P120 Energy and Technology, Fall 2014

I. Course Description:

P120 Provides the physical basis for understanding interaction of technology and society, and for solution of problems, such as energy use and the direction of technological change. In particular we will try to understand some of the physical limits mandated by scientific laws on humankind's use of environmental resources, energy resources in particular.

II. Course Objectives

By the end of the course students should:

  1. Have a grasp of some of the fundamental theories which underlie our current understanding of the physical world.
  2. Be able state why scientists have come to think these few simple ideas accurately explain most physical phenomena in the physical world.
  3. Be able to analyze a physical situation (described in words and/or pictures) and apply the relevant concepts in a qualitative or quantitative way (whichever is appropriate) to predict or explain the behavior of the system being examined.
  4. Understand that the science world view is not a belief system but is a very useful tool for understanding, explaining and predicting how many events in the world around us occur.
  5. See that the problem solving skills learned in the course are transferable to other venues.
  6. Have some idea of the limitations of science, that scientific answers do not yet exist for many phenomenon in the world.

III. Required Texts:

III. Course Requirements (a.k.a. How to make an A in this class!):

  1. Attend class. More than two absences for reasons other than illness, etc., will be reflected in the grade. If you know you are going to miss a class, let the instructor know ahead of time. Please note that regulations now require instructors to report students who have stopped attending; this may require repayment of aid that students have received.
  2. Read the assigned reading. The assigned reading is listed on the course Schedule page. Any changes to the schedule will appear on that web page. We will discuss the material in class as a group; the material will not be presented to the class so it is important that you come to class having read the assignment. There may be a few extra reading assignments during the semester.
  3. Contribute to class discussion. You learn a lot more if you come prepared and speak up about your views of the course material. Class discussion helps you remember course material. You are free to express any opinions you have about energy, climate, etc. but you should be prepared to back up those opinions with scientific facts.
  4. Turn in written assignments. There will be short weekly assignments to be handed in during class (see the Schedule page for updates) as well as homework exercises.
  5. Pass the Tests. There will be a short (15min) weekly quiz every Wed.
  6. Pass the Final. There will be a comprehensive take home final. You may use outside sources but be sure you do not plagiarize (you can be dismissed from IUS for plagiarism). Either put the ideas in your own words or, if you quote other sources be sure to put an exact reference to where you found the information. If two students have the same wording to their answers they both will receive zero credit for that answer.

IV. Grading:

Your grade will be based on:

  1. Class Participation: 5%.
  2. Class Assignments: 25%.
  3. Weekly quizzes: 50%.
  4. Final: 20%.

V. Other Issues:

Students who have a disability that requires accommodations in the classroom should contact the Office of Disability Services by phone (941-2243) or email (mtspring@ius.edu) early in the semester so that their learning needs may be appropriately met. The student will need to provide documentation of the disability and if further documentation is needed, recommendations can be provided from the Office of Disability Services. Additional information about the Office of Disability Services may be obtained at: http://www.ius.edu/asc/disabilityservices/

VI. Schedule of Assignments:

Readings, in-class assignments, homework and any schedule changes will appear on the Schedule Page, which will be updated weekly.


Contact Dr. K. Forinash, for comments/suggestions/corrections.