By the end of the semester, all AST 104 students should gain
Many of the key ideas can be grasped visually, so we'll spend a fair amount of time looking at a variety of pictures and maps of the sky. Each of you will have your own Piece of Sky that you will observe throughout the semester, using a research-grade photograph of it from the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey.
We won't use complicated mathematics, but we will speak the language of numbers. Numbers carry a lot of the meaning in astronomy, so we'll learn the most meaningful ones. You will also need to use a few simple formulas, and to interpret graphs. We will use no mathematics above the high-school math that is a prerequisite for acceptance at S.U. Specifically, we'll occasionally use a little algebra but no trigonometry or calculus.
To achieve these course obectives, the course instructors have carefully designed a sequence of learning tasks and assessment procedures.
It is our belief that you can learn only a limited amount of information from lecture alone, no matter how clear or entertaining. Therefore, this course is composed of a series of mini-lectures that will be augmented by questions and collaborative classroom activities called Lecture Tutorials. The activities target specific ideas presented in lecture and are designed to be completed in pairs during class by talking through each question and writing a detailed, consensus response. You will usually not submit these responses for grading. However, because the questions are similar to those on the course exams, you should consider these activities as a critical component to your success in the course. The Lecture Tutorials text must be brought to class each day.
Conceptual questions will be asked periodically in class to assess your understanding of course concepts both after mini-lectures and after tutorials. Sometimes you will answer multiple-choice questions by holding up a folded sheet displaying your answer (a "paper clicker"). Sometimes we will ask you to work in pairs to come up with descriptive answers to questions and then we'll ask for volunteers to answer (if there are no volunteers we'll just choose random people). Since these questions will be very similar to those on exams, active participation in lectures will be a very effective way to learn the subject (and prepare for the exams). Participation in class will count as 5% of the course grade. The class as a whole may earn up to full credit through high participation (among those present) in answering multiple-choice questions throughout the semester, and individuals may earn up to 5% extra credit by turning in in-class answers for grading when asked (about once per week). You will be given a "paper clicker" and forms for handing in in-class questions and should bring both to class each day (I suggest keeping them in your Lecture-Tutorial book).
It is recommended that you complete the reading assignments (posted on the course calendar) before the corresponding class. Students who complete the assignments before class get more out of the lecture. Be aware that understanding a (dense) science text is a slow process, and it is easy to "miss the forest for the trees." Try to make sure you understand the main point of each paragraph, and test yourself with the Exercises and Problems in the book and online. Note that the readings do not cover all the material that will be covered in class, although this text does a better job than any others.
On-line homework will be due before each class and count as 15% of your total grade. We are using the Mastering Astronomy online platform, which represents the most sophisticated on-line system for astronomy tutorials and self-study. The first homework will consist of exercises to familiarize you with the interface and test your familiarity with this syllabus. The other homework will help you ensure that you are keeping up with the material in the class. You should have received a Student Access Kit to Bennett et al.'s The Essential Cosmic Perspective with your textbook. The MasteringAstronomy course ID for this course is SU2010AST104. Also, make sure to register your SU student ID code (9 digits, no hyphens) when you are prompted (so that you wil receive credit for completing the homework). Each assignment will be available one week before it is due, and will remain available for practice or late submission until the end of the semester. Late work will incur a penalty of 3% per day up to a maximum of 50%.
Laboratory sections meet in room B129E in the basement of the Physics Building. You will perform measurements and observations, discuss key ideas and questions, and interpret and analyze scientific evidence. Attending your weekly laboratory meeting is crucial, and counts for 30% of your total grade. You will work in a team of three students, but you must write answers in your own words unless specified otherwise. Assignments must be handed in at the end of each lab. The general rule is that make-up labs are not allowed, so you should understand that missing a lab meeting will significantly affect your grade. If you know you will be unable to attend your lab section in a given week, you should arrange ahead of time to attend another section: email both your regular TA and the TA of the section that you wish to attend (see people). The TA will allow you to switch sections if you have a valid excuse (and possibly if you don't) so long as there is space in the section. During the last week of class, students with valid excuses may be permitted to make up a lab. For some laboratory exercises, calculators are recommended.
You are expected to show respect for your fellow students and to help provide a good learning environment for them. Please turn off cell phones before you enter the classroom (or the lab). Please do not arrive late nor leave class early (unless you have talked to the instructors in advance and arranged to sit on an aisle). Please refrain from having side conversations that may disturb or distract students near you. Simply put, please don't do anything that will get in the way of your fellow students' learning. If for some reason you cannot keep to these rules, we would rather you stay at home instead of detracting from the atmosphere of the class.
Grades will be calculated based on your scores on various course activities, in the following proportions:
It is important that you keep track of your grades (especially in the labs) throughout the semester. You will be able to access your up-to-date grades using Blackboard. Your final course grade will be determined from your total score at the end of the semester. The minimum score needed to earn a given grade is as follows:
The three mid-term exams will be held during regular lecture times. For each student, the best exam score will count as 15% of the final grade, the second-best will count 10%, and the worst will count only 5%. There will be no make-up exams offered for the midterms. If you have to miss a midterm due to an excused absence (which generally means either obtaining permission in advance or getting a doctor's note attesting your inability to take the exam), the two exams will be reweighted with the better counting 20% and the worse counting 10%. Missing a midterm unexcused will mean a zero for the exam that counts 5% of your grade. While each midterm will focus on the material covered since the previous exam, the cumulative nature of learning science means that some questions covering previous material should be expected on each exam.
The final examination will be compulsory and count for every student. No make-up finals will be offered. The final exam will be given on Friday, May 7, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, as listed on the course calendar. About half of the final exam will focus on material covered after the third mid-term, and the other half will ask qustions on material covered earlier in the course.
During these closed-book, close-note exams, you must bring a photo ID and sit in your assigned seat (posted outside Stolkin). You are not allowed to wear headphones or communicate with anyone in the classrom except for the course instructors and exam proctors. All electronics (cell phones, calculators, etc.) must remain off and stowed at all times during exams (the proctors will have cell phones on in case of an Orange Alert, in accordance with University policies).
The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams, in laboratories, and in assignments, as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. For more information and the complete policy, see http://academicintegrity.syr.edu
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Stars, Galaxies and the Universe is a course in which you will be doing astronomical observations as well as some hands on experiments and measurements. You can use this course to satisfy the requirement of the liberal arts core for one laboratory science course.
Astronomy 101 is not a prerequisite; AST 101 and AST 104 can be taken independently or together in either order. Taking both AST 101 and AST 104 (in any order) fulfills the requirement of the liberal arts core for one science sequence.
To support laboratory experiments and lecture demonstrations you have been charged a course fee of $30. This fee helps pay for (i) handouts which are distributed to you, (ii) supplies, small pieces of apparatus, and maintenance for the laboratory, (iii) supplies and apparatus for lecture exercises and demonstrations, and (iv) undergraduate students working in the demonstration laboratories.
Essentially ALL administrative information about this course is contained on this web site. Contact Arlene Jonhston (Physics Building Room 111 email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 443-1915) for all administrative questions regarding the class (including changing lab sections).
The web address is: /courses/AST104.10Spring/index.html