ARSC 104 WW Syllabus

CCBC: Catonsville

Academic School: Math & Science

Course Number and Title: ARSC 104

Section: WC1




  • Semester: Fall 2008 
  • Instructor: Fred Hickok 
  • Phone: 410-455-6935(W). 410-744-3101(H)
  • Office: D 105-C 
  • Fax: 410-455-6938 
  • Office Hours: MTWF 1:30-3:00p.m. 




Semester Credit Hours: 3

Course Description: Great Perspectives in Science presents a review of developments in the natural sciences by means of three perspectives: analytical, unifying and evolutionary. Topics include atomic theory, vascular circulation, relativity, genetics, plate tectonics and cosmology. Individuals highlighted include Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Pasteur, Einstein, Hubble, Crick and Watson, Leakey, and Hawking.

Course Prerequisites/Co-requisites: High school Algebra II or MATH 083; exemption from or completion of RDNG 101.

Use of Course as General Education Requirement: This course meets the General Education requirement for a three-credit course in the Biological and Physical Sciences.


The overall course goals are:

Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:
1. use scientific terminology to describe discoveries and theoretical explanations concerning many fields of science.
2. describe, numerically and graphically, various presentations of scientific data.
3. incorporate scientific information into effective written and oral communications.
4. apply mathematical methods to the interpretation of scientific data.
5. use scientific data and methods, individually and collaboratively, to solve problems involving scientific topics.
6. use scientific technology to research a scientific topic.
7. explain how scientists have used results from technologies to develop theoretical models.
8. utilize the Internet and/or other informational resources to research scientific topics.
9. discuss how physical and biological processes affect the conditions for biological and social organization on Earth.
10. examine the relationships among advances in a variety of scientific disciplines.
11. examine the lives and contributions of scientists from diverse cultures over the course of the history of science.

The major topics covered in this course are:

This course deals with the processes of scientific discovery in a wide variety of specific topics.
Analytical Perspective
 Components of Matter and Energy
      Curie's Studies of Radioactivity
      Oersted's and Faraday's Investigations of Electrical-Magnetic Interactions
      Bohr's Theory of Quantum Mechanics
 Components of Living Things
      Harvey's Determination of Blood Circulation
      Pasteur's Germ Theory
      Crick and Watson's Model of DNA
 Components of the Universe
      Newton's Calculations of Planetary Orbits
      Payne's Studies of Stellar Spectra
      Hubble's Observations of Galaxies
Unifying Perspective
 Universal Motions
      Aristotle's and Ptolemy's Geocentric Systems
      Aristarchus' and Copernicus' Heliocentric Systems
      Hubble's Determination of the Universe's Expansion
 Universal Forces
      Einstein's General Relativity
      Feynmann's Quantum Electrodynamics
      Gell-Mann's Quantum Chromodynamics
 Universal Relationships
      Mendeleev's Periodic Table
      Cuvier's Fossilized Quadrupeds
      Wilson's Florida Keys Experiment
Evolutionary Perspective
 Material Processes
      Hoyle's Studies of Nucleosynthesis
      Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift
      Kauffman's Concept of Autocatalytic Self-0rganization
 Organic Processes
      Darwin's  and the Grants' Studies of the Galapagos Finches
      Morgan's and Benzer's Studies of Fruit Flies
      Johanson's and the Leakeys' Discoveries of Hominid Fossils
 Universal Processes
      Calusius' Concept of Entropy
      Poincare's and Feigenbaum's Theories of Chaos
      Guth's and Hawking's Inflationary Models of the Universe

Rationale for the course: ARSC 104 enables students to develop critical perspectives concerning the nature of scientific thinking and the roles of scientific discovery and invention over the history of human endeavor.  By learning how the same fundamental viewpoints underlie the efforts of scientists in diverse disciplines students will develop the realization that the core of scientific investigation consists of ways of thinking about the world that can be applied to any field of study and to life situations.  Within the course students choose specific scientists and topics to pursue in more detail and also work in groups on problems involving practical applications of scientific information and concepts.  By following the various steps taken by scientists through the labyrinth of actual research students will understand that science is a human undertaking requiring attitudes and skills that are applicable to non-scientific fields.



Assignments and Tests:

Autobiographical Sketch: Read over my autobiographical sketch under the Instructor's Bio heading in the course web pages. Compose a similar sketch for yourself. You may do this offline and then highlight and copy it. Get into the WebCT part of the course and click on Discussions. Compose your autobiographical sketch and post it in Discussions. This sketch is worth 15 points.

Biographical Sketches: For each chapter pick out 1 scientist and use the World Wide Web and/or library references to write a 1-page sketch of the life of the scientist. One library reference is the Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Include in your sketch personal information in addition to professional accomplishments. Each sketch is worth up to 25 points. Post your sketch in Discussions.

Objectives: As you read each chapter pick out 9 of the objectives, write out answers and send them to me via Mail within the WebCT part of the course. Each objective is worth 5 points, so each chapter is worth 45 points.

Topical Updates: For each chapter pick out one topic and use the World Wide Web and/or library material to write a 2-page update of the more recent developments in that field of study. Each update is worth up to 25 points. Post your update in Discussions.

Problem Solving Activities: For each chapter there is one problem.  A group of students and I work on a problem in a chat room.  Each problem is worth up to 20 points.

Examinations: Tests will be carried out on a rolling basis. When you have finished reading the three chapters of a unit, go to the Course Content section and do the set of short-answer and general essay questions worth a total of 150 points. The tests are open-book. Submit your answers to me via Mail.

Extra Credit: Read Chapters 10-12 dealing with the quantifying perspective. Do all the objectives and one topical update for each chapter. All this is worth up to 150 points.

Total Points:  Your final grade in the course will be based on a percentage of the total number of regular available points (1500). 



 Autobiographical Sketch


 Biographical Sketches




 Topical Updates


 Problem Solving Activities




 Total Points


 Extra Credit



Final Points

 Letter Grade

 1350 or more


 1200 - 1349


 1050 - 1199


 900 - 1049


 899 or less


Additional Requirements: None

Grading Policy: After I grade a homework assignment, I will let you know which answers were incorrect. You may resubmit answers for those questions.

Attendance Policy: Students are urged to participate in chat sessions at 9:30 p.m. on Sundays to discuss material and get advice on assignments.


Course Materials: My book Great Perspectives in Science is posted in the Course Content part of the WebCT section of the course. The chapters in the textbook consist of overviews and case histories. You will be looking up supplementary material on the World Wide Web and/or in the library.

Special procedures: None

List of dated assignments: Suggested dates for the various assignments are shown on the calendar in the WebCT section.


Here are some tips you should follow which will help you to succeed in this course:



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Updated: July 8, 2008 

The Community College of Baltimore County