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Natural Science for Non-Science Majors

Sandra Swenson
John Jay College, CUNY


Natural Science is an interdisciplinary course targeted for non-science majors. Science content includes The Nature of Science, The Physical World, Chemistry, Biology, and Geology. There will be an emphasis on practical real-world problems.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Students enroll in one course that includes both lecture and lab. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Course Context:

This is an introductory course for non-science majors and is a prerequisite for students' second required science course - environmental science or forensic science.

Course Goals:

Students will be able to use data (from measurement and observation) to help explain natural phenomena, ranging from chemical reactions to plate tectonic processes.

Course Features:

Teaching the Process of Science

Traditionally, this course describes the process of science in the beginning of the semester with references to the Visionlearning website on the Scientific Method, Visualizing Scientific Data, and the Metric System. More recently the curriculum has incorporated new chapters: Research Methods: The Practice of Science, Data Analysis and Interpretation, Data: Graphs and Visual Data.

When the concepts of the Law of Conservation of Matter and Definite Proportions are introduced, Dalton's Playhouse and the related activity serves as a means to demonstrate the process of science.

When we study Plate Tectonics we analyze geospatial data using GeoMapApp.


Assessment is based on student description and inferences made from analyzing data. For example, how well they describe the relationship of data collected in Dalton's Playhouse or the relationship of data points in geospatial data.


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Visionlearning text along with Visionlearning website. By Anthony Carpi, Anne Egger, and Alfred Rosenberger.
Pre-selected for the course; but I would use it anyway.
Lab manual was designed to accompany Visionlearning text but needs to be re-written.
Pre-selected for this course.
Often I will reproduce current science articles from the NY Times Science section.