Procedures, Methods, Goals, and Expectations
The material in this course consists of units on topics in the history of science and related topics in science. Each unit consists of:
Your reading and preparation materials will consist of lectures posted to the Natural Science course website, and assigned readings at other sites. Links to off site readings will be given on the Natural Science web page for each week, as part of the science or history of science topic pages. You are expected to read the material and attempt the homework assignment before attending the lecture session.
This requires a special effort on your part to seek out the Web resources. Because of the high volume of traffic on the web, you will need to pace yourself in order to cover all the material. Reading the assigned material thoroughly will require about 2-3 hours of effort each week on your part. You may also find links to other material which may interest you, but be sure to finish the assigned readings first!
So, here are some points to note about using an "online textbook" like ours:
Homework consists of worksheets with questions to which you must write brief one-sentence or one-paragraph answers, and Moodle essays. Written assignments will be posted on the Moodle site as part of the week's reading, lecture, and lab materials. Moodle essays are due before class, and worksheets for the unit are due by the day after the chat discussion. This gives you the opportunity of asking about any homework questions you can't answer before you have to turn the homework in.
You "turn in" your homework by posting essays to a class forum, or uploading worksheets to an assignment collection site. Answers to worksheets are posted on the Moodle the day after the worksheet is due. Forum essays may or may not be graded; we often use them as a springboard for discussion.
I will also read and comment on your homework periodically, addressing any areas where the answer sheet might be inadequate and offering suggestions for improvement. I do not send you an evaluation on every assignment; but this doesn't mean you don't have to do every assignment, or perform your own self-evaluation from the answer sheet.
During our chat sessions, which are each 90 minutes long, we will discuss the materials and issues raised in the texts, in my Web lecture, and in your directed web readings. You may raise questions about the material from the text, your homework, your labs, or (if we have time) issues in the media which have an impact on science.
In addition to homework, you may wish to perform some or all of the science investigations and demonstrations for this class. Some of these will require that you record and work with data; most will require that you observe some aspect of nature closely.
Labs are optional but if you wish lab credit, I require that you obtain parental permission; see the labs page for more information.
Weekly quizzes will be posted in the course Moodle by the end of the discussion session; you must complete the quiz by the date due (usually the following chat session). This should help enforce the material in your memory. You may also take the quizzes again during the two weeks prior to a final exam. You must take at least 90% of the quizzes before you will be allowed to take the semester final, so do not fall behind on quizzes. Your average quiz score will be used in calculating your final grade.
Semester final exams will be given at the end of each term. These must be taken under parental supervision; your parents will be sent instructions on how to verify that the exam was taken under the specified conditions.
Midterms and term exams draw their multiple choice and identification questions from the quizzes and homework assignments; if you have done all the homework and taken all the quizzes, you will have seen all the final examination questions once already. I will publish a set of essay questions for the exams one to two weeks in advance so that you have time to prepare for them. Nothing on the midterm or term exams will be a surprise, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the exam is easier. It means that you are responsible for proper preparation!
Do not berate yourself if you do not master 100% of the material in this course (okay, there have been a very few students who have achieved a 100% on one of the semester exams....but it is very rare.) We cover a great deal of material very quicklyprobably more than you have ever had to deal with in one course before. Keep in mind that the purpose of this course is to expose you to the entire history of science and the basic concpets of all branches of science. I hope that you will learn and remember the more important scientists and the major concepts, and if you get 50%-65% correct (depending on grade level) on each of the quizzes and semester exams, you will pass the course and be ready to continue with your further science education.
In order to best master the material, you should spend some time each day on your natural science assignments. While I do not require that you email each step to me each day, you should work out a schedule with one of your parents, write it down, and stick to it. Determine what you will accomplish each day of the week. Turn in or report your work to your parents so that they can keep you on track. We cover a lot of material in this class, and if you get behind, you will have a hard time catching up.
Here are ideas for two different schedules, showing how students with different learning styles might organize their study time. There is nothing magic about either schedule; you may find a completely different rhythm of reading and study suits you better. Notice that both schedules require some parental supervision and checking; if you make up your own schedule, be sure to incorporate some parental oversight "checkpoints" in it. This allows your parents to keep track of how you are doing, and to help you with conceptual problems where they can.
Notice also that no work is scheduled for Saturday, when you may want to catch up because of unexpected interruptions or when you may want to do labs. Nor is any work scheduled for Sunday, which I consider a day of rest and renewal.
The first is for someone who wants extra time to go over previous work while preparing new material:
Here is a schedule for student who likes to finish off one unit before starting another:
The server at Scholars Online will host our chats, and our Moodle will host the forums for your class assignements, the quizzes, and the schedule for our work. Access will be limited to class members. We also have the ability to create Wiki entries (good for learning terminology and biographical notes!), take surveys, and work on group activities. Students performing labs for the lab option will have forums for their work in these areas. Since only members of the class will see your postings, you should feel free to use the class forum to ask questions and contact each other about class business, and to continue discussions for which we may not have time in class, but remember:
I reserve the right to pull any threads or entries which I feel are unsuitable, so keep it clean and charitable.
You are expected to:
You may expect me to:
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