Welcome to The Nature of Science/Earth Studies!


I am so happy to have the privilege of being your teacher this year and look forward to getting to know you! As you read through this Wiki page, keep in mind that items are listed in reverse chronological order. My grading and assignment policies can be found here. Please also see the semester learning goals.

We had a wonderful semester and year together. Have a great summer!!!


Week of May 15th:

IMPORTANT: You MUST complete this final team and teammate evaluation form. If you had a large team, it is OK to only evaluate those who worked in your sub-group. Submit this to your personal Google Drive science folder no later that May 23rd at 1pm.

This week we will prepare for our final presentations in Uni Gym! You should be finishing up your data collection in class and preparing your poster. Remember, you should add pictures, sketches, tables, graphs, and figures whenever possible. Make sure to include the following sections (see the class Google Spreadsheet for more details on each of these sections):
1) Project Title
2) Names (include all students who worked on the project as well as any collaborators)
3) Problem Statement (use the formula we developed - who is your user, what is their need, and why does it matter?)
4) Solution Overview (what initial solution idea(s) did you consider. Which one did you choose for further development and why?)
5) Experimental Overview (what aspects of your design will you test and how will you use this data to decide if your design is acceptable or not?)
6) Scientific Background (help the audience understand the science behind your solution and the experiments you did to test it)
7) Experiment Results (what did you measure and what can you determine from this data? Make tables, graphs, & figures where possible.
9) Conclusions (how can you use the data generated from your experiment to improve your design?)

Week of May 8th:

This week you will need to finish your testing and prepare for your final presentations. Please use this template as a guide for developing your final posters. You will not be able to print the posters, but will instead receive trip-fold posters on which you can tape printed materials. You will also have a table for displaying prototypes.

Here is the judging rubric for your final presentations.

Week of May 1st:

This week you will finalize your plan for testing your original design ideas. Remember your prototype is NOT a miniature version of your device, it is simply a way to generate the data you need to determine if your idea meets the requirements for the design problem you defined.

Speaking of your design problem, please make sure you have defined an authentic problem and stated it in a way that conforms with the format specified in your mentor form (who is your user, what is their need, and why does it matter?)

Please input your design problem, requirements, and prototyping/testing plan in this Google Spreadsheet (one entry per team)


Week of April 24th:

For Friday, April 28th: Today each team must conduct a meeting and submit meeting minutes and action items to your team folder. Remember that next week's plan should include prototyping. We only have 3 weeks until your final presentations! This weekend, you will submit your second
Team and teammate evaluation form to your INDIVIDUAL science folders. This is due by Sunday night at 11:59pm.

Check out our photos from the garden visits on April 19th!

Thank you to Team Model X (6th Hour) for preparing this awesome diagram of Prosperity Gardens!

This week you are preparing your presentations for the prospective students in class. Remember, any member of your team could be asked to present and you will not know until Wednesday who it is, so make sure everyone is prepared to represent your team!

You must sign up for your mentor meeting and work with them to answer the Mentor Meeting Questions, due by Friday, May 5th at 11:59pm to your team Google Drive folder.

Week of April 17th:

Here are the Power Points from your junior mentors:
3rd Hour - Douglass Community Center Garden
6th Hour - Prosperity Gardens
8th Hour - Randolph Street Community Garden

Due April 23rd at 11:59pm to your INDIVIDUAL Google Drive folder: Team and teammate evaluation questions

April 20th: Please work on synthesizing your data collected from the garden on Wednesday and develop your final problem statement to present in class tomorrow (Friday). Also, prepare agenda items for your team meeting in class on Friday. Both of these items are due to your team Google Drive folder by the end of the day on Friday, April 21st.

Please take a look at the End of Semester Timeline for Subbie Science and mark the assignment due dates in your planner!

This week you will take a trip to the garden you are designing for and identify the problem you will work on for the remainder of the semester. Here is what needs to be done by Wednesday:
1. Decide on a team name. Create a Google Drive folder with your team name and share it with me (Ms. Denos) as well as all team members.
2. Place your team contract and interview questions from last week in your team folder.
3. Create a plan for the information you will need to gather during the Wednesday field trip to the garden. Will you need to measure, photograph, or sample parts of the garden? Are there additional questions you need answered before or during that visit? What tools or other resources will you need to make this trip as productive as possible for your team? Upload your answers to these questions in a document titled "Garden Plan" by the end of class on Tuesday, April 18th.

Week of April 3rd:

Please answer these questions in preparation for your solar car design reviews in class on Wednesday, April 5th!

Using both your individual Working Style evaluation and your Early Team Evaluation and Contract from last week, develop one common contract for your team. Be sure that it includes the procedures your team will use to communicate and work, the expectations your team will have for getting the work done, and the consequences your team will create to deal with any failure to comply with the procedures and expectations. Team contracts are due by Thursday, April 6th at 11:59pm to your Google Drive folder.

Your solar car design reviews will take place during class on Tuesday, April 4th. Please submit your solar car reflections worksheet by Tuesday, April 4th at 11:59pm.

Week of March 27th:

Please complete this Early Team Evaluation & Contract and submit it to your Google Drive science folder by 11:59pm on April 2nd.

As we prepare for our garden engineering projects, we first need to develop the foundation we'll need to create strong teams. As a first step toward this goal, I would like you to complete this Teamwork Inventory Assignment. It is due by 11:59pm on March 29th to your Google Drive folder and we will use it in class later this week!

Community Engineering Projects:

Garden Information
1. Prosperity Gardens
Primary contact: Nicole Bridges, ncl.bridges@gmail.com
Website: http://www.prosperitygardens.org
Phone: 217-419-2855
Address: 302 North First Street, Champaign, IL 61820
Email: info@www.prosperitygardens.org

2. Randolph Street Community Garden
Primary contact: Dawn Blackman, dawnblackmansr@yahoo.com
Website: https://randolphcommunitygarden.com
Phone: 217-390-8911
Address: intersection of Neil Street & Beardsley Ave, Champaign, IL

3. Organic Garden at Douglass Community Center
Primary Contact: Katie Hicks, Katherine.hicks@cparkdistrict.com
Secondary contact: Randy Hauser, randy.hauser@champaignparks.com
Website: https://champaignparks.com/project/douglass-community-center/
Phone: 217-398-2573
Address: 512 East Grove St. Champaign, IL
0706_loca_douglass_park_beds1.jpg

Month of February:

During the month of February, you will work with engineer-artist-educators from the CU Community Fab Lab to acquire technical skills that you may need for your engineering projects later this semester. On Thursdays and Fridays, you will apply the technical skills you re learning to create "Political Engineering Art." These projects are really anything that communicates a political message (ideally something that is important to you), has aesthetic value, and incorporates some of the technical tools you are learning about this month. One example is the "Uni Goes Solar" LED banner the We Build, TREE, and Art Clubs at Uni have created. It raises awareness about solar PV as a clean energy source for schools, teaches people about solar power (using Arduino controlled LEDs that light up in proportion to the amount of solar power being generated), and is a beautiful representation of our school!
Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 8.41.08 AM.png

Please add your political engineering art ideas to our class Padlet page here:
Padlet Site

CU-Fab Lab Tutorials:
  1. Step-by-step Inkscape name tag
  2. Inkscape name tag Quick Guide
  3. Pressfit Box Tutorial & Boxmaker website

Link for uploading files for laser-cutting & 3D printing

Week of January 23rd:

Friday 1/27 in class we will use this table of data for Champaign County (and total US) water use.

Homework Due January 27th: Create an account on TinkerCAD


Tuesday: In pairs you will take a brief Sustainable Water pre-test and discuss the results of your personal water inventory

Announcement: We will use Google Drive exclusively for turning in Spring semester work! Please create a Google Drive folder with the name "yourlastname_science" and then share it me!

Monday: Please reflect and revise your Fall semester Personal Goals assignment. Did you achieve the goals you set for your self (or make serious progress toward them)? Have your interests and goals changed? Please list and describe at least two personal goals you have this semester that are related to our Earth Science and engineering focus.

Week of January 17th:

In pairs, please complete Lab 1 (Where is the water?) and Lab 2 (What's a watershed?) of the Earth Labs Drought lessons. Make sure to answer all questions in the purple boxes and submit these to your UofIBox account when you are finished.

Week of January 9th:

Remember that the last day to turn in your telescope observations is this Thursday, January 12th.

This week we investigate the water cycle on Earth and think about how humans, from the earliest civilizations to now, have managed water.

Monday we will finish the In pairs, choose one of the water cycle change processes listed below to learn more about and present to the class. Your presentation should teach us something we didn't previously know about that process and answer the following questions:
1) Where does the energy come from that fuels this process?
2) How has this process been useful to humans' need for a reliable water source?

Update: Please prepare a demo for your presentation! Again, you will only have a maximum of 5 minutes to present, so please make sure to factor that into your plans and bring everything you need for the demo to class on Thursday.

Please use this USGS resource for your research.
a. Condensation
b. Evaporation
c. Evapotranspiration
d. Precipitation
e. Infiltration
f. Snowmelt
g. Streamflow
h. Groundwater discharge
i. Surface runoff
j. Sublimation

Individual water use assignment, due Tuesday, January 17th at 11:59pm to your UofIBox

Resources on early civilizations & water management:
  1. Documentary we viewed in class (covers many early civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Garamantes to the Khmer Empire)
  2. Water in the Mayan & Khmer civilizations
  3. Water management by the Nazca people of Peru
  4. The Aztec city of Tenochitlan

------------------------------------------------------End of Semester 1: Nature of Science---------------------------------------------

Sub freshman Science Fall Finals Activity

During the finals period, students will each spend about 1.5 minutes presenting the 1-2 slides they developed over the previous week. This slide contains the claim, evidence, and premise each student developed to answer ONE of the 7 questions on the Flint Water Crisis using ONE of the 3 types of reasoning. See the list below that details who is assigned to which argument. After presenting their slides, students will spend approximately one hour developing them into a short written argument (approximately 300 words). For an example of how to do this, see this argument developed from the seasons experiment we did earlier in the year. Your written argument will need to include in-text parenthetical citations and a works cited page, both in MLA style.

Week of December 12th:

Marc Edwards website "The Flint Water Study" which reports his initial results on lead levels in Flint

NPR Reports:
Flint water is still unsafe to drink
Step-By-Step Making of a Crisis

Additional resources for your arguments:


Update: Your final argument presentations will occur during the regular finals period. You will only present only one of the four arguments and will develop this (and be evaluated) individually. You will have 1.5 minutes maximum to present your argument. Your slide should be prepared in Power Point according to this template (i.e. use the format, font sizes, styles and backgrounds here). You will turn in 1-2 slides by Friday, December 16th at 11:59pm to your UofIBox. IMPORTANT: No late slides will be accepted!

Your paper is still due at the end of the finals period. It will be 3/4 page to 2 pages maximum double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. This does not include your Works Cited page. Your argument MUST contain in-text parenthetical citations. This is not hoemwork - you will have 1 hour to write this during the finals period. See below for the list of who is responsible for which argument:
3rdHour
6thHour
8thHour

Week of December 5th:

Reminder: Your telescope observations are now due on Friday, December 16th.

Update: You must consider one additional question in your arguments: What role did race and racism play in the Flint Water Crisis? This will be a fourth paragraph in your essay (and one extra slide in your Power Point). In order to obtain premises for your "race" arguments, please use the resources given to you by Ms. Morford (see the Class Projects Page tab on "Talking About Race" tab in addition to these resources:

Here is the template I showed in class that you can use to prepare your presentation for this Friday.

Here is the overall assignment description with updated due dates.

The links in the Step 4 of the assignment instructions PDF are not working properly. Please use the links below:
4. Identify at least one premise that you can use to develop your reasoning. Appropriate places to find such premises are listed below:
a. Public Health Emergency website (specific information regarding the problems found in Flint)
b. Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
c. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (this is useful for searching the health of effects of specific toxins in the body).
d. The World Health Organization (WHO) website
e. The United States Safe Drinking Water Act and Lead and Copper Rule
f. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights
g. Other moral codes developed by religious, civic, or other institutions common in Michigan, African-American communities, small Midwestern towns, etc.


Reading for December 5th (due by the beginning of class on December 6th): Print, highlight, and take notes on the environmental racism articles assigned last week (#2 below - scroll down). Consider the following questions as you read (and be prepared to discuss them in class on Tuesday, December 6th):
  • How are race and class linked together when thinking about the population of Flint, Michigan? Why do you think it might be important to think of both race and class at the same time, as opposed to focusing only on class or race?
  • If you were involved in urban planning or city management, what are some things you would do to ensure that a situation like the one we’ve been studying never happened again? What factors might be out of your control?


Week of November 21st and November 28th:

Today you will formally begin your final assignments on the Flint Water Crisis. Instructions and due dates can be found here.

In addition to the TIME Magazine article, please consider these excellent resources for your paper (from Ms. Morford & Mr. Bergandine - thank you!!!):
1. The chemistry behind the Flint Water Crisis
2. A question of environmental racism in Flint & The racism at the heart of Flint's crisis
3. How the Safe Drinking Water Act relates to the Flint Water Crisis

During these weeks we will take one last crack at perfecting our seasons argument and then begin discussing the Flint Water Crisis.

In class on Tuesday 11/22 & Monday 11/28: Download the document your class created with the claim and evidence needed to build your seasons argument. You will finish your argument in class today and next Monday. You will submit your final argument as SeasonsArgumentFinal.docx to your UofIBox folder. Remember, your reasoning should justify why each piece of evidence supports one or more of your claims. You should draw on scientific principles to do this (i.e. as light becomes more concentrated on an absorbing surface, it's temperature will rise more quickly).
3rd Hour
6th Hour
8th Hour

Week of November 14th:

Check out this Seasons Simulator from the University of Nebraska.

Homework (due in class on Monday, November 21st): Read this TIME Magazine article. Think about the questions below (you don't need to answer them yet) and highlight at least 5 sentences in the text that you could use to support your answers to these questions.
1. How did switching to the Flint River affect the water quality in Flint, Michigan households?
2. How was the health of Flint residents impacted by this switch?
3. Was what happened in Flint, Michigan illegal?
4. Who is to blame for what happened?
5. What does having clean water mean to the people of Flint?
6. How has this crisis impacted the lives of Flint residents?

Your Introduction to Scientific Argumentation assignment is due Friday, November 18th (due by 11:59pm to your UofIBox folder in a file titled "scientificeargument.doc").

Homework for Wednesday, November 16th (bring to class on Nov 17th): Identify evidence that is sufficient to support this claim developed in class

This week we will complete our Seasons Lab (due date is extended to Tuesday, November 15th at 11:59pm). We are especially concerned with the last question that asks us to use evidence from the lab, together with our everyday knowledge and experience, to construct an explanation for how the Earth's tilt creates the observed seasons. Just like in the solar panel experiment, the angle of the light and the distance to the light source change together. It is not possible to separate these two events, so how can we determine how much each type of event contributes to seasonal changes in temperature on Earth?

Week of November 7th:

Nighttime observation assignment, due Friday, December 9th: Please use this worksheet to record your drawings and notes during your observation session(s). Remember, you will need three sheets (one for each object you plan to observe). For the "low power" sketch, please actually sketch what you see with your naked eye (no telescope). If you deviated from what was stated in your observation plans, you must explain on this observation sheet! We will be using Galileoscopes for this assignment. You can learn more about these scopes and what you can observe with them using this Galileoscope Observing Guide.

On Wednesday through Friday we will work on this Seasons Lab, due on Monday, November 14th at 11:59pm to your UofIBox account.

This week we will wrap up our positional astronomy unit.

Assignment due at 11:59pm on 11/8/2016 to your UofIBox: Read over Sky and Telescope Magazine's "This Week's Sky at a Glance" to get some ideas for what you'd like to observe in the night sky over the coming month. You must choose 3 celestial objects (at least one must be a planet). Next, you will use Stellarium on your computer and the questions below to help you plan for your observation sessions. Please indicate:
1. The name of each object you will observe.
2. Each object's declination and right ascension.
3. At least three options for dates and times when you could observe each object.
4. The location where you will perform your observations (e.g. your backyard, a local park, etc.).
5. The azimuth and altitude of each object at the time of observation (do a common sense check - can you really see something at this azimuth and altitude from the location where you will be observing?)
6. Go to Astronomy.com, Earthsky.org, or NASA.gov to learn a little bit more about the planet(s) and constellation(s) you have chosen. Write a paragraph about what you learned and one question you have that may be answered during your observations.

Week of October 31st:

When you are finished with your homework assignment, please attempt the "Motions of the Sky" interactives here.

In class on Nov 1st: Please see this diagram, in which points A, B, and C represent the sun at noon on the equinoxes and solstices in Monterrey, Mexico (you may use the globes to determine the latitude). Work in groups to determine the following:
1. What does each point (A-E) represent?
2. What is the declination of each point (A-E)?
3. What is the altitude of each point (A-E)?
4. What is the zenith angle of each point (A-E)?

Please draw a 2D diagram of the entire celestial sphere (i.e. a "celestial circle" with the equator and North Celestial Pole marked). On this diagram, mark each of the above angles.

Weeks of October 17th - October 28th:

Assignment due Monday, Oct 24th at 11:59pm to your UofIBox folder:
See the solar panel data you collected in class during 3rd, 6th, and 8th hours on Friday and answer the following questions.
1. What is surprising about these results?
2. Give a possible reason for these unexpected results.
3. Suggest a way to re-design the experiment such that we are unlikely to observe the surprising results again.
4. Our experiment models the zenith angle of the Sun at which latitude(s) on Earth?

Please see this presentation to review material related to lunar phases and tides.

Weeks of October 3rd - October 14th:

Please do not forget to look for the Moon this weekend! Friday and Sunday night are the best!
1. Place your hand at arm's length from your body.
2. Look at the Moon with one eye closed.
3. Hold out a pinky finger and determine how many pinky widths the Moon is in the sky - bring this information to class on Monday!

These two weeks we will be looking at the Sun-Moon-Earth system and will continue trying to map the heliocentric solar system model onto our local sky. We will discuss lunar phases, the tides, solar and sidereal days, eclipses, and celestial coordinate systems.

Discuss this assignment in groups of 2-3 in class and then complete for homework - due on Tuesday 10/18 at 11:59pm to your UofIBox folder. We will discuss the tides and celestial coordinate systems in more detail during the week of 10/12.

Week of September 26th:
This week we begin our positional astronomy unit. Use these applets to understand how to use the celestial sphere model:
Rotating Sky Explorer
Motions of the Sun Simulator

Please complete this reading and answer the following questions on the last page by Wednesday, October 5th:
Understanding & Applying, Questions 2-5
Inquiring Further, Question 3

Week of September 19th:

This week we will finally take our solar walks and finish up our discussion of the size and scale of the solar system and Universe! Check out this amazing video (more modern version of the Powers of Ten movie linked below) for some perspective!

Happy Equinox on Friday, September 23rd! Today we will answer some questions for the journalism class. Please see the following documents for instructions. Answer the questions in groups of 2-4.
3rd Hour
6th Hour
8th Hour (the journalism class will visit your class and talk with you directly)

Please submit a 300 word description of what you learned in the Size and Scale unit to your UofIBox folder by Monday, September 26th at 11:59pm. This should include:
1. Your favorite thing we did or discussed during this unit.
2. Something you struggled with and learned a lot from doing or thinking about.
3. Something you learned that you can use in your every day life.
4. Something you learned that you can use in your future studies.

Week of September 12th:

This week we will learn more about the size and scale of our solar system and universe using this assignment. Please complete Part A (except questions 4 & 5, see below for the modified version of these questions) & Part B in the Investigate section, in addition to the reading section (Digging Deeper) by Tuesday, September 20th at 11:59pm (turn the answers in to your UofIBox folder).

Because Part A, questions 4 & 5 are worded poorly, please do the following instead:
1. Define a scale factor that can be applied both to sun-planet distances and diameters. Choose a scale such that you could walk the Sun-Neptune distance (i.e. < 2miles), yet the planet diameters are still macroscopic.
2. Plan your "Solar Walk", starting at Uni High (the Sun will be at the South or West doors). Make a table that includes all the planet (and Sun) diameters and a map that includes the positions of each. Feel free to mark up a Google Map of the area.

Check out these cool videos to help you try to grasp the vastness of our solar system and universe!
To Scale: The Solar System
Powers of Ten

Week of September 6th:
This week we will finish our study of Black-Boxology and move on to learning more about the size and scale of our solar system and universe!

Monday in class we will work on analyzing and interpreting the following data sets:
Data Set 1
Data Set 2

Track your process of doing science during the "Black-Boxology" unit using this flow chart. To do this, make a numbered list of the activity you engaged in (on the back of the handout) and how it relates to the flow-chart (we will go over an example in class). When you are finished, draw a line indicating each step of the process, starting with the first activity you performed and ending with the last one you performed.

Next, use this same method and flow-chart to track the process used by the scientists in this story.

Due MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12TH: Write 250-300 words describing how your scientific process was the same and how it was different from the scientists in the story above. Upload this to your UofIBox folder and hand in hard copies of your 2 flow charts.

Week of August 29th:
This week we are beginning to learn more about the practices of science in the context of our study of Black-Boxology!

Thursday in class we designed and conducted a short experiment to test our models of the Black Box. We also spent some time refining our understanding of the scientific terms and practices we have been engaging in. We will continue thinking about and clarifying what we mean when we use the following terms in science: evidence, inference, claim, reasoning, independent, dependent, and controlled variables, hypothesis, theory, model, law, and fair test.

Please bring in a 1-2 paragraph description on Thursday, September 1st, of a simple experiment we could do to test the validity of the models presented today in class. Here are photos of the models:
3rd Hour
6th Hour
8th Hour (we are actually borrowing from 6th hour here)

It will help you to first make a prediction based on the given model. What do you expect to happen, say, when you pour water in, stop pouring, then start again? Think of a few interesting things you could try that could tell you right away of your model is wrong.

Week of August 22nd:

In class this Thursday and Friday, we will be working on this Goal setting assignment, due Friday, August 26th by 11:59pm to your UofIBox Science folder.

This Tuesday you will give your "My Kind of Scientist" presentations in class. Be prepared to discuss your scientific interests and what kinds of tools and skills would be needed to study them. Be sure to tie in your personal interests and explain how the skills and knowledge you have built through engaging in these activities can help you in your scientific studies. I will collect your written handout and photograph your representations for grading purposes on Wednesday, August 24th.


Week of August 16th:

The first day of class we worked on establishing "norms" or expectations for the new science and engineering learning community we will create together. We are a community because we all share a common goal - that of deepening our understanding of the natural world and how we can use our knowledge of the natural world to benefit society. Just as with any community, our science learning community is one where we depend on each other and have a shared fate. That means that your experience in this class will depend not just on what I do as your teacher, but also on what you do and what your classmates do. Here are some of the norms we established today (it varied a bit from class to class):

1. "Don't laugh at people when they talk." We decided this means we want people to be free to share their ideas and take risks without any fear of being judged.

2. Be aware of how your actions/behaviors impact others. Be thoughtful in your feedback and comments. Ask for what you want or need. Behave with integrity. Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it.

3. Always assume the other person has the best intentions. If you are confused, hurt, or offended however, speak up! No one's thoughts or feelings will ever be disregarded. We will always treat one another's concerns with seriousness and respect.

4. We will have the courage to be honest with one another, but we will do so sensitively and with both respect and compassion for how the other person feels. We realize that staying silent about a problem will only make it worse

5. "Every day talk to someone new." We decided this means that we will put in the effort to get to know each and every person in our class, even if we are shy or feel very different from others. We realize that getting to know one another makes the classroom a safer and better place for learning.

6. We will have fun! We may not have fun every minute of every day, but we will bring a relaxed, positive, and playful attitude to this class. We realize this will allow us to enjoy our time here and also improve the atmosphere of the class for others. We hope the playful attitude will improve our ability to think creatively in order to solve novel problems.

We will also be working on the My Kind of Scientist assignment this week. Presentations will occur in class on August 23rd.