Syllabus for Earth Science 215

Intro to Earth and Physical Science

Peru State College, Fall 2007


Instructor:         Paul McCrone




            ·        Work:  (402) 294-2821

·        Home: (402) 884-2804

·        Cell:    (402) 250-8987

·        Fax:    (402) 293-9672  



Office Hours:          

Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm (See para”E”)









Web Page:







 Course Philosophy and Objectives: 


A.     This Physical / Earth Science course is an introductory non-lab course discussing the basic workings of the physical world around us. The course will introduce non-science majors to the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology, & Meteorology/Climate.


B.     Prerequisites: A basic knowledge of mathematics, including algebra, and a willingness to learn are required.


C.    Method of Instruction: A combination of lecture and question-and-answer sessions will be used to cover the majority of the material. I welcome students to ask questions by email, and highly encourage reading ahead as much as possible. Weekly assignments will be given to reinforce concepts presented during class. Quizzes covering the material will be given frequently throughout the class.


D.    Course Objectives: 

·        To introduce basic concepts of EARTH SCIENCES 

·        Provide the means to more critically view Scientific studies

·        Encourage a better understanding of the laws of Nature

·        Show the importance of Earth Sciences, used by research personnel and others.


E. Other Information:

Room:           #4 in LaPlatte Campus for Special instruction sessions


Help Session Times:

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, August       23, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, August       30, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, September   6, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, September 13, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, September 20, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, September 27, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, October        4, 2007)

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  (Thursday, October      11, 2007)


F.     Attendance Policy:  I highly encourage all students to attend all scheduled special instruction sessions, but ultimately, whether you attend is up to you. These are not mandatory. They are optional. They designed to help you.                                                                      


Consider that you should make plans to attend the special sessions if you start to encounter difficulty in the course, as it can be very difficult for me (…& most teachers, for that matter…) to explain difficult math concepts over email and web media. I intend to post answers in class sessions on the web.





Course Material



·       Textbook:   

o       Physical Science, 7th Edition,

o       By Bill W. Tillery, 2007

o       ISBN-13:  978-0-07-304992-2

o       ISBN-10: 0-07-304992-1



·        Website:



·       Computational Equipment:

You are encouraged to use calculators and Personal Computers (with MS Excel, etc.) to complete your work. Calculators are permitted during quizzes and exams. A good calculator to buy is the TI-30xa Calculator (I prefer the solar kind) from Texas Instruments, although any good scientific calculator should perform well instead of the TI-30xa.  I found this calculator for sale at approximately $19.00 at Walmart.  You will find it difficult to excel in this class without a calculator.  MAKE SURE THE CALCULATOR DOES STATS FUNCTIONS [Important functions: Combinations (“nCr” button), Permutations (“nPr” button), and Factorials (“n!” or “x!” button), as well as trigonometric functions, such as “sin”, “cos”, & “tan”



·       Software:

MS Excel is a good software package to use. If you have MS Works, you will also find that this package can perform many of these functions as well.  YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO USE COMPUTER SOFTWARE AT ALL!  Everything can be done by hand with a calculator.








Course Calendar

Here’s what I currently plan to cover in this course.  The dates on the left are benchmark dates to help you pace yourself.


Week Ending


Lesson Topic(s)

Things to do…..

August 24, 2007

Introduction: Chapters

1 & 2

·        What is Science?

·        Motion

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework & quizzes

August 31, 2007

Chapters 3,4 & Chapter 5

·        Energy

·        Heat and Temperature

·        Wave Motions and Sound

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework &  

Sept. 7, 2007

Chapter 6 & Chapter 7

·        Electricity

·        Light

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework & quizzes

Sept. 14, 2007

Chapter 8 & Chapter 14

·        Atoms & Periodic Properties

·        The Univerise

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework &quizzes

Sept. 21, 2007

NO Midterm !


15 & 16

NO Midterm

·        NO Midterm Exam

·        The Solar System

·        Earth in Space

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework

-  NO Midterm Exam

Sept. 28, 2007


18 & 19

·        Plate Tectonics

·        Building Earth’s surface

- Read Chapters

- Do Homework & quizzes

Oct. 5, 2007


20 & 22

·         Shaping Earth’s Surface

·        The Atmosphere of the Earth 

- - Read Chapters

- Do Homework & quizzes

Oct 12, 2007

NO Final Exam

Chapter 23

NO Final !

·        Weather and Climate

·        NO final Exam

- Read Chapter 23







12 OCTOBER 2007!


Exceptions for special circumstances will only be considered on a case-by-case basis, & must be approved before this date! Please contact me early if you have problems!







Grading Philosphy and Expectations



Course Grading -  What will be the basis for your final grade?



1.      There will No midterm or FINAL Exam



2.      Quizzes: These will be given throughout the course. The final average of these quizzes will constitute a COMPOSITE score. 



3.      Projects & Discussion Boards: I will give you some projects/discussion questions. Each one will have different point values. In addition, I will use this work as a subjective means of determining what final grade you will receive in cases where you may be on the borderline between letter grades. For example, if you have a 79% average and you completed your work faithfully, I will use this to justify increasing you to a “B”.

a.      Often, students get into a tight situation, where they get a 79.2% average, just shy of the “B” mark. How close to the border line is close enough to round up (or ‘plus-up’) the score to a “B” (or simply the next letter grade)?

b.      With regard to score round up, here’s my philosophy.  It’s called the ‘8.8’ rule:

c.       To get a ‘plus-up’ from D+ to C, you need at least a 68.8%

d.      To get a ‘plus-up’ from C to C+, you need at least a 73.8%

e.       To get a ‘plus-up’ from C+ to B, you need at least a 78.8%

f.        To get a ‘plus-up’ from B to B+, you need at least a 83.8%

g.      To get a ‘plus-up’ from B+ to A, you need at least a 88.8%


This does mean that 78.7 will not be considered for a ‘plus up’. I feel that a line should be drawn somewhere, and ‘8.8’ is the line in my class.



4.      Grading Scale: The scale is a standard, conventional scale:

























Regarding “scaling”:  I do watch the test score statistics/ distributions with each class and I will scale tests on a case by case basis.  Often, I find that the final grades need to be scaled in this class, and that will likely happen, if needed.



5.      Point Breakdown:

Grades will be computed from homework (projects/discussion questions), & quiz grades. Each test has a differing number of points, and each test will contribute to your final grade in accordance with the total available points associated with each test.

Homework will also factor into the grades if there is a close call / borderline situation.



WARNING: While I will cover much of the material in the book (mostly), I will also introduce some other material that is NOT covered in the book. 



Also some of the material in this course is -what I call- "mutually dependent".  What does this mean? It means that sometimes the information in the current chapter assumes that you know material from a previous chapter. Therefore, I may ask a question on the quiz which comes from a previous chapter. Most of the time, the majority of questions will come from the chapter(s) of a given week, but some material that I ask may come from earlier weeks. If we have covered the material before, it is fair game to be asked again.


How will I grade discussion board questions?

Rest assured, you will get numerical credit for your participation in discussion groups. 

Here's how I will determine point values:

Clearly, you will get NO points if you do not participate. At a bare minimum, you need to submit a posting on each discussion question EACH WEEK.  I am not going to be a stickler about getting your points/posts made on time - except that We must get everything done BEFORE the last day of class, no extensions. 

Point breakdown:

0%   points for NO PARTICIPATION.

70% points for even a very simple, basic, one or two line post on a question. NOT A RESPONSE TO SOMEONE ELSES post.  You MUST make your own, original thread that others can respond to.

80% points if I find the person talking to others about the topic at all - even once (Note that others do not need to visit your post, since you cannot control that).

90% points if the original post seems reasonably thought through (based on my discretion, but I plan to be liberal about this).  The ideas do not have to be exactly correct, just reasonable. There should be some basis in fact for the statements that the person makes. The points made by the person should be somewhat verifiable. References (web sites, the text, etc.) should be referenced. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DOES A PERSON NEED TO AGREE WITH ME TO GET POINTS. So feel free to fire at will. Just remember - I can be critical too. True scientific discussion should not be afraid to entertain dissent. However, I do not have to tolerate statements that are not backed up with some kind of documentary fact or at least some logical reasoning. Generally, this will consist of more than a line or two.  I AM VERY FAMILIAR WITH THE WIKIPEDIA ENTRIES FOR THESE TOPICS!  BEWARE, O YE OF THE COPY/PASTE!

100% points if all the above is true, and the discussion with others occurs more than once.

In the end, I reserve the right to make all final judgments.



Academic Integrity Statement:


The Policy initiated by Peru State College concerning academic dishonesty will be followed in this class.  Please refer to the “Academic Dishonesty” section of your catalog.



 Disability Policy

Students with special needs are encouraged to make needs known to the instructor during the first week. Please refer to the “Students with Disabilities” Section of your catalog.











1. Review posted material and sections assigned from the book. You may have to review sections several times (reading one time most likely isn't enough).

2. Complete the suggested problems and quiz each week. DO NOT FALL BEHIND in accomplishing assignments! It is very difficult to catch up once you do. Be sure you actually do the homework problem--simply reviewing the posted solutions will not adequately prepare you for exams. If you have a difficult situation (death on the family, illness), you should email me if you 'll be unable to complete assignments. 

3. Email instructor with questions and post on the Discussion Board. 

Please do not rely on my being able to review the discussion board to ask your question; I can answer you quicker with an email.

Please also remember that I have over 40 students in this course - I have noted that students seem to overwhelm me with questions around the time of the midterm and final.  Please be patient with me as I try to respond to emails as quick as I can.  If it is urgent, call me.

4. Plan to set aside several hours per week to complete the course. It's only 8 weeks long and we cover 16 weeks worth of material!

5.  TEXTBOOK POLICY: Students are responsible to get the textbook before the class begins. So, I ultimately can't really help you here. You need to take care of this yourself. All students are required to get the listed textbook above.  Some students may choose to find the course text book on the internet via some other site other than the Peru bookstore. I do not recommend this. There is no guarantee that this is the EXACT book that you need, unless you get it from Peru.




I have a private web site located at:

. Go here for online contact information.  I intend to post some materials online here.

Make sure you include the following email address on all correspondence to me:

While, I do not mind getting email at work, etc., the oakmail account will be reviewed for official school/class email.

The course syllabus is located here:

lso, I plan on having weekly help sessions of 2-3 hours on Thursdays 6:30-8:30 pm at the Peru State Annex campus in LaPlatte Nebraska.  I say "2-3 hours" because I'll stay later if people actually show up. I have done this in the past, and sometimes, no one shows up at all. Generally, if no one shows up or contacts me by 7:30pm, I will go home.

Unless I indicate otherwise, all assignments will be due by Sunday 11:00pm each Sunday night in each week that they are assigned. The idea is that you should always have 1 full week to work on each assignment. Note that an assignment will usually cover a lot of material - at least 1 and maybe even 2 or 3 chapters.

For those who cannot attend the help sessions, I plan to video record portions of the help sessions so others can see the help online...if you have any questions that you want answered, but you know that you cannot make it to the help session -then try to get me the question before the help session.

Please always assume that the Thursday night sessions will be in LaPlatte, Nebraska by default, unless I say otherwise.  I am planning s couple trips to the Peru campus during the term, so those living in that area should try to keep Thursday nights open.

Directions to the Peru Annex in LaPlatte from Omaha:

Directions to the Peru Annex in LaPlatte from Peru (via Nebr City):



In the event that you cannot reach me & it is urgent, you can contact any of the following people to help you. Please try these people first:


Offutt AFB and Campus TJ Majors 107

Laura Roberts

Director Offutt Operations and Online Services

Offutt AFB Education Programs

(402) 293-1764  |  (402) 292-2018  |  (888)258-5558

Kevin Blobaum

Distance Education Coordinator

Offutt AFB

(402) 293-1764  |  (402) 292-2018  |  (888)258-5558

Rhonda Cadell

Administrative Assistant Education Programs

Offutt AFB

(402) 293-1764  |  (402) 292-2018  |  (888)258-5558

Stephanie Johnson

Distance Education Coordinator

Offutt AFB

(402) 293-1764  |  (402) 292-2018  |  (888)258-5558

Vicki  Meece

Distance Education Coordinator

Offutt AFB

(402) 293-1764  |  (402) 292-2018  |  (888)258-5558