College Of Arts And Sciences | Exploring Mars
E105 | 0191 | Basu

12:20-1:10 MW GY 126
The course is an investigative, research oriented exercise in gathering,
sifting, and synthesizing information from various sources and direct
observations.  Our excitement is in doing so with current data from NASA's
exploration of Mars. We will learn to browse the web efficiently and
download data from various NASA sites. Students will pose critical questions
from their own inquiry and form an opinion of their own. One important
aspect of forming a scientific opinion is to have an open mind and be
willing to accept another opinion as superior.

The course will emphasize how scientific paradigms have been destroyed and
replaced, and, how scientific opinion is split on interpreting current data.
The rigor will be equivalent to any other 100-level science course. We will
explain the concepts and the data in plain simple English with minimal use
of technical terms. Laboratory and field exercises are designed for (1)
gaining hands-on experience with the material that scientists work with, and
(2) solving a problem using methodology that in essence is analogous to that
used for inferring the geology of Mars. We expect students to write in
simple English whatever they learn from the web-derived data (photographs,
text, numbers) and laboratory exercises. This will enable them to judge
opinions of scientists based on the same data. We expect students to form
their own opinion that may or may not coincide with the consensus. The
important goal here is to critically evaluate all evidence and make a
decision on the relative robustness of the evidence.

Because of the non-traditional format, students will write five
question-sets in addition to three short in-class quizzes and one
comprehensive final examination. Regular attendance is expected but not
enforced, i.e., attendance and learning are students' responsibilities.