CSC 121: Computers and Scientific Thinking
Fall 2019



Section A:
12:30-1:45 TuTh
HCCA 204
Section C:
11:00-12:15 MW
Eppley 110
Dr. David Reed
203D Hitchcock      x2583
DaveReed@creighton.edu


Text: A Balanced Introduction to Computer Science, Draft Revisions, David Reed.
    These draft units are being made available, at no cost to you, on BlueLine.
    You may not share these files outside of the class, or distribute them in any way.

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.

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

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

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 (check regularly for updates)

Date Topic Readings Hand-in
Aug 21/22
Course overview.  
26/27
28/29
Computer basics. (ppt/pdf)
Lab 1
Unit 1
 
disc1
 
Sep 2/3
4/5
LABOR DAY / Applications in cryptography (ppt/pdf)
HTML & Web pages: (ppt/pdf)
 
Unit 2
 
9/10
11/12
    HTML, links, images, lists, tables.
History of science & computing. (ppt/pdf)
 
Unit 3
lab1
disc3
16/17
18/19
Dynamic Web pages: (ppt/pdf)
    events, JavaScript assignments, dynamic images,
Unit 4
 
exer2
 
23/24
25/26
    dynamic text, text boxes.
Internet & the Web. (ppt/pdf)
 
Unit 5
 
disc5, exer4
30/Oct 1
2/3
TEST 1
Applications in biology. (ppt/pdf)
 
Online: 1 & 2
 
discBio
7/8
9/10
Lab 2
Pages that compute: (ppt/pdf)
 
Unit 6
 
 
14/15
16/17
FALL BREAK - NO CLASS
21/22
23/24
    numbers, functions, randomness.
Algorithms & programming. (ppt/pdf)
 
Unit 7
 
disc7, lab2
28/29
30/31
Abstraction & libraries:
    user-defined functions, random.js.
Unit 8
 
exer6
 
Nov 4/5
6/7
Lab 3
Computer science as a discipline.

Unit 9
 
disc9, exer8
11/12
13/14
TEST 2
Conditional execution & repetition:
 
Unit 10
 
lab3
18/19
20/21
     if, if-else, counters, loops.
Applications in data science.
 
 
 
discDS
25/26
27/28
Lab 4
THANKSGIVING BREAK - NO CLASS
 
 
exer10
 
Dec 2/3
4/5
Data Representation.
Computers & Society.
Unit 11
Unit 12
disc11
disc12, lab4
Dec 12
SECTION A FINAL EXAM    Thursday, 1:00-2:40
Dec 13
SECTION C FINAL EXAM    Friday, 8:00-9:40

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.