Brandon Dearmond Finley
B CUSP 140
Offers introductory practice in laboratory and quantitative techniques, a history of one or more of the sciences, and reflection on the relationship between science and its function in the larger society. Topics vary. Offered: AWSp.
This course will be built around the topic of weather. We will examine the science of weather with qualitative conceptual understanding and some quantitative experiments and analysis. In addition to the science, we will look at the history of weather and the link between weather and society.
Student learning goals
Qualitatively explain and discuss common weather phenomena - clouds, precipitation, wind, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.
Understand, discuss, and explain the differences between climate and weather. Be able to explain the different natural and human influences on these two topics.
Discuss and analyze the role of major weather drivers - energy, Earth's orbit, water, pressure, and temperature. You should also know how natural and human pressures affect these components of Earth.
Be able to use some quantitative tools to look at patterns and analyze information to draw conclusions - averages, deviations, graphs, charts, and maps.
Understand the role of uncertainty in making weather predictions. Quantitatively calculate uncertainty and discuss how uncertainty is understood by scientists and the public.
You should be able to discuss and analyze the relationship between weather science and the broader society. You should understand the advantages and disadvantages of current science practices (satellite measurements, computer models, etc) and how those practices influence public perception and decision making.
General method of instruction
Instruction will consist of a mixture of methods including lectures, discussions, and experiments. Lectures are used for delivering information, defining terms, and explaining conceptual material. Discussions or group work are better suited to analyzing differing viewpoints or developing arguments. Where it is appropriate we will use experiments or computer simulations to observe and practice some of the quantitative methods that scientists use as part of their work.
There are major prerequisites. The following skills, however, will make your experience more enjoyable:
1) Strong reading skills will be helpful as the course will involve significant reading.
2) Writing skills will also be necessary as the course involves several writing assignments. In particular, the ability to make a sound argument and provide evidence in support of your argument is necessary.
3) Basic math (addition, subtraction, order of operations, averages, etc) will be necessary for the quantitative portions of the course.
4) Experience with a statistics and graphing program (Microsoft Excel, Matlab, SPSS, etc) will also be helpful when creating graphs and analyzing numerical data.
Class assignments and grading
I try to give different types of assignments to see the material from different perspectives (and to relieve boredom). We will use readings, writing assignments, computer simulations, demonstrations, experiments, short quizzes (in class), and electronic work (via Blackboard). We may also use debates, group work, or field work depending on the topic and how well they lend themselves to the material.
Grading will be done using rubrics rather than points, with each assignment weighted for length and difficulty. I prefer this over point-based systems of grading because it allows me more flexibility and is similar to how your performance will be evaluated in the professional world.
Grades will be assigned based on:
1) participation (discussions, group work, experiments, etc) 2) quality of submitted work (writing, argument skills, etc) 3) performance on in-class work (quizzes, exams, group work, etc)
Grades will be given as letters (A-, B, C+, etc). These letters will be converted to numerical values at the end of the quarter to calculate a final GPA value.