The Challenges and Successes of an Interdisciplinary
Approach to Energy in
Physics and Biology
Benjamin W. Dreyfus
Department of Physics, University of Maryland -
At the University of Maryland, we are piloting a new physics course
for life science majors that seeks to form deep interdisciplinary
connections between physics, biology, and chemistry.
I will present an overview
of the project, which includes significant departures from the
traditional introductory physics curriculum in order to emphasize
physics topics most relevant to biology.
I will focus in particular on energy,
a concept that is central to all three disciplines but is typically
taught and learned in ways that fail to establish interdisciplinary
Unusually for first-year physics, we have integrated chemical bond
energy and Gibbs free energy into the curriculum.
Our preliminary research results illustrate the nuances of student
reasoning across disciplines.
Last modified: Thu Mar 14 15:39:44 2013