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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brandon Dearmond Finley
B CUSP 110
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core I: The Natural World

Examines an important social issue such as ecology, the role of technology in society, bioethics, or global and local health concerns through interdisciplinary investigation, and the disciplined scientific study of the natural world. Offered: A.

Class description

This course will be built around the topic of weather. We will examine the science of weather with an emphasis on both qualitative conceptual understanding and quantitative experiments and analysis. Beyond the science, we will examine the role of weather on society through its links to economics, history, and even the collapse of entire civilizations.

Student learning goals

Students will be able to write using an evidence-based, persuasive approach. This includes the ability to research, critically analyze, evaluate information. Students should be able to create an argument and support that argument with relevant details.

Qualitatively and quantitatively explain and discuss common weather phenomena - clouds, precipitation, wind, hurricanes, etc. Explain how weather is related to energy and energy balance.

Use quantitative techniques to look at patterns and trends - averages, deviations, graphs, charts, and maps. Use these techniques to draw conclusions or make predictions about weather.

Understand and discuss the relationship between weather, science, and society. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of current science practices (satellite measurements, computer models, etc) and how those practices influence public perception and decision making.

Become familiar with the requirements, work load, and expectations of the university in terms of grading, quality of work, and the services offered to improve your experience here.

General method of instruction

Instruction will consist of a mixture of methods. We will use traditional lectures, regular in-class work (individual and group), hands-on experiments, and discussions.

Lectures will be relatively short. They will complement the assigned reading, not replace it. They are mostly used for delivering information, defining terms, and explaining conceptual material.

Discussions, group work, and class work will be used to apply the material to many different situations. Where possible we will use experiments or possibly computer simulations to observe and practice some of the quantitative methods that scientists use as part of their work.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites. The following skills will make your experience more enjoyable:

1) Strong reading skills. There will be significant reading.

2) Basic writing skills will be necessary. The course involves a significant amount of writing. You should be able to create an argument and support that argument with evidence. We will practice this in class, but it will help to know the basics beforehand.

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 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, relieve boredom, and give you a chance to do different types of things. We will use readings, written assignments, observations, experiments, quizzes, visual media (presentations, posters, etc), and electronic work (via Canvas). We will also do group work and field work for some topics.

All assignments are assigned a point value. Your total percentage of points will determine the final GPA value. More difficult or time-consuming assignments are worth more points. Assignments are not weighted and are not curved.

The largest portions of the grade will be:

1) Class participation (discussions, group work, experiments, etc) 2) Weekly question sets. These consist of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. 3) Visual media such as posters or presentations. You will create at least one visual presentation during the quarter. 4) Regular quizzes that cover the assigned reading and topic. 5) A final, comprehensive project.

Assignments are graded on the following criteria: 1) participation (for in-class work) 2) quality of work you submit 3) how well you meet the stated criteria for each assignment 4) depth of thought and persuasiveness shown in your writing


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brandon Dearmond Finley
Date: 06/07/2013