CSC 121: Computers and Scientific Thinking
Spring 2020



Section B:
2:00-3:15 MW
Eppley 110
Section C:
12:30-1:45 TR
Hitchcock 204
Dr. David Reed
Hitchcock 203D      x2583
DaveReed@creighton.edu


Text: Computers and Scientific Thinking - Spring 2020 Edition, David Reed.
    Custom text available for purchase at the bookstore.

Computer Access: Many of the class periods will involve working on a computer, either using provided software tools or developing your own interactive Web pages. There are a number of Mac computers in the classroom and you are welcome to use these on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if you have your own laptop, you are encouraged to bring it to class and work directly on it. Installing the free lab software, Brackets, is straightforward and assistance is available if needed.


Course Description

This course introduces students to science and scientific reasoning from a perspective that integrates computer science and the natural sciences. Students will gain a basic understanding of computer technology (its organization, history, societal impact, etc.) and how computers are used in various scientific disciplines. In particular, the use of the scientific method and the importance of computer modeling in scientific inquiry will be studied. Students will learn to develop simple Web-based programs for analyzing data and modeling systems, and use those programs in conducting hands-on experiments. Applications in biology, physics, and data science will provide insights into how these disciplines approach problems and utilize computers and computer modeling as tools.

The specific goals of this course are:


Required Work

Class periods will consist of two types of activity. For discussion days, students will be assigned readings and must answer review questions on BlueLine before the discussion day. Attendance and participation in class discussions of the assigned material is expected of all students. Practical experience in developing Web-based programs and using them to conduct experiments will be obtained through unit exercises. Students will be assigned exercises and will work on the computer with the assistance of the instructor.

Interspersed throughout the course will be four lab assignments, which involve using computers as tools to solve problems from the sciences. In addition to some programming, lab assignments generally involve the observation of natural systems or simulations, data collection and analysis, and a written summary of your findings.

Students are expected to read the assigned chapters and complete the assigned exercises and labs remotely. Instructor presenations will be posted on BlueLine and should be reviewed. As before, discussion answers and exercises will be submitted via BlueLine. Students are encouraged to send questions to the instructor via email when possible, and online office hours will be posted to enable group discussions. Students are also encouraged to utilize the Discussion feature of BlueLine.

In addition, there will be two one 75-minute tests and a cumulative 100-minute final exam.

unit exercises 20 30 %
lab assignments 15 20 %
review questions/discussions 10 %
two one 75-minute tests 30 25 %
100-minute final exam 25 15 %

The final course grade will be based on the above weightings. At the minimum, the following cutoffs will apply: A (93-100%), A- (90-92), B+ (87-89%), B (83-86%), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79%), C (73-76%), C- (70-72), D (60-69%), and F (0-59%). Some shifting of grades (in an upward direction only) may occur as final letter grades are assigned.

Regular attendance is expected of all students. If a student must miss class for a legitimate reason, it is their responsibility to make up missed work. Assignments and tests will not be rescheduled except in extreme circumstances. Unexcused absences will directly impact the student's grade on discussion days (resulting in a 0 for the missed day), and it is expected that excessive absences will leave the student unprepared for tests and assignments. If a class must be cancelled by the instructor for some reason, notification will be sent to students via email.


Policy on Collaboration

Creighton's policy on cheating and plagiarism is spelled out in the the Student Handbook, with college procedures available online. In addition, the following guidelines hold for this course.

Violations of the above collaboration will be dealt with severely, with possible outcomes including failure in the course.


Daily Schedule (updated 3/16)

Date Topic Readings Videos Hand-in
Jan 15/16
Course overview.  
20/21
22/23
Computer basics. (ppt/pdf)
Lab 1
Unit 1
 
disc1
 
27/28
29/30
HTML & Web pages: (ppt/pdf)
    HTML, links, images, lists, tables.
Unit 2
 
 
lab1
Feb 3/4
5/6
History of science & computing. (ppt/pdf)
Dynamic Web pages: (ppt/pdf)
Unit 3
Unit 4
disc3
exer2
10/11
12/13
    events, assignments, dynamic images,
    dynamic text, text boxes.
 
 
 
 
17/18
19/20
Internet & the Web. (ppt/pdf)
TEST 1
Unit 5
 
disc5, exer4
 
24/25
26/27
Applications in biology. (ppt/pdf)
Lab 2
Online: 1
 
discBio
 
Mar 2/3
4/5
Pages that compute: (ppt/pdf)
    numbers, functions, randomness.
Unit 6
 
 
lab2
9/10
11/12
SPRING BREAK - NO CLASS
16/17
18/19
ALL CLASSES CANCELED
23/24
25/26
Algorithms & programming. (ppt/pdf)
Abstraction & libraries: (ppt/pdf)
Unit 7
Unit 8
vid7(1), vid7(2)
vid8(1)
disc7
 
30/31
Apr 1/2
    user-defined functions, parameters, return,
    libraries, random.js.
 
 
vid8(2), vid8(3)
vid8(4)
exer6
 
6/7
8/9
Computer science as a discipline. (ppt/pdf)
Lab 3
Unit 9
 
 
 
disc9
exer8
13/14
15/16
Conditional execution & repetition: (ppt/pdf)
     if, if-else, counters, loops.
Unit 10
 
 
 
 
lab3
20/21
22/23
Applications in data science. (ppt/pdf)
Lab 4
Online: 1 & 2
 
 
 
discDS
exer10
27/28
29/30
Data Representation. (ppt/pdf)
Computers & Society. (ppt/pdf)
Unit 11
Unit 12
 
 
disc11
disc12, lab4
May 7
SECTION B FINAL EXAM    Thursday, 8:00-9:40
May 8
SECTION C FINAL EXAM    Friday, 10:00-11:40

Class code directory


In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to a flu outbreak or other emergency, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version.