GS 104 Course Outcomes

GS 104 Outcomes

Physics Outcomes:

Matter: Students will be able to make simple predictive calculations based on the knowledge that:

  • All matter is built up from simpler particles. Atoms contain a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The electrons are the primary determinant of how atoms interact with each other.
  • The nucleus of certain isotopes decay spontaneously, called radioactivity, emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation. A particular decay occurs randomly but large numbers of nuclei decay at predictable rates which are used to develop reliable dating techniques and release energy in various ways.

Energy: Students will be able to make simple predictive calculations based on the knowledge that:

  • Whenever the amount of energy in one place or form diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount. Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
  • Energy appears in different forms. Some examples are heat energy, chemical energy, mechanical energy, and gravitational energy.
  • Heat energy in a material is evidenced by the disordered motions of its atoms or molecules. Not all atoms share the same amount of motion. Adding energy increases the average motion of the atoms.
  • Transformations of energy usually produce some energy in forms which tend to be unavailable to create useful work.

Motion: Students will be able to make simple predictive calculations based on the knowledge that:

  • The change in the motion of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass. (Newton's 2nd Law)
  • All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.(Newton's 1st Law - sort of )
  • Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, and equal amount of force is exerted back on it. (Newton's 3rd Law)
  • Waves can superpose on one another, bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by materials they enter, and change direction when entering a new material.

Forces: Students will be able to make simple predictive calculations based on the knowledge that:

  • Gravitational force is an attraction between masses. The strength of the force is proportional to both masses involved and weakens rapidly (inverse r squared) with increasing distance.
  • There are two kinds of charge - positive and negative. Like charges repel each other, opposite charges attract.These electric forces are quite strong and are primarily responsible for holding atoms, molecules, and our physical world together.
  • Magnetic forces are very closely related to electric forces and can be thought of as different aspects of a single electromagnetic force. Moving electric charges produce magnetic forces and moving magnets produce electric forces.
  • Forces which hold the nucleus of an atom together are much stronger than the electromagnetic force. That is why such great amounts of energy are released from nuclear reactions in the sun and other stars.

Scientific Awareness and Understanding - Outcomes

Math: Students will be able to use these ideas to describe and evaluate scientific experiments or statements in the world around them:

  • Comparison of numbers of very different size can be made effectively by expressing them in scientific notation.
  • When the result grows as the cause grows the effect is called (directly) proportional. When the result diminishes as the cause grows the effect is called inversely proportional. Mathematical models express these relationships more precisely.
  • When calculations are made from data (measurements) a small error in the data may lead to large error in the results. The effects of uncertainties or errors can be estimated.
  • Graphs and mathematical models can be used to describe how one quantity changes when another changes. From these we can determine rates of change or other useful quantities.
  • An equation describing the relationship between quantities may not be valid in all cases and for all values.

Data: Students will be able to use these ideas to describe and evaluate scientific experiments or statements in the world around them:

  • Even when there are plentiful data, it may not be obvious what mathematical model to use to make predictions about the effect being studied.
  • A single feature of a data distribution (it's average or median) may be misleading particularly when the distribution is not symmetric.
  • The way data are displayed can make a difference in how they are interpreted.
  • Data can indicate a clear correlation between two variables without asserting that one causes the other.
  • The basic idea of a mathematical model is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation. The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions with to actual observations in the real world. A close match does not necessarily mean that the model is the only true model or the only one that would work.

General Science: Students will be able to use these ideas to describe and evaluate scientific experiments or statements in the world around them:

  • Curiousity, honesty, opennesss, and skepticism are highly regarded in science and are incorporated into the traditions and processes of science.
  • Science and technology can be viewed thoughtfully while being neither categorically anatagonistic nor uncritically positive of them.
  • The communication of science requires great care in the handling of numbers. Inconsistent and misleading uses of numbers are possible.
  • The critical assumptions behind any line of reasoning must be made explicit in order to effectively judge the validity of the position or result asserted.
  • Many times there are a number of alternative ways of explaining the data. Acknowledging the alternative explanations and assessing their trade-offs and consistency with other data is a central feature of good science