Physics & Astronomy programs at Evergreen

Evergreen offers a variety of programs in the physical sciences, both traditional and interdisciplinary. The most linear pathway to a “major” in physics would be via our “core physics curriculum”: (1) Astronomy & Cosmologies or Introduction to Natural Science, (2) M&M, (3) Energy Systems or Physics of Astronomy, (4) Physical Systems. Neither the path nor the curriculum is quite so linear for most students. Physics students are encouraged to take math programs such as Mathematical Methods, and to get a true liberal arts education by taking programs outside the physics focus (e.g. history, language, art, …) to meet the Expectations of Evergreen Graduates. There are often special interdisciplinary programs involving physics, and even the core physics programs tend to have significant interdisciplinary components (e.g. sustainability, life sciences, or philosophy of science).  You will see program innovations (including name permutations) from year to year.

FAQs about  physics and astronomy at Evergreen

Mathematics programs at Evergreen

For more offerings and information (e.g. in math, computer science, chemistry, and other sciences), please see Evergreen’s Online Catalog (click on Scientific Inquiry) and Program Web Pages; then email faculty or come talk with us in our offices or at the Academic Fair.

Upcoming Physics & Astronomy programs at Evergreen 2018-2019

Matter and Motion: Fall/Winter/Spring 

This program will introduce you to the theory and practice of the science behind these and other phenomena, while providing the solid academic background in mathematics, chemistry, and physics necessary for advanced study in those fields as well as for engineering, medicine, and biology.

Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics: Fall/Winter/Spring 

This intermediate-to-advanced program builds on previous introductory work in calculus and calculus-based physics to deepen students’ understanding of nature, how it can be represented via physical models, and the powerful connections between mathematics and physical theories. We will integrate topics in physics (from classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics) with topics in applied mathematics (from differential equations, multivariable and vector calculus, and linear algebra). We will also devote time to looking at our studies in a broader historical, philosophical, and cultural context.

Physics I: Motion: Fall

How can we systematically describe and predict the motion of objects, from falling apples to orbiting moons? This course provides an overview of the physics of motion by focusing on the conservation of momentum and energy. Conceptual understanding will be emphasized with algebra and basic trigonometry as mathematical foundations. Laboratory exercises will involve some experimental design and will focus on developing skill in observation and analysis while reinforcing conceptual understanding. 

Physics II: Electromagnetism: Winter

What is electricity? We use it for all sorts of things, but where does it come from? This course provides an overview of the physics of electromagnetism. Topics will include electrical circuits, static electricity, magnetism, and electromagnetic interactions. Conceptual understanding will be emphasized with algebra and basic trigonometry as mathematical foundations. Laboratory exercises will involve some experimental design and will focus on developing skill in observation and analysis while reinforcing conceptual understanding.

Physics III: Light: Spring

Is light a wave? Or is it a particle? This is one of the central mysteries of physics and our physical world. This course provides an overview of the physics of light. Topics will include oscillations, waves, and optics as well as an introduction to modern physics. Conceptual understanding will be emphasized with algebra and basic trigonometry as mathematical foundations. Laboratory exercises will involve some experimental design and will focus on developing skill in observation and analysis while reinforcing conceptual understanding.

Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry: Fall/Winter/Spring 

Rigorous quantitative and qualitative research is an important component of academic learning in scientific inquiry. Research opportunities allow science students to work on specific projects associated with faculty members’ expertise. Students typically begin by working in an apprenticeship model with faculty or laboratory staff and gradually take on more independent projects within the context of the specific research program as they gain experience. Students can develop vital skills in research design, data acquisition and interpretation, modeling and theoretical analysis, written and oral communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. These are valuable skills for students pursuing a graduate degree or entering the job market.

Current Physics & Astronomy programs at Evergreen 2017-2018

Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions: Fall/Winter/Spring

This upper-division chemistry program offers advanced studies in chemistry to prepare students for graduate studies or careers in chemistry. Based on the theme “what do chemists do?”, our classroom studies will be connected with the applications chemists encounter in their everyday work.

Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions: Quantum Mechanics: Fall/Winter/Spring

The full-time program Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions covers quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry (in fall and winter), and thermodynamics (in winter and spring), all at the upper-division science level. Each of these subjects is available to students as an individual component by taking the variable credit option within Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions.

Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics: Winter/Spring

The full-time program Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions covers quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry (in fall and winter), and thermodynamics (in winter and spring), all at the upper-division science level. Each of these subjects is available to students as an individual component by taking the variable credit option within Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions .

College Physics: Summer (Second Session)

College Physics with laboratory will cover the first half of a year-long algebra-based College Physics curriculum, including measurement, trig and vectors, kinematics, 2D-motion, force, work, energy, momentum, circular motion, statics, solids and fluids, temperature, heat, thermodynamics, and relativity. The course will include lecture and workshop time, hands-on exploration and lab work, and both solo and group activities. Fulfills requirements for pre-professional health programs.

Investigating the Mind-Body: Biology and Beyond: Spring

In this program, we will explore the biological principles underlying mind-body health, the physics of diagnostic instruments, and will engage in an epistemological inquiry about why it is that we believe what we believe about the body, health, and healing. We will study stress physiology and how we embody our lived experiences, the connections of the gastrointestinal nervous system and the microbiome to mental and physical health, as well as neuropsychological phenomena such as the placebo effect. We will compare and contrast the underlying beliefs of traditional medical research and evidence-based medicine with those of alternative and complementary medical practices.

Pacific Northwest Weather and Climate: Summer (First Session) 

This course will cover basic atmospheric physics related to the region. Three overarching themes will frame introductory algebra-based physics and precalculus level math. First, the fundamental concepts that explain the workings of weather (motion, force/pressure, energy, temperature, thermodynamics, light, and optics). Second, an in-depth look at transport of energy, air, and water in the earth system (heat transfer mechanisms, phase changes, fluid dynamics), to broadly explain how patterns of weather and climate emerge considering regional geography. Third, research into physical principles will lead to discussions and investigations of likely factors contributing to climate changes in the Pacific Northwest. Topics in math include algebraic thinking, linear and power functions, proportional reasoning, basic trigonometry and geometry, and scientific reasoning.

Physical Principles of Sustainable Energy: Summer (First Session)

What physical constraints govern a transition to a world powered by sustainable energy? What forms of energy should be considered “sustainable” in the first place? What basic scientific principles inform the ways we “produce” and use energy? These questions will be explored through hands-on activities, introduction to key physics principles with a focus on their application to the use of energy, and discussion of considerations that go beyond the physical sciences in building a sustainable future. The chief focus will be on the fundamental science behind energy efficiency, our current energy system, nuclear power, solar power, wind energy, and more.

Physics: Momentum: Winter 

Momentum seems both simple and odd, but it turns out to be central to how the physical world works. It, like energy, is a conserved quantity; but it is a vector. This course provides an overview of the physics of how to use vectors to model motion in the physical world. Conceptual understanding will be emphasized.  Laboratory exercises will involve some experimental design and will focus on developing skill in observation and analysis while reinforcing conceptual understanding. 

Physics: Oscillations: Spring 

Oscillations and waves have many common elements, and many physical phenomena can be modeled as oscillations. This course provides an overview of the physics of light and sound. Topics will include waves, optics, the photoelectric effect, atomic spectra, and an introduction to quantum physics. Conceptual understanding will be emphasized with algebra and basic trigonometry as mathematical foundations.  Laboratory exercises will involve some experimental design and will focus on developing skill in observation and analysis while reinforcing conceptual understanding

Plants in Motion: Spring 

This program will explore the fascinating intersection of physics and botany by focusing on plants in motion. We will study plants in the lab and in the field to learn how the laws of physics constrain and enable their form and function and particularly their growth and motion. Topics will include plant growth and reproduction, tropism, transport, and conversion of energy from sunlight to sugar. Labs will involve both observation and experimentation, including the study of plant anatomy, photosynthesis, and water and nutrient transport.  

Playing with Patterns: Winter

We will use technology to develop and play with mathematical models, elucidating patterns that we can observe and compare with physical phenomena and enjoy for their beauty. Integrated reasoning in math and physics will be supplemented with topics from educational psychology, including the nature of scientific knowledge, metacognition, novice/expert differences, and the mind-brain connection.Our learning goals will include development of analytical and critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, reading, and writing skills. Students will develop and demonstrate their learning through active in-class participation, homework assignments, seminar discussions, papers, labs, and exams. Laboratory activities will solidify students’ understanding of the program concepts, as well as develop data collection skills and mathematical modeling abilities. 

Precalculus Models in Physics: Fall-Winter

This program combines a course in precalculus with introductory physics.  In fall, we will study energy in its many forms: motion, electricity, heat, sound, light, and forms of stored energy. The physics of energy, energy transfer, and energy conservation will provide context for studying mathematical models that use linear, polynomial, exponential, and logarithmic functions .In winter, we will study momentum as we expand our models to two and three dimensions using trigonometric functions, rational functions, parametric curves, vectors, and polar coordinates.

Science Seminar: the Universe and You: Spring

We will read books and articles on cosmology and science, critical thinking and our place in the universe.  We will explore the beauty and power of quantitative reasoning. Students will gain a deeper physical understanding of the natural world.We will share our wonder and insights, ideas and questions about our readings and the universe. Students will write short essays and responses to peers’ essays. Students will meet with teams weekly to discuss developing understanding and skills.

Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry: Fall/Winter/Spring

Rigorous quantitative and qualitative research is an important component of academic learning in scientific inquiry. Research opportunities allow science students to work on specific projects associated with faculty members’ expertise. Students typically begin by working in an apprenticeship model with faculty or laboratory staff and gradually take on more independent projects within the context of the specific research program as they gain experience. Students can develop vital skills in research design, data acquisition and interpretation, modeling and theoretical analysis, written and oral communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. These are valuable skills for students pursuing a graduate degree or entering the job market.

Matter and Motion: Fall/Winter/Spring

This rigorous introductory program integrates first-year university calculus, chemistry, and physics to explore how scientists make sense of the natural world. Careful observation of the natural world reveals an underlying order, which scientists try to understand and explain through model building and experimentation. Physical scientists seek to reveal the fundamental nature of matter, its composition, and its interactions; such understanding forms the essential background for our modern technological society. This program lays the foundation for developing this understanding. Students will be supported in developing a firm background in college-level science, becoming prepared for further intermediate and advanced work in the mathematical and physical sciences.

 

Past Physics & Astronomy programs at Evergreen

year
Physics & Astronomy
Introductory physics
related programs
often available

Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry
Physical Systems (every other year)
Energy Systems (every other year)
… Motion …

Introduction to Natural Science
Astronomy & Cosmologies (spring)
Science Seminar (FWS)

Atoms, Molecules, Research
2013-14      
2012-13 Methods of Math. Physics (FWS, DMc),Electromagnetism & Calculus (S, KC) Matter & Motion, Astronomy & Cosmologies (S, Z),Science Seminar (W, Z), Animation, Mathematics, & Physics (FW, KC) Introduction to Natural Science (FWS), Chemistry of Living Systems (M2O)
2011-12 Matter & Motion (DMc, FWS), Physics & Calculus (MG, FWS), Energy Systems & Climate Change (FW, Z) Stages of Discovery (FW, KC), Water, Microbes, & Energy (FW, RK) AMR (FWS, DB), Innovation (S, Z), Math Systems (FWS), Calculus (FWS, VFG),Precalculus (FW, VFG)
2010-11 Meaning, Math & Motion (FWS, KC), Physics & Calculus (MG, WS), Conceptual Physics (F, MG), Natural Order (W. DMc),Science Seminar (FW, Z) Designing Green (FWS, RK)
2009-10

Math Systems (FW, BW)
Models of Motion (WS, TBA)

Astronomy & Cosmologies (S, Z)
Introduction to Natural Sciences (FWS, KC)
Energy Systems & Climate Change (FW, Z), The Mathematical Order of Nature (F, NN)
Consciousness, Art, and Modern Physics (FWS, DMid)
2008-09

Methods of mathematical physics (FWS, DMc)
Models of Motion (FWS, KC)
Quantum Theory: Physics & Philosophy (S, DMid)

Music, Math, & Motion (FW, Z)
Physics & Calculus: Order in the natural world (FWS, MG)
Astronomy & Cosmologies (S, Z)
Introduction to Natural Sciences (FWS, NN)
Science, Creativity, & Exploration (DMid, FW)
2007-08
Mathematical Systems (FWS, RH)
Energy Systems (FW, Z)
Models of Motion (FWS, MG)
The Nature of Space and Time (S, KC)
Introduction to Natural Sciences (FWS, DMc)
Science Seminar (FW)
Physicist’s World (FW, TG)
Physics, Profits, and Politics of River Restoration (S,RS)
Science of Sustainable Buildings (F, RK)
Awakening Mind (FWS, Core, DMid)
Advanced Chemistry (WS, DB)
Order and Chaos (FWS, AM)
2006-07

Physical Systems (WS, Z)
Methods of Applied Mathematics (FW, DMc)
M&M: Motion – Physics and Philosophy (FW, DMid)
Fire & Water (F, Z)

Science Seminar (WS, Z)

Sustainable Design (FW, RK)
2005-06
Physics of Astronomy (WS)
M&M: Matter & Minerals (FWS)

Science Seminar (WS)
Belief and Truth (F)
Physicist’s World (FW)
Emerging Order (FW)
Order and Chaos (FW)

Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions
Introduction to Natural Science
Public Works (RK, Eco Design II)

2004-05
Energy Systems (FW)
M&M: Matter & Motion (FWS)
Astronomy & Cosmologies (S)
Science Seminar Intro to Natural Science
2003-04
Physics of Astronomy (WS)
M&M: Modeling Motion (WS)
Astronomy & Cosmologies (S)
Physics Visual Perception, and Flash (W)
Science Seminar
Intro to Natural Science
2002-03
Physical Systems
M&M: Matter & Motion
Astronomy & Cosmologies (S)