Resources and community for teaching physics for life sciences

Physics Topics

Life Sciences Topics

Resource Types





8 Contributions

0 Reports

Member of

Living Physics Portal Team

NEXUS Physics


Catherine Crouch

Pedagogical Methods Used

Peer Instruction / Think-Pair-Share, Collaborative problem-solving, Conceptually-oriented activities, Context-rich problems, Ranking tasks, Guided inquiry, Mathematically-focused activities, Experimentally-focused activities, Tutorials, Just-in-time Teaching

Life Sciences Focus

Molecular biology and biochemistry, physiology and medicine

Education Research and Pedagogy Expertise

Implementing and evaluating Peer Instruction; student learning from lecture demonstrations; implementing and evaluating introductory physics for the life sciences

Describe the courses that you teach for life sciences students

At Swarthmore I have developed and taught a two-semester introductory physics course with modest calculus use that is focuses on the topics that are most relevant for future biologists and pre-medical students, and seeks to develop motivation and skills in applying physics to the life sciences, particularly focusing on building simple models and identifying an appropriate model to apply.

What is your approach to teaching physics for life science students?

My course is informed by the pedagogical frameworks of expansive framing and cognitive apprenticeship; through these approaches we seek to help students recognize the value of physics for their own intellectual interests and long-term career aspirations. To accomplish this, each physics topic is presented in the context of one or more authentic biological applications, which will be modeled using that physics topic.

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Conference on Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences Report

Commentary, Reading/resource list, Report, Presentation

Recommendations and guidelines from the 2014 NSF-supported IPLS Conference, attended by more than 150 faculty members



+ 9

Eric Brewe

Juan Burciaga

+ 9 more

Introduction to the Electrocardiogram

Student reading, Instructor supplement, Clicker question, Lecture materials, Lab, Homework

Students measure an ECG and work out the corresponding moving electric dipole moment of the heart

Electrical Diagnostics, Healthy Cardiovascular Function, Cardiovascular Disorders

Multipoles, Electric Field, Electrostatic Potential and Potential Energy

+ 1

Catherine Crouch

Ben Geller

+ 1 more

Fluid dynamics with applications to cardiology

Homework, Instructor supplement, In-class activity, Clicker question, Lecture materials, Pre-class assignment

Fluid dynamics in the context of normal and diseased physiology in the human cardiovascular system

Cardiovascular Disorders, Healthy Cardiovascular Function

Flow Rate, Bernoulli's Principle, Hagen-Poiseuille Equation, Viscosity

+ 1

Catherine Crouch

Ben Geller

+ 1 more


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