Physical Science

Physical Science Courses

Chemistry asks what is matter made of and how does it interact? A basic understanding of chemistry is a prerequisite for good citizenship in our changing and technological society. This course introduces modern chemical concepts and processes in the context of their impact on health, the environment, and technology. Through inquiry-based learning, you will develop critical thinking skills and data-driven decision making toward the understanding of matter. This course has a moderate laboratory component and is appropriate for students not intending to continue in fields requiring foundational chemistry knowledge.

This course is an introduction to general chemistry with an emphasis on developing problem-solving skills. This is the first semester of a two-semester sequence in general chemistry for students planning to major in science, engineering, and medical fields. We will explore basic concepts of chemistry along with the mathematics required for quantitative problem solving. The topics include: elements and compounds, chemical calculations, atomic structure, bonding, stoichiometry, chemical equations, reactions in aqueous solutions, oxidation-reduction, energy and chemical changes, and the quantum mechanical atom. The laboratory portion includes an introduction to basic quantitative chemical laboratory techniques, the principles of chemical reactions, and physical measurements.

This course is the second semester of a two-semester sequence in general chemistry for students planning to major in science, engineering, and medical fields. The topics include the properties of gases, intermolecular attractions and the properties of liquids and solids, properties of solutions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, acid–base equilibria in aqueous solutions, solubility and simultaneous equilibria, thermodynamics, nuclear reactions, metal complexes, and an introduction to organic compounds. Prerequisite: General Chemistry I.

This course provides a fundamental overview of organic chemistry to students interested in pursuing careers in the sciences, engineering, or medical fields. We will explore the relationship between the structure and function of molecules, the major classes of organic compounds, and their reactions and reaction mechanisms. In the laboratory, students will be introduced to some techniques and procedures for the isolation, purification, and characterization of organic compounds and to some of the reactions used in the organic chemistry laboratory such as the Grignard, elimination, and substitution reactions.

This course will explore how astronomers have been able to discover Earth’s place in the universe, and the structure of the local galaxy and universe. Within this exploration, astronomers have also discovered thousands of other planets, and have begun to map the deepest extents of time and space. From the discovery of distant galaxies and signatures of the origins of the universe, we also have begun to unravel the mysteries of the Big Bang, the formation of the first stars and galaxies, and how the earth arose from billions of years of cosmic evolution. The course will explore the search for exoplanets and the early universe with a mix of in-class exercises, analysis of space-based datasets, and observations with telescopes and instruments.

The physics of motion on earth and in the heavens is traced from ancient Greek times through the Dark and Middle Ages, to the Renaissance and Galileo, and to Newton and the Enlightenment. Humanistic, cultural, and historical perspectives are emphasized as is the scientific method/process. Science is shown to be inextricably linked to other human endeavors such as religion, art, politics, music, literature, philosophy, and commerce. High school knowledge of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and scientific notation would be helpful. Concurrently, we will explore physics after Newton and up to the contemporary frontier of string/brane theory, covering topics such as relativity and quantum mechanics and utilizing modern physics labs.

Prerequisite: Previous and solid experience in physics and calculus plus instructor consent.

This heavily mathematical course with no lab requirement examines the changing conceptions of space and time from classical to modern to contemporary physics. Moving from Newtonian reality to Einstein’s relativity to quantum mechanics to current unification theories, we will explore mathematics as a tool to transcend our faulty perceptions and to reveal new phenomenal, though perhaps not narrative, truth.