Fall 2019, MW 8:00 - 9:20 am, PS-128
(Official class syllabus posted online -- always check for updates)

INSTRUCTOR: Erin O'Connor Office: EBS-112 e-mail:
Phone: 965-0581 x4723 Hours: posted web:

ERTH 106 - BLACK HOLES and the UNIVERSE (3.0 UNITS):  An introduction to the great theories to explain the universe, black holes, quasars, and the fourth dimension.  Lectures, guest speakers, field trips, scientific papers, and other original sources of current information are included.  It is strongly suggested, though not required, that students take ERTH-101 (Intro to Astronomy) first.


ADVISORIES:  English 103, Math 1, Earth 101 (Intro to Astronomy)

TEXT:  A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking;  Supplemental Readings, to be made available during the semester.

GRADING:  Grading is based on consistent performance and is highly correlated to attendance and in class activities and discussions. No single test will determine your grade. Please note that all assignments are required components of your grade. IMPORTANT:  You must complete all assignments to pass this course regardless of your cumulative percentage.  Following is a tentative grading criteria (adjustments may be made as assignments are added or deleted).

25% + Attendance-based discussion and participation (% may change during semester)
  5-10% Homework (assigned and due on a given date)
10% Starry Night Software Activities
  5-10% Assigned Videos
  10% Required Outside Activities
10-20% Daily Quizzes
10-20% Tests (1-2 for semester)
  10-20% Current Event Article reviews/evaluations
  10% Short presentation to class
  10% Forums & Peer review
10-20% Cumulative FINAL

GRADING SCALE: The grading scale (subject to revision) will follow the traditional percentage breakdown of 90's (A), 80's (B), 70's (C), 60's (D), and below (F).  Scores may be curved slightly to help you, so always strive to do your best.  Plus minus grading has been implemented at SBCC, so borderline grades may receive a +/- designation.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES:  ERTH106 SLO1 - collaborate with fellow students to explore the latest theories in physics and astronomy.  ERTH106 SLO2 - compare and contrast credible and non-credible sources, and discern between science and pseudoscience.  ERTH106 SLO3 - make use of electronic research techniques to investigate recent developments and discoveries in the field.

ASTRONOMY LECTURE:  The astronomy lecture course (ERTH-101) is not required as a prerequisite, however is highly recommended for those genuinely interested in astronomy and/or for those planning to continue a formal course of study in astronomy.  The ERTH-101 Astronomy course may be taken concurrently and/or at a future date, but is best taken as a pre-curser to this course to enhance your comprehension and understanding of the topics covered in this class.

ASTRONOMY LAB:  The astronomy lab course (ES-102) is not required, however is highly recommended (and can only be taken concurrently with, or after taking the ERTH-101 Astronomy lecture course).  The one unit lab is held in the Planetarium and Observatory at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (click here for directions).  In lab you will learn by watching and doing.  The planetarium allows us to show celestial motions as they are happening.  The telescopes allow us to look at the sun, moon, planets, and many deep sky objects such as galaxies, planetary nebulas, supernova, and diffuse nebula.

PIPELINE:  All students are required to make use of SBCC's PIPELINE service for participation in classroom activities and assignments and so that the instructor (and other students in your class) may contact you.  It is required that you check your PIPELINE email account a few times per week.  To access PIPELINE, click the PIPELINE link on the website.  Always try to use your Pipeline account to email me so as to avoid spam filtering problems.  I always check my Pipeline account first.  If you do not receive a response from me within a few days, catch me before or after class or contact me by phone.  If you autoforward your Pipeline email to your personal email account, be sure to check your spam filter and/or adjust your spam filter settings so as not to filter out my all class emails with important announcements and your class grades.

ATTENDANCE: It is my experience that students who do not attend -- do not succeed. This is because the nature of the discipline is such that the lecture presentations, physical demonstrations, and laboratory experience (for those enrolled in ERTH-102) are all vital and integral components of a solid foundation in this discipline. I look forward to seeing all of you in class regularly. Roll will be taken and attendance quizzes may be given daily.

DROP POLICY: Adding and dropping courses is a student responsibility, do not expect the instructor to do it for you.  In general though, students may be dropped after missing 2 classes in a row, or 3 classes total.  If there are extenuating circumstances, be sure to let the instructor know.  Students who do not show for the first day of class will be dropped to allow those on the waiting list to add.

TURNING IN PAPERS:  All papers are to be turned in at the front of the room before or after class, but not during class. For all papers submitted, in the upper right corner, give your name, the date, the class, and the assignment.  Keep a copy.  Many assignments will be kept by your instructor until the end of the semester and may be picked up after the class is over.

HONOR:  I would like to encourage a healthy educational environment of trust and academic responsibility. I will trust you the student to pursue academic success with honor and integrity. I do not anticipate any problems. however, for the record - any indication of cheating (no matter how minor the infraction) will result in an F in the course with your name being turned in to the administration. This can result in a permanent blemish on your transcript as well as expulsion. Do not let this happen to you. There are no second chances!  If it is apparent that you have copied, or falsely represented your work, or you have made the same errors as the solution manual, solution key, or others in your class, you will be removed from the course. The person being copied from will be considered an accomplice.  If a homework or test problem is in question, you may be asked to solve it for your instructor or explain each and every step of your solution. Conduct yourselves with honor and integrity.

GET AHEAD:  If you consistently keep up with the material you will do well. It is easy to get ahead but difficult to catch up should you fall behind!  Material at the end of the course can be challenging. Do not let this catch you by surprise. For those who keep up, the class can be fun and rewarding!

TRY TO BE ON TIME:  Entering and leaving during class can be disruptive to students and staff.  Certainly if you are running late, do join us, but please make a considerate effort to be on time.

TURN CELL PHONES OFF:  Cell phones, Ipods, and other portable electronic devices, are disruptive and distractive to other students.  Turn OFF all such devices during the entire class session.  Cell phone use in class is cause for dismissal.  FIRST OFFENSE you are thrown out of class for the day (or to stay in class, you must place your phone on the instructor's desk for the remainder of the class session).  SECOND OFFENSE you will be removed from the course and given an F (or to stay in the class, you must place your cell phone on the instructor's desk each day you come to class for the remainder of the course).  You may use cell phones before class and after class, but at no other times.  For clarification, using your cell phone for ANY purpose (texting, photos, calendar, notes) is considered a violation.  Sorry to be so strict, but I did not become a teacher to compete with cell phones, police cell phone use, judge if each activity is an allowable activity, etc.  Let's keep it simple.  No cell phones.

NO FOOD OR DRINK IN CLASS (Water Bottles OK):  Health and Safety Code Regulations dictate that there is to be no food or drink in the classroom.   Please no eating during class. 

NO LAPTOPS WITHOUT DSPS/INSTRUCTOR AUTHORIZATION:  You may not use a laptop during class.  Laptop screens (and the light they emit during slide presentations) can be very distractive to other students.  Also, it is my experience that many students often work on non-class related projects with their laptops.  Please copy your notes to your laptop outside of class time.

PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE FOLLOWING (click on each hyperlink):

CHECK OUT THESE RELATED LINKS: (click on each hyperlink):