NSCI 111
General Class Information
Fall 1997


The goals of NSCI 111 are as follows:

1. To obtain a sufficient familiarity with the current ideas shaping major research activity in physics and astronomy to be able to readily understand and discuss popular accounts of new astronomical discoveries and theories;

2. to obtain an appreciation of the size and age of the Universe, mankind's position within it, and the probable course of new exploration within the next decade and throughout the next century;

3. to study the ideas of a few of the historical figures in physics and astronomy in order to understand the origin of contemporary research and thought;

4. to gain an understanding of the Scientific Method and its practical applications;

5. and to become familiar with the Internet as a new electronic medium of communication and as a research tool.

Class Format:

NSCI 111 will be taught using the Symonds Lab Electronic Studio. Primary resources will include the Internet, various computer software, the text "The Sciences: An Integrated Approach" by Trefil and Hazen, and references from other electronic media and hard copy. No previous computer experience is required for this course. (Due to the limited number of computers in the Symonds Lab students will work in pairs and course enrollment will be limited to 24 students per section.)

NSCI 111 will not use the traditional lecture format. Instead, students will use the Internet, course software, and other resource material to investigate the course topics and prepare weekly reports on each assigned subject. These reports will be submitted as Internet Web Pages. We believe that this approach will result in a very beneficial learning experience that more nearly parallels real-life, professional practice. At the same time, the student will gain experience with the Internet as the new electronic communication medium.

NSCI 111 will normally meet in the Symonds Lab.

Weekly Reports:

Weekly reports on the topics assigned each week will be submitted by each student. These reports will be submitted electronically as web pages on the Internet or as written problem sets. They will be based on research done by the student using various resource materials suggested by the instructors or found by the student. These reports will normally be assigned on Friday of each week and will be due by 5pm the following Friday.

Grading Criteria:

Assignments will be graded in roughly equal proportions on the following criteria:

Attractiveness of design will be considered but at a lower level than the above.

The report should include, at the end, a bibliography of resources consulted (such as URLs and text) but specific references do not need to be attached to each idea.

Late Policy:

Homework that is submitted late will be penalized 25% for each week that it is late up to a maximum penalty of 75%. In other words, homework 1 week late will be graded and then the grade will be multiplied by 0.75 to get the recorded grade; 2 weeks late, multiplied by 0.5; 3 or more weeks late, multiplied by 0.25.

The late penalty will be waived for illnesses or family crises at the approval of Dr. Hartigan.

Athletes who miss a class due to an athletic event or travel on a day when an assignment is due must turn in the assignment by 5 PM of the next class day.

Special Assignments:

There will be occasional special assignments. These will be due when specified at the time they are announced.


There will be one mid-semester exam and one final exam.


The composite course grade will be based on the following weights:

Weekly reports: (total of 15 = 150 pts) 60%
Mid-semester exam: (25 pts) 10%
Final exam: (37.5pts) 15%
Special Assignments: (25 pts) 10%
Class Participation: (12.5pts) 5%


The primary text for the course will be material found on the Internet, software, and other electronic media available at the Symonds Lab. The text "The Sciences: An Integrated Approach" by Trefil and Hazen is available at the Bookstore and is a useful resource for the course. While we will not follow this book closely, students will be responsible for the readings assigned in the text. Other books and material will be placed on reserve at the Fondren reserve desk as needed.

Honor Code:

Students are encouraged to discuss the course material freely with other students, the instructor, and the teaching assistants. Sharing of the location of resource material such as useful web sites is permitted. However, except for some group projects, reports presented must have been prepared by the individual student. If you submit assignments that were prepared by someone else and represent these as your own work, or if you give your work to someone else to submit as their own, you will be in violation of the honor code. All exams are Pledged.

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