GSTR 332 Section Descriptions

Catalog Description—GSTR 332: Scientific Origins. Prerequisites: Practical Reasoning with Quantitative Emphasis (PRQ) and Sophomore Standing. Offered: Typically Fall and Spring terms (first offered Fall 2007). This course invites all students to explore a variety of scientific disciplines in order to understand what science is, does, and tells us about the natural world around us. Employing an integrative approach to the natural sciences, the course emphasizes the historical development of laws, models, and theories, as well as basic scientific literacy important to contemporary concerns. Each section of the course includes inquiry-based learning (lab) experiences.

Student Learning Outcomes for GSTR 332
A student successfully completing GSTR 332 will:

  1. know basic facts, the historical developments, and evidence supporting current conceptions of big bang cosmology, motion and energy, atomic and molecular structure, radioactivity, organic evolution, the age of the Earth, and plate tectonics;
  2. understand the dynamic nature of science, and the role of new facts in establishing more refined models, laws, hypotheses, and theories that better explain and predict natural phenomena;
  3. understand the roles of practical reasoning, quantitative skills, and creativity in scientific inquiry, as well as the logic of scientific thinking and the role of evidence in constructing scientific knowledge;
  4. be able to apply basic scientific information from astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences to current real world objects and problems.

NOTE: Below are section descriptions for all instructors who regularly teach GSTR 332. Not all of these instructors listed here teach the course each term. Please refer to the schedule of classes for the term in question to see which instructors will be offering the course.

GSTR 332- Baptiste, Quinn: World Science, an Animal PerspectiveThis course will focus on an examination of the immediate and more distant world environment that animals have been exposed to throughout the ages. The evolving environments and the challenges that are placed upon animal anatomy and physiology will be explored. The resultant effects of anatomical and physiological modifications on behavioral responses of animals will also be examined. Consequently, the course will provide students with opportunities to explore natural science disciplines (biology, chemistry, earth sciences, astronomy, and physics). These disciplines will be explored through an integrative approach, with the aim of providing students with a basic understanding of how scientific knowledge and inquiry applies to the existence of animals within contemporary environments. Students’ acquisition of pertinent scientific knowledge and skills will be facilitated through their engagement in inquiry based learning experiences.

GSTR 332- Berheide, Michael: Things You Should Know — and How We Know Them. Do you feel left out of the conversation when your fishing buddies are talking about adenosine triphosphate? Have you recently misspelled “megaparsec” on a job application? Are you embarrassed at cocktail parties when everyone else is talking about H. ergaster and you can think of nothing witty to say? Then this is the course for you! We are going to spend the entire semester learning basic facts about the natural world that any educated college graduate should know, and, more importantly, the fascinating ways in which these things have come to be learned. Never be intimidated again!

GSTR 332- Douglas, Neil: Survey of Human Evolution. Students will explore the many steps in hominid evolution that have ultimately resulted in our species, Homo sapiens sapiens. A survey of human and ancestral species key to our current understanding will involve interpretation of important fossil evidence. The influence of environmental factors such as paleogeography and climate during critical evolutionary stages will be analyzed. Through basic experimental anthropology/archaeology we will evaluate and use different materials and methods to generate fire, knap flint, and manufacture other stone tools. Additional activities will examine and interpret human cultural and behavioral adaptations. As a result, students should expect to engage in some demanding physical activity. When coupled, classroom and laboratory experiences together will provide students with a rich understanding of important human physical and cultural developments as we adapted to different environments and spread across the globe.

GSTR 332- Ezin, Max:  Randomness in the World. It is amazing to realize that a carbon atom in our brain could easily have been part of a plant digested by a dinosaur, millions of years ago. And the gut microbiome of zooplankton-eating whales strangely resembles the gut microbiome of terrestrial carnivores. Why? Is it because whales evolved from a terrestrial carnivorous ancestor?

We aim to understand the process of evidence-based science and to connect molecules with evolution. We explore the process of science by doing science – in groups, in lab activities and in the field – and by asking questions to which we may or may not get answers. We gain an appreciation for science as an objective endeavor that yields factual results, but also requires us to be comfortable with failure, uncertainty and an eagerness to go back to the drawing board as needed. We learn how atoms arrange and rearrange themselves into molecules, exploring the realm of chemistry, physics and biology. And we zero-in onto that most enigmatic of molecules – the DNA double helix within us – and how it very randomly and haphazardly drives the evolution of living things.

GSTR 332- Garrett, Mary Robert: The aim of this course is to enhance your understanding of several major areas of the natural sciences (astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and geology) and how they work together. Additionally, we will investigate the methodology of scientific inquiry, the power of quantifying scientific observations, and the role of instrumentation in modern science. As science is a means of acquiring human knowledge of the natural world, its relevance and impact on our daily lives will be emphasized throughout the semester.

GSTR 332- Hodge, Tracy: The History of Earth. This course focuses on the origin and evolution of Earth, including its physical, chemical and biological history. Our emphasis will be on understanding the physical and geological evidence of large-scale, global changes and whether the modern earth may or may not be following historic patterns. Are we in a the midst of a new geological age, the Anthropocene, in which global environments are driven by human activity? We only have one home, and to make intelligent decisions about our future we need to understand how it works.

GSTR 332- Hoffman, Megan: Your Inner Fish. How did a reptile jawbone end up in your middle ear? Why do whales swim with the same movement as a running dog? What can modern-day finches in the Galapagos Islands tell us about the evolution of life on earth? In this course, we’ll investigate some of these questions and explore how geology, chemistry, and biology intertwine with the structure, function, and evolution of living things. We will carry out laboratory and field investigations to complement our classroom work and readings. Join us to discover your inner fish.

GSTR 332- Kovacevic, Anes: Chemistry and the Modern World. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an appreciation for the applications and importance of chemistry in our society and to enhance your understanding of the scientific method and important concepts from major areas of other natural sciences (biology, chemistry, geology, and physics). We will explore science through the eyes of scientists and non-scientists alike.

GSTR 332- Saderholm, Jon: Multiple times throughout the history of humankind, the way we perceive the natural world has been radically transformed. During this course, we will explore some of the important paradigm shifts in diverse fields of science by developing an understanding of what people thought beforehand, the nature of the observations motivating the new perspective, and how the new paradigm opened new and surprising lines of reasoning.

GSTR 332- Saderholm, Matthew: The aim of this course is to enhance your understanding of the major natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy). Additionally, we will investigate the methodology of scientific inquiry and the power of analyzing and quantifying observations. Because science is a means of acquiring human knowledge of the natural world, its relevance and impact on our daily lives will be emphasized throughout the summer. While one major goal of this course is to review basic science, an even more important goal is to facilitate your understanding of the critical role of science in modern life. Science is BIG. It is bigger than any one person or scientist. Your curiosity and questions are absolutely essential to the success of this course because it is only over thousands of years through millions of diverse people asking billions of questions that we have come to know what we know about the natural world.

GSTR 332- Scudder-Davis, Roy: The Science of Dinosaurs. This section of GSTR 332 will use the life and times of dinosaurs as vehicles for understanding the nature of scientific inquiry and knowledge. Dinosaurs were once thought to be slow, lumbering, dull-witted giants that were eventually out-competed by the more progressive mammals. Recent discoveries along with new interpretations of old material have revealed that dinosaurs were highly active, “warm-blooded” creatures that were highly intelligent as evidenced by a variety of social behaviors including parental care of the young. The “Science of Dinosaurs” will not only explore what we know about the lives of dinosaurs, but will also explore the chemical, physical, geological, and cosmological factors that influenced their lives and the environment in which they lived and died.

GSTR 332- Strange, Jason: We’ve botched high school science education in this country. When students are exposed to science at all, it’s often just a face-full of useless facts, boring numbers, and confusing rules. Science begins to seem like something lifeless and far away from the things you care about. This is tragic in many ways – for example, by limiting young people’s career prospects or leaving us incapable of addressing issues like global warming. But in the broadest terms, it’s tragic because science is our best attempt to unravel the mysteries of this universe. The questions it tackles are not far away at all; in fact, they couldn’t be more intimate. What kind of reality do we inhabit? Why does life exist? Where do we come from? Why do we have feelings? What is consciousness? What is death? Are we alone in the universe, or does it, perhaps, teem with life? Science education should be nothing less than a face-full of mind-bending facts, jaw-dropping ideas, bizarre and heroic characters, and profound unsolved riddles. It had better be fun – because your life depends upon it.

GSTR 332- Veillette, Martin: Life in the universe. As of 30 years ago, every known planet in the universe was orbiting the Sun. Now, after an intense research effort, we have confirmed the existence of more than a thousand planets outside the Solar system and the number keeps climbing. In addition, a remarkable convergence of astronomy, biology, geology, and other recent discoveries have made the search for extraterrestrial life at the forefront of research. However, the scientific discoveries in this field are moving much more quickly than innovations in education. As a result, most people have had little opportunity to learn about this remarkable scientific adventure that can possibly answer fundamental questions about life beyond Earth. This course aims to help improve this situation by offering an introduction to the search for life in the universe in a way that is fairly comprehensive, but still accessible to students with little or no scientific training.