Resources and community for teaching physics for life sciences

Physics Topics

Life Sciences Topics

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12 Contributions

1 Report

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Living Physics Portal Team

NEXUS Physics


Dawn Meredith

Pedagogical Methods Used

Peer Instruction / Think-Pair-Share, Collaborative problem-solving, Conceptually-oriented activities, Guided inquiry, Mathematically-focused activities, Experimentally-focused activities, Tutorials

Life Sciences Focus

The course I teach is for a wide variety of life science majors, so I do not have a particular topic focus in my teaching, other than topics that have many connections to biology. I am drawn to writing problems that use detailed models (for an intro course) for things such as human voice production, countercurrent exchanges, and the random model walk of diffusion. I have more expertise in physiological applications than in cellular applications.

Education Research and Pedagogy Expertise

Qualitative and quantitative classroom studies using the resources framework: looking for student cognitive resources on which students can build.

Describe the courses that you teach for life sciences students

We have one introductory physics course for all the life science students (plus a handful of IT students). This is an algebra based course that students typically take in their sophomore and junior years, and we do not have any chemistry or biology prerequisites, so we cannot assume any prior biological knowledge.

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

There are three skills I’d like the students to take away, as they are universally useful and easier to teach in a physics context than a biological one. One is the ability to connect meaning and mathematics; to see that an equation tells a story and is not just a request for a number. The second is the ability to reason mechanistically, to take a set of conditions and decide if related quantities increase, decrease or stay the same, based on fundamental principles. The third is for the students to use physics models to explain how physics constrains and enables life

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Moving fluids tutorials

Lecture materials, In-class activity, Instructor supplement, Restricted access

Fluids are essential to life for transportation of food, waste, signals, organisms and propagules.

Healthy Cardiovascular Function, Biomechanical, Physical Mechanisms

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

Dawn Meredith

Daniel Young


Exponential functions

Instructor supplement, Restricted access, Lab, Lecture materials, Homework, Exam problem, In-class activity, Clicker question

Connect exponential equation to cooling, chemical reactions, metabolic rates and filtration rates

Thermoregulation, Renal/Urinary, Metabolism

Heat Transfer, RC Circuits

Dawn Meredith

Christopher Shubert


Sedimentation and Analytic Ultracentrifugation

In-class activity, Instructor supplement, Restricted access

Forces are used to investigate how centrifugation and sedimentation can characterize small particles.

Pressure & Fluid Diagnostics

Velocity, 2D Acceleration, Force & Acceleration, Density and Buoyancy

Dawn Meredith

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