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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Steven W. Collins
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 are students in liberal arts and other areas who aren't 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? Airplanes fly? Planets go around the sun? How does water flow in pipes? A refrigerator cool your food? Your car propel you around town? Why is it so difficult and costly to clean up the messes our modern industrial lifestyles leave behind? Why are gasoline, coal, and oil such amazingly useful fuels, so much so that we're hard pressed to find alternatives. These are some of the questions we explore in the course. This quarter we'll give special attention to the jet airplane, including the principles of flight, jet propulsion, and the historical evolution of modern commercial and military aircraft.

Student learning goals

Understand basic physics of 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.

Understand the historical origins of commonly encountered scientific ideas and inventions.

Gain insight into ways in which social, cultural, and political forces influence scientific discovery, invention, and innovation.

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion, with regular in-class practice problems, done individually and in small groups.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites. Students should be able to handle basic algebra, such as solving equations with one unknown variable, and working with square roots and exponents.

Class assignments and grading

These will vary depending on the quarter. Typical requirements would be the following: 1. Problem sets 2. Short essays explaining in clear, simple prose how everyday natural or physical process, or technology works. 3. At least one exam (may be in-class or take-home) 4. Small-group problem solving and other activities in class.

Final grade based on performance on individual assignments and in-class participation.


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 Steven W. Collins
Date: 07/31/2012