Physical Science 350

PHSC 350

Catalog Entry

PHSC 350. Physical Science
Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory (4).

Prerequisite: General education science sequence.

An analysis and synthesis of various energy systems of the physical world.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

PHSC 350. Physical Science, incorporates all science disciplines including biological and life sciences, earth and space science, and physical science. The course stresses the development of process skills and fosters a positive attitude and appreciation for science through the use of hands-on activities. Students are involved in individual and team problem solving situations, and are encouraged to assist each other. Students participate in classroom discussions on developing critical thinking skills. Those planning to teach examine the role of the teacher in the classroom, the importance of hands-on activities, child developmental theory, and science education. Others study science topics in which they are interested. Students study ways to promote positive classroom experiences, and how science and technology affect personal lives.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Hands-on activities focus on the development of process skills and use specific discipline content to enhance that objective. For example, students develop observation, data collection and analysis skills while monitoring a plant's growth over a period of several weeks, through investigation of unknown powders using common indicators, and through the study of daytime astronomy and moon observations. An interdisciplinary approach is used to promote an integrated curriculum, including the social impact of science and technology.

Each activity conducted is not learned solely for knowing the subject involved, be it physics, biology, or earth and space science. The activities cut across traditional subject matter areas. Activities are designed to produce proficiency in the processes of science. Processes such as observation, measurement, experimentation, prediction, inference, and analysis are a part of each science discipline.

Several environmental education topics further integrate the science disciplines of biology, earth and space science, and physical science. The activities promote critical and creative thinking as the students search for solutions to environmental technical problems. The social and personal impact of science and technology is investigated through activities and discussions of energy production, usage and conservation. Additional areas include an examination of recycling, and exponential growth of populations. Several topics conclude with science applications that are used in everyday life. For example, during an investigation of floating and sinking objects, the students are asked to float a straw vertically, and compare how it floats in liquids of different densities. In effect, the students have built their own hydrometers and a discussion follows where students describe how their "new" instrument can be used.

The activities are used to promote the development of thinking skills including inductive and deductive reasoning. Activities include investigating liquid rise in a tube placed over a lit candle in a tray of water, the generation and nature of gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen, and simple circuits using batteries and flashlight bulbs. In all cases, the student is actively involved in planning the investigation, predicting outcomes, interpreting results, drawing conclusions, testing hypotheses, and communicating results to individuals and to the group. Other activities include determining factors which affect the rate a liquid climbs different types of paper held vertically, factors influencing the period of a pendulum, and factors that determine the amount of solute that dissolves.

Activities are designed to be challenging, intriguing, and solvable. Students complete the activities with a sense of accomplishment, which fosters the development of positive attitudes towards science.

The student is required to investigate a science topic of his/her choice and design a report. Those planning to be teachers teach the topic using hands-on activities that are appropriate for the grade level he/she is planning to teach. The student is then required to prepare a written report detailing the lesson plan, assessment method, and literature supporting his/her type of activity. Those not planning to teach present an oral and written report of the topics they studied.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The student will be able:

1. To use problem-solving strategies necessary to be scientifically literate;
2. To organize and interpret data and construct bar, circle, and line graphs;
3. To identify resource materials and use methods appropriate for scientific literacy;
4. To develop conceptual scientific knowledge (concepts, facts, generalizations) necessary for scientific literacy;
5. To develop strategies to promote data-gathering skills, decision-making skills, reflective-thinking skills and interpersonal skills essential to scientific literacy;
6. To develop a positive global perspective essential for scientific literacy;
7. To learn biological, earth, and physical science concepts essential to an understanding of the natural world;
8. To make use of inductive and deductive strategies that require scientific investigation, interpretation of findings, and communication of results;
9. To develop and implement instruction which involves hands-on experience and leads to meaningful learning that promotes positive attitudes toward science and facilitates solving practical problems;
10. To learn appropriate instructional strategies essential to scientific literacy.


Assessment Measures

Conceptual schemes are measured using pencil and paper tests. Process skills are demonstrated by the student for measurement by the instructor.


Other Course Information




September 24, 2001 - Reviewed by Walter S. Jaronski, Chair, Department of Chemistry and Physics