PHS 505/CHM 594: ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT (3 graduate credits)

July 1 to August 1, 2013. 3:30 to 6:20pm M,T,W,Th

ASU - Tempe campus, Bateman Physical Sciences Center, room H-366

Instructor: Cory Waxman, MNS.  Bioscience High School (

Prerequisites: In-service high school science or mathematics teacher; a college chemistry course and a physics course.

Course overview: Designed to accommodate all high school science teachers, this project and activity-based STEM course will explore the complex relationships among energy, society and the environment.  These relationships will be examined and modeled through perspectives of physics, chemistry, life sciences, mathematics and, to some degree, social science, in order to inform better decision-making and lifestyle choices. Teachers will work collaboratively to develop fun and relevant strategies to enhance their own courses by utilizing the context of sustainability, energy and the environment.  Teachers will adapt existing curriculum materials related to energy and the environment to integrate into their high school courses. Special features include presentations from experts, web resources, solar car and other renewable energy projects, group research projects/presentations/debates, interactive computer activities, carbon footprint investigations, lesson plan development, and an introduction to the SRP POWERING OUR FUTURE high school module (a special version adapted to align with Modeling Instruction). 


Part I, Week 1:  Sustainability and Complex Systems: Interconnections among energy, society, environment and global population dynamics.

Part II Week 2+: The Science of it All (Week 2+)

Part III, Week 3,4,5: Putting it All Together. Effective methods to integrate themes of energy and environment into high school science courses.                      

 Required materials: 3 ring-binder notebook, Thumb drive. (No textbook)

STUDENT LEARNING GOALS: At successful completion of this course, students will have thoroughly answered the following questions:

  1. What is the role of energy in society?
  2. What is the significance of human impacts on earth systems?
  3. What is sustainability and how does it differ from going green and environmentalism?
  4. What role should global challenges have in science education?
  5. How can themes of sustainability and the environment be used to enhance YOUR class?




A.  Attendance: You are expected to attend all days of this course.  If you miss two classes (6 contact hours), your maximum grade will be a B; if 3, you can earn no higher than a C.  Please be on time and ready to go! Report any expected absences to the instructor as soon as possible. ASU credit-seeking students who miss course time are to complete and write a reflection for all activities missed, design an activity modified or developed for pilot use in the classroom this coming year, and present results to the course instructor and peers when appropriate.

B. Assignments and grading policy:

Students will contract for a letter grade on the third class day. Contracting for a letter grade is not a guaranteed grade. Work must be completed at ASU standards and meet all class requirements. All participants whether seeking ASU credit or not, are expected to do activities and homework, as described below for a “C” grade. (Non-credit participants should email the instructor, specifying which days they intend to participate, at the start of the course.)

To be considered* for a letter grade of “C”, you will be expected to do the following:

·      Keep a course notebook or journal.  Teachers have found this notebook to be a valuable resource as they use the curricular materials in their own classes.  Consequently you are expected to record notes pertaining to everything that we do.  When you return home and do the labs and activities you are not going to remember many of the details that came out in discussions and activities.  Place them in your notebook as you work.  When we perform labs you are to record notes from the pre-lab discussion, record and evaluate data (include any graphs you make) and summarize the findings of the “class” in your lab notebook.  (Summarize means write the relationship, the equation if applicable, the general equation and what the slope represents).  You are expected to write down notes that will help you when you doing the lab with your students.  Some teachers benefit by writing down good questions asked during whiteboarding, but that is up to you.  You  also will need to take notes on all activities, demonstrations, and assignments, and then reflect upon the concept they are meant to illustrate.

As part of, or in addition to the notebook, you need to maintain a 3-ring binder to organize various class handouts, worksheets and word problems.

·      Participate actively and thoughtfully in lab whiteboarding sessions, discussion of readings, activities, and problem-solving whiteboarding.

·      With your group, design and build a PV solar car that satisfies the project criteria.

·      Complete the assigned readings and reading reflections.

·      Create a set of smart goals, and use the self-assessment rubric to assess your progress at approximately 2 week intervals (the dates will be given in advance).

·      Create a Modified Energy Unit Plan or comparable body of work appropriate to your subject and for which you obtain prior approval

·      Create a yearlong “Yearlong Plan” which outlines your strategies to build context into your yearlong storyline.

·      Create a personal rationale for (and/or against) the need to integrate into your course an environmental component (two-page minimum)


To be considered* for a “B” grade, you will need to do all work for a “C” plus two additional assignments. 

·      Complete a class demonstration associated with a lesson or presentation that relates to the topics we are covering.  Provide teachers with any needed supporting materials and create a brief assessment that could be used on a midterm or final.

·      Obtain approval and complete a course-related smart goal that goes above and beyond the objectives outlined for a “C” and can be completed by the end of the course.   A proposal for this must be submitted by the end of the 2nd week of class and should require a minimum of 8 hours to complete.


To be considered* for an “A” grade, students do all of the above, and two additional assignments.

·      Read a course-related book, create some written report/reflection, and present the main concepts to the class in a fun and interesting way.

·      Working in a group or individually, use the engineering design cycle and provided tools to create a solar oven and excel model (each individual in the group must create their own excel model) or some comparable project related to your field.



* Tests:  There will be a midterm and final exam on core concepts developed in the course.  Students must demonstrate quantitative and conceptual proficiency on exams to earn the contracted grade.


Note:  Any modification to the above requirements must be arranged in advance with the instructor.


C. Arizona Board of Regents and ASU policies:

Each student is expected to work a minimum of 45 hours per semester hour of credit.

Pass-fail is not an option for graduate courses.

“B” grade means average; 3.0 GPA is minimum requirement for MNS & other graduate degrees.

Incomplete: only for special circumstances. Must finish course within 1 year, or it becomes “E”.

An instructor may drop a student for non-attendance during the first two class days (in summer).

An instructor may withdraw a student with a mark of "W" or a grade of "E" only in cases of disruptive classroom behavior."


D.  Academic dishonesty policy: Refer to . Students who suspect a policy violation are encouraged to discuss their concerns with the instructor. ASU has a grade of "XE" which can become part of a transcript and permanent academic records and explicitly means that the student failed a course because of academic dishonesty.          


E. Disability policy: Qualified students with disabilities who require disability accommodations in this course are encouraged to make their requests to the instructor on the first class day or before. Note: Prior to receiving disability accommodations, verification of eligibility from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) is required. Disability information is confidential.