Intro Physics Course Designed for Pre-Med Students

an older white male professor assists a young African American woman
Brent Hoffmeister assists student Kelsea Lewis (Class of 2018) in class

For the Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences course for non-majors, lectures and labs are designed specifically to fit the interests of students taking the class for pre-med requirements. The difference between this lecture course and the one designated for the physical sciences is the math requirement, and while the core lecture material differs, labs are the same and quite interactive.

Prof. Brent Hoffmeister, who currently teaches one of the labs, says that he and the other physics professors understand the students’ interest and adapt the material to be applicable to them. “In one class, we might talk about torque [force that causes rotation] in the context of a crane lifting up an object, and in another class we will talk about it in the context of a human arm lifting up something. The physics is the same, but the applications and examples can be more specific.” 

As for the overall goals of the course, there is a standard set of physics principles that students learn. The first semester of the course focuses on mechanics and motion, while the second semester focuses on electricity and magnetism.

“The labs are very hands on. We’ll get machines and run tests on force, torque, conservation of energy, and then put the results in a computer to calculate,” says Kelsea Lewis ’18, a chemistry major who is enrolled in the course.

Lewis says one of the most interesting labs they have done has been the Angry Birds experiment. Yes, like the game. “Professor Hoffmeister had a computer program where he had three set projectiles for the birds, and so we chose one. The whole point was to see if we did this experiment in real life, would the bird reach its target like it would in the game. We had to find proportions and how big the bird would have to be if it was a real bird and it was really cool.”

To learn more about the Rhodes Department of Physics, visit here

By Lizzie Choy ’17

In the photo, Prof. Brent Hoffmeister assists student Kelsea Lewis in class.