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97433 NSM 6602 - Scientific Methods and Experimental Design

Fall 2004
97433: Thursday, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm , Kramer Science Center 126
Herbert J. Bernstein ( )



This web page is http://www.bernstein-plus-sons.com/.dowling/NSM6602F04/NSM6602_Syllabus.html
Copyright © 2004 Herbert J. Bernstein and other parties. All rights reserved.

This is the syllabus for NSM 6602 for Fall 2004. As the course moves forward, students should return to this page frequently for updated material.

Catalog description:

NSM 6602. Scientific Methods and Experimental Design 3 credits

This course will introduce concepts of scientific methods and experimental design to science students as a first step towards making discoveries in science. The course will focus on the process of discovery through the classroom design and execution of an experiment. Students will critique these experiments. Students will then individually design and execute an experiment which will be critiqued by the class.

Prerequisite: 18 credits of undergraduate mathematics or science.

The Fall 2004 section is:

CRN   Subj   Crse   Sec   Credits   Title   Campus  
  Start Date   End Date   Days   Times   Bldg   Room  
97433  NSM  6602  3.00   Sci Methods & Exper Design  Oakdale 
  Sep 01, 2004  Dec 18, 2004  05:30 pm - 07:30 pm  KSC  126 
  Instructor(s): Herbert J. Bernstein 


Office Hours:

Note that, in general, Dr. Bernstein will be at the Oakdale campus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Meetings at the Brookhaven campus are by appointment only. If at all possible, please use email to schedule meetings in advance to avoid conflicts with other students and other obligations of the instructor.

For more information see http://www.bernstein-plus-sons.com/.dowling/HJB_Contact_Info.html.

Required Texts:

Students are responsible for all assigned readings even if the material is not discussed in class. Students are advised to bring the required texts to every meeting of the class to help them in classroom discussions and in answering the daily quiz questions.

Required Supplies:

A hard bound laboratory notebook. An inexpensive black-and-white covered composition book will suffice but it must be bound (not looseleaf).

Keeping clear written records is an important part of working in any scientific field. It is particularly important in experimental science, where there are very complex, non-obvious decisions to make, and it helps to be able to review where things went wrong.

Students are expected to have their text books no later than the second week of class.


This is a graduate course. It meets only once per week. Absence from any class meeting may cause the student to miss a significant portion of the material of the course. Therefore:

Attendance will be taken at all class meetings. All absences must be explained in writing (or via email). Students who miss one or more lectures must meet with the instructor to review their progress in the course. A midterm warning will be issued for any student who misses one or more lectures before the midterm, and such students will be advised to withdraw. Grades will be reduced for unexcused absences (see grading policy, below).

Arriving late is disrupts the class for other students. To encourage and reward timely arrival, there will be a short quiz at the start of each class meeting. There will be no makeups for these quizzes.

Grading Policy:

All students will be required to actively participate in classroom discussions, and to lead discussions related to the assignments. All students will have to establish and maintain a course web page, and many assignments will require additions to that web page. In particular, all students will post their experiment designs and experiment progress reports on their web pages. All students will be required to communicate with the instructor and will other students via email, and many assignments will require work to be submitted via email.

As noted above students will be given daily brief quizzes. Quizzes will often be based on the assigned readings, asking questions that have not yet been discussed in class. This is intended to encourage students to do the assigned readings. Even though the quizzes are open-book quizzes, you are more likely to be able to find the answers if you have done the readings before coming to class. There will be no makeups for these quizzes.

Every student will be required to maintain a contemporaneous hardbound notebook recording all significant activities related to this course. The notebook should record the major topics discussed, questions about the subject matter of the course and the answers when they are found, and all activites related to the course project (see below). The notebook will differ from the web page in showing the process followed in getting to what is presented on the web page. The instructor will borrow the notebooks several times during the year and grade them for thoroughness, clarity and relevance to the course. Only the portions of the notebook that are dated, written in the student's own hand and on the permanent pages of the notebook will be considered in the grading.

As noted in the catalog description, students will critique experiments and design an experiment. Students will work up to the full final experiment design by doing a series of experiment design projects throughout the semester. These projects will be partly the result of individual efforts and partly the result of group efforts. Some of the project topics will be assigned and some will be chosen by the students. A preliminary version of the experiment design will be due for the midterm and the completed experiment design with a full report on the experiment will be due for the final.

There will not be an in-class midterm exam. The mid-term evaluation will be based on classroom attendance and participation, the notebook, assignments, the quizzes and the preliminary experiment design as shown on the web page. Students who have not made significant progress on their experiment design by the midterm will be given a midterm warning and advised to withdraw.

An open-book final will be given.

In general, no assignments will be accepted late and no makeups will be given for missed quizzes or examinations. Requests for exceptions to this policy will be considered only for the most pressing reasons (illness requiring hospitalization, death in the family, reserve call-up, etc.), must be submitted in writing in a timely manner, and will be granted only if the instructor has sound reason to believe that the student is highly likely to master the material of the course within the current semester.

Course Syllabus