Natural Science - Year II

Chat times for 2017-2018
11:00a-12:30p ET/8:00-9:30am PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

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:

  • my lecture on the main points of the history material
  • my lecture on the main points of the science material
  • a history reading assignment from the web, supplementing the weblecture
  • a science reading assignment from the website, supplementing the weblecture
  • a worksheet containing questions you answer and upload or post to the course forum for discussion
  • our chat session
  • a quiz you use to test yourself after we have discussed the material and checked your homework
  • an optional exercise in directed or field observations, survey, or experiment

Readings and Web Lectures

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:

  • Often a site we use will have many links. I will give you only the top level or home page as a starting point, and I will try to list the areas you will need to cover, but I will not be able tell you whether every link you might encounter is required or not. You will have to make some decisions about how much to read, based on the questions I ask you to answer on the worksheets.
  • I cannot guarantee that the site will be available 100% of the time, so plan ahead, and do your web reading early. Don't wait until the last minute.
  • I do check sites the week before assigning them; this hasn't stopped the site owner from moving all his files somewhere else over the weekend. Please let me know as soon as possible if links from the NATSCI web lectures are broken, so that I can restore them or find substitute readings.
  • This is a high school course which covers a lot of material. Your readings and homework will take you 5-8 hours a week, more if you opt to do the labs. Be prepared to spend that much time reading the material, checking assigned websites, and writing up your answers. Pace yourself.
  • Take notes IN YOUR OWN WORDS! This is a much more effective way of learning than just copying material into your homework (which is both plagiarism and may make you liable to a copyright violation suit). Keep a word processor open and make notes in it as you read. If you do decide to download material, remember that graphics can be real space hogs.
  • Save bookmarks in your notes so that you can go back to a site without going through the Natural Science pages.
  • Most web sites that we visit are provided free of charge to the public by people who are interested in education or in promoting a particular area of knowledge. You may find that you disagree with the presentation of materials, and wish to contact the site owner. Be sure that you have your parent's permission to do so first, and that you act courteously at all times.
  • Most sites on the web are interesting and exciting places to visit; but some are definitely unsuitable for Scholars Online students. I visit the web sites we will be using and try to make sure that there are no serious problems with the material, but I do not follow every link on the pages of every site. You know what material you are allowed to view; if you have any questions, ask your parents. If you or they have problems with an assigned reading, contact me immediately.


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.

Quizzes and Exams

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 quickly—probably 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.

Keeping track of it all.....

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:

  • Tuesday
    • Attend class. Ask questions on previous and current homework and assigned reading material. Make observations about historical events and scientific concepts.
    • Finish up previous week's homework and post to the Moodle per instructions.
    • Print off homework assignment/worksheet for next session and read through questions. Email teacher if any instructions are unclear.
  • Wednesday
    • Turn in worksheet assignment; read essays in forum posted by other students.
    • Read new web history lecture and begin reading any web-based assignments for the history portion. Answer relevant worksheet questions.
  • Thursday
    • Check Moodle for worksheet answers. Review (with parent, if possible) and be sure that you understand any questions you failed to answer or got wrong. If still confused, email teacher with questions. Drill identifications if necessary.
    • Finish reading history material and answer all history related questions on worksheet.
    • If confident, take online quiz from previous unit; otherwise, review some more.
  • Friday
    • Read science web lecture. Answer relevant worksheet questions.
    • Finish online quiz for previous unit or review some more.
  • Monday
    • Finish science reading, answer remaining worksheet questions. [Your homework should now be done, unless you are having problems with some questions.]
    • Review answers for online quiz from previous unit; identify remaining problems for discussion in class or further study before semester exams.
    • Finish online quiz for previous unit or review some more.

Here is a schedule for student who likes to finish off one unit before starting another:

  • Tuesday
    • Attend class. Ask questions, discuss material, etc.
    • Read essays posted by other students.
  • Wednesday
    • Finish and upload homework.
  • Thursday
    • Review posted answers for previous unit; take quiz.
    • Print out next unit assignment and review worksheet questions.
    • Read history assignments and answer history related questions.
  • Friday
    • Finish history reading asssignments and history questions.
    • Begin science reading assignment.
  • Monday
    • Finish science reading assignment and answer science questions.
    • If complete, mail homework per instructions.

The Scholars Online Moodle and Natural Science Course Materials

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.


Just so we are all headed in the same direction....

  • To learn the basic topics of modern science
  • To learn how to think like a scientist about our everyday observations and experiences
  • To understand the limits as well as the advantages of scientific methodology
  • To understand how scientific models and theories compete for acceptance
  • To prepare you to take high school or honors high school science courses in specialized subject areas, such as biology, chemistry, or physics


You are expected to:

  • Attend the lecture class session each week.
  • Observe the general rules for chat classroom behavior.
  • Read all the assigned materials BEFORE class--plan for internet down time!
  • Turn in completed homework assignments on time.
  • Treat each other with respect. Some of the topics we discuss will be controversial ones.

You may expect me to:

  • Cover the topic each week and answer your questions; if I don't know the answer, I will try to find out and get back to you.
  • Return comments on your homework at regular intervals.
  • Provide your parents with a quarterly statement of your progress.
  • Respect your opinions, when they are substantiated with some serious thought, even if I disagree with your conclusions.