« Return to Course Catalog

Hidden in Plain Sight: Science of Everyday Phenomena

Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Have you ever wondered: "Why is the sky blue during the day and red at sunrise and sunset?", "How do the breakdancers perform the windmill?", "Can you use a magnifying glass and moonlight to light an object to fire?", "Can raindrops shatter your windshield if you drive too fast?", "Is Mars inhabitable?". Human imagination is wild and we can conjure a myriad of such questions. However, the fascination lies in answers to these questions.

The objective of the course is to teach the fundamentals of physics that help us getting to the answers. We will introduce mechanics of solids and fluids, optics, heat, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and modern physics through queries like above. Many courses in science adopt a bottom-up approach and ask questions only after teaching theory. We intend to do just the opposite! Students will also be encouraged to work in teams and come up with scientifically interesting questions and answers. The intent of the course is not only to teach but also enable students to formulate research questions- a skill that will come in handy for further studies (not even necessarily science!). Lectures will include presentations, blackboard teaching and in-class demonstrations. Students will also be provided with readings, from a range of books and journals. Class-time will be complemented with lab-tours to expose students to the cutting-edge research at Brown and the specialized equipment used.

This course will help students develop a scientific perspective toward everyday phenomenon while fostering skills like critical-reading, critical-thinking, teamwork and effective communication through a collaborative and interactive environment. They will develop an aptitude to break down complex problems into simpler solvable ones. Finally, we believe that teaching concepts through practical examples in a range of fields, will bring clarity to the students with respect to their choice of field for further studies.

Prerequisites: There are no pre-requisites for the course. Knowledge of calculus will be helpful but is not necessary. All the essential concepts will be covered in the class.