CSPS118G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER I: The Nature of Science and Holtz & Merck's School of Rock

Fall 2007
CCC1100 Tue, 3:30-5:00
ELT Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Course Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/syl118GF07.html
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.


Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: x5-4084
E-mail: tholtz@umd.edu
Office Hours: Tue 8:30-11 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Phone: x5-2808
E-mail: jmerck@umd.edu
Office Hours: Fri 1-3 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment

Laura Bilenker
E-mail: lbilenke@umd.edu
IM Name: dancinhoney2t
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, Thurs 2-3 pm

NOTE: It is your responsibility as a student to completely read through and understand this syllabus. If you have questions about it, please contact Dr. Holtz or Dr. Merck. You will be held responsible for following all requirements of this syllabus.

COURSE ORGANIZATION: One meeting per week, one weekend scavenger hunt/orientation, five weekend field trips (1 required).

REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there are two required texts:

Additional short readings will made available on the ELT website.
Reading assignments must be done by the classtime listed.

Copyright: © 2007 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students are prohibited from copying and selling course materials, from selling lecture notes, and from being paid to take lecture notes without the express written permission of the faculty teaching this course.

COURSE OBJECTIVES AND PHILOSOPHY: Semester 1 concentrates the nature of science in general and its role in Society. We will also examine the geological sciences as an example of the methods of science in practice. In this semester, we will introduce the concept of Deep Time, especially as it relates to the primary question of the Earth, Life & Time Program:

CLASSROOM POLICIES: You should bring the following to every single colloquium meeting:

This semester we will have a number of small-group in-class projects. We expect everyone to help move tables and chairs when necessary for a particular project, and to help restor the tables and chairs to the "neutral" position when we are done. Many hands make light work!

During classtime:

Finally, please do not leave any debris behind: pick up all food/beverage containers, papers, newspapers, etc. near your seat and on your desk when you leave.

ATTENDANCE: Given the nature of the course and program, participation in colloquium meetings is MANDATORY. It is up to you to make certain that your presence has been recorded for every class.

POLICY ON GRADES: There are six components to the grade, each of which is worth a certain percentage of the total. These are Service Day (10%), Scavenger Hunt/Orientation (5%), Field Trip Report (25%), Small Projects (25%), Quizzes (25%), and Academic Website (10%). Here are the details:

GRADE SCALE (Course): > =90, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; <60, F. "+" and "-" grades are given to the top and bottom two-point range, respectively, within each grade.

GRADE SCALE (Group Projects): +, 100; check+, 90; check, 80; check-, 70; -, 60; 0, 0 points

EXTRA CREDIT: ELT offers several different means of earning extra credit this semester. You earn 5 points maximum extra credit per item, up to a total of two items (i.e., 10 points total). Below are the options and requirements for Academic and Service extra credit. You may do two items in one category, or one in each.

COMMUNICATION: Because many of our communications will be by e-mail, all students are required to maintain e-mail accounts and arrange for access to the Internet. Although not a course requirement per se, students should get into the habit of checking their e-mail daily. Failure to do so may cause you to miss crucial course information. Here is a list of available computer labs on campus.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The University of Maryland has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/whatis.html.

The University of Maryland is one of a small number of universities with a student-administered Honors Code and an Honors Pledge, available on the web at http://www.jpo.umd.edu/aca/honorpledge.html.  The code prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures.  The University Senate encourages instructors to ask students to write the following signed statement on each examination or assignment:  "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment)."

ACADEMIC ACCOMODATIONS: If you have a documented disability, you should contact Disability Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall.  Each semester students with documented disabilities should apply to DSS for accommodation request forms which you can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations.  The rules for eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the DSS web site at http://www.counseling.umd.edu/DSS/receiving_serv.html.


Date Topic

9/2/07 (Sun.) Metro Scavenger Hunt
9/4/07 Introduction and Logistics of Class
Being an Effective Student
What is Science? What is Natural History?
9/11/07 The Logic of Science and The Scientific Method
Reading: Sagan Chaps. 1-2
Reading (online): "The Nature of Science" from Science for All Americans
9/18/07 Quiz 1
An Introduction to Carl Sagan's Toolbox and How To Detect Baloney
Reading: Sagan Chaps. 3, 10, 12
9/25/07 Making Science Happen: Who Pays for Science?
Reading: Sagan Chaps. 14, 19, 23
9/29/07 (Sat.) Field Trip I: Chesapeake Beach and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
10/2/07 Quiz 2
Recognizing Good, Bad, and Pseudoscience
Reading: Sagan Chaps. 5, 13
10/7/07 (Sun.) Field Trip II: West Virginia Fossil Hunting
10/9/07 Hollow-Earth Antarctic Space Nazis, Surviving Plesiosaurs, Crop Circles, and Ancient Astronauts: the Lure and Lore of Pseudoscience
Reading: Reading: Sagan Chaps. 4, 7, 11, 17
10/16/07 Workshop: Website Design
10/23/07 Quiz 3
Mad Science & Evil Scientists - Do They Really Exist?
10/28/07 (Sun.) Field Trip III: Sideling Hill
10/30/07 The First Word in "Science Fiction"
HTML project due
11/11/07 (Sun.) Field Trip IV: Maryland Science Center
11/6/07 The Restless Earth: an Introduction to Geology
Reading: Bjornerud Prologue & Chap. 1
11/13/07 Quiz 4
Commando Geology: An Adventure in Deep Time
Reading: Bjornerud Chap. 2
11/20/07 Fossils and the Worlds of the Past
Reading: Bjornerud Chap. 5
11/27/07 Quiz 5
Clocks in the Rocks and Terra Mobile: How Geologists Discovered the Age and Motion of the Earth
Reading: Bjornerud Chap. 6
12/1/07 (Sat.) Field Trip V: Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences
12/4/07 Strange New Worlds: The Wonders of Planetary Geology
12/11/07 Quiz 6
Bangs & Whimpers: Mass Extinctions in Earth History;
Semester Review
Reading: Bjornerud Epilogue

Last modified: 4 September 2007