Physical Science (Astronomy)

Course Number: GS 107
Transcript Title: Physical Science (Astronomy)
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: January 22, 2016
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 30
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 30
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 65 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Surveys astronomy to include historical development of the universe, earth as a planet, earth's moon, planets of the solar system, the sun, stars and galaxies. Includes weekly lab. Prerequisite: MTH 65 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

A student who successfully completes this course should be able to:

  1. Use an understanding of solar system models to explain the motions and phases of astronomical objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky.
  2. Use an understanding of planetary, stellar, galactic and universe scale astronomical processes to assess the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the universe.
  3. Access space science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and compare this information with current models of astronomical processes identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  4. Make field and laboratory based observations and measurements of astronomical phenomena, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with current astronomical models identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  5. Use scientifically valid modes of inquiry, individually and collaboratively, to critically evaluate the hazards and risks posed by astronomical processes both to themselves and society as a whole, evaluate the efficacy of possible ethically robust responses to these risks, and effectively communicate the results of this analysis to their peers.
  6. Assess the contributions of astronomy to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of astronomy in its historical and cultural context.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade. The methods include one or more of the following tools: on-line quizzes, in-class examinations, homework assignments, and laboratory assignments.

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented through televised video with accompanying reading assignments, in three laboratories and a required orientation session, and through supplemental computer activities. Students will be encouraged to work together on an observing project, but will be required to demonstrate mastery of the course content by taking in-class exams. Alternatively, the course can be a standard, in-class course as described above.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Describe astronomical distance and size scales.
  2. Describe the apparent motion of astronomical objects (planets, stars) caused by the rotation and revolution of the Earth.
  3. Describe the historical development of astronomy.
  4. Describe the properties of light.
  5. Describe the properties of the sun and other stars.
  6. Describe how stars evolve.
  7. Describe the properties of the Milky Way galaxy and other galaxies.
  8. Describe the global properties of various planets in the solar system, including the Earth and it’s moon.
  9. Describe the properties of meteorites, comets, and asteroids.

Department Notes

The text and materials have been chosen by the faculty and the emphasis of the course will be the viewpoint of the author(s). This includes relativity, the geologic time scale, and the evolution of the Earth, our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe at large.

Columbia Gorge Community College Science Department stands by the following statement about regarding science instruction:

Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. Theories (such as biological evolution and geologic time scale) are developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance. As such, scientific theories can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation. "Creation science", "Intelligent design" or similar beliefs are not considered legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

The Science Department at Columbia Gorge Community College therefore stands with organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula except to reference and/or clarify its invalidity.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations to successfully complete this course.

Lab B Notes: The lab for this course has been approved as "Lab B". This means that Faculty effort in preparation and evaluation generally occurs outside of scheduled class hours. Class format is a combination of Faculty lectures and demonstrations, guided student interactions and supervised student application of lectures. Students produce written work such as lab notebooks, reports, and responses in writing to assigned questions, and the Instructor is expected to comment on and grade this written work outside of schedule class hours. This evaluation will take place on a regular basis throughout the term.