Transitioning to University Science – FMSC 1P00

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Welcome to a brand new course offered to first year students looking to transition to University level Science. Quickly download the entire course Syllabus here.

This course is designed for:

  • Students who want to improve their core math skills as a preparatory course for other classes that depend on a solid math foundation
  • Students who want a broad understanding of many Science disciplines, like Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy and more
  • Students seeking discussions about how Science works, it’s progress, and the Scientific Method
  • Students who want to build their study skills; reading, writing and math in the context of “How to Study”
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General Outline

Calendar Description, Course Summary, Course Goals

Calendar Description:

Time management, learning and library research skills. Spreadsheet and document prepa-ration. Foundational math and topics from introductory science. Lab report preparation, career planning and experiential education.


Course Summary

The primary purpose of the course is to prepare students for success in a Brock Faculty of Mathematics and Science undergraduate major program by ensuring that each participant in the course obtains a solid foundation in essential mathematics and understands the nature of scientific work.
The course includes weekly assignments, including writing assignments, which students work on throughout the course, with feedback so that students gradually refine their work over time. The weekly writing assignments culminate in a final report/essay on a topic in science related to the course, and displays that students have learned something about science and how to effectively communicate. Weekly assignments also include practice in the fundamental knowledge and skills taught in the course.
After Week 1, each subsequent week includes:

  • how to solve mathematics and science problems
  • a look at classic science experiments, illustrating key aspects of scientific thinking

Course Goals

• Understand how to be a good student, and practice effective learning techniques
• Learn some of the essential tools of science: logic, reading, writing, and essential mathematical skills (proportional reasoning, reading and interpreting a graph, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, …), and practice using them effectively throughout the course
• Learn essential knowledge and skills to prepare students for success in university science programs, including how to write lab reports
• Understand how science develops by studying numerous examples
• Learn about helpful resources at Brock

Course Instruction

 Course Instructor, Academic Integrity, Textbook Info.

Course Instructor

S. D’Agostino, Contact S. D’Agostino
Office hours: In Room MC E219, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 1–2 pm, or by appointment. The best way to contact me is by email: sdagostino@brocku.ca
Note that I will be communicating with you frequently by email; for example, I will send you weekly assignments and tutorial exercises by email. Therefore, it is essential that you regularly monitor your Brock email account.

Falling behind in a mathematics or science course leads to extreme difficulties, because university mathematics and science courses are extremely fast-paced compared to high-school courses, and because typically each week’s new course content depends on course content from previous weeks. Don’t allow yourself to fall behind! Consistent, daily work will help you to succeed in the course.
I encourage you to visit my office whenever you would like to discuss physics. Don’t wait until the last moment; make sure you clear up anything that is unclear as soon as possible, as this will make your studies more effective and you will go further in less time.
If you can’t come by during my office hours, send me an email message at sdagostino@brocku.ca and we shall set up a suitable time to meet. My telephone number, for emergencies only, is 905-688-5550 extension 5785. The best way to reach me is either in person or by email.


Academic Integrity

Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly (including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding misrep-resentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should consult Section VII, “Academic Misconduct,” in the “Academic Regulations and University Policies” entry in the Undergraduate Calendar, available here.
to view a more complete description of prohibited actions, and the procedures and penalties. A helpful web site
Academic Integrity describes Brock’s academic integrity policy. Please read it carefully, as all students are expected to understand it and abide by its provisions.


Textbook

There is no required textbook. Links to online resources will be provided each week.

Grading Scheme

Percentage Breakdown, Mid-Term Tests Outline.

Grading Scheme

Tutorial attendance and participation:  10%

Weekly assignments:                                20%

Two mid-term tests:                                 15% +15%

Final report/essay:                                     20%

Final exam:                                                 20%

A minimum grade of 50% on the final exam is required to obtain a credit in the course.


Mid-Term Tests

There will be two mid-term tests.

Each test has a time limit of 90 minutes. Topics for each test will be discussed in class.

 


Course Schedule

Lecture and tutorial breakdown + Week by week breakdown.

Course Schedule

Lectures are on Mondays from 9 am to 10:50 am in Room TH 258. One tutorial meets on Tuesdays in Room WH 203 from 11 am to 12:50 pm. The other tutorial meets on Thursdays in Room WH 207 from noon to 1:50 pm. Check your schedule and attend the tutorial that you are registered in.
Note: There are no tutorials during the week of 5 September; tutorials begin during the week of 9 September, which we call Week 1. There are also no tutorials during the week of 2 December.


Week by Week breakdown

Week 1: How to be a good student
Lecture: discussion of course overview, with instructions on how to be a successful student; special guest is Allyson Miller, Director of A-Z Learning Services Tutorial: library orientation (conducted by Laurie Morrison, Brock Library) and how to make use of library learning resources, including effective searches for information, and learning to critically assess the reliability of information sources

Week 2: Fundamentals of Mathematics for Science Students
Lecture: numerical calculations (working with fractions, exponents, square roots, percent-ages, etc.); scientific units; unit conversions, dimensional analysis; topics in astronomy; the role of planning in being an effective student; special guest is Heather Bellisario, FMS Aca-demic Advisor; how to use a planner to be an excellent student
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 3: Analytic Geometry
Lecture: analytic geometry (slope and intercepts of a straight line; mensuration formulas for geometric figures); geocentric vs. heliocentric models of the solar system; how scientific understanding evolves
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 4: Proportional Reasoning
Lecture: proportional reasoning; solving problems involving proportional reasoning; the age of the Earth; how scientific understanding evolves
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 5: Algebra and Solving Equations
Lecture: fundamentals of algebra, solving equations; experimental controls; James Lind and the role of citrus fruit in the prevention of scurvy; placebo controlled experiments; blinded experiments; double-blinded experiments; bias in experimental work (observer effect, confirmation bias, placebo effect, etc.)
Tutorial: Lab safety; structure of a scientific investigation

Week 6: Graphical Analysis
Lecture: creating, interpreting, and understanding various types of graphs; the crisis of irreproducibility in life sciences research
Tutorial: Data collection and analysis, use of Excel and word processing software to prepare scientific documents and analyze data

Week 7: Graphs and Data Analysis
Lecture: basic data analysis (mean, median, standard deviation, error bars in experimental measurements); applications of data analysis to experimental data
Tutorial: How to write a lab report

Week 8: Trigonometry
Lecture: basic trigonometry; Louis Pasteur’s experiments to disprove the theory of sponta-neous generation
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 9: Logarithmic and Exponential Functions
Lecture: logarithmic and exponential functions; caloric, ether, phlogiston, etc.; the kinetic theory of heat
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 10: Logic and Euclidean Geometry
Lecture: logic and Euclidean geometry; pitfalls and biases in scientific experimentation and in scientific reasoning; the history and story of the discovery of atoms
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 11: Graphical and Data Analysis (continued)
Lecture: more graphical analysis and data analysis; accidental discoveries in science; ra-dioactivity, nuclear structure, etc.
Tutorial: reinforcement of this week’s mathematics

Week 12: Summary and Review
Lecture: mathematics review; science review; time dilation experiments, and their continuous testing and verification via GPS
Tutorial: no tutorial in final week

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