Energy is a complex idea that cuts across scientific disciplines. An approach to energy that incorporates chemical bonds and chemical reactions is better equipped to meet the needs of life sciences students than a traditional introductory physics approach that focuses primarily on mechanical energy. We present a curricular sequence, or thread, designed to build up students' understanding of chemical energy in an introductory physics course for the life sciences. This thread is designed to connect ideas about energy from physics, biology, and chemistry. We describe the kinds of connections among energy concepts that we develop to build interdisciplinary coherence and present some examples of curricular materials and student data that illustrate our approach.
Chemical energy in an introductory physics course for the life sciences
Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Julia Gouvea, Benjamin D. Geller, Vashti Sawtelle, Chandra Turpen, Edward F. Redish; Chemical energy in an introductory physics course for the life sciences. Am. J. Phys. 1 May 2014; 82 (5): 403–411. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4870391
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