Fall and Winter program description for PSAM application

  • The Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics Application asks for information about the content of calculus and physics that students have taken. While you should be able to assemble that from your notes and syllabi, several students have made missteps. Here is the fall and winter program description. Feel free to copy and paste as required. This should give you enough structure to do the equivalent for the entries for Calculus III and Physics III on the PSAM application.


The fall and winter quarters of Matter and Motion integrated the study of calculus, chemistry, and physics. In this all-level program, we covered introductory topics in these subjects through lectures, workshops, and labs. Students with previous college level course work in chemistry could opt of that part of the program. Students improved their mathematical and scientific reasoning and their problem solving abilities in calculus, chemistry, and physics. Student evaluations were based on quizzes, exams, homework, lab notebooks, a portfolio of collected work, and engagement in lectures, problem-solving workshops, and laboratories.

Program objectives for students included: improving ability to articulate and assume responsibility for their own work; improving oral and written communication skills; learning differential and integral calculus and some of its applications, particularly to physics; utilizing mathematical models that describe and explain motion in the natural world; using the main ideas of classical mechanics, waves, and basic electrostatics to solve fundamental and applied problems; learning foundational concepts in chemistry and using fundamental laboratory tools to investigate chemical and physical properties of solids, liquids, and gases.

Calculus I with Laboratory: First-quarter (differential) calculus was covered, using Hughes-Hallet’s Calculus: Single and Multivariable (6th ed.). We worked through chapters 1-4 in that textbook, including the concepts and definitions of limit and derivative, particularly in connection with motion; differentiation techniques including derivatives of trigonometric functions and implicit differentiation; and applications of differentiation including optimization and related rates. Students participated in six computer labs to support their conceptual understanding through visualization through considerable use of the online Desmos tool. Students submitted homework via the online system WileyPLUS.

Calculus II: Winter-quarter (integral) calculus covered parts of chapter 5-8 from the same text, including the definite integral, construction of antiderivatives, methods of integration (including substitution and integration by pats), and applications of the definite integral to calculating work, centers of mass, volumes, and moments of inertia. Taylor series were also covered briefly. Student achievement was assessed via weekly problem sets of 10-15 problems, as well as midterm and final exams.

General Chemistry I with Laboratory: Fall quarter covered Chapters R – 7 and 9 – 11 of Zumdahl’s Chemistry: An Atoms First Approach (1st ed.), including the periodic table, atomic structure, naming conventions, bonding, molecular geometry, molecular orbitals, enthalpy, gas laws, stoichiometry, and colligative properties. Laboratory experiments included density measurements, atomic spectroscopy, Beer’s Law, enthalpy of formation, discovery of gas laws, synthesis of aspirin, and freezing point depression measurements.

In fall quarter, students with previous college-level general chemistry were offered a partial credit option that involved facilitating in-class chemistry collaborative workshops and tutoring sessions, producing high-quality solutions to workshop problems, and completing weekly reflections on personal learning and pedagogy.

General Chemistry II with Laboratory: Winter quarter of chemistry covered Chapters 12 – 15 and 17 – 19 of Zumdahl including the topics of chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, acid-base equilibria, entropy, free energy, spontaneity, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Laboratory experiments included kinetics measurements, equilibrium determination, titration of ascorbic acid, thermochemistry with bomb calorimetry, and electrochemistry of galvanic cells. Students finished the quarter by writing a formal lab report and taking the full-year American Chemical Society general chemistry exam.

University Physics I with Laboratory: Fall quarter focused on classical mechanics. Students learned to understand concepts about and solve problems involving: kinematics (translational and rotational), dynamics (force and torque), and conservation principles (momentum, energy, and angular momentum). These were reinforced by lab exercises frequently using Vernier LoggerPro software and sensors. Students worked through chapters 1-12 in Knight’s Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics (3rd ed.) and submitted homework via the online system MasteringPhysics.

University Physics II with Laboratory: Winter quarter coverage involved primarily oscillations, waves, and introductory electrostatics. Coverage (also in the text by Knight) included chapters 13 (Newtonian gravity), 14 (oscillations), 20 – 22 (waves), and parts of 25-30 (focusing on the electric field and electric potential, primarily of point charges and in the parallel plate capacitor), as well as Ohm’s law and resistance. Labs included diffraction (single and multiple-slit), introductory DC circuits, and related elements from chemistry (galvanic cells, thermochemistry). Students completed weekly problem sets of 12-15 problems, as well as midterm and final exams.