Earth Science 40
Astronomy

Instructor: Jeff Tolhurst, Ph.D.
Office
: Sugar Pine 119 and Fir 1
Office Hours Th 8:50-11:20am in Sugar Pine 119 and MW 5:00-6:00 pm in Fir 1 or by appointment
Phone
: (209) 588-5235 office (+ msg); (209) 588-5104 (fax)
Email: tolhurstj@yosemite.edu

Course Credit: 3 semester hours
Prerequisites: None

Text: Discovering the Essential Universe by Freeman (Older versions = OK)


Calendar


Astronomy Web Links


The Importance of Earth Science Education

Earth Science plays a unique and essential role in today's rapidly changing world. It is an integrated study of the Earth's history, composition and structure, its atmosphere and oceans, and its environment in space. A knowledge of Earth Science is important because most human activities are related to interaction with the planet Earth.

Basic knowledge about the Earth, then, is the key to development of an informed citizenry. The reasons for teaching Earth Science are numerous: 1) it offers experience in a diverse range of interrelated scientific disciplines; 2) it is closely related to your natural surroundings; and 3) it offers you subject matter which has direct application to your lives and the world around you. You need only step outdoors to observe and find relevance in concepts learned in the Earth Science classroom. Because it offers many opportunities to collect data, hypothesize, experiment, and draw conclusions, both within school and outside environments, Earth Science is a laboratory and activity oriented course. Earth Science integrates many principles of both physical and life sciences. It incorporates and presents concepts often not emphasized in other parts of the science curriculum, such as geologic time and the vastness of space.

The teaching of Earth Science allows all students to have a better science background with pertinent information about your surroundings. Daily, society is faced with environmental and economic concerns such as deforestation, mining issues, acid rain, water supply, the greenhouse effect, and waste disposal. Civilization is absolutely dependent upon utilization of Earth's energy, mineral, and human resources. Awareness of natural phenomena such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes also requires a knowledge of Earth Science.

Students who study Earth Science are better prepared to discuss issues and make informed, responsible decisions. The interdisciplinary curriculum of Earth Science develops and builds on skills learned in earlier courses and closely relates to your everyday experiences. It develops attitudes and problem-solving skills that will be useful throughout life. If tomorrow's adults are to make wise decisions about Earth and environmental issues, it is vital that today's students be given the opportunity to study Earth Science at all levels as an integral part of their school experience. (This statement is modified from the National Earth Science Teachers Association, September 13, 1988).


Course Expectations: Earth Science 40, Astronomy

Course Description: This course will provide you with insights into the field of Astronomy. You will be exposed to various subtopics including the universe, planets and moons, stars and stellar evolution, the galaxies , cosmology, etc. This course will spend time teaching you to critically think as an astronomer does in order to solve astronomical problems. You will be able to transfer these thinking skills to other areas of your life. Intended audience: this course is a general science class, intended to satisfy general education requirements for non-majors as well as one of the first courses expected of earth science and earth science education majors.

Text & Lab Manual: Please bring the text with you to class. There will be in class writing assignments on occasion that may require use of the text. 

Tests/Exams: There will be two lecture exams during the semester: one midterm exam and one final exam. Each exam is worth 20% of your grade.

Homework: There will be two forms of homework: 1) project work (discussed below); and 2) reading from the text to study for the exams.

Make-up Work: In the advent of extenuating circumstances (evaluated by me on a case by case basis), make-up work will be assigned (but only under such circumstances).

Grading Policy: Grades will be assigned based on the following criteria:

2 Tests = 40% (20% each)
2 Projects = 40% (20% each)
Labs = 10% (total of all labs)
In-Class Assignments = 5% (total of all activities)
Activism Points = 5% (total of both activities)

A grading curve will not be used to determine grades. Grades will be determined as follows:

A = 90-100%
B = 80-90%
C = 70-80%
D = 60-70%
F = < 60%

Projects: Two (2) group projects will be assigned during the course of the semester. The first will be a poster session - your research is presented to your peers via the poster format (further details are given below). The second project will be in the form of a multimedia project where your group presents information to the rest of the class on some aspect of physical geology. You will be asked to present this information using the media of your choice (i.e. video, skit, slideshow, etc. - further details are given below). Each project is described in detail below.

In-Class/Other Activities: I ask that you bring something to write with each time we meet. The purpose of the written assignments is to to assess learning and for us to give one another feedback during the semester on such things as what strategies could help to improve the learning environment, what's working well, etc. Also writing assignments will provide both cross-sectional and longitudinal data on the processes and content you will be acquiring - in other words, I'll be able to see what you've learned after a particular assignment, as well as what you've learned through the course of the semester. Written work will include short, in-class writing assignments, surveys, evaluations, and other feedback I ask of you during the semester.

Activism Points: During the course of the semester you will be asked to do two different activities that promote the learning/understanding of astronomy.  Upon completion of the tasks you will be asked to present what you did in writing - no more than a half page - PROVING what you did.  Note: You will be unable to earn an "A" grade without completing these two tasks.  The first task must be completed before the midterm and the second one is due no later than one week before the Final Exam.  Examples of past Activism activities by students in astronomy classes include: 1) presenting a poster board to elementary school students; 2) a field trip to a planetarium to learn more about astronomy; 3) critiquing a video on astronomy or science related topic(s) (i.e. Nova or TLC videos in the Columbia College library, etc.); 4) educating and/or raising awareness of friends and/or family members or others about astronomy (and PROVING it); 5) reporting on newspaper articles on astronomy related topics; 6) going on a Columbia College Field Geology trip (register for Earth Science 35 and completing the class - note that this would satisfy TWO activism activities); and, finally, a NEW example:

Log 2 EarthCaches from Tuolumne or Calaveras Counties. Go to www.geocaching.com and find one of the EarthCaches from user ccearthcaches, then follow the instructions to log the EarthCache. Send an email to ccearthcaches with your answers and include your name and the class you're enrolled in for Activism credit.


Goals:

The primary goal of this course is to teach you to think critically in order to be able to make appropriate decisions that are based on logical analysis and sound reasoning. You will be given the opportunity to do this in the context of learning about the environment of the earth as well as the inter- and intrapersonal environment within the classroom and out in the field. One factor that could make the biggest difference in your success in this class might well be a sanguine, respectful attitude. It is my intent to create a classroom culture that promotes and supports that type of attitude.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course you will be able to collect, compile, organize, transform, analyze, and make intelligent land use decisions from analyzing raw geologic data.

By the end of the course you will have worked cooperatively with a small group of peers to design and present two research projects to the public.

By the end of the course you will learn to summarize scientific concepts using a scientific/technical writing style.

By the end of the course you will demonstrate an understanding of the elements of critical thinking, the standards used to measure critical thinking, and the intellectual traits that you will further develop during this course.


Poster Session Guide

Objectives:
1. Present material using a poster format to the rest of the class (material and format are described below).
2. Work interdependently and cooperatively with group members during each phase of the project.

Poster Examples
10 Rules for Poster Presentations
Do's and Dont's of a Poster Presentation

Background: One form of information exchange between geologists is the poster session. It is designed to be a quick, efficient means for learning about the latest research. A written description of the idea or research to be presented (called an Abstract) is submitted to the scientific meeting review committee. If accepted, the poster is presented during the convention with other posters usually in a large conference room where the scientists convene and view the posters, discussing / critiquing the ideas with the presenters.

Expectations:
1. Poster Ideas
   A) pick a concept related to physical geology that you would like to learn more about
   B) choose a topic either:
     i) not covered in class; or
     ii) covered, but you'll cover it in more detail

2. Poster Format
   A) should have both textual and diagrammatic information (typed/wordprocessed text; neatly drawn graphics; etc.)
   B) should have a list of
references cited (list each source of information you used; use an online citation website to cite your sources: Easybib.com)
   C) should be professional (neat, clear, legible, high quality)

3. Presentations
   A) one group member remains with the poster to explain, defend, clarify ideas at all times during the presentation
   B) others evaluate the other posters, completing a checklist for each group (divide the task up)

Click here to see the evaluation form.

4. Groups
   A) 3 to 5 students per group
   B) divide responsibilities between group members
   C) group grade will be determined from:
     i) peer review = 20% (from class evaluations)
     ii) instructor review = 80%
   D) individual grade will be determined in the following manner:
     i) group grade = 100 points
     ii) individual grade = (group grade) X (# students in group), then group splits up these points as they decide is best for them

Example: 4 group members get 80/100 for their group grade. 4 X 80 = 320, so the group must decide how to divide the 320 points amongst themselves (i.e. 80 points each; or 90 points for two people that did more work and 70 points for two others that did less, etc.).

Deadline: The poster session is due to be presented on the dates listed on the calendar. The poster session will be held during the scheduled lecture for that day. Posters will be turned in for credit at the end of the hour along with evaluations of all group presentations.

Support:
1. Research
   A) Your Textbook.
   B) Online - internet resources may be an important source of information.
   C)  In the library there are many books on various aspects of earth science, check the online catalog or ask a reference librarian for assistance.
   D) Within the community there are several consulting firms and governmental agencies that do geological consulting - call them up and ask them questions.
   E) Other students and faculty at Columbia College may be able to help guide your searches.
   F) I will be available during my office hours for help and consultation.

2. Materials
   A) The earth science department may have some materials and I may be able to provide limited supplies - see me if you need support in this area.

Remember -- the main goal is to learn something new and to share your findings with others in the class. Pick something interesting and fun - and have fun being creative with this project!!

Information on Abstracts


    Multimedia Project Guide

    Objectives:

    1. You will present research findings using a combination of media forms to the rest of the class (research and format are described below).
    2. You will work interdependently and cooperatively with group members during each phase of the project.

    Background:

    Multimedia presentations are becoming increasingly popular due to their effectiveness in communicating information. Computer programs that incorporate video, audio, textual, graphic, animated, and other media forms are rapidly becoming mainstream in business, scientific, and educational applications. Research has shown that people acquire knowledge and information in a variety of modalities (eg. visually, auditorally, kinesthetically, etc.). In order to effectively communicate your research to your fellow classmates, you will design a project that uses more than one media form (i.e. video, slides, audio tape, text, posters, manipulatives, models, dramatic presentations, musical presentations, etc.). Remember, you are trying to: 1) learn new information; and 2) effectively communicate that information to others.

    Expectations:

    1. Project Ideas:
       A) pick a concept related to Astronomy that you would like to learn more about
       B) choose a topic either:
         i) not covered in class
         ii) covered, but your group will research it in more detail

    2. Possible Topics:
       A) The Creation of the Universe
       B) Optics and Telescopes - Where are the Largest Telescopes on Earth and How Do They Work?
       C) The Solar System - Some of the More Interesting Details...
       D) Black Holes - What Are They and How Do They Behave?
       E) Jupiter - What We Know About the Largest Planet in the Solar System and How We Know
       F) The Outer Planets
       G) The Inner Planets
       H) The Life Cycle of a Typical Star - From Birth To Death
       I) Our Galaxy - The Milky Way
       J) The Origin of Earth and the Moon
       K) The Nature of Stars - What Are They and How Do They Behave?
       L)  NASA - History and Future of the Space Agency
       M) The Space Station - Past, Present, and Future  

    These topics are intended to motivate you to generate your own ideas; you may choose one of those above, or a different one. Make sure the scope of your topic is manageable for the given time allotment.

    3. Project Format:
       A) should have an Abstract (see rules for writing an Abstract below)
         i) a concise, informative summary/statement of conclusions reached
         ii) not more than 200 words
         iii) turned in to me at the beginning of the presentation
       B) should have two or more forms of the following media in the presentation:
         i) audio, video, slides, dramatic skit, models, musical presentation, etc.
       C) should have a list of references cited (listing each source of information used; use the online citation machine to cite your sources: (EasyBib)
         i) any statement that is not general knowledge needs to be credited
         ii) do not just use encyclopedias and textbooks
         iii) use primary (scientific journals, interviews with researchers) and secondary sources (books and review articles that deal with a specific topic)
       D) should be professional (clear, audible, legible, neat, high quality, etc.)

    4. Presentations:
       A) each presentation will be 8 to 10 minutes in length with time for questions afterward from the class
       B) each presentation will be evaluated by the members of the class on a standardized evaluation form to be provided (click here to see the form).

    5. Groups:
       A) there will be 3 to 4 students per group
       B) responsibilities will be divided among group members
       C) the group grade will be determined from:
         i) peer review = 20% (from evaluations)
         ii) instructor input = 80%
       D) individual grades will be determined in the following manner:
         i) group grade = 100 points
         ii) individual grade = (group grade) X (# of students in group), then the group members split up these points as they decide appropriate (125 points maximum)

    Example: 3 group members get 80/100 for their group grade. 3 X 80 = 240, so the group must decide how to divide up these 240 points amongst themselves (i.e. 80 points each, or 100 points for two members that put in the greatest effort and 40 points for the third member that did very little (if that's what happened), etc.).

    Click here to see the evaluation form.

    Deadline:
    This project is due to be presented on the date listed on the calendar during scheduled class time. Groups will sign up for presentation times. Evaluations will be due at the end of each class hour.

    Support:
    1. Research
       A) In the library there are a few books and technical publications on various topics in physical geology; check the catalog or ask a reference librarian for assistance.
       B) Within the community there are several consulting firms and governmental agencies that do environmental engineering, geotechnical work, hazards analyses, planning, etc. Call them up for ideas, resources, answers to questions, etc.
       C) Other students and faculty at Columbia College may be able to help guide your search
       D) I'll be able to provide a certain amount of support and guidance - use me as a resource

    2. Materials
       A) Columbia College may be able to provide some demonstration materials on a check out basis, otherwise see me if you need support in this area.
       B) The College has a VCR, a slide projector, an overhead projector and possible access to a multimedia station.

    Remember - the main goals are to:1) learn something new and to present it to others in the class; and 2) to work cooperatively and interdependently with your group members in an enjoyable, respectful, and polite manner. Pick something interesting and fun - and enjoy being creative with this project! Projects in the past have been quite interesting - ranging from demonstrations of sea floor spreading and subduction on models built by students, to short skits demonstrating earthquake preparedness, to videotapes of clearcuts and sedimentation problems.


Project Proposal Outline

Name(s):

Project Title:

Objectives:

Statement of the Problem:

Significance of the Problem:

Methodology:

Timeline/Task Schedule:

Budget:

Equipment List:

References:


Earth Science 40
Midterm Exam

Please study the questions below for the midterm.  Your answers should be kept to one page maximum for each question.  Please do not choose to use more than one page - responses longer than one page will not be accepted.  I will use a computer program that generates random numbers to assign your 2 questions to you the day of the test.  I will ask you to write your answers on blank paper that I provide for you during class.  Between now and the date of the midterm you may use any resources available to you to answer the questions.  I will be available for consultation and to review written responses beforehand.  You may also use any books, articles, etc. that can provide you with information.  During the test, however, you may not use any notes or other materials - it will be closed book.  I will be available to answer any questions you might have.   

Exam Examples (for organization/format)

Here are the midterm exam questions

1.  Discuss astronomy.  Explain what it is, what we know, and how we know what we do about the universe.  Include the following: study of the solar system, universe, space, cosmology, length of day, seasons, phases of the moon, eclipses, scientific method, and how observations are made.  Also describe why it is important to study astronomy.

2.  Discuss the nature of light and matter.  Include in your discussion: 1) what light is and how it behaves; 2) what spectroscopy is and how it works; 3) how optics works; 4) how telescopes are used and the two types of telescopes; and 5) how astronomers use their understanding of light and its behavior to know about the universe.  Also explain why it is significant to study the nature of light and matter.

3.  Discuss our solar system.  Include in your discussion the similarities and differences between planets and their satellites as well as the origin of the solar system and of the planets.  Also explain the significance of studying our solar system.

4.  Discuss two of the planetary systems of the solar system (i.e. pick 2 planets and any moons they might have and compare and contrast them).  Include in your discussion their similarities, their differences, and some of the detailed knowledge we currently have of each.  Also explain the significance of studying planets in our solar system.

Grading Rubric

High-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss including a statement defining the main point

  • specific examples supporting your ideas

  • 2 or more carefully labeled diagrams depicting important processes

  • accuracy, clarity, precision, depth, and breadth when discussing content

  • good organization, well-developed arguments, few mechanical errors

  • a short, succinct conclusion summarizing the main points

Medium-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss

  • a general example supporting your ideas

  • one or more diagrams poorly labeled

  • a few accurate statements (some inaccurate statements); less clarity, precision, depth, breadth content being discussed

  • loosely organized thoughts, moderately developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • an unorganized conclusion/summary

Lower-quality responses contain:

  • no (or a poor) introductory overview

  • no (or minimal) examples supporting your ideas

  • no diagrams, or diagrams with no labeling

  • inaccurate statements, lack of clarity, precision, depth, breadth of the content discussed

  • disorganized thoughts, weakly developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • a weak conclusion that doesn’t summarize the main points

Lowest-quality responses contain:

  • no overview

  • no examples

  • no diagrams

  • inaccurate statements; no clarity, precision, depth, breadth of content knowledge

  • unorganized, undeveloped arguments, mechanical errors throughout

  • no conclusion


Earth Science 40
Final Exam

Please answer the questions circled below for the final.  Your answers should be kept to one page maximum for each question.  Please do not choose to use more than one page - responses longer than one page will not be accepted.  I will use a computer program that generates random numbers to assign your 2 questions to you the day of the test.  I will ask you to write your answers on blank paper that I provide for you in class during the time and date listed in the schedule of classes.  Between now and the date of the final you may use any resources available to you to answer the questions.  I will be available for consultation and to review written responses beforehand.  You may also use any books, articles, etc. that can provide you with information.  During the test, however, you may not use any notes or other materials - it will be closed book.  I will be available to answer any questions you might have.

Exam Examples (for organization/format)

Here are the final exam questions

1.  Discuss the life cycle of a typical star.  Include how stars are created, how they live, and what happens to them at the end of their lives.  Also explain how we know what we know about them and why it is significant to study this topic.

 2.  Discuss black holes.  Include in your discussion how they form, the different types, their characteristics, their structure, and how they behave.  Also explain how we know about black holes and why it is significant to study this topic.

 3.  Discuss galaxies.  Include in your discussion the formation and evolution of galaxies, their composition, the way galaxies change over time, and the processes that have generated the variety of structures and behavior observed in nearby galaxies.  Also explain how we know what we do about galaxies and why it is significant to study this topic.

 4.   Discuss cosmology.  Include in your discussion the scientific study of the origin, evolution, large-scale structures and dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the scientific laws that govern these realities. Also explain how we know what we do about the universe.

 Grading Rubric

High-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss including a statement defining the main point

  • specific examples supporting your ideas

  • 2 or more carefully labeled diagrams depicting important processes

  • accuracy, clarity, precision, depth, and breadth when discussing content

  • good organization, well-developed arguments, few mechanical errors

  • a short, succinct conclusion summarizing the main points

Medium-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss

  • a general example supporting your ideas

  • one or more diagrams poorly labeled

  • a few accurate statements (some inaccurate statements); less clarity, precision, depth, breadth content being discussed

  • loosely organized thoughts, moderately developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • an unorganized conclusion/summary

Lower-quality responses contain:

  • no (or a poor) introductory overview

  • no (or minimal) examples supporting your ideas

  • no diagrams, or diagrams with no labeling

  • inaccurate statements, lack of clarity, precision, depth, breadth of the content discussed

  • disorganized thoughts, weakly developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • a weak conclusion that doesn’t summarize the main points

Lowest-quality responses contain:

  • no overview

  • no examples

  • no diagrams

  • inaccurate statements; no clarity, precision, depth, breadth of content knowledge

  • unorganized, undeveloped arguments, mechanical errors throughout

  • no conclusion


For students with disabilities, (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, financial, etc., in nature), who believe that they may need special accommodations in this class, I encourage you to discuss options with me within the first 10 days of instruction.