Dec 10, 2023  
2022-2023 General Catalog 
2022-2023 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PHS 120 - Exploring Physical Science

Last Date of Approval: fall 2018

4 Credits
Total Lecture Hours: 45
Total Lab Hours: 30
Total Clinical Hours: 0
Total Work-Based Experience Hours: 0

Course Description:
This course is a hands-on, inquiry-based course for prospective elementary teachers and non-science majors. Emphasis is on the search for and use of evidence as to the basis for drawing conclusions. This course aims to provide a well-grounded understanding of selected fundamental physical science concepts within electricity, light, heat, and the nature of matter. Critical thinking skills learning in this course will help prepare students for their future careers. This course satisfies a general education requirement in the Math/Science area.



Mode(s) of Instruction: face-to-face and/or online

Credit for Prior Learning: There are no Credit for Prior Learning opportunities for this course.

Course Fees: Online: 8-week online students will have a per credit hour e-book fee automatically charged to their account.

Common Course Assessment(s): None

Student Learning Outcomes and Objectives:
Student Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Understand that light is emitted in all directions in straight lines from a source.

    Task 1:  Using a diagram, explain the orientation and relative size of the image when a pinhole is placed between a lamp and a screen.

    Task 2:  Using a diagram, explain the total solar eclipse in the umbra of the moon’s shadow and the partial eclipse in the penumbra.

  1. Understand the Law of Reflection for rays of light.

    Task 1:  Given a diagram of a ray of light incident upon a mirror, predict the path of the reflected ray.

    Task 2:  Given a diagram of parallel rays of light incident upon concave and convex mirrors, predict the paths of the reflected rays.

    Task 3:  Contrast the specular reflection of light from mirrors with the diffuse reflection from white paper.

  1. Understand the refraction of light as it changes mediums.

    Task 1:  Given a diagram of a ray of light incident upon a transparent solid or liquid, predict the path of the refracted ray in the new medium.

    Task 2:  Given a diagram of a ray of light passing from a transparent liquid or solid into air, predict the path of the light ray in the air.

    Task 3:  Sketch how a light ray will behave when entering a prism, and again as it leaves the prism on the other side.

    Task 4:  Describe and explain the similarities and differences in the images formed by pinholes and converging lenses.

    Task 5:  Describe the relationship between the relative bulb-lens and lens-screen distances, and the size of the images on the screen.

  1. Understand the functions of the cornea, lens, retina, iris, pupil and optic nerve of the human eye.

    Task 1:  Explain how the eye adjusts to form images of nearby and distant objects clearly, although not simultaneously.

    Task 2:  Contrast the causes of nearsightedness and farsightedness, and the types of corrective lenses for each condition.

    Task 3:  Explain the existence of the “blind spot”.

    Task 4:  Explain how different shades of grey are produced in newspaper photos.

  1. Understand the Red-Green-Blue cone theory for color vision.

    Task 1:  Predict the resulting color seen on a screen when red, green and blue light spots are overlapped.

    Task 2:  Identify pairs of complementary colors.

    Task 3:  Explain how color TV sets produce the colors yellow, cyan and magenta.

  1. Understand the relationship between heat and temperature.

    Task 1:  Develop and sketch a chart model (temperature versus quantity) to predict the final temperature when quantities of water at different initial temperatures are mixed.

    Task 2:  Determine the quantity of heat in calories gained or lost by a given quantity of substance as its temperature changes a stated amount.

    Task 3:  Describe and explain the relationship between the “Heat Lost” and “Heat Gained” when warm and cold materials are mixed.

    Task 4:  Explain how the temperature of a flame can be estimated by first heating a steel washer in the flame, and then immersing the hot washer in water.

  1. Understand the heat involved in phase changes.

    Task 1:  Explain the plateaus observed in temperature versus time graphs during melting, freezing, vaporizing and condensing.

    Task 2:  Describe an experimental procedure by which the heat required to melt each gram of ice can be determined.

    Task 3:  Describe how the heat released as 1 gram of steam condenses can be experimental determined.

  1. Understand the Law of Conservation of Energy.

    Task 1:  Identify examples of forms of energy, including energy of motion and potential energy.

    Task 2:  Explain the concept of conservation of energy as it applies to situations such as a diver climbing a ladder of a diving board, then diving into a swimming pool.

  1. Understand the Law of Increasing Entropy.

    Task 1:  Describe how phenomena such as the melting of ice in a glass of soda, evaporating cologne, keeping your room “straight”, and the mixing of food coloring with water illustrate the tendency toward increasing disorderliness.

    Task 2:  Explain how the principle of irreversibility is a consequence of increasing disorderliness.

    Task 3:  Explain the relationship between increasing entropy and environmental science, as well as cosmological theories for the ultimate fate of the universe.

  1.  Develop a model to explain the flow of electricity in a simple circuit.

    Task 1:  On a diagram of a 3 bulb (series) circuit, place arrows whose lengths indicate magnitudes of currents in the various sections of the circuit.

    Task 2:  Describe how a compass placed under an electricity-bearing wire can be used to indicate the magnitude and direction of the electricity in the wire.

    Task 3:  Predict and explain the relative times for the batteries to run down in 1, 2 and 3 bulb circuits.

  1.  Understand the relationship between resistance (“obstacleness”), voltage (“oomph”), and current (flow of charge) in electric circuits.

    Task 1:  Predict the effects of using connecting wires of different lengths and compositions on the bulb brightness and compass deflections.

    Task 2:  Predict the effect of adding more batteries (more “oomph”) in the circuit on the brightness of bulbs and deflection of the compass.

  1.  Develop a model to explain the lighting of a bulb and deflections of a compass under a wire as a switch is closed in a circuit including a capacitor.

    Task 1:  Compare the directions of compass deflections when a capacitor is first charged with the directions of deflection after batteries are removed from the circuit and the switch is again closed.

    Task 2:  Explain the lighting of the bulb and deflections of the compass when the capacitor in the circuit is incrementally charged by 2, 4 and 6 batteries.

  1.  Understand that electricity is something that exists everywhere, and that the battery is an “oomph” producer and not a source of electricity.

    Task 1:  Describe the interaction between 2 pieces of tape charged in the same way.

    Task 2:  Describe the interactions between 2 pieces of tape charged differently and a third uncharged and charged tape.

    Task 3:  Based on results of experiments with pie pans, one of which being placed between charged foam squares, suggest a model for how charge influences electricity to move through a circuit.

  1.  Understand the nature of charge flow in circuits with multiple paths.

    Task 1:  Compare the brightness of 2-3 bulbs arranged in a single path with the brightness of 2-3 bulbs arranged with multiple paths (in parallel).

    Task 2:  Compare the overall resistances of 2-3 bulbs connected in series with a circuit with 2-3 bulbs arranged with alternate paths.

    Task 3:  Predict and explain the relative times required for batteries to run down for 2-3 bulbs arranged in parallel versus 2-3 bulbs connected in series.

    Task 4:  For a circuit with a combination of series and parallel paths, summarize the relationships between the current in single paths and the currents in the multiple paths.

  1.  Understand the relationship between mass, volume and density.

    Task 1:  From a graph of mass versus volume, determine the density of a substance.

    Task 2:  Describe the measurements required to determine the densities of cans of regular and diet soda.

    Task 3:  Explain the observed relative ability to float of regular versus diet soda in water, rubbing alcohol and salt water.

    Task 4:  Describe the relationship between the densities of various liquid substances and their viscosities.

    Task 5:  State the criteria for predicting whether a balloon of gas will float or sink in air.

  1.  Understand the distinction between pure substances, homogenous and heterogeneous mixtures.

    Task 1:  Describe and explain the difference in the temperature changes of pure water versus an alcohol-water mixture as they are heated and vaporized.

    Task 2:  Describe how a homogenous mixture like water and alcohol can be separated on the basis of each constituent’s properties.

    Task 3:  Describe how a heterogeneous mixture like salt and sand can be separated by using each substance’s properties.

  1.  Develop a particle model for the nature of matter.

    Task 1:  Contrast the natures of the particles in pure substances versus mixtures.

    Task 2:  Contrast the spacing between particles of solids, liquids and gases.

    Task 3:  Identify and explain factors that influence the rate of dissolving of a solid in a liquid.

  1.  Understand the nature of a chemical change.

    Task 1:  Identify evidences that a chemical change has occurred.

    Task 2:  Describe what happens to the particles when a chemical change occurs.

    Task 3:  Identify and explain factors that influence the rates of chemical changes.

    Task 4:  Describe what happens when electrical energy is added to water.

  1.  Understand how elements can be identified by their spectra.

    Task 1:  Explain how flame tests and line spectra can be used to determine what elements are present in a substance.

  1.  Understand how substances can be classified by their chemical properties.

    Task 1:  Describe how substances that are acids can be distinguished from substances that are bases.

    Task 2:  Contrast the particles present in acids from the particles found in bases.

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