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Thread: Energy and chemical bonds (Public Access)

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 1 year, 2 months ago


NEXUS/Physics > Threads


The NEXUS/Physics course is a reinvention of an introductory physics curriculum for the life sciences that is designed to interact strongly and supportively with the introductory biology and chemistry courses taken by life sciences students, with the goal of helping students build general, multi-discipline scientific competencies.


One way that NEXUS/Physics differs from traditional introductory physics courses is by including  macroscopic, microscopic, and nanoscopic (atomic and molecular) scales and by including the topic of molecular bonding and chemical reactions as part of the topic "energy".


This page includes an instructional "thread" on chemical energy.  These materials have the goal of providing active-engagement activities to help students build a greater coherence around energy concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology. They include:


  • Readings -- text describing energy concepts from the macroscopic to the atomic scale described in a coherent way;
  • Homework problems -- tasks for out-of-class work for students to complete on their own;
  • Peer instruction questions -- clicker questions for encouraging in-class discussion;
  • Recitation activities -- guided activities for use in recitation sections with students working together in groups;
  • Quiz and exam problems -- problems that can be used for either formative or summative assessment throughout the class.


The motivation, goals, and structure of this particular thread are discussed in greater detail in the papers,



Two dissertations dealing with this topic have been completed and are available at our website.





The readings cover the topic of energy beginning with a standard discussion of how the concept of energy arises out of the idea of work. In order permit the inclusion of atomic and molecular interactions and energies early, electric forces are introduced at the same time as gravitational forces and energies, early in the course.






Homework problems:


The out-of-class activities are intended to be done by students out of class working together. These are intended to be challenging problems that require deep thought about the fundamental concepts and a bringing together of concepts learned in biology and chemistry with the physics that is being studied. Solutions are available for those items followed by an asterisk (*). The solutions may be reached by certified instructors by clicking on the asterisk. To get certified for these solutions, contact Joe Redish.





Peer Instruction Questions:


These are presented as slides in PowerPoint booklets to allow faculty to easily include them in their lectures. The clicker slides in this booklet are meant to be used as stimuli to encourage class discussion. They are intended for use in a class that attempts to help students develop a coherent and sophisticated understanding of scientific thinking. They are NOT intended as items to test whether students are “right or wrong” or “know” the correct answer by one-step recall if enough cues are given. (The direct links yield the PowerPoint versions some of which contain notes giving suggestions for use. The "pdf" links are PDF files of the slides without the notes.)








Recitation activities


These tasks are intended for small group problem-solving and discussion, and are intended to help students build strong conceptual fundamental understanding of the physics and to make the connection with what they know from biology and chemistry. They are not intended to be collected and graded. They are most effective when students work in groups of 3 to 5 and are given encouragement to think about the questions and bring in their knowledge from biology and chemistry where relevant. (Guidance for facilitating these activities are similar to those given for facilitating University of Washington-style Tutorials. See for example, Facilitating in Tutorials from the UMd-PERG.)



Energy Skate Park

Temperature Regulation






Quizzes and Exams:


Quizzes are intended as formative assessment, not summative. It is intended for these to be challenging and for there to be potentially extended discussions about the answers when they are handed back. Exam questions are intended as summative. A few sample questions and formatting are provided here as document files for easy cutting and pasting into a printed quiz or exam. (Use of these files are limited to faculty. Please contact Joe Redish for access.)






For more information, contact Prof. E. F. Redish (redish@umd.edu)



Contributors to this effort include:


C. Bauer2, K. Carleton1, T. Cooke1, M. Cooper3, C. Crouch4, B. Dreyfus1, B. Geller1, J. Giannini1, J. Svoboda Gouvea1,5, M. Klymkowsky6, W. Losert1, K. Moore1, J. Presson1, E. Redish1, V. Sawtelle1, C. Turpen1, K. Thompson1


1 University of Maryland, College Park, 2 University of New Hampshire, Durham, 3 Michigan State University


4 Swarthmore College, 5 University of California, Davis, 6 University of Colorado, Boulder


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