Earth and Space Sciences

Mintesinot Jiru, Natural Sciences
Coppin State University


This course is designed to explore the dynamics in the earth and space by emphasizing on the basic concepts in Earth systems and planetary sciences. The course introduces students to Earth science through topical lectures and discussion of current events and research in Earth sciences. Topics include formation and composition of the Earth, plate tectonics, the rock cycle, the water cycle, climate change, the solar system, astronomy, the sun and galaxies. In the laboratory, students will be doing rock and minerals identification, water quality analysis and virtual labs on plate tectonics and the atmosphere, to mention few.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This is an introductory level course that is taken by pre-service teachers and other non-science majors to satisfy the GER science requirement. Science majors can take this course as an elective to satisfy the 4 credits elective requirement. Typically 80% are non-science and 20% are Science majors. The course has no pre-requisites.

Course Content:

This course integrates field and lab experiences in earth sciences. Students take field trips to a water treatment plant to learn the treatment cycles and the various microbiological and chemical tests done in the treatment plant. In addition students are given a variety of rock forming minerals and they study the characteristics of these minerals by performing tests including streak, hardness and etc. To study the planetary systems, students select planets and stars of their interest and they write a report on essential characteristics and give presentations. In this course students learn how to measure, analyze and interpret data.

Course Goals:

- Students will be able to understand the functions of the complex Earth System and the environment it provides for life.
- Students will be able to discuss contemporary topics in earth/space science such as plate tectonics and discovery of new planets, published on various media.
- Students will be able to generate and evaluate scientific evidence and participate productively in scientific discourse
- Students will gain practical experience with day to day aspects of Earth System Science in terms of oral and written scientific presentations, proposal preparation, and reviews.

Course Features:

The final project for this course entails for students to write a 5 page narrative report on select topic and give oral presentations. Students are assessed based on developed rubrics and through peer evaluation. During their presentation they are expected to address issues like why they were interested on the topic, what is the current state of research and lessons leant from doing their project and suggest their recommendation.

Course Philosophy:

This course was co-taught with a Professor who comes with synthesis teaching experience. The synthesis approach enables to structure the course more interesting as issues are discussed from many vantage points/perspectives. The course is designed this way to provide students a very practical knowledge so that they can better understand the earth as a system and appreciate the complexity of the interaction between the components of the system.


Students are assessed in several ways. The lecture portion is assessed through end-of-chapter tests and the lab portion is assessed based on the lab report, post-lab quiz and a 200 word essay they write on lessons learnt. Students are also give regular homework to encourage them read the course material. Final project is assessed via oral presentation and peer evaluation.


Course Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 47kB Apr28 17)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

David McConnell and David Steer. The Good Earth - Introduction to Earth Sciences 3rd Edition
- Exploring Earth Science - 16 edition ISBN13: 978-0078096143 by Stephen Reynolds
- Earth Science / Edition 13 by Edward J. Tarbuck
- Principles of Environmental Science: Inquiry and Applications. William Cunningham, Mary Cunningham ISBN13: 9780073532516