

If you don't see your question here, please use the purple feedback button on the right side of the page to send it to us.

Technical issues

What do I do if I can't open a resource I downloaded from the Portal on a Windows computer?

Why is this happening? Windows has a default system setting that that puts a short character limit on the length of the path to a file (which means the names of all the folders and subfolders it is in plus the name of the file). This prevents you opening files with really long names that are in multiple subfolders. Since many of the files in on the Portal resources have long names and/or are in multiple sub-folders, Windows users might have trouble opening the archive files.

Option 1: Click on this link to download a "registry script", and double click on the file to run it. This will automatically change your windows settings to allow longer path names. However, you must have administrative access to your computer to do this.

Option 2: Download an alternative file archive software, such as 7-Zip, and use that to unzip the download. External software circumvents the Windows' setting for path length limits, so you should be able to extract and open our files.

If neither of these options work, please contact us for more guidance.

Copyright and licensing

How do I figure out what to do about copyright and licensing for materials I want to contribute to the Portal?

See our Copyright and License FAQ for answers to the all the questions you might have about copyright and license, including an overview of how copyright works, whether you can contribute materials that include copyrighted diagrams or images from a textbook or the internet, and whether your institution holds the copyright to your materials.

Contributing to the Portal

What is the difference between the Community and Vetted Libraries?

Community Library submissions are not vetted by editors or peer-reviewed. Submitting them is quick and easy, and doing this enables you to easily share and get feedback on your curricular resource. Only registered users can access these contributions. Vetted Library submissions are more refined and contain more supplementary information than Community Library submissions. They are reviewed by the editorial team for overall appropriateness and usefulness. They show up first in search results, are marked as “vetted”, and will be available to all users after beta. For more information, see our review process page.

How polished do my materials have to be for the Community Library?

The Community Library is designed for instructors to share resources that are works-in-progress. There is no expectation that the materials included here are in a final, highly-polished form. You are encouraged to use the Community Library as a place to share materials you are developing or testing to receive feedback from other instructors. Your contributions may also help other instructors get new ideas for improving their classes. If you have more developed materials that have been used with students in one or more classes, you might consider submitting the materials to the Vetted Library.

What kinds of materials are you looking for?

The Living Physics Portal is a place to find and share resources and materials for teaching physics for life science majors. A wide range of materials are suitable for contribution to the Portal - student activities, homework problems, tests and quizzes, laboratories, lecture materials, and texts. However, the Portal focus is on learning materials with connections to or applications of life science systems. Materials submitted to the Portal should have this connection to the life sciences.

What should I do if I am not sure my resource qualifies?

The editors of the Living Physics Portal are always happy to discuss your materials and how they fit with the Portal. If you have questions, contact the editors at

Who can use the Portal

Do I have to be a college or university instructor to use the Portal?

No. When the restricted beta test period ends, the Vetted Library of the Living Physics Portal is open for anyone to access and browse. Full participation in the Portal, however, is restricted to verified educators (including high school teachers) logged into the site. Participation includes viewing the Community Library, accessing materials that have been restricted to educators, and submitting materials. Verified educators do not need to be in higher education but should be instructors willing to be part of a supportive community that is improving physics instruction for the life sciences. You can request to become a verified educator when you create your account and login.

Can students access materials and solutions on the Living Physics Portal?

When the restricted beta test period ends, anyone, including students, will be able view materials available in the Vetted Library. However, when materials are submitted, solutions, answer keys, and other information for instructors can be restricted for viewing only by verified educators logged into the Portal. The editors will encourage authors to restrict this type of content when reviewing submissions to the Vetted Library. Instructors using materials from the Portal should avoid posting solutions in a manner that could make them widely available online.

About the Portal

Who runs the Portal?

The Portal is created and administered by an interdisciplinary team of physicists, biologists, researchers, developers, and user experience designers at the American Association of Physics Teachers and 8 collaborating colleges and universities. See our list of all team members.

How do I get more involved in the Living Physics Portal?

The Portal has multiple and varying engagement opportunities. You can participate in an online working group, attend a workshop or conference talk (independent regional or at National AAPT Meetings), comment on someone else’s curricular resource, share your curricular materials through the Community Library or Vetted Library, join our mailing list, follow us on Twitter @LivingPhysPort, or like us on Facebook.