Approved by Faculty Senate March 17, 2003
WINONA STATE UNIVERSITY
PROPOSAL FOR UNIVERSITY STUDIES COURSES
Department ___Geoscience / Science Education _________________________ Date ___February 1, 2003___________
___201______________ ___Investigative Science I: EarthThe Water Planet______________ __4_________
Course No. Course Name Credits
This proposal is for a(n) __X___ Undergraduate Course
Applies to: ______ Major ______ Minor
_____ Required _____ Required
_____ Elective _____ Elective
University Studies (A course may be approved to satisfy only one set of outcomes.):
Basic Skills: Arts & Science Core: Unity and Diversity:
_____ 1. College Reading and Writing _____ 1. Humanities _____ 1. Critical Analysis
_____ 2. Oral Communication _X __ 2. Natural Science _____ 2. Science and Social Policy
_____ 3. Mathematics _____ 3. Social Science _____ 3. a. Global Perspectives
_____ 4. Physical Development & Wellness _____ 4. Fine & Performing Arts _____ b. Multicultural Perspectives
_____ 4. a. Contemporary Citizenship
_____ b. Democratic Institutions
Flagged Courses: _____ 1. Writing
_____ 2. Oral Communication
_____ 3. a. Mathematics/Statistics
_____ b. Critical Analysis
Provide the following information (attach materials to this proposal):
Please see "Directions for the Department" on previous page for material to be submitted.
Attach a University Studies Approval Form.
Department Contact Person for this Proposal:
__Cathy Summa_________________________________ __457-5269______ firstname.lastname@example.org_________
Name (please print) Phone e-mail address
The purpose of the Natural Science requirement in the University Studies
program is to provide students with the tools to understand and be able to
apply the methods by which scientific inquiry increases our understanding of
the natural world.
Investigative Science I: EarthThe Water Planet is a new course, designed specifically for
elementary education majors. The course will be taught in relatively small sections (< 40
students/section), and will be required of all elementary education majors. The course will meet in
a two-hour block three times weekly, in an effort to better combine lecture and laboratory
material. This course will integrate content material from each of the natural sciences so that
students develop an in-depth picture of the significance of water on Earth.
Development of this course is supported by a grant from NASA, which seeks to encourage
science-education reform by training preservice teachers to conduct inquiry-based science.
These courses must include requirements and learning activities that
promote students' abilities to...
a. understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural
The primary focus of this course is to provide students the opportunity to understand how
scientists approach and solve problems, and to give students the opportunity to engage in
scientific study for themselves. Students will be taught the scientific method, and then will
be expected each day to apply that method to understanding problems as related to water in
their environment. Additionally, they will be taught the unique methods employed in
interpreting and solving problems in each of the natural sciences, and how the integration of
scientific disciplines can help to better understand complex issues. Students will be required
to pose scientific questions, collect and analyze data relevant to solving problems, and
synthesize information to arrive at a solution.
b. apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural
Students will be challenged to apply concepts learned in class to solve problems posed by the
instructors and by themselves. Each course unit will be tied to a question related to water in a
students daily life. The goal is to help students begin to look at their world as scientists look
at it, and to help stimulate students natural curiosity, so that they become enthusiastic about
teaching science in their future classroom. One example of a unit-leading question might be:
"why are their always spots left on the shower door?" Students will design an experiment that
leads to solution of the problem, via a guided inquiry approach. All problems will be somewhat
simplified so that they can be solved using everyday materials that would be appropriate to use
in an elementary classroom, but will nonetheless represent the application of real science. We
believe this technique will make our preservice teachers more enthusiastic about and likely to
teach science in their future classrooms.
c. use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in
Students will be given regular problem sets in this course, that require them to work with
simple mathematical and/or physical relations to solve scientific problems. For instance, we
expect to concentrate on such issues as scale, to give students a way to see complex
relationships more realistically as compared to their everyday experiences. As related to the
question of water spots (above), students might design an experiment in the lab that enables
them to measure the volume of "spots" left on the shower door, and then calculate a reasonable
estimate of the volume left after their own shower. Following that calculation, they will be
asked to estimate (calculate) the volume of salt/gallon, and extrapolate that figure to the
entire water system in Winona.
In addition to mathematical reasoning, students will be asked to make almost daily use of
inductive reasoning to solve realistic scientific problems. After learning about processes on
Earth that require water to proceed, students will be presented with data and observations
from other planets. They will then be asked to reason out solutions based on these
observations and similarity of processes.
The development of such mathematical and inductive reasoning skills is a stipulation of the
NASA support for this program, and will necessarily be a focus of the course.
d. engage in independent and collaborative learning;
Students will be engaged daily in collaborative and independent problem-solving activities. This
will be accomplished via formative assessment activities associated with each lecture topic
such as the think-pair-share or concept mapping techniques. Independent learning is ensured
by assigned problem sets, quizzes, and in-class exams. Collaborative learning is ensured by
required laboratory teams, where each group member has an assigned (but rotating) roll, and is
responsible to the rest of the group.
e. identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to
Previous grants obtained by the faculty group involved in this program have supported the
purchase of a collection of CD-ROMs relevant to course material. The WSU Library has also
supported this program by purchasing a large collection of science-education material.
Numerous internet sites related to water issues are available, many of which provide real-time
data. Students will be both encouraged to use these resources to aid their studying, and
required to use these materials as parts of their projects. These tools, coupled with homework
assignments that require students to search for and access particular NASA- or other
government agency-sponsored web resources, allow students the opportunity to become
familiar with the use of technology and information science in the context of water resources
f. critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information; and
Students in this course will be presented data relating to various aspects of water. Some of
these data are potentially conflicting. Students must sort through the information, and by
applying the scientific method, come to a reasonable interpretation of the data. Student
predictions will be checked against those of the "experts" and of their own experiments so
that conflicting data may be evaluated to give students a better sense of how scientific data
g. recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.
One of the main goals of this course is to help students recognize and correct the
misconceptions they hold regarding science. In the context of this course, misconceptions
addressed range from helping students recognize science versus pseudoscience, to helping
students understand the scientific causes of particular problems versus "folklore". Discrepant
demonstrations will be used whenever possible to force students to recognize and confront
their misconceptions; these will be followed by class activities designed to help students
overcome and replace these misconceptions with accurate representations of scientific
concepts. Examples include such topics as the state of matter (water as solid, liquid, and gas),
nature and composition of clouds, and the difference between density and weight.
Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the Natural Sciences
will additionally provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry
through hands-on investigations and to analyze and report the results of those
All students enrolled in this course will be required to participate in the laboratory. We hope
to "blur" the line between discrete lecture and laboratory experiences by integrating topics and
activities naturally throughout the semester. We expect that students will be engaged in hands-on,
investigative activities during each class session. We have purposely scheduled the class to meet in
three two-hour blocks, in part to force the instructors to design lab activities to accompany class
each day. Each laboratory exercise asks students to investigate and collect data, and then to
interpret their results in the context of course material. Their final results are reported in a
variety of ways, including written reports, completion of data analysis sheets, and short
interpretations of spreadsheets.
GEOS 201Investigative Science I: Earth-The Water Planet
Purpose of Class
The purpose of this class is to become familiar with the fundamentals of science in a
manner that also prepares you to teach science in your future elementary classroom. It is
important that elementary students be allowed and encouraged to explore their world, and
that teachers of students at this young age support their curiosity. Too many students come
to college claiming to hate science. When pressed, many say that they had a miserable teacher
in their k-12 years that didnt answer their questions, or that made them memorize a textbook.
Science is so critically important to understanding our world, that we want the future teachers
of our nations children to be enthusiastic about science so that their future students will
likewise be passionate about science.
One of the easiest ways to engage children in science is to help them understand the
things in their everyday world. To that end, we will explore the science of water. Since water
is central to life on our home planet, and because you can be pretty certain youll find water in
the school youll teach in someday, we decided to study water. The human body is roughly 75%
water; the surface of planet Earth is roughly 75% water covered; water is critical to life, as
well as to many of the processes that happen all around us on this planet. This course will help
you understand some of those processes, and give you the tools youll need to figure out the
rest of them. Most importantly, this course will help you learn how to engage kids in exploring
their world, by designing and conducting simple, cheap, and safe experiments that can be
completed in any elementary classroom.
This course additionally qualifies as a University Studies course satisfying the
outcomes of the Natural Science Category. If you successfully complete the course
requirements, you will earn 4 credits toward completion of the Natural Science category,
including the laboratory requirement.
University Studies Outcomes
The purpose of the Natural Science requirement in the University Studies program is to
provide students with the tools to understand and be able to apply the methods by which
scientific inquiry increases our understanding of the natural world.
These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students'
a. understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;
b. apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences;
c. use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science;
d. engage in independent and collaborative learning;
e. identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science;
f. critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information; and
g. recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.
Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the Natural Sciences will additionally
provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry through hands-on investigations
and to analyze and report the results of those investigations.
Course activities described throughout the remainder of this syllabus will be coded to the
above list of outcomes by the corresponding letter. These outcomes will be integrated throughout
course contenteach new topic will be presented in a manner in which the student will be able to
understand and apply the methods by which scientists approach and solve problems in the natural
sciences, using inductive reasoning or mathematics (outcomes a-c). Common scientific
misconceptions will be identified at the start of each topic, and class material will be directed
toward correcting those misconceptions (outcome g). You will be asked to work collaboratively on
certain in-class activities and independently on homework and exams (outcome d). In-class and
homework assignments will require that you work with the internet, textbook CD-ROMs, and other
sources to critically evaluate scientific information as it relates to Water (outcomes e, f). During
class meetings, you will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on scientific investigation of
phenomena related to water on Earth and other planets, and will be required to analyze and report
the results of your investigations (laboratory outcome). You will be required to participate in field
activities, both during class time and outside of class meetings, primarily as a way to collect data
relevant to class investigations (laboratory outcome). Specifically, we will be working at field sites
along the Mississippi River, Lake Winona, and Garvin Brook. In addition, there will be a required
Saturday field trip to Forestville State Park/Mystery Cave. This trip will leave WSU at 7 AM and
return by 7 PM. The course fee you paid upon registration will cover your transportation on this
trip; you will be responsible for providing your own food and drink, More information will be
provided in class.
Logistics and Policies
This course is designed to stimulate and challenge your thinking (outcomes a, b, c, f,
g). There are no prerequisites for this course. If you can balance your checkbook, you can do
all the math that will be required (outcome c). We will expect you to understand and apply
fundamental concepts (outcomes a, b, c, e, f, g), rather than to simply memorize
information, on exams. You should strive to achieve as complete and sound a scientific
interpretation as possible, by trying to integrate information across discrete chapters of the
Because scientific understanding does not usually progress in a vacuumit is through
discussions and arguments with colleagues that most advances stemwe encourage you to work
in groups and to discuss your ideas and to work through confusing concepts with your
classmates. One of the best ways to study and understand and learn is to form a small study
groupquiz one another. Make up questions that you think wed ask on the exam, and be
certain you can answer them. If you can accurately explain a concept to your peers, then you
can feel comfortable that you understand it. If youre confused in doing this, youre likely to
be confused about the material (outcome d).
Class attendance is essential for success. You are responsible for knowing what is covered
and assigned in class regardless of whether or not you are present. You will also be working in
teams to complete in-class activities and laboratory investigations. Each team member will be
assigned a specific role; your absence will impair your teams ability to complete their tasks. You will
have team activities every day in class, so your absence any day will hurt your entire team. Teams
will be required to develop a way to handle absences. Assignments will not be accepted on papers
torn out of notebooks; all assignments must be neat, legible, and on paper with clean edges. We will
not regurgitate a lecture during office hours simply because you chose not to attend class. Videos
shown in class will not be made available outside of class. Attendance and participation will be
considered in determining your final grade.
Cheating of any kind will result in a score of zero for that exam or assignment (which cannot
be dropped in the computation of your final grade), and you will be reported to school authorities.
If you discuss an assignment with someone else, you are both expected to write up your answers
individually and in your own words. It is a violation of academic honesty (in other words, cheating)
to turn in answers copied from another students paper, even if you worked together to achieve the
There will be two lecture exams during the semester. These exams will be in part
comprehensive, but will concentrate largely on the material covered immediately prior to the exam.
Each exam will be worth 20% of your final grade.
The final exam will be comprehensive, and worth 20% of your final grade. If you understand
the material covered on each of the lecture exams, you will be in good shape for the comprehensive
portion of the final. Everyone is required to take the final exam. Students are expected to work
individually on all exams, and to leave space between yourself and other students in the class
Your laboratory performance will be worth 30% of your final grade. Laboratory performance
will be evaluated by rubric scoring of your laboratory report and experimental design.
The final 10% of your grade is based on class participation as determined by your team
evaluation. Each team member will evaluate all team members each time a laboratory report is
turned in. Team evaluations will be based upon attendance and participation, contribution to the
group projects, and contribution to group learning.
Because this class counts for general-education laboratory credit, you must PASS the lab
portion of the class with a grade of "D" or better. If you fail the lab, you will fail the class,
despite your performance on lecture exams.
If you choose not to take an exam, we reserve the option to give you a grade of I
(incomplete) for the course, rather than averaging in a zero for that item. Because you cannot
make up exams, that I will turn into an F in the middle of the next semester. You must take the
final exam, or you will receive a grade of F in the course, despite your previous
performance in the course.
Final grades will be assigned on a numerical basis as follows:
A = 100%-90%; B = 89%-80%; C = 79-70%; D = 69%-60%; E = 59% and below
In the event that a snow-day falls on the same date as a scheduled exam, the exam will be
given during the next class meeting following the snow day, so come prepared.
GEOS 201 Investigative Science I: Earth The Water Planet
Fall 2003 PA 102 MWF 1-2:50 PM
Instructors: Bates (Biol), Ferstl(Physics), Reap (Educ), Schneider (Chem), Summa (Geoscience)
AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Project 2061, 1993, Oxford University Press, 418 p.
Integrated Science, Tillery, B.W., Enger, E.D., Ross, F.C., 2001, McGraw-Hill Publishers, 861p.
Other Required Materials:
Laptop; colored pencils, Winona West Quadrangle topographic map, ruler, laboratory notebook.
Outline of Major Topics:
A. Water Cycle
1. Surface Water
A. Stream types (Braided vs. Meandering)
B. Gradient, velocity, and channel morphology
2. Ground Water
A. connection to surface water
B. residence times
3. Atmospheric Conditions
B. relation to ocean circulation (el niņo vs. la niņa)
C. climatic zones
4. Physics of transport
A. Flow characteristics (laminar vs. turbulent)
B. Flow through porous media
C. Types of stream load (bed load, suspended load, dissolved load)
A. relation to sediment transport
B. relation to ecology
C. relation to erosion and channel stability
6. Waterworks Field Trip
7. Mystery Cave Field Trip
B. Water Chemistry
1. Physical vs. Chemical Properties
2. States of Matter
A. solid, liquid, gas
A. relationship to dissolved load
B. relationship to temperature
A. pollution / contamination issues
B. sinktop filters vs. water treatment mechanisms
C. the Bottled Water industry
C. Water Supports Life
1. Origin of Life on Earth
A. microbial communities
B. organic evolution
2. Microbial communities
A. bacteria vs. viruses
B. other microscopic organisms in water
C. relationship to contaminants
3. Macroscopic Communities
A. relationship to contaminants
B. importance of water to supporting macroscopic life
4. Greenhouse Effect
A. water as a greenhouse gas
B. other greenhouse gases
C. global warming
D. ozone thinning
D. Is there life elsewhere in the Solar System?
1. What is needed to support life?
2. How does life evolve (on earth or elsewhere)?
3. Connections to NASA Earth & Space Science Enterprises