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Vashti Sawtelle & BLiSS Physics Course Featured in MSU Today

PERL co-director Vashti Sawtelle and her studio course, Briggs Life Science Studio (BLiSS) Physics, is featured in MSU Today.

Read the full article: How a physics class is changing student attitudes for the better


Michigan State University professors are taking a newer way of teaching a required introductory physics course and making it more meaningful for students who often start out with an unfavorable outlook and think they’ll never use physics later on.

Studio physics does away with the traditional lecture format and focuses on developing a better understanding through interactive learning in small groups.

“Many have already taken a physics class in high school and didn’t really like it the first time around, so now they’re wondering why they have to take another class when it isn’t really relevant to what they want to do,” Sawtelle said.

“A large part of the course is actually taking content from areas of the life sciences such as biophysics or biology and relating it to the students,” Sawtelle said. “I ask them not to just do the standard box on a ramp problem, but also ask them to think about why DNA can be modeled like a spring and how that scenario relates to physics. This is a different approach and one that isn’t being done anywhere else.”

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