IDEAL Lab project

IDEAL labs: I Didn't Expect Applications to Life!

The purpose of this collaboration is to create a collection physics lab assignments which are set apart by the following

  • Consistent use of simple statistics to form quantitative conclusions
  • Applications to life science and personal fitness
  • Introduce transferable knowledge, computation, and instrumentation skills

Recommendations from SFFP and BIO2010

Consider the following selection from R. C. Hilborn and M. J. Friedlander: 

In addition to science content topics, the [2015] MCAT will test scientific inquiry and reasoning skills (SIRS):

  1. Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles.
  2. Scientific reasoning and evidence-based problem solving.
  3. Reasoning about the design and execution of research.
  4. Data-based and statistical reasoning.

Note that the quantitative skills focus on reasoning about data using statistics and other mathematical tools. These skills are just those that are taught—sometimes implicitly rather than explicitly—in the laboratory components of most introductory college and university science courses. [emphasis added]

Comparison to Similar Projects

This project is intended to fill a perceived gap between two excellent, mature laboratory programs. The IDEAL labs are currently too "cook-bookish" and need to be revised to emphasize SIRS 2 and 3 (above).

Project NEXUS labs coordinate with a revolutionary calculus-based lecture course topical sequence and have a greater emphasis on SIRS 2 and 3 (above). The IDEAL labs are intended to coordinate with an algebra-based course with a traditional topical sequence, such as the widely used IPLS textbook by Knight, Jones and Field.

The Humanized Physics Project contains a very wide variety of algebra-based labs with applications of human interest. IDEAL labs add an emphasis on SIRS 4: data-based and statistical reasoning.