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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sally J. Warner
BIS 250
Bothell Campus

How Things Work: Motion and Mechanics

Introduces basic scientific concepts needed to understand technologies encountered in everyday life. Themes may include the physics of motion and thermodynamics, and the applications in heating/coming and transportation. Readings focus on the history of science and invention.

Class description

This course introduces basic scientific concepts needed to understand natural and physical processes and technologies encountered in everyday life. Its target audience is students in liberal arts and other areas who are not planning to major in sciences. In this, the first of a two-course series, we focus on the science of motion and heat. How does gravity work? How do balloons float? How do airplanes fly? How do planets go around the sun? How does water flow in pipes? How does a refrigerator cool your food? How does your car propel you around town? We’ll address these questions via a series of lab exercises, reading assignments, short lectures, group problem solving and class discussions.

Student learning goals

Understand the basic physics underlying the processes and machines encountered in daily life, and be able to explain them clearly in writing and orally.

Solve problems using basic scientific concepts and algebra.

Take scientific measurements and synthesize this data to form conclusions about physical phenomena being investigated during in-class labs.

Effectively and cooperatively work in groups to solve problems and do labs.

Describe the historical origins of several prominent scientific ideas and inventions.

General method of instruction

The class will be a mixture of hands-on activities, lectures, and group problem solving.

Recommended preparation

There are no formal prerequisites for this course. In general, students should have a curiosity about how things work and an enthusiasm for problem solving. An ability to do basic algebra is also highly recommended.

Class assignments and grading

There will be homework problem sets and in-class activities that will sometimes be done in groups and sometimes individually. There will also be an essays where students will have to explain in prose how a physical process or technology works. There will also be three in-class exams for this course.

The final grade in this class will be based on students' performance on the assignments, exams, essay, and their in-class participation in discussions and in-class group activities.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sally J. Warner
Date: 01/14/2011