Information] [Weekly Schedule] [Blackboard]
[Contacting the Instructor][Learning
Last modified: 8/22/04 at 11PM
Mars as Seen from the HST--closest approach
to Earth on August 27, 2003
If you are new to Astronomy 10, take a a few minutes to read the course
description and information below. When you are done, be sure to check
on the Weekly Schedule, Contacting Instructor, Learning
Resources, and Blackboard links listed above and below.
Blackboard is the course "template" where you log in to complete assignments,
take quizzes, and communicate with your classmates and instructor.
Since this is a distance education course, there are no official
class meetings. However, there will be an orientation session on Tuesday, August 24, in Room 2204
on campus from 7:00- 7:50 p.m. Bring
your questions, or simply come and meet your instructor and classmates
in an informal setting! Students are strongly encouraged to attend.
Information from the orientation is likely to save you a great deal
of time and energy!
started in Astro 10 DE
general information about learning Astronomy via the Internet,
as well as course requirements, grading standards, and necessary materials
Schedule: an interactive schedule containing information about
all assignments, quizzes, and exams
the Instructor: office hours, mail, telephone number, a complete
schedule, and a relatively recent photo!
Resources: a list of sites on the web that are frequently
used for assignments and quizzes in this course, as well some that
might be of help on your research project(s)
Blackboard: a set of linked
applications for students enrolled in the course, including course
messages, , Class discussions area, Quizzes and Exams area, and Assignments
Course Information: contents
Astro 10 is
a one-semester introduction to the solar system. Along the way, we
will explore the motions of the stars, planets, and moons. We will
also study the Earth, inside and out (literally!), and some of the
environmental problems that we six billion humans are facing here
Using the Earth as a model, we can also learn about other worlds,
starting with the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the outer planets.
As part of our exploration, we will discuss theories on the formation
of the solar system and study evidence for these theories contained
in the debris--comets and asteroids--still in orbit about the sun.
Finally, we will apply what what have learned about our own solar
system to the search for planets outside the solar system and the
possibility of finding intelligent life on these new worlds.
10 DE is an Internet based, distance education course, you will need
to use the Internet to access assignments, take quizzes, and communicate
with the instructor. To facilitate this process, we will be using
a distance education template called "Blackboard". In practice, you
will log onto the Blackboard site for this course to begin each study
To log onto
Blackboard, please view these log-in instructions from the Las Positas College Distance
Ed department. If you follow the instructions, you can't miss!
For more information
about Blackboard, go
to the LPC Distance Education home page.
The textbook for our course is Bennett's The Solar System,
the Cosmic perspective 3rd edition (2005). It is available
at the LPC bookstore. If you purchase it from the bookstore,
you will also receive the PlanetTales 5 CD-ROM (also required)
for no charge when it arrives early in the semester.
If you purchase
The Solar System, the Cosmic
perspective 3rd edition
on-line or elsewhere the PlanetTales CD will cost $12.50
(please contact the instructor). Astronomy 30 students will
also need the Voyager "Sky Gazer" CD-ROM which also comes
packaged with the book.
Note: Benett's "The Solar System--The
Cosmic Perspective" is a "split"-- approximately half
of Bennett's Astronomy, the Cosmic Perspective (the
3rd edition, 2005). The other half is currently used in astronomy
materials: "PlanetTales " CD-ROM. Available in the campus
bookstore, or online. This CD-ROM is an essential part of the course. Many
quiz and exam questions draw direction from Material on the CD-ROM!
If you purchase the book from the
bookstore, the CD will be made available free of charge when it arrives
(hopefully the first week of September). You will be notified via
announcement and message in Blackboard and announcement when it is
in and your options
for getting in person of via mail.
Participation and Assessment ..........
in Astronomy 10 will be based on your performance on quizzes, exams,
assignments, a final project, and participation in class discussions.
Each these graded items will be discussed in more detail below.
You are expected
to make frequent use of the discussion area in Blackboard to post
questions, provide feedback to your classmates, read announcements
from the instructor, and simply discuss topics of interest to you.
This area constitutes your "attendance" in Astronomy 10. More importantly,
however, it will be a primary learning tool, allowing you to explore
astronomy by interacting with others. You will find that as your knowledge
of astronomy grows, your ability and desire to write about it will
grow as well. In some cases, assignments will require you to post
items in the discussion area. For these posts, you will receive a
set number of points toward your final grade. A larger number of points,
however, will be given at the instructor's discretion for your participation
..i.e., the frequency and quality of your responses to the posted
items from your classmates. To give you some idea of the requirements
for a particular grade on your discussion posts, check out Rubrics for the Discussion Area.
The idea of
the discussion board is simple. Check in frequently, and post items
of interest to you, and respond when you can. It is hoped and expected
that all students will receive full credit for this portion of the
class. Your feedback will help the instructor make this area more
interesting and useful for everyone. If you try to post once a week
following the guidelines in the Rubrics section above, you will undoubtedly
earn the maximum grade for the discussion portion of this class.
Grades in Astronomy
10-Distance Education are based on your performance in four areas:
- tutorials and practice quizzes from The
Astronomy Place website (optional--see below)
- 11 online quizzes,
- one midterm exam,
- four research assignments,
- a final exam,
- course participation in
These assignments are
described in more detail below.
lesson, you should read the appropriate sections described in the
Weekly Schedule. These assignments will include sections from the
textbook, a CD-ROM entitled "PlanetTales" that was created especially
for this course, and selected external web sites.
There will be 11 quizzes on dates given in the schedule (although
Quiz 0 is only a test that you have read and understood the course
information (most of which is listed here!). In practice, these
online quizzes function as both homework assignments and study aids
since you may work on them over a period of several days. Quizzes
will be based on text, Internet, and materials from "PlanetTales."
Quiz due dates are listed in the syllabus, while the quiz itself
can be found in the "Quizzes and Exams" section of the course. Each
quiz must be completed (i.e. submitted) by the due date for full
credit. Solutions to the quizzes will be provided immediately after
submission. To take the quizzes, you will
need to be be in Blackboard, in the quizzes and exams area.
Tutorials and Pracetice Quizzes from The Astronomy
are a second set of practice or "tutorial quizzes" provided
by the textbook authors, and located in "The
Astronomy Place". These quizzes will allow you to actively
study the course material, and get insight into the regular quiz
questions. Some of the questions from the 10 graded quizzes will
even be identical to the practice quiz questions.
can take the Tutorial Quizzes any two times--keep your best score!
Be sure to save the quizzes and the feedback, either on your computer
or as a hard copy. This will help you succeed with the quizzes above.
The Tutorial Quizzes scores themselves are entered in a gradebook
which will be used in determining your final grade in the class
(see below). You can elect not to do them, or do only a few and
it will not count against you, but I strongely advise you to keep
up with the tutorial quizzes and let them help you percent in the
class as well! The class schedule will provide information about
when you need to take the tutorial quizzes--there are no formal
due dates, but in order for them to count, you must complete approximately
half before the midterm, and half before the final exam..
When you go to this site,
- Look for a picture
of your textbook (The Cosmic Perspective 3rd Ed: Stars, Galaxies,
& Cosmology by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit.) and
click on it.
- Register for the site using the long ID
number contained in your textbook. If you don't have such an ID
number you can obtain one from the publisher for a small fee--look
for links directing you to purchase an ID number.
- Once you have logged
in you will need to join the class so that your scores are recorded
in the proper gradebook. Your class ID number is: cm998017
- Once you have joined the class, check out the options avaialble.
For credit, you will need to view the tutorials and take the practice
- Take the Tutorial
Quizzes two times and save your highest score. Be sure to save
the quizzes and the feedback, either on your computer or as a
hard copy. Your score should be automatically recorded in the
gradebook, but just in case, keep good records of your feedback
and score..this will help you study as well as provide a record
of your work.
- As you view the tutorials, keep a "log" of of your
progress. In one sentence of more, describe What the tutorial
was about, what you learned, what questions you still have, and
what date you did it. When you turn in your final project, this
journal should be attached to the end. Although you can work together
with another person, your journal must be your own work and must
If you miss a deadline for
submitting a quiz, you can still submit quizzes 1 - 9 late! The price
you pay for lateness, however, is an automatic 10% deduction for submission
after a deadline. Quiz 0, and quiz 10 must be submitted by the due
date listed in the course schedule.
Unless the instructor fails to post a quiz on time, there will
be no exceptions made to this policy ...i.e., If you had to work,
or were ill, or had a relative in need of care, or if your Internet
service provider went off line, you will still miss at least 10% on
that quiz if its late. I apologize for this strict policy, but 10%
on a single quiz is very unlikely to harm your overall grade (see
the grading policy below). On the other hand, please feel free to
let me know if there are legitimate problems going on. At the very
least, I will know that you are still involved in the class and perhaps
I can help in some small way!
vs. fair use policy
In my opinion
(as both an instructor and as a long time student), there are three
important components to learning a subject: learning on your own,
learning by interacting with others, and getting feedback to see whether
you really understand something. In Astronomy 10, I wish to strongly
encourage all three methods. Most of your assignments will be designed
to do just that ...getting you to do some research to answer questions
that will pique your interest and help you learn, and then discuss
the responses with others, either in person or through the class discussions
however, represent a bit of a gray area. On the quizzes, you will
be asked a series of questions (mostly multiple choice) that test
your understanding of a topic, or at least your familiarity with the
learning resources (i.e. where to find the answer in the text, or
on the web). So here is the dilemma: Can you ask a classmate or someone
else about quiz questions? The answer is "sometimes."
To make this
a bit less cryptic, here is how you cheat on
Student Albert takes the quiz and submits his answers. Feedback is
automatically output for each question. Albert's friend, Sabrina,
then gets the feedback (i.e. the correct answers)
from Albert and uses those answers to get a higher score on the quiz.
In this case, both Albert and Sabrina are clearly cheating.
On the other
hand, here is what is fair in taking a quiz:
- Take it yourself without
asking anyone else.
- Send an message to,
or phone, the instructor, asking specific questions.
- Ask a classmate where
to look for information leading to the answer.
While it is
difficult for the instructor to be positive if a student is or is
not taking a quiz fairly, it is usually easy enough to tell by comparing
the times that a quiz is submitted with the score and by comparing
performance on the exams with performance on quizzes. Such problems
are rare at Las Positas, but they have occurred. Please don't be overly
worried; I am not expecting to find any evidence of cheating!
There is one
midterm, and one final exam . Exams will be multiple choice, short
answer, and short essay. The content for both exams will rely heavily
on quizzes, as well as some important text, Internet, and "PlanetTales"
topics not covered on quizzes. If you miss the midterm exam without
arranging for a make-up exam, you may still take a make-up at the
discretion of the instructor (i.e. if missing the exam was unavoidable).
However, 10% will be deducted from your point total.
There will be
no "after the fact" make-up for the final exam unless prior arrangements
have been made well ahead of time.
There will be
three research assignments in Blackboard. The first assignment will
be for you to take, and then administer a survey of basic astronomical
knowledge. The results will be reported in the discussion area of
Blackboard. The second assignment will be an current event summary,
basically a report on a print article of current interest in solar
system astronomy backed up by information that you find on the web.
The third assignment is a mini research project, which can be a paper
or web site. More of this will be discussed below. For some "above
and beyond" examples, see:
Astro 10 student projects on the web
10 is a brief introduction
to the Solar system, you are encouraged to study a topic of interest
in more detail than covered in the course. The only criteria for choosing
a topic is that it be directly related to course material and that
you have access to three recent references on the subject, both electronic
and print (two of one, one of the other), and that your material is
current (for example, a report of Mars should include the results
of the most recent spacecraft missions). In particular, you are
encouraged to explore areas of current debate such as:
and search for extra-solar planets
of life on Mars
missions to Mars
structure of Europa
of finding life on Europa or other Jovian moon
of Mars or Venus
of the Earth's atmosphere
for colonizing the moon or other world.
mission to Saturn
To see some examples of
previous student work (web pages only), check out the "Student Projects"
featured in the Learning Resources Page, linked to the top of this