Module 2 Conceptual Integration

  • Physics and chemistry

    We will to apply the physics conceptual vocabulary we discussed in module 1 to help us get started with chemistry in module 2. The ideas of mechanics and classical electrostatics provide an essential framework for conceptualizing change in matter at the atomic, chemical bonding, and intermolecular levels. It's true that atoms and molecules are quantum electrodynamic systems. As such, they are not satisfactorily intelligible through the lens of classical physics in many important ways. Nevertheless, classical physics is a solid, essential ground for the intuitive, everyday understanding of chemical change. This continues to be true at even advanced levels of understanding. Making these connections represents one of the most important goals for conceptual integration in this course, keeping quantum mechanics always in mind, to have your classical physics talking to your chemistry as you model the transformations that matter undergoes in your imagination. At first this might feel like a step beyond undergraduate level - in undergraduate science, the courses are modular and separate - but it represents a step towards making chemical change more accessible for clear projection in conceptual understanding.

  • Where we're heading

    Looking forward to module 3, think about the changes to an individual molecule. Now think of them happening to a huge number of molecules, like Avogadro's number. Now you are thinking thermodynamically about a chemical system within its surroundings. When we move into thermodynamics, our perspective will shift and we'll start conceptualizing changes in energy at the particle level translated as a change for the entire thermodynamic system comprised of a huge number of particles. We'll call this change in energy, summed over all the particles, the internal energy change, ΔU.

  • Seeing the whole city from the top of the tallest building

    Throughout this course, while we're moving forward topic by topic through content review, we strongly advocate you also make a study discipline for panning back and building the mental image of the knowledge base as a whole. As a practical matter, this means about ten percent of your science study time. Comprehensive cycles. Outlines. Skimming your college textbooks. Playing Catch Blue. Imagine AAMC wrote to you with the news you had to take the MCAT next week. Once a week, imagine you got this letter. Then sit down and cram for a couple of hours trying to get a last look at everything. Do this now so you don't have to do this later. Practice what it feels like to be responsible for the MCAT topic outline from beginning to end. Skim your MCAT books. Comprehensive mastery comes later. For now, in this dimension of the course, we need to get to comprehensive familiarity. A sense of the comprehensive scope and structure of the full knowledge base is essential for productive work to begin with AAMC science passages in a few modules. Even if a 520 is in your future, the first passages you practice will kick you around a bit, but if you put in that ten percent each week from the beginning, you will understand where AAMC is coming from.

Suggested Assignments

Complete the assignment we began in Module 1 of carefully skimming your MCAT book-set from the beginning to end, all the way from physics to biology. Read the bold headings. Look at the figures. Skim the text. Work to get a feel for the scope of each topic and prime future learning. 

Read the Interdisciplinary Notes for Module 2.

Play Catch Blue.

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