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CSPS118G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER I: Methods in Earth, Life & Time
Fall 2002
CCC1100 Tue, 3:30-5:00

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Campus phone: 5-4084
Office hours: Tue 8:30 - 11:00 AM or by appointment

Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Campus phone: 5-2808
Office Hours: Thu 3:00 - 5:00 PM or by appointment

Ms. Cynthia Shaw
Office: Centreville 1208
Campus phone: 5-2537
Office Hours: Mon 3:00 - 5:00 PM or by appointment

COURSE ORGANIZATION: One meeting per week, three weekend field trips.

Required Readings: This semester there are two required texts:

Reading assignments must be done by the classtime listed.
Additional short readings will be handed out in class

COURSE OBJECTIVES AND PHILOSOPHY: Semester 1 concentrates on the methods of science in general, and the natural historical sciences (historical geology and evolutionary biology) in particular.

CLASSROOM POLICIES: You should bring the following to every single colooquium 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 restore 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.

POLICY ON GRADES: There are seven components of which each is worth a certain percentage of the total. These are: Attendance (20%), Field Trips (20%), Group Projects (25%), Quizzes (15%), HTML Project (5%); Service Day (10%), and Res-Life Events (5%). Here are the details:

  1. Colloquium Attendance: (20%) Participation in colloquium meetings is mandatory, and attendance will be taken. A default grade of A (20 full percent points) of the total final grade will be given for attendance. Each student may have one unexcused absence from a class without penalty. After that, their attendance grade will be lowered by 5% (points) with each additional unexcused absence. PLEASE NOTE:

  2. Field Trip Attendance: (20%) This semester there will be three (3) field trips. It is mandatory that every student participates in two (2) of these trips. These trips are to:

    If you only attend one field trip, you will only get only 10 of the 20%; if you do not go on any field trip, this part of your grade will be a 0.

  3. In-class Small Group Projects: (25%) Throughout the semester there will be a series of in-class assignments. These will be conducted in small groups (to be created on those dates), with your results handed in at the end of that classtime. Everyone in each small group receives the same grade for that day's work.

  4. Quizzes:(15%) To verify that you are, in fact, mastering the material of the course, four (4) scheduled quizzes will be administered during the semester. We will automatically drop the lowest of the four grades. NOTE: Quiz materials will cover both the classes and the readings.

  5. HTML Project:(5%) In the mid-semester we will have a small workshop teaching the basics of HTML coding and website design. You will be responsible for creating a webpage to be mounted on our site; successful completion of this project is worth 5% of the total.

  6. Service Day:(10%) All CPS students are expected to participate in Service Day. If you missed Service Day, you MUST see the instructors and work out some arrangement for a make-up task or you will receive a 0 for this portion of your grade.

  7. Resident Life Programs:(5%) As part of the living-learning commitment of CPS, students in ELT are expected to participate in 2 out of the 7 programs on Choose Again offered by Centrevillešs Resident Life staff. There will be two programs each in September, October, and November and one in December. You may attend all eight if you wish (and quite frankly many of them may be very useful to you), but you must attend two. If you only attend one of these you will receive only 1/2 of this portion of the grade; failure to attend any will result in 0. Note that even non-Centreville residents in ELT must attend these. However, all this being said, we hope that these programs will make for a more effective and pleasant experience in becoming accustomed to college life.

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

GRADE SCALE (Group Projects): =, 5 points; check+, 4 points; check, 3 points; check-, 2 points; -, 1 point; 0,0 points.

COMMUNICATION: Because many of our communications will be by e-mail, all students are expected 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.

DISHONESTY: Evidence of dishonesty, cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, or plagiarism on even one assignment will be forwarded to the Honor Council for review. See pp. 44-47 of the UMCP 2002/2003 Undergraduate Catalog or online. Have a nice day.


  • 9/3
    Program: Introduction and Logistics of Class
    Lecture: Being an Effective Student
    Lecture: What is Science? What is Natural History?

  • 9/10
    Survey: Knowledge about Natural History
    Lecture: The Logic of Science
    Group Project: Falsifiability
    Reading: Sagan Chaps. 1-8

  • 9/17
    Quiz 1
    Group Project: Logical Fallacies & Baloney Detection
    Reading:Sagan Chaps. 9-16

  • 9/24
    Group Project: Science as a Candle in the Dark
    Reading: Sagan Chaps. 17-25
    AFTER CLASS: Field Trip 1 Ropes Course (on campus)

  • 10/01
    Lecture: Birth of Geology
    Reading (handed out in class): Lyell's Principles of Geology "Chapter 1"

  • 10/05 (Sat) Field Trip 2: Chesapeake Beach and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

  • 10/08
    Lecture & Group Project: Every Rock is a Record of the Environment in Which it formed

  • 10/15
    Quiz 2
    Group Project: Stratigraphy & Time
    Reading: Basin & Range

  • 10/22
    Group Project: Terra Mobile: A Look at Plate Tectonics

  • 10/27 (Sun) Field Trip 3: Sideling Hill & Sandy Mile Creek

  • 10/29
    Lecture & Group Project: Evidence of Evolution
    Handout: Darwin's Variations of Animals and Plants Under Domestication "Introduction"

  • 11/5
    Discovery of Evolutionary
    Reading: Darwin Variations "Introduction" (Handed out previous week)

  • 11/12
    Quiz 3
    Group Project: Natural Selection, Patterns & Processes of Evolution

  • 11/19
    Group Project: Comparing Different Annals of the Former World
    Reading: In Suspect Terrain OR Rising from the Plains OR Assembling California

  • 11/26
    Lecture & Group Project: The Iron Cladist

  • 12/3
    Group Project: Cladistics, What is it Good For?
    Reading: Crossing the Craton

  • 12/04
    Quiz 4
    Review of Semester Topics

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