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Course syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Bridget Smith-Konter
Office:  POST 819D
Office Hours:  TBA or by appointment
Email:  brkonter_at_hawaii_dot_edu

Course lecture day/time:  Tuesday/Thursday 12:00 - 1:15 pm
Room:   POST 723
Course Ref. Number: 78762
Course Description:  This introductory course will offer an illustrated voyage through the Solar System based on recent scientific results. In this course, we will focus on the origin, evolution, and current knowledge of the eight planets, their moons, asteroids, comets, and the Sun. Course topics will emphasize applicable geology, tectonic activity, material properties, and atmospheric conditions of the planets and how these properties compare to planet Earth.  Recent findings from current planetary missions, as well as knowledge gained from past missions, will be incorporated into lecture discussions whenever possible and relevant.

Required Textbook     
Title:  Astronomy Today (8th Edition)

Authors:  Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillian     
Publisher:  Addison Wesley, 2013

While formal attendance will not be taken in class, we will have the occasional in-class quiz (Question of the Day) that will require your participation (see grading policy below). In addition, some aspects of the course material will be covered in more detail in class than is given the text, so it is highly recommended that you not only bring your body to class, but your mind and your concentration as well!

See below for more information on grading policy:  

    Homework assignments    25%
    iClicker Participation        15%
    Question of the Day         10% 

    Mid-Term Exam 1             15% 
    Mid-Term Exam 2             15% 
    Final Exam                        20% 

Letter grade breakdown: A = 90%+; B = 80 – 89%; C = 70 – 79%; D = 60 – 69%; F = < 60%

Course Policies
Question of the Day: In some classes (chosen randomly), there will be a Question of the Day.  These questions will also be multiple choice and you will receive 1 point for a correct answer and 0 points otherwise. These questions will usually be based on material covered in the previous class and will be straightforward in nature, testing learning rather than memorization. These questions will count a total of 10% toward your grade and up to 3 points can be used for extra credit.

•   Homework assignments will be assigned semi-regularly and will be posted on the course website. 
•    Each assignment will have a specified “due date”, which will typically be one week after the assignment is given.
•    No homework may be submitted through email unless prior arrangements have been made (with an excused absence). 
•    Your lowest graded homework will not be counted in the final tally. This means that you have one no-questions-asked excused homework (use it wisely!)
•    Working Together on Homework: Studies have shown that students learn best when they work together. We encourage you to work with each other on assigned homework. However, each student must turn in his or her own assignment, written using his or her own words. Any student who fails to follow this rule will receive zero credit for the question, and if the offense is severe, for the assignment.

There will be two midterm exams and a final exam; the final exam will be cumulative.  You will be allowed to bring a single 8.5'' by 11'' sheet of paper to the exams with notes on it. It must be handwritten on one-side only and must be turned in with your exams.
•    Make-Up Exams/Early Exams.  Make-up exams will not be given except when a student misses the exam for a legitimate reason such as illness or family emergency (a doctor's note is required in the case of illness). Please get in touch with me as soon as possible if such a situation arises. Anyone with sporting event conflicts must provide at least 2 weeks notice with appropriate signed paperwork. Note that make-up and/or early exams will be essay format and will be substantially more difficult than the standard multiple-choice exam given to the rest of the class.  

Tips for success
•    Lectures:   Attend every lecture, as they are the key to your success in this course. Some aspects of the course material will be covered in more detail in class than is provided the text, so it is highly recommended that you not only bring your body to class, but your mind and your concentration as well! There will also be the occasional in-class quiz (Question of the Day) that will count toward your grade (see grading policy below).
•    Homeworks:   Do each homework assignment, and submit each one on time.   Homework assignments help you learn the material and are a great study guide for the exams.
•    Exams:   Do not miss an exam.   Study.  Read.  Review.
•    Questions:   Questions are welcome and encouraged.  Your questions are likely to help other students as well, so you should never feel intimidated to ask questions about course material.
•    Read:  Your course textbook will reinforce lecture material, so do complete each reading assignment.   Read each week to keep up with course notes.


Students with Disabilities: The Geology and Geophysics Department will make every effort to assist those with disability and related access needs. For confidential services, please contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (known as “Kokua”) located in the Queen Lili'uokalani Center for Student Services (Room 013):