Fall 2020 Keck Science Department Course Summaries
This year has been an extraordinary year. Faculty and staff have been working diligently to bring our rich on campus learning experience online. We have summarized our course information as we adapt them online. Please contact us should you have any questions.
Basic Principles of Chemistry (CHEM 14L)
Chemistry 14LKS will be fully online this Fall semester. The faculty have worked closely to create an online curriculum that will teach you all the important concepts while still providing the welcoming community you expect from a small liberal arts college.
There will be one fully synchronous online course taught by Professor Fucaloro (MWF 11:20-12:10). All other sections will combine synchronous and asynchronous learning modules. These sections will have some content (pre-recorded lectures, worksheets, activities) posted online and will meet synchronously only twice per week. The synchronous meetings will be broken down into smaller groups where students will work on problem sets, worksheets and activities with their classmates, professor and a peer educator (an upper level chemistry mentor).
One of these sections (section 1, MWF 8:40-9:30) will be restricted and students can enroll by permission only. This section, reserved for first-time, first year students who identify as having weaker high school science and mathematics preparation, will be smaller and require an additional synchronous hour (Wed 7:20-8:10) to develop quantitative and problem-solving skills. Students interested in this section should email Professor Hatcher-Skeers (firstname.lastname@example.org) explaining their background in math and science.
We are super excited to present our “at-home” general chemistry lab program. We will be shipping all the supplies you need for your general chemistry experiments right to your door! Students will be testing dyes and determining sugar content in popular beverages, testing their local water supply for hardness, pH and contaminants, using augmented reality to study molecular shapes and much more.
Students will work on their experiments asynchronously then meet with a small group of their peers for 2 hours each week (Mondays or Tuesdays from 1-3 or 7-9 pm) to discuss their results and prepare their reports. Faculty and peer mentors will be available to answer any questions during these 2-hour sessions. Capstone lab experiences will include a short formal paper (with many opportunities for drafts and peer editing) and a final group presentation on their water project.
We have adopted an Open Education Resource (OER) text, Chemistry, Atoms First, 2nd ed, this year. It is available at Open Stax (link below) where you may download the pdf version free. If you decide you would like to purchase a hardcopy, there are purchase options available on the website.
Land, Air, and Ocean Science (CHEM 70L)
CHEM70L (Land, Air, and Ocean Science) will be taught completely online for Fall 2020, using both asynchronous and synchronous techniques. Students will prepare for Zoom class meetings asynchronously by watching short pre-recorded video lectures anytime that is convenient for them before the class meeting. The entire class will meet with on both Tuesday and Thursday synchronously during the normally scheduled class time, 2:30 – 3:45 pm PT. This time will be used for discussions about the assigned readings, group problem solving, and for people to ask any questions they may have on the material presented in the lectures. We will use breakout rooms so students can work on the problem-solving activity for the day with their peers, building a sense of community while having easy access to me for asking questions. By taking advantage of shared screen and electronic white board technology, students will be able to see me clearly and legibly work through sample problems in real-time. Lab meetings will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm, PT. For this, students will be broken into two groups, and each group will meet every other week. We will use a mixture of online lab experiments and videos I will record of myself doing some of the experiments in a chemistry lab. The results will be analyzed by students working in pairs in breakout rooms. Together we will learn about the world around us and begin to tease out the ways chemistry really is all around, making the world awesome!
Organic Chemistry (CHEM 116L)
In first-semester Organic Chemistry all class sections will provide a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and all will cover the same material and rely on the same textbook, Organic Chemistry by Paula Bruice, 8th edition. Sections will vary somewhat in their structure. Some will rely principally on a synchronous lecture (with opportunities for later review of that lecture) and problem sessions. Other sections will rely on pre-recorded mini-lectures to be watched in advance of class with class time then being used to discuss the video lessons and develop problem-solving skills through worksheets and activities. This in-class work will be done working with classmates, a peer educator (an upper level chemistry mentor) and the professor.
Organic lab will be online. Our major topics will be computational chemistry, science writing, and spectroscopy. There will be mixture of synchronous and asynchronous learning with emphasis on student community and collaboration. Topics will relate to lecture content and/or current events. There will be a small number of kitchen chemistry activities.
Quantum Chemistry (CHEM 122)
Quantum chemistry will be taught completely online for Fall 2020, using both asynchronous and synchronous techniques. Students will prepare for Zoom class meetings asynchronously by watching short pre-recorded video lectures anytime that is convenient for them before the class meeting. The class will be split into two groups for Zoom meetings, 12 people in each group. I will meet with each group on both Tuesday and Thursday synchronously for 45 minutes during the normally scheduled class time, 9:15 – 10:30 am PT. This time will be used for group problem solving and for people to ask any questions they may have on the material presented in the lectures. We will use breakout rooms so students can work on the problem-solving activity for the day with their peers, building a sense of community while having easy access to me for asking questions. By taking advantage of shared screen and electronic white board technology, students will be able to see me clearly and legibly work through problems in real-time. To make sure the groups get mixed up, I will post a sign-up sheet on Sakai each week, and people will be able to sign up for the time slot of their choice, either the first half of the class or the second half. Sign-ups will be on a first come, first served basis. I will have ample time set aside for both group office hours as well as individual appointments. Together we will learn the basics of quantum mechanics and how these physical ideas lay the groundwork for the chemical theories you have learned about since general chemistry.
Advanced Laboratory in Chemistry (CHEM 126L)
This fall Advanced Laboratory in Chemistry (Chem 126L) will be co-taught by Babak Sanii and Ethan Van Arnam as an online-only class. Student experiences in this course will include:
Labs in which you specify parameters, real samples are analyzed remotely, and you analyze the resulting data.
Computational chemistry, where you perform chemistry calculations and model molecular behavior.
Labs that you run at home (or wherever you are) that tackle real chemistry questions using simple, safe materials.
Taking live virtual tours of high-end chemistry facilities around the world.
Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 128)
My current plan is that Inorganic chemistry this year will take place in three main modes: community meetings, drop-in office hours, and workshop meetings. The community meetings will be 75 minutes, over Zoom, twice a week. 15 minutes (roughly) will be taken up by a discussion of the memoir/novel Uncle Tungsten, with a focus on thinking about the human side of science—how we became the scientists we are, and how that’s a product of the people and identities which brought us here. 60 minutes (roughly) will be dedicated to mini-lectures and working whiteboard problems that will be the foundation for the weekly homework, which is the backbone of the course. Each student, whether on campus or off-campus, will have their own whiteboard and Rocketbook Beacons shipped to them so that we can easily share whiteboards during community meetings. There will be some (asynchronous) mini-lectures as well that will help students prepare for community meetings. Drop-in office hours are self-explanatory, and also over Zoom, and are intended to meet students’ individual needs. Workshop meetings are the signature difference we’ll bring to this iteration of the class—they are a halfway point between drop-in office hours and community meetings. Students will form groups of 3-4 and will have a scheduled time to meet with me to workshop problems twice a week (either homework or other problems we select). If one or more campuses is in-person, these workshop meetings will be the in-person component for those students. The students in a group may cancel a workshop if they feel they don’t need it, but it’s opt-out, whereas office hours are opt-in. I expect to see you every week in community meetings, most weeks in workshop, and some weeks in office hours.
Environmental Chemistry (CHEM 139)
Environmental Chemistry will be taught completely online this semester. In addition to learning about how chemistry is involved in air, water, and soil systems and the generation of different types of energy, we are going to work on a collaborative project with students at the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Bangkok. A Khlong (canal) system in Bangkok historically was used for transportation and floating markets. Many of these canals have been filled in, but the Thornburi side of Bangkok still has larger Khlongs and a mixture of housing and agricultural land surrounding them. The Thai government is interested in assessing the environmental condition of the waterways and developing solutions to revitalize the area. Citizen scientists in Bangkok are going to take water quality, air quality, weather and canal usage (how many boats go by certain locations and how many cyclist/pedestrians use the paths that exist on some parts of the canals) measurements. Claremont Colleges and KMUTT students will work together to analyze the data and develop creative ways to present their findings to the public and government officials. During the semester, we will also have presentations about environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific by faculty in the region.
Introductory Biology (BIOL 43L)
The ongoing pandemic has illuminated how important science is to solve real-world problems. Introductory Biology exposes students to broad biology fields. Biology 43 focuses on the molecular basis, as well as structural and functional units of living systems. Biology 43 will be completely online this fall semester.
The structure of each lecture section may vary, but all will include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning modules. The sections will meet synchronously during regular meeting times (2 or 3 times per week). Sections may also be broken down into subsections to facilitate active engagement with course material, while incorporating community-building and collaborative learning. For example, synchronous sections may highlight case studies, break into small groups for problem-solving, utilize electronic white boards, or discuss lecture concepts. Each section will provide pre-recorded mini lectures, readings, activities, study questions or worksheets for students to study asynchronously before Zoom meetings. Each instructor will also hold regular office hours. All sections will utilize the textbook Brooker’s Biology, 4th edition (both physical copies and e-books are available).
Are you concerned about how human lung cells are affected by pollutants? Do you wonder how dairy is metabolized? Join the discovery team to find it out! The online Bio43 Lab in the fall semester will create new opportunities for students to embark on an adventure for research experience. Students as researchers will practice posing questions, reading scientific papers, analyzing data, and proposing hypotheses based on evidence. Students will also conduct the computational planning phases for a molecular cloning project of identifying and cloning genes of interest. To exercise team-working skills students will form groups and present their projects in a virtual symposium at the end of the semester. Although most work can be completed asynchronously, each lab section will meet weekly (up to) 3-hour session to discuss projects with the instructors and peer mentors, as well as work with the virtual labmates to facilitate collaborative learning. Lab sections are scheduled each weekday at 2:30-5:30 pm PT and 7-10 pm PT Wednesday and Thursday. We are excited to take the adventure in biological research with you in the fall!
Conservation Ecology (BIOL 67L)
This class will be an open-ended, discussion and project- based experience. There are no fixed topics. The class will identify current issues and questions in conservation ecology to work on together. We will then deepen our understanding of those topics through finding, sharing, and commenting on materials from both the primary scientific literature and online media resources. The class will be offered completely online, but if conditions permit there will be optional opportunities for students on campus to work at the Bernard Field Station. Our time online will combine asynchronous (contribute, review and comment on materials) and synchronous (Zoom full class or small group discussions) experiences. Students will produce a series of articles on course topics aimed at the general public, such as blog posts. In lab, students will develop small-group research projects mostly done online, using tools like Google Earth to collect observations. The class will also offer opportunities to design research that can be set up at Keck by those who are on campus, either the instructor or, if possible, members of the class.
Vertebrate Physiology (BIOL 131L)
Vertebrate Physiology will be a remote class that will use a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Some class periods will feature live lectures (that will also be recorded). While other classes will have pre-recorded lectures with a flipped classroom during the normal meeting time. Additionally, we will read and discuss scientific papers both in class and on discussion boards on Sakai. Labs will consist of a variety of different activities including analyzing videos, carrying out simulated experiments using software programs, basic at-home experiments (using things like heart rate and respiratory rate), performing data analyses of previously collected data, and experiments where students will establish specified parameters and direct me while I am in the lab via zoom. Further, we will write partial and full lab reports where we will analyze and interpret data. The textbook we will be using is the Fourth Edition of Animal Physiology by Hill et al.
Disease Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 184L)
Lecture: (TR 11-12:15)
Disease Ecology and Evolution will follow a flipped classroom model with short pre-recorded videos or assigned pre-class readings. Thus, class time can be used for activities, discussions and digging deeper into the material. While synchronous participation is highly encouraged, options for asynchronous participation will be made available for those who can attend during class time. There is no textbook.
Lab: (R 12:45-4:45)
What a fitting time to learn disease modeling! Computer modeling is the main focus as we delve into epidemiology, network models of transmission, and detecting differences in infection among groups (no coding experience necessary). Fortunately, Zoom breakout rooms are great for sharing code and working together so there are few curricular changes from in-person instruction. While synchronous participation is highly encouraged for immediate peer collaboration and instructor feedback, asynchronous learning will be facilitated. We’ll also use a card game to explore co-evolutionary dynamics (e.g. how virus evolution is shaped by vaccines) in a fully asynchronous lab - so you might receive a deck of cards on the mail! We will also utilize some lab time to focus on scientific communication about the pandemic (collaboration with Pitzer’s Center for Community Engagement in progress).
Ecology (BIOL 146L)
Will be taught by asynchronous online lectures, together with weekly Zoom-based question-and-answer tutorials. The lab will consist of online data analysis tutorials.
Evolution (BIOL 145)
Will be taught by asynchronous online lectures, together with weekly Zoom-based question-and-answer tutorials.
Molecular Biology (BIOL 170L)
Molecular Biology with lab will be fully online this fall and will include both asynchronous and synchronous components. Students will prepare for Zoom class meetings asynchronously by watching short pre-recorded video lectures anytime that is convenient for them before the class meeting; some lectures will be on iBiology.org. They will also annotate articles for discussion using the platform Perusall prior to meeting. The class will meet Tuesday and Thursday synchronously, 7:45-8:45 am PT and after lab on Thursday, 4:00-5:30 pm PT to accommodate time zone challenges. This time will be used for group discussion of the review and research articles with an emphasis on the data figures, which will be shared on screen. We will use breakout rooms so students can discuss article annotations with their peers, building a sense of community while having easy access to me for asking questions. I will have ample time set aside for both group office hours as well as individual appointments.
Lab will include both asynchronous and synchronous learning. In lab on Thursday afternoon PT (12:45-3:45), students will design experiments to epitope-tag a gene of interest in yeast using CRISPR/Cas9 and will watch videos of cloning experiments prior to lab time. Students will analyze the data from the yeast strain construction process, working with a lab team. The other lab activities include a deep dive into current molecular biology methods, such as ribosome profiling and crosslinking/immunoprecipitation (CLIP) strategies, and writing a research proposal based on data exploration in the yeast genome database (yeastgenome.org). Finally, there will be a few guest lectures from scientists at labs in industry and academia.
Cell Biology (BIOL 157L)
In this course we will be meeting online-only and learning through asynchronous lectures and synchronous class time emphasizing cooperative learning and active discussions. In the lab you will cover a variety of techniques used to answer questions in cell biology and will focus on data analysis and experimental design. You will be part of citizen scientist projects, manage real samples analyzed remotely, and even do your own experiments using safe materials wherever you are!
Developmental Biology (BIOL 151L)
This advanced biology course will be taught online in the fall of 2020. Although the lectures and labs will be largely synchronous, they will all be recorded and posted on the course Sakai site. During Tuesday lectures we will cover foundational concepts underlying important processes in animal development. On Thursdays, we will discuss landmark scientific studies of those topics published in journal articles. The article discussions will be led by students. In the laboratory component of the course, we will perform comparative analyses of ovary and testis development using microscopic imaging data of these tissues. Working in groups, students will identify novel morphological differences between closely related insect species and propose hypotheses to explain those differences. Thus, despite the remote nature of this course, the lab activities will involve real research. Another emphasis of the lab will be the “art” of figure-building (i.e., visual portrayal of data and patterns/trends). The course will provide weekly opportunities for individual student-instructor discussions of the assigned concepts and activities.
Cell Cycle, Diseases and Aging (BIOL 158)
Are you curious about how forever-young cancer cells are connected to prematurely senile cells? In Biology 158 students will explore the principles of cell cycle regulation and apply the concepts to the mechanisms of cancer development and premature aging. The course is featured with the active roles that students play in the learning process, including problem-based discussion of topics in the field, related research papers, and questions relevant to the real world. The active learning format of the course is transferable for developing into an online course offered this fall semester with both synchronous and asynchronous components. Lecture materials, readings, and study/discussion questions will be provided for students to study asynchronously before Zoom meetings. Taking advantage of the small class size, the entire class will meet synchronously twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday 2:30-3:45 pm. The class time will be used for lecture, discussion, and activities to facilitate problem-based learning. Students will form groups to lead paper discussion to foster collaborative learning and community building. I am excited about the opportunity to explore the field with you in a novel way. How about you?
Applied Biostatistics (BIOL 175)
This Fall, Applied Biostatistics (KS-BIOL175) will be taught as an online-only class; yet, this class will emphasize an engaging curriculum focusing on applied statistical theory, programming in R, and performing data manipulation and result assessment. Students will leave this class having a strong command of applying statistical analyses to biological data! Students enrolled in this course will experience course outcomes focused on understanding the what, when, and why of Applied Statistics, namely: manipulating and assessing data structures, experimental design, results visualization, comparing one and two-groups, comparing multiple groups, linear regression modeling, tests of independence and goodness-of-fit analyses, multivariate analyses, and more. Since a major focus of this course will rely on performing these analyses, students will gain experience in understanding and applying the R-programming language, which is easily facilitated via screen sharing over Zoom. Course material will be covered by a combination of asynchronous and synchronous learning; a portion of lecture material will be provided ahead of time, allowing synchronous portions of the course to focus more on engagement with the material, planned class discussions, breakout rooms, and live R-coding sessions and walkthroughs. Broadly, office hours will be facilitated over Zoom; set office-hours will be available for drop-in, and additional office hours can be scheduled outside of the set times. Lastly, guest lectures from statisticians across multiple disciplines (ecology, communications and media, etc.) will help expose students to the breadth and application of statistical analyses. I will be using other resources (Sakai, YouTube, etc.) to carry out these goals and objectives.
Neuro 2 (NEUR/BIOL 149)
Neuroscience 2: Systems will be taught online in Fall 2020. Similar to the in-person form of this course, we will use both synchronous and asynchronous approaches to learning that are active and highly interactive. Students will prepare for the week by completing the assigned readings*, watching a pre-recorded lecture video, and completing a short homework set on Sakai. There will be opportunities to ask and answer questions together on Sakai and face-to-face during synchronous class time and/or during office hours. We will meet synchronously as a class via Zoom once per week for whole-class discussions, small group work in breakout rooms, and group projects. Both our synchronous and asynchronous work will be critical to building our neuroscience community, learning about Systems Neuroscience, and investigating ways that neuroscience is relevant to other STEM fields and to the public. *Textbook: the textbook for this course is being finalized, and I will update the class via email and Portal in advance.
Neuroendocrinology (NEUR/BIOL 161)
Neuroendocrinology will be taught online in Fall 2020. Similar to the in-person form of this course, we will use both synchronous and asynchronous approaches to learning that are active and highly interactive. Students will prepare for the week by completing the assigned reading in our excellent textbook, An Introduction to Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (5th ed) by Randy Nelson and Lance Kriegsfeld, watching a pre-recorded lecture video, and submitting a homework assignment. There will be opportunities to share interesting neuroendocrinology topics and to ask / answer questions together on Sakai and face-to-face during synchronous class time, as well as during office hours. We will meet synchronously as a class via Zoom once per week for whole-class discussions, small group work in breakout rooms, and meeting with guest scientists. Both our synchronous and asynchronous work will be critical to building our community, learning about behavioral neuroendocrinology, and investigating ways that neuroendocrinology is relevant to other STEM fields and to the public.
Biogeography (BIOL 147)
This is an upper division seminar course, with a strong emphasis on reading and understanding the primary literature. The class will be taught in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online formats. The textbook is available for free through the library or students choose to buy a paper copy. Class time will focus on discussion of reading assignments using jigsaws and other group discussion methods. Because this is a small course, I plan to survey students on their learning preferences, such as pre-class videos vs. reading assignments, and group vs. individual projects at the start of the semester.
General Physics (PHYS 30L)
LECTURE Sections #1 and #3 (Prof. Higdon) : This is an online introductory physics course for life science majors. An on-line weekly lab is a course requirement. Some familiarity with the basics of first semester calculus is expected. All tests and home-works will entail solving problems.
Class time is limited in this shortened semester. Consequently, students are required to read presentations of the physical principles in question before class, as well as participate in subsequent group problem-solving sessions related with the previously read presentations. I will have several scheduled times outside of classes for students to thrash out informally the contents of the assigned readings. Note that all tests and home-works will entail solving problems. Thus, the in-class component of this course will focus on problem solving with only a very short presentation of the principles involved. Reading the relevant material prior to class is critical. To increase a student’s opportunity to contribute to class discussions, students will attend one of the three scheduled problem sessions each week. An individual’s participation in the problem sessions will be part of a student’s grade and the attendance at one problem session each week is mandatory.
LECTURE Section #2 (Prof. Marzen) : This is the introductory physics course for life science majors. As such, efforts are made in the homework and lectures to connect physical principles to biological phenomena. By the end of class, students will be able to explain how physical principles affect everything from blood flow to bone structure. Class formats are entirely online and will vary but will have synchronous and asynchronous components. Students will be asked to read ahead in the textbook and complete a pre-quiz (graded only on completion) before each class. Synchronous components during the scheduled class time include short lectures on the Zoom whiteboard and demonstrations where appropriate, paired with individual and group practice problems, which use the “breakout room” feature on Zoom. In an effort to build an online community that will enhance learning, potentially via the creation of informal study groups, there will be meet-and-greet events on a platform like Gatherly and extended office hours.
LABS: All Physics 30 labs will be conducted live, online, via Zoom. Students will have access to our regular laboratory software (Pasco's Capstone software) on their personal computers, allowing them to directly analyze data collected by their lab instructor. Although labs will be taught remotely, the lab sessions will be "live," with the lab instructor actively supervising and supporting the students throughout the process. Additionally, students will be mailed individual "physics kits" allowing them to carry out several hands-on experiments.
Principles of Physics (PHYS 33L)
This is the first course in our introductory physics sequence. It focuses on classical mechanics (e.g., forces, torques, energy, momentum, angular momentum, oscillations, and thermodynamics). This course is designed for potential physics majors and engineering students and is normally taken in the Fall semester of a student’s first year. Many of our biophysics and chemistry majors also take this course. (See also Physics 30 for life science majors.) Professor Setter will teach sections #1,2 and Professor Landsberg section #3.
LECTURES : All Physics 33 lectures will be taught live, online, via Zoom; sessions will also be recorded and posted for student viewing. In keeping with our small college, liberal arts tradition, classes will feature a great deal of interactions between students (such as in small Zoom breakout groups) and with the professor. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively in small teams and are never graded against one another.
LABS : Everyone has an opinion, but do you know how to turn yours into a scientific statement? Each student will be mailed a box of items, including components to build a catapult and a high precision 6-axis sensor, for performing multiple guided experiments from home, with their own hands. Working in small groups with fellow classmates during virtual class sessions, s tudents will learn to design experiments, perform statistical analyses on their data, and communicate their results. The course will culminate with each student presenting the results of an experiment of their own design.
Modern Physics (PHYS 35)
Modern Physics provides a rigorous introduction to the physics theories governing the very fast (Special Relativity) and the very small (Quantum Mechanics). As such, it provides a framework for making sense of the charmingly counterintuitive behavior of such fast/small objects as photons, electrons, and atoms. The course will invite students to both solve quantitative problems and also to reflect on the dramatic epistemic shifts entailed by Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity. Additionally, students will gain fluency using a Computer Algebra System to solve physics problems.
Class periods will be taught live, online, via Zoom, with recordings posted for student viewing. Live engagement is preferred, but optional, asynchronous engagement options may be provided. Class sessions will be highly interactive, employing Zoom breakout rooms, anonymous polling, an online whiteboard, and computer applets in novel ways tailored to the particular physics topics at hand.
Outside of class, students will collaborate and reflect on the material using Sakai Forums. A two-pass grading system will be employed, giving students the opportunity to correct gaps in their understanding, and thus to establish a virtuous cognitive feedback loop. Students will not be anonymous to the instructor and will not be anonymous to each other.
Elementary Astronomy (ASTR 66L)
This course, designed primarily for non-science majors, gives a survey of modern astronomy, emphasizing the interrelationships among phenomena. Astro66 will be fully online and follow a flipped classroom format. Students will be asked to watch a series of short, pre-recorded lecture videos and answer follow up questions. Synchronous class time on Zoom will have discussion, and the opportunity for students to work through a set of tutorials in breakout rooms. Labs will give students an opportunity to explore the physical processes behind the astronomical concepts learned in class. Participation during synchronous discussion and lab time is strongly encouraged, but options will be available for asynchronous completion of work. Students are responsible for completing tutorial and lab work, but can do so in a manner that best fits their learning style. The flexibility in the schedule will provide students ample opportunity to learn about and discuss topics they find most fascinating. The content of Astr066 lends itself well to an online format: we will discuss how astronomers study the universe, we will view hundreds of visually dynamic images, and we will learn the conceptual relationships that connect them all.
Additional LAB information for Astro:
Synchronous attendance at lab sessions is highly encouraged. However, for those students in time zones which would make attendance in lab difficult, the labs can be done asynchronously. Labs will make use of online simulators such as CU Boulder's PHET simulators and astronomical databases such as the Sloane Digital Sky Survey and/or the Zooniverse. There will be two opportunities to do naked eye night sky observing: once at the beginning of the semester and once at the end, to see how the night sky changes with time. These night observing sessions will be done asynchronously to accommodate students in different time zones, but students will receive a detailed set of instructions as to how to proceed.”
Classical Mechanics (PHYS 101)
This upper-division classical mechanics course introduces students to new ways of thinking about the motion of objects. The new mathematical tools that we will use end up imparting new, powerful physical insight. This class will be entirely online and will have asynchronous and synchronous components. Students will be asked to read ahead in the textbook and fill out a pre-quiz, graded only on completion. During scheduled class times, the instructor will give short lectures on the Zoom whiteboard and will ask students to solve practice problems individually and in groups using the “breakout room” feature on Zoom. In an effort to build an online community that will enhance learning, potentially via the creation of informal study groups, there will be meet-and-great events on a platform like Gatherly and extended office hours.
Programming for Science and Engineering (PHYS 108)
This is an online introductory computer science course. No familiarity with programming is assumed. All tests and home-works will entail solving problems.
Class time is limited in this shortened semester. Consequently, students are required to read presentations of the programming principles in question before class, as well as participate in subsequent group problem-solving sessions related with the previously read presentations. If needed, I will have several scheduled times outside of classes for students to thrash out informally the contents of the assigned readings.
Note that all tests and home-works will entail solving problems. Thus, the in-class component of this course will focus on problem solving via MATLAB with only a very short presentation of the computer principles involved. Reading the relevant material prior to class is critical. To increase a student’s opportunity to contribute to class discussions, students will attend one of the two scheduled problem sessions each week. An individual’s participation in the problem sessions will be part of a student’s grade and the attendance at one problem session each week is mandatory.
Statistical Physics (PHYS 115)
This upper-division physics course focuses on the fundamental principles that allow us to understand the behaviors of highly complex systems made up of large numbers of particles. Applications to neutron stars, black holes, photon gases, formation of diamonds, efficiencies of engines, blackbody radiation, magnetism, and sound waves, will be discussed. All lectures will be taught live, online, via Zoom; sessions will also be recorded and posted for student viewing. In place of a final exam, students will work in small teams on a statistical physics project. Examples of projects from last year’s students include the formation of social hierarchies, car parking strategies, modeling college housing decisions, statistical models of impact of voter zealotry, and statistical physics applications to medical diagnostics.
Oceanography (EA 104)
Oceanography is a multidisciplinary science that applies geology, chemistry, physics, and biology to the study of the oceans. We’re fortunate that there is a plethora of oceanographic data and resources publicly available that we’ll be able to work with. Tentatively, each week will have some pre-class work (a reading or video, for example), a synchronous class discussion to go over concepts as a class and in small break out groups, and one activity that engages with oceanographic resources or data. Through the semester, we will research, write, and present a review on an oceanographic topic to practice science communication and delve deeper into a topic of your choice.