2016-2017 WCore Science and Mathematics Courses

WCSAM 101 Bust that Psych Myth (4)
This course provides a foundation and hands-on experience in the scientific study of human emotion, cognition and behavior. Through this exploration, the course presents students with opportunity to interact with material in ways that help them understand the context of psychology as a behavioral science among other fields that focus on human behavior (both individual and group) culture, and society, and the context of psychology among other sciences. Other issues discussed will be myths about popular psychology, the effect those myths have on the general public, and how broader society’s denial of research findings may be caused by deficits in scientific literacy. This course fulfills the Research Emphasis (RE) requirement.
WCSAM 102 Computer Science Principles (3)
This course is an introduction to the history, social implications, great principles, and future of computing. Relevance of computing to students and society will be emphasized. Students will learn the joy of programming a computer using a friendly, graphical language, and will discuss how computing empowers discovery and progress in other fields.
WCSAM 103 Counting Votes (4)
After eighteen years of waiting, you finally have the right to vote! But just what does voting mean? There are actually many methods of expressing voting preferences via ballots. Which is the best method? How is a state’s number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives actually determined? What other methods are there, and what results would they produce? How might that change the political landscape of our country? Which states have real power within the Electoral College? We will take a mathematical look at all of these questions by studying Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, exploring various apportionment methods and their implications, and learning about power within weighted voting systems. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 105 Games and Decisions (4)
In a situation where the outcome depends on several people’s decisions, how can you make the best rational decision? That is the central question of Game Theory, used in economics, political science, biology and many more fields. In this experiential course, students will discover the principles of Game Theory by playing and analyzing a variety of ‘games’. The games analyzed will include Deterministic, Strategic and Coalition Games.
WCSAM 106 Genetics of Human Behavior (4)
Have you ever wondered how much your genes affect who you are? This course is an exploration of the role of genetic inheritance on human behavior. We will focus on modern genetic analysis and the molecular techniques used to study both complex normal human behaviors and diseases. Lab exercises, data analysis, and case studies will be integrated throughout to familiarize students with the process and methods of science. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 107 Geology of the American West (4)
This class uses case studies in Western North America to introduce students to the field of geology. Through investigations of the Pacific Northwest, the Colorado Plateau, the Wyoming Craton, and the Wasatch Mountains, students will learn the theories and concepts that geologists use to understand our entire planet. Be warned: this class will change the way you see the world. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 108 Healthy, Sustainable Nutrition (4)
The course includes the foundations of human dietary requirements, the basics of macronutrients and micronutrients, and nutritional needs across the lifespan needed for a pre-health occupation prerequisite. The primary prevention of the chronic diseases of first world populations, versus the needs of those of the third world will be compared and contrasted for the purpose of exploring complex issues of nutrition, food, health and environmental sustainability. Grounded in concepts of nutrition science and human ecology, the course will explore the impact of food production and consumption on human health and the environment. Deep learning is achieved through involvement in hands-on activities and assignments. The course meets the criteria of Explorations in Science and Math. Prerequisites: none.
WCSAM 109 Intro to Circuits & Electronics (4)
This is a hands -on course where students build practical electronic devices and learn basic electronics and electric circuits. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 110 Explorations in Data Science (4)
Data Science is on the forefront of the Big Data Revolution. Governments, companies, nonprofits, and health care providers are collecting, storing, and analyzing vast amounts of data to extract information about us and make predictions about our lives. The mathematical and technological aspects of data science have been central to its success, yet they cannot exist in isolation. The context in which data is collected and used, and potentially misused, shape the impact on individuals and society as a whole. Therefore, the study of issues involving data collection, analysis, and its communication from multiple contexts involving different disciplines-including but not limited to economics, psychology, sociology, biology, medicine and chemistry-will be a central theme of this class. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 111 National Parks Geology (4)
Many of America’s National Parks were designated because of their geologic beauty and history. This course will examine geologic principles and concepts through the lens of National Park Service units, as they often represent the most exquisite examples of geologic phenomena. Geology within national parks tells a story of the evolution of North America, from mountain building, to volcanism, to historic inland seas and giant beasts of an earlier geologic age. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 112 Personal Wealth Foundations (3)
This course presents the student with practical solutions to the contemporary issue of a debt laden society whose populace lacks the financial skills to properly manage their finances. The course discusses the key components of financial planning – wealth protection, accumulation, and distribution. Practical application and experimentation of financial principles will be applied to money management, insurance, credit, investing, and the financial marketplace. Implementation of the principles taught and skills learned in this course will allow students to find success in their personal finances. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 113 Probability, Risk, and Reward (4)
An engaging introduction to probabilistic thinking through the exploration of games of chance, cognitive biases, applications in business, health, and science, and fascinating episodes in the history of probability. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 114 Science of Food and Drink (3)
Food and drink are central to living and this culinary course takes a chemistry approach to the study of how different foods and drinks are created. During this highly interactive course, students will learn fundamental principles in chemistry and then use them to create various foods and drink. Topics such as chemical composition, chemical bonding, chemical interactions, chemical properties and chemical reactivity will be explored using chemicals and biological organisms common in a kitchen. Concepts will be studied through experimentation using the kitchen as the laboratory environment. During the course, other important and sometime controversial food science topics will be discussed. Additionally, examples and illustrations pulled from recent events will be given to heighten the general awareness of other chemicals present in society and the benefits and risks associated with their use.
WCSAM 115 Science of the Environment (4)
In this course, you will get hands-on opportunities to learn about many critical aspects of our environment the soil that produces the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink, as well as the climate of the planet we call home. You will have the opportunity to learn how these important environmental systems work, as well several techniques and tools to collect, analyze, and interpret environmental data. A major goal of the course is to help you understand the science behind many environmental issues so that you can make informed decisions about important environmental and global challenges. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 201 Geobiology of the Universe (3)
This course explores the interdisciplinary methods of space exploration and the extraordinary data that we accrue through Earth analogs, remote sensing, women/manned missions, and unmanned probes into our solar system and beyond. Using primary data from past studies and current missions, we will develop models and design experiments to ask larger questions about the Universe. Is there life beyond Earth? How does geology of a space body inform the potential for life? This course fulfills the Research Emphasis (RE) requirement.
WCSAM 202 Isotope Biogeochemistry (3)
This course will use a case study approach to understand how the use of isotopic ratios and isotopic tracers have been employed to answer a wide range of questions about the earth and our universe. Students will read, present, and discuss seminal research articles from the primary literature that have used isotopes to answer important scientific questions. Topics covered will be drawn from across all environmental related fields, and will include the use of isotopes to: date the earth and our solar system, determine bird migration patterns and breeding grounds, determine the diet and trophic status of various organisms in an ecosystem, determine the source of toxic heavy metals, characterize the composition of the earth’s atmosphere in the distant past, characterize ocean circulation and groundwater flow, etc. Students will learn how isotope measurements are made using mass spectrometers both at Westminster College and at multiple isotope labs at another institution on a class field trip. Students will analyze real data from these facilities in order to answer a current research question, and will later present their findings and conclusions. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 203 Linear Algebra (4)
Linear algebra is a foundational subject for almost all areas of pure and applied mathematics. This course will include systems of linear equations and their representations as matrices, matrix algebra, vector spaces and subspaces in Rn, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, least squares, and the simplex method. There will be a heavy emphasis on applications and numerical techniques, implemented with standard scientific programming languages. This course emphasizes critical, analytical, and integrative thinking as well as writing and other communication skills. This course does not have a specific prerequisite, but students enrolling in this course need to be ready for college level mathematics.
WCSAM 204 Math & Technology of Entertainment Arts (3)
Explore the math and technology behind compute animation and video game design. Ever wonder while watching a movie: “How did they do that?” Students will learn the mathematical and computational theory behind image processing, 2D and 3D computer graphics and special effects. This seminar will discuss the progress of computer graphics research over the last fifty years. This course fulfills the Quantitative Emphasis (QE) requirement.
WCSAM 205 Dinosaur Paleobiology (4)
They say you can’t get blood from a stone, but paleontologists often try to do exactly that. With nothing but a few fossilized fragments, paleontologists reconstruct not just the anatomy of extinct creatures, but also their physiology, behavior, ecology, and life histories. This class will use dinosaurs as an extended case study to explore how paleontologists make claims about the lives of long dead creatures, and about how understanding those creatures’ lives can lead to additional insights about the history of the earth and the dynamics of evolution.
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