Course Content and Outcomes Guides (CCOG)

Course Content and Outcomes Guide for GS 107 Effective Fall 2020

Course Number:
GS 107
Course Title:
Physical Science (Astronomy)
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

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 a weekly lab. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 and (MTH 58 or MTH 65) or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The purpose of this course is to gain knowledge and appreciation of astronomy. This one-term survey course can be used to partly fulfill General Education/Discipline Studies graduation requirements for the Associate Degree, and has been approved for block transfer.

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

Field Based Learning Statement

Earth and space sciences are based on observations, measurements and samples collected in the field. Field-based learning is recommended by numerous professional Geology organizations, including the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Field-based learning improves both metacognition and spatial/visualization abilities while helping to transfer basic concepts to long-term memory by engaging multiple senses at the same time. Spatial thinking is critical to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Field work may include:

  • Developing skills in site characterization
  • Application of key terms and concepts
  • Measurement and data collection
  • Interpretation of data and observations, and fitting them to a larger context

Field work may be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or other means to field sites, carrying equipment and supplies, and making measurements in unusual or awkward positions for a length of time.  Field work may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel stress, etc.). Field work can be adapted to individual abilities.

Creation Science Statement

Regarding the teaching of basic scientific principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution), the Portland Community College Geology/General Science Subject Area Committee stands by the following statements about what is science.

  • Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. A scientific theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  • “Creation science,” also known as scientific creationism, is not considered a 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).
  • Geology/General Science instructors at Portland Community College will teach the generally accepted basic geologic principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution) not as absolute truth, but as the most widely accepted explanation for our observations of the world around us. Instructors will not teach that “creation science” is anything other than pseudoscience.
  • Because "creation science", "scientific creationism", and "intelligent design" are essentially religious doctrines that are at odds with open scientific inquiry, the Geology/General Sciences SAC at Portland Community College stands with such organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geological Institute in excluding these doctrines from our science curriculum.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students 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.

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented in a lecture/discussion format accompanied by laboratory exercises.  Other educationally sound methods may be employed such as guest lectures, field trips, research papers, presentations, and small group work.

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, and homework assignments, and laboratory assignments.

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.