Category Archives: General

Bioscience maths skills – are they really needed?

What are bioscience maths skills and why do bioscientists – chemists and biologists, and even a pre-med students and medical doctors, need a good understanding of what I call “science maths”? Are bioscience maths skills really that important?

Below you will find a video (and also a slide stack) on why I think it is important that bioscientists have a good grasp of the what I call “science maths” – that is, why I think it is important that bioscientists understand the concepts of moles and molarity, and an understanding of the role of atoms, molecules, and ions in health and disease. These skills, along with correct pipetting, and working accurately and consistently in the lab, are critical if you are going to get good results, and if you are a student, in getting good grades.

It is important that you develop your understanding of moles and molarity, percentage solutions, and dilutions now so that the “science maths” becomes second nature and you don’t find yourself second guessing in the lab. And the best way to improve your bioscience maths skills is through practice and working through the material.

If you have found the slide stack and video useful then please share them with your friends and classmates. You may also like to check out the course we have on offer to help you with your bioscience maths skills over at Fedora – we have a range of courses from basic chemistry and maths skills, through to moles and molarity, and on to spectrophotometry.

What is ‘science maths’?

I talk about ‘science maths’ all the time, but what do I mean by it? Sometimes I call it ‘maths for the biosciences’ or ‘maths for bioscientists’. (Or I could say ‘science math’, ‘math for the biosciences’ or ‘math for bioscientists’).

What is 'science maths'?

What is ‘science maths’?

Well, in biology and chemistry you need some maths to work out concentrations, dilutions, and a bunch of other stuff. And it can be a struggle, and over the years I have found when working with students that the secret to understanding the maths is not remembering the formula, but to understand the underlying principles so that any ‘formula’ needed can be derived, and to practice, practice, practice doing the maths.

The website – Maths4Biosciences – provides a site that can be used to practice the maths again, and again, and again, as the site contains potentially thousands of possible calculations for you to try (all with a ton of feedback). If you go to the Maths4Biosciences Courses site you will find some courses to help you gain further understanding:

Why is maths important in biology and chemistry

An understanding of maths, moles, molarity, dilutions etc. is very important in biology and chemistry, and I think my best attempt at summing up this importance can be seen in the slide stack below:


So, what is this all about?


Get your science maths right….

Well, it is a new site, and a new blog dedicated to explaining the maths skills biology and chemistry students will need to develop to pass their courses.

The Site

The website is designed for students to test their understanding of some of the types of calculations they will have to do when studying chemistry and biology at high school, college, and university. Specifically, the types of calculating covered are:

  • Converting between units, e.g. mM to µM, etc.
  • Working with percentage solutions
  • Calculating moles and molarities
  • Calculating volumes and concentrations in dilutions
  • How to calculate concentrations from spectrophotometry data
  • Working with extinction coefficients
  • Enzymatic kinetics (calculation of Vmax and Km (Michaelis–Menten kinetics)
  • Determination of the concentration of an unknown from spectrophotometry data (coming soon)
  • ELISA data calculations (coming soon)

Each type of calculation test provides 1000s of possible questions, so you should never encounter the same set of numbers twice. The site is also ‘responsive’ which means it works on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

One great thing about the tests is if do you get the answer wrong you will be provided with a detailed breakdown (feedback), using the actual numbers in the question, that explains how you can get the right answer.

The Blog

The blog (which you are currently reading) will provide some additional examples of how to tackle the types of questions, on the site and some posts that expand on my answers on Quora.

The blog will also host notifications of when I post new videos on YouTube and stacks on Slideshare.

There will also be notifications of when new biology and chemistry maths courses become available at Maths4Biosciences Courses. The current courses cover:

And there are more courses to follow.

There is also an iPhone App – chemCal available, which you can use to perform dilution, molarity, and dilutions calculations.

To keep up with all of this you may want to subscribe to the newsletter or follow on Twitter.

Why is ‘science maths’ important?

Well, a good understanding of the maths behind chemistry and biology is very important for your studies and your research. I think I best describe the importance in the slide stack below:


About the author of this blog and website

The author of this blog and the website has over 15 years of experience teaching ‘chemistry maths’ to bioscience students at university. I have over 25 years of lab experience, I have published a number of scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and I have been ‘playing around with computers’ since the late 1970s. I coded his first website in 1994, and I have written, and sold applications, for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I am a geek and proud of it.