Resources and community for teaching physics for life sciences

Physics Topics

Life Sciences Topics

Resource Types


What’s available and what’s coming?

The Living Physics Portal is now available in beta!

The Living Physics Portal is an online environment for physics faculty to share and discuss free curricular resources for teaching introductory physics for life sciences (IPLS). The objective of the Portal is to improve the education of the next generation of medical professionals and biologists by making physics classes more relevant for life sciences students.

We are currently looking for beta users to contribute curricular materials to this early version of the site, browse our existing collection of high-quality materials from our team, and give us feedback on the site. To be a beta user, click the register link above.

What is available on the Living Physics Portal in beta?

Find curricular materials

You can access and use our free collection of high-quality materials for teaching physics for life sciences students, contributed by the Living Physics Portal team, and by other beta users. Our collection is still small, but growing, and includes vetted curricular resources contributed by our team of seed contributors from the following projects:

  • Edward F. Redish, NEXUS/Physics, University of Maryland
  • Ralf Widenhorn, Physics in Medicine: Active Learning Tools for Undergraduate Physics, Portland State University
  • Nancy Donaldson, Physics of Medicine, Rockhurst University
  • Dawn Meredith, Modeling Physics in an Integrated Physics Course for Biologists / Fluids for Life Science Students, University of New Hampshire
  • Nancy Beverly, Life-focused physics and the Humanized Physics Project, Mercy College
  • Catherine Crouch and Ben Geller, Introductory Physics with Biological and Medical Applications, Swarthmore College
  • Mark Reeves, Bio-focused Introductory Physics Course, George Washington University
  • Vashti Sawtelle, Briggs Life Science Studio (BLiSS), Michigan State University

Share curricular materials

We welcome contributions from our beta users to help grow our library of materials for teaching physics for life sciences students. You can contribute any grain size of materials, ranging from a single activity to an entire course worth of materials. Start by contributing to our Community Library of works in progress, where you can get feedback from other users. Even after the site goes public, Community Library materials will be restricted to registered users. If you have materials that you think are more polished and ready to share with a wider community, you can contribute to the Vetted Library, where they will undergo editorial review. Once the site goes public, Vetted Library materials will be available to all users (except answer keys, which will always be restricted to verified educators).

Our contribution system was created through an extensive process of user-centered design, and designed to be easy to use while allowing a wide variety of grain sizes and formats, and supporting contributors in telling other users how to interpret and use their materials. We are eager for beta users to try it out and tell us how to make it better.

Discuss curricular materials

If you’ve used others’ curricular materials, you can write an implementation report about your experience, or if you have questions or comments, you can add to the discussion with the authors and other users of the materials. By reading how others have used materials, you can see how they’ve worked for others in different environments that may be more similar to your own, and get ideas for how materials might need to be adapted to work for you. As a contributor, discussions are an opportunity to get feedback on your materials and offer support to other educators trying to use your materials.

Participate in the community


The Living Physics Portal team regularly conducts in-person workshops to (a) familiarize faculty with the Living Physics Portal and what is possible within it, (b) explore exciting and high-quality curricular materials, and (c) discuss instruction with peers in a way that centers students’ experiences. To learn more about workshops and other events, visit our events page or contact our community manager with specific questions.


The Living Physics Portal team regularly runs virtual working groups, in which educators collaborate around a well-defined, feasible goal for a short period of time (~3 months or less). Working groups consist of small teams of 6-12 educators, with a membership that remains constant from start to finish. Examples include:

  • Working Group: Curriculum swap: Share and get feedback on an activity you are developing and hear about innovative materials. If you are interested in participating, please fill out this short interest form.
  • Working Group: Prepare your materials for contribution to the Vetted Library: Work with other instructors to organize your materials and prepare an instructor guide to make them more useful to others, in order to prepare your materials for contribution to the Vetted Library.

To learn more about working groups, visit our groups' page, or contact our community manager with specific questions.

More details

To preview new community features that are still in development, see our community page.

What will be available on the Living Physics Portal when it is complete?

Find and contribute adaptations

If you’ve used someone else’s materials and adapted them to better fit your environment, you can contribute your modified version as an adaptation. Our system automatically gives appropriate credit to the original author and the adapter, makes it easy for you to explain how you’ve changed the materials, and makes it easy for others to find different versions of the same materials, see the differences, and choose which is most appropriate for their needs.

Find and contribute courses

See how others have structured their physics courses for life sciences students, browse syllabi and course descriptions, and find materials for full courses. To preview new course features that are still in development, see our course preview page.

Find and contribute “instructor resources”

In addition to curricular resources and courses, users will be able to submit “instructor resources” to support instructors learning about teaching or content, independent of any particular student activity. Examples include a description of how a particular life sciences topic connects to physics, or how to use a particular pedagogical approach, written for instructors.

Peer review

The Peer-Reviewed Library, coming in 2021, will be the place for publication of scholarly, research-based resource packages for physics for the life sciences curricular materials. The peer-review process and criteria will match the rigorous standards of a peer-reviewed journal or scholarly book yielding content that is published and permanent. See our Peer Review page for more details.

Join the Portal Exchange

The Portal Exchange will be a space for throwing out new ideas and topics for discussion amongst a highly engaged community of educators. Here people can flow freely between topics and be exposed to new perspectives serendipitously. Both newcomers and established community members can introduce a new topic or ask a question, and they can expect to get a timely response. This creative flow of conversation can generate ideas for new working groups and interest groups.