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Syllabus - Science 1

Science1 is an interdisciplinary course presenting a broad view of the exciting and ever-evolving world of science. This is its comprehensive syllabus as it is offered through Kingsborough's College Now science offering. It is used by the 27 participating faculty, at 23 Brooklyn high schools. It is a guide for the construction of each faculty member's individual syllabus. The Science 1 comprehensive syllabus in its entirety would be impossible to cover in depth in a single semester. So the high school faculty teaching Science 1 choose topics from each the three major sub-headings of the syllabus and devise their personal, coherent course of study. Topics are chosen depending on the interest, involvement in, and level of excitement of the individual teacher for the topics. Does this mean that there are at least 23 different specific syllabi for the course each semester? Yes, and furthermore, faculty can change the pattern of their syllabi from year-to-year as their interests change. And this is why the course is a proven success in terms of student learning, motivation to continue learning, and course transferability. With faculty enthusiasm constantly high for a course of their own design, student interest for the course is high. What an amazing concept: excited, informed faculty produce excited, informed students.
The science course coordinators, Drs. Ortiz and Pilchman, review and approve course syllabi, observe teachers in action each year, hold training sessions at least once per semester, provide additional faculty development workshops (e.g., website design), order supplies upon receipt of teachers' requests, and provide the support needed to make Science 1 a consistent success.
Kingsborough Community College of The City University of New York
College Now 

Syllabus for Science 1:  Issues and Adventures in Science
 3 Credits/3 Hours                          (Revised Summer 2001)

Science Course Coordinators:  Dr. Mary Ortiz (718-368-5724;
                                                   Dr. Peter Pilchman (718-368-5726;

Course Description:  Science 1 explores scientific issues through integration of concepts and techniques from the biological, physical, and health sciences.  Issues examined include mankind's place in the universe, in which the structure and origin of the universe, solar system, the earth and life are considered; mankind's attempts at mastery of the world, which focuses on space and undersea exploration, genetics research and engineering, bio/computer technology, and energy/pollution challenges; and mankind's development of self-knowledge as studied through research on aging, the human mind, fertility, immunity, nutrition, and alternative medicine.

Course Rationale:  Most college-level science courses involve in-depth study of details of specific disciplines (e.g., genetics) within the biological and physical sciences.  However, Science 1 is a multidisciplinary survey of modern science with a major goal being the exciting presentation of current areas of scientific research utilizing traditional and Internet-based approaches.  Background theory is presented as needed understanding that most students in the course have completed a year of both high school level earth science and biology and also, for many, a year of high school chemistry. The hope is that students will become better informed citizens in an ever-more technologically advancing civilization, and that they might see themselves as becoming part of the scientific effort through their eventual career choices. 

Course Objectives:  Upon completion of this course, the students can:

1.  Read, write and speak intelligently about scientific concepts and issues.
2.  Think scientifically and demonstrate this in class and at home by safely, clearly and confidently carrying out and reporting on simple scientific experiments.
3.  Appreciate the wonder of the world around them from a scientific viewpoint and see the relevance of science to their lives.
4.  Understand the unity of science through their exploration of the interrelationships between the biological, physical and health sciences.
5.  Understand science as a process that is fun, fascinating, and critical for the continuation of 21st century life as we know it.

Topical Course Outline

I.  Mankind's place in the universe.

    A.  The origin of the universe.
          1.  The size and age of the universe.
          2.  The Big Bang and other theories of universal origins.
          3.  Astronomy: past and present; Hubble Space Telescope (HST), radio and X-ray astronomy.

   B.  Composition of the universe.
         1.  Sub-atomic physics - how small can matter be subdivided; are there ultimately small particles?
         2.  What is matter?  Origin and evolution of the elements. What is dark matter? 
         3.  What is energy?  What is dark energy?  Gravity vs. an expanding universe?  What is
              Einstein's cosmological constant?
         4.  What's in space?  Mysteries of deep space objects: black holes, quasars, pulsars, neutron stars.
         5.  Near-earth objects and their implications for the earth and mankind's history and ultimate fate:
              comets, asteroids, meteors.  Exploration of the planets and moons of the solar system.

   C.  What is the nature of our planet?
         1.  The age and theories of formation of earth.
         2.  Shapes and position of continents:  drift, plate tectonics.
         3.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and weather - hurricanes, thunder, lightning, wind.

   D.  Life and its Origins.
         1.  Defining life's characteristics - those unique to life and those shared by non-living things.
         2.  Life's diversity - the 6 kingdoms of life on earth.
         3.  The interrelationships between all life on planet earth.
         4.  Life and the oceans; our internal fluidic oceans as life colonizes the land.
         5.  Life elsewhere in the universe- SETI, UFO's.

   E.  Evolutionary theory.
         1.  Explaining life's diversity.
         2.  Explaining fossils, extinctions, vestigial structures, embryology.
         3.  Darwinism, neo-Darwinism.  Creationism and Lamarckism as belief, not science. 
         4.  Evolution of populations, not individuals. 

   F.  How we are formed:  Developmental biology and genetics.
        1.  Development before birth and the mechanism of birth.
        2.  Genetics: classical concepts and recent research - the elucidation of the human
             genome and the complete genomes of other organisms - implications.
        3.  Genetic engineering - cloning any plant or animal including humans; genetically
             altered foods and microorganisms.
        4.  Totipotent cells from embryos; stem cells from adult human and animal bodies
              as alternates to politically/ethically charged human embryo studies.

II.  Our Attempts at Mastery of the Universe.

   A.  Flight
        1.  Principles of flight - powered planes, gliders, birds.
        2.  Supersonic flight - advantages, hazards.
        3.  Space exploration - manned and unmanned rocket flight; space stations.

   B.  Computers
        1.  At home and school - literacy and skills development for workplace advancement.
        2.  Miniaturization and nanotechnology.
        3.  Access to worldwide information through the Internet, and building and accessing websites.

  C.  Light
       1.  The electromagnetic spectrum from cosmic rays to radio waves.
       2.  Lasers and their expanding role in medicine and industry.
       3.  Holography and holographic images.

  D.  Energy
       1.  Sources - wood, coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, tidal, nuclear.
       2.  Problems and controversies concerning sources, especially nuclear.

  E.  Technology's price - man-made plagues and pollution.
       1.  Chernobyl, Three-mile Island, Love canal.
       2.  Are oceans an ultimate dumping ground for all types of waste?
       3.  Herbicides - defoliants, weed killers, lawn maintenance and their relationship to birth defects.
       4.  Pesticides and their relationship to endocrine disruption, biodegradability, and animal extinctions.
       5.  Oil transport, spills and effects on the environment.
       6.  Ever-more powerful, antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and their relation to our human
            prophylactic use of antibiotics and their use in animal feed.
       7.  Do we need to worry about saving the earth?  Or is it saving ourselves as the earth and
            the biosphere evolve without us?

III.  Our Exploration of Ourselves.

  A.  Exploring the brain.
       1.  Neurotransmitters and drugs to prolong or terminate their effects (e.g., serotonin-uptake 
           inhibitors like Prozac).
      2.  Control of neurological disorders:  Parkinson's, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's.
      3.  Recreational drugs - new drugs to meet steady demands.
      4.  Nerve and brain regeneration based on cell division of brain cells and stem cell research.

 B.  Healing - Many Paths
        1.  Modern, western physician in a lab coat - allopathic medicine.  The pervasive use of
            pharmaceuticals - drugs, vaccines, synthetic hormones - their uses and abuses.
      2.  Eastern medicine's style - acupuncture, herbs.
      3.  Other alternatives:  homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic.
      4.  Medicine for the whole person - Holistic medicine.

C.  Immunology
      1.  Advances in organ transplants utilizing immunosuppression.
      2.  Understanding autoimmune disease:  e.g., type I diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis.

D.  Fertility
      1.  In vitro fertilization.
      2.  Laparoscopy and fiber optics.
      3.  In utero surgery for correction of some birth defects.
      4.  Cloning. 

E.  Nutrition
      1.  Tailoring diet to individual metabolic patterns.
      2.  Supplements - their value and pitfalls.
      3.  Weight loss diets vs. fat loss diets; can weight loss be healthily maintained over the long run?

F.  Maturity and Aging
      1.  Aging as an inevitability (for now) and theories of how we age:  free radical theory, glucose
           and aging, mutational theory.
      2.  Aging and evolutionary theory - why mammals age whereas many other organisms do not.
      3.  Aging and disease - their relationship and influence on each other.
      4.  Role of nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle aspects on the aging body.
      5.  Transplanted, artificial, or cloned organs and other replacement parts.

G.  Bioethics
      1.  Science and politics - how they mix:  war on cancer, AIDS and HIV, chemotherapy and tumor
           growth inhibition, pharmaceuticals and all aspects of the human life cycle.
      2.  Science and truth - changing paradigms.  Science as a modern religion - dogmatic belief in one
           way of thinking.
      3.  Science and human values - anything goes especially if you can make money?  Human cloning
           and human and animal experimentation.  Do animals have rights? Do newborn babies feel pain?
      4.  Science and scientific contribution of men and women, and all cultures, now and throughout
           history. White males in white coats are not the only "scientists."

Methods of Teaching - This course emphasizes personal exploration.  Teaching methods include:

1.  Traditional class discussion and lectures where appropriate.
2.  Carefully prepared in-class oral, individual and group reports on topics chosen by both the instructor and the students.
3.  Student research through Internet access and traditional library research resulting in a term paper and
     also an emailed topical report to the instructor. 
4.  Students may carry out and be graded for dissections and other laboratory experimentation.
5.  Guided trips to the American Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium, and other field
     sites are encouraged. 
6.  Utilization of specialized instructional tools is at the instructors discretion based on availability:  flight simulators and airport flight instruction, telescopic observatory instruction, microbiological techniques.  


1.  One written report based on traditional library research - to be graded and returned to the student.
2.  One Internet-researched report e-mailed to the instructor.  Grades and comments are transmitted to
     the student through email.
3.  One oral individual or group report based on a current controversial scientific topic researched by any
     means appropriate.
4.  One laboratory report.
5.  One report based on a field trip (e.g., AMNH, Planetarium).

Method of Evaluation  - Although there is much leeway, the following is a typical grading pattern:

               Assignment                                                            Percentage of Grade 

2 or 3 examinations at 15 or 10% each                                                  30
1 library research paper                                                                           10
1 Internet research paper                                                                         10
1 oral presentation                                                                                    10
1 laboratory report                                                                                     10
1 report from field trip                                                                                10
Final examination, preferably comprehensive (KCC requirement)     20

Textbook concept: textbooks are out-of-dateat their moment of publication.  Consequently, since 1984, when the College Now program began, hardbound textbooks have been optional for this course.  However, each instructor is required to put together readings based on current materials from newspapers (e.g., Tuesday Science Times), scientific periodicals (e.g., Discover, Scientific American, Natural History), and websites of the teacher's choice.  These sources may vary as the instructor's interests and accent change from semester to semester.  The constant is that the course syllabus is the ultimate reference for content, sequence and continuity in the course. 

The Science 1 Website that explores scientific topics in greater depth, and an on-line College Now Science Reader, providing articles reviewing fundamentals within selected Science 1 topics is reachable as a link from the College Now Live website (  Then click College Now) and may be used as required by instructors.

Teacher Resource Materials - College Now instructors, as adjuncts in the KCC Biology Department, have access to materials and supplies used by the Biology Department of Kingsborough Community College.  This includes use of dissecting supplies (e.g., brains, hearts, eyes, pigs, kidneys and rats), multimedia supplies, and duplicating and library services.  Special requests may be honored and should be addressed to the science coordinators:  Dr. Mary Ortiz (718-368-5724, or, and Dr. Peter Pilchman (718-368-5726, or

Selected Bibliography

     Newer references are available through any current book providers and ISBN numbers are provided.  Older references are excellent also (many are classics) and are available through libraries or, possibly, on loan from the science course coordinators.

Mankind's Place in the Universe

Bronowski, J., The Ascent of Man, Little Brown, Boston 1973.
Bronowski, J., Magic, Science, and Civilization, Columbia University Press, NY 1978.
Consolmagno, G., and Davis, D., Turn Left at Orion, Cambridge University Press, NY 1995.
Darling, D., Life Everywhere, Basic Books, NY 2001                                                      0-465-01563-8
Davies, P., God and the New Physics, Simon and Schuster, NY 1983.
Dossy, L., Space, Time, and Medicine, Shambhala, Boulder, Colorado, 1982.
Farrington, B., What Darwin Really Said, Schocken Books, NY 1966
Fisher, H., The Sex Contract:  The Evolution of Human Behavior, Quill, NY 1982.
Fraser, G., Lillestal, E., and Sellvag, I., The Search for Infinity, Reed International Books, Ltd., 1995.
Glasser, R., The Body is the Hero, Bantam, NY 1979.
Hutchins, R., Nature Invented it First, Dodd, Mead, & Co., NY 1980.
Jastrow, R., The Enchanted Loom:  The Case Against Creationism, The MIT Press, Cambridge 1982.
McAleer, N., The Cosmic Mind-Boggling Book, Warner Books, NY 1982.
Morris, D., The Naked Ape, Dell, NY 1967.
Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot, Random House, NY 1994                                                    0-679-76486-0
Sagan, C., Cosmos, Random House, NY 1980.
Scientific American Offprints, The Physics of Everyday Phenomena, W.H. Freeman & Co., San Francisco 1979.
Sole, R., & Goodwin, B., Signs of Life, Basic Books, NY 2000.                                    0-465-01927-7
Thomas, L., The Lives of a Cell, Bantam, NY 1974.
Thomas, L., The Medusa and the Snail, Viking, NY 1979.
Tudge, Colin, The Variety of Life, Oxford University Press, NY 2000.                         0-19-850311-3
Welfare, S., and Fairley, J., Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, A & W Visual Library, NY 1980

Our Attempts at Mastery of the Universe

Asimov, I., Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd Ed., Doubleday & Co., Inc, 1982.
Bergreen, L., Voyage to Mars, Riverhead Books, NY 2000                                         1-57322-166-X
Burke, J, Connections, Little, Brown & Co., Boston 1978.
Caprana, G, Living in Space, Firefly Books Ltd., 2000.                                               1-55209-549-5
De Kruif, P., Microbe Hunters, Harcourt, Brace and Co., NY 1926.
Feldman, A., and Ford, D., Scientists and Inventors, Aldus Books, Ltd., London 1979.
Gardner, M., Aha! Insight, W.H. Freeman & Co., NY 1978.
Gardner, M., Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects, Dover, NY 1957.
Hawking, S., A Brief History of Time [Updated and Expanded Tenth American Edition], Bantam Books, NY 1996.
Judson, H., The Search for Solutions, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, NY 1980.
Jargocki, C., Science Brain-Twisters, Paradoxes and Fallacies, Scribner's sons, NY 1976.
Krupp, E., Echoes of the Ancient Skies:  The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations, Harper and Row, NY 1983.
Kuhn, T., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1962.
Lavers, C., Why Elephants have Big Ears, St. Martin's Press, NY 2000                    0-312-26902-1
MacLachlan, J., Children of Prometheus, Wall and Thompson, Toronto 1989.
Jastrow, R., Red Giants and White Dwarfs, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., NY 1990.
Needham, J., Science in Traditional China, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1981.
Radner, D., and Radner, M., Science and Unreason, Wadsworth, California 1982.
Seife, C., Zero, The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, Penguin Partners, NY 2000.   0-14-029647-6
Serafini, A., The Epic History of Biology, Plenum Press, NY 1993.
Schlesinger, A., Explaining Life, McGraw-Hill, NY 1994.
Ward, P., and Brownlee, D., Rare Earth Copernicus, Springer-Verlag, NY 2000.     0-387-98701-0

Our Exploration of Ourselves

Alcock, J., The Triumph of Sociobiology, Oxford University Press, NY 2001.            0-19-544383-3
Andreasen, N., Brave New Brains, Oxford University Press, NY 2001.                     0-19-514509-7
Barnard, C., The Body Machine, Crown, NY 1981.
Bryan, J., and Clare, J., Organ Farm, Carlton Books, London 2001.                         1-84222-249-X
Campbell, J., The Power of Myth, Anchor Books (Doubleday), NY 1988.
Chopra, D., Quantum Healing, Bantam Books, NY 1990.
Davies, K., Cracking the Genome, The Free Press, NY 2001.                                  0-7432-0479-4
Gallenkamp, C., Dragon Hunters, Penguin Books, NY 2001                                      0-670-89093
Kaptchuk, T., The Web that has no Weaver:  Understanding Chinese Medicine, Congdon and Weed, NY 1983.
Miller, J., The Body in Question, Random House, NY 1978.
Moore, P., Killer Germs, Carlton Books Ltd., London 2001                                       1-84222-150-7
Preston, R., The Hot Zone, Anchor Books, NY 1995.                                                0-385-47956-5
Pringle, H., The Mummy Congress, Hyperion, NY 2001                                           0-7868-6551-2
Ross, I., Aging of Cells, Humans and Societies, Wm. C. Brown, Publishers, 1995.
Haas, E., Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Celestial Arts, Berkeley, 1992.
Storr, A., Music and the Mind, Ballantine, NY 1992.
Walford, R., Maximum Life Span, Norton & Co., NY 1983.
White, M., Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers, William Morran, NY 2001           0-380-97754-0
Zimmer, C., Parasite Rex, The Free Press, NY 2000                                               0-684-85638-7