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Physics 478
Earth and Space Science

This is a class especially designed for inservice Chicago Public School teachers to complete Loyola's middle school science endorsement sequence, and provide teachers with both the content knowledge and pedagogical skills to teach earth and space science at the middle school level. This intensive course will begin with an overview of our place in space, and move outward from the Earth to study the Solar System, stars, galaxy and cosmology. In addition to lecture material, the participants in the course will do a series of activities that they can transport to their own classrooms.

The second part of the course will focus on the Earth as a planet, investigating our atmospheric envelope and causes for weather, along with the internal structure of the Earth and how the theory of plate tectonics allows us to synthesize much of our knowledge of earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain building within the construct of one overarching theory. In this part of the course, teachers will learn , among other issues, how to read, plot and interpret weather maps.


  • March 31: Measuring Density .

  • April 7:Read about radioactive decay.

  • April 7:The Mathematics of Radioactive Decay.

  • May 5:I have posted a short note about the midterm exam

  • May 10: For class on May 26 (the week after the final), submit a 2-4 page paper answering these questions based on Paul Sereno's talk.

  • May 19:For May 26, please read over the pages on drawing isotherms and complete problems 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5 from the handout, and also draw isotherms on the large map (the photocopied p.7). You may find it wise to make a few copies of these and use pencils, since first attempts at isoplething usually involve a few trials.

  • May 22:Here is the duplicate weather map needed for the homework assignment.

  • May 26:For class on Jun 2, please submit weather maps 12.1-12.5 (including 12.1 and b) where you have analyzed the pressure field at 4 mb intervals. Also indicate the location of warm and cold fronts; on a separate sheet, write a justification explaining your choice of position for frontal boundaries.

  • Jun 1:Here is the template for the quadrant that will be used in class.

  • Jun 1:We will learn how to use a quadrant to make various measurements.

  • Jun 9:Solutions to homework maps and more.

  • Jun 9:I have posted notes for the final exam..

Astronomy Notes

Size and Distance Relationships in the Solar System are discussed in the Playdoh Universe.

Light travel times to nearby objects are discussed here.

The Construction and Use of the Quadrant is included in our discussion of measuring angles.

Using the Celestial Sphere is described in Earth-Sky Relationships.

Seasons are discussed in reasons for seasons.

The explanation for lunar phases is described on the lunar phases page.

A description of eclipses is found in solar and lunar eclipses.

An overview of the Solar System is found at the excellent Nine Planets web site.

Kuiper Belt objects and their properties are discussed in the Nine Planets Kuiper Belt page.

The object Sedna is discussed on the Sedna page.

Another Kuiper Belt Object, Quaoar is described by its discoverers at CalTech's web site.

The controversy over Pluto's status as a planet is discussed on the FAQ page of the International Astronomical Union.

Weather Notes

An overview of the Earth's atmosphere is contained in basic atmospheric properties.

The Earth's energy budget is described in this section about heating the atmosphere and the Greenhouse effect.

Classroom demonstrations relating to properties of air are found on this atmospheric activities page.

NASA's gallery of images for educators can be found on their Earth and Sky Images web site.

The Basics of Reading a Weather Map are found on the weather maps page.

Detailed descriptions of fronts are found here. This page includes links to a more detailed description of rising air and also the development of wave cyclones.

Earth Science Notes

The Earth as a Planet is described in this section of basic Earth parameters.

The nature of the Earth at depth is described inThe Interior Structure of the Earth.

The geometry and properties of Plate Boundaries are described in Plate Margins. This section also contains a link to information regarding the different types of crustal matter.

The Nature of Seismic Waves and how they tell us about the interior of the Earth is described here.

The Earth's Geologic History is wonderfully depicted in this tour of the Earth's History from the University of California.

The supporting evidence for plate tectonics is described in Evidence for Plate Tectonics.

Using seismic waves to determine the structure of the Earth is explained in this resource.

Loyola University Chica
go David B. Slavsky
Loyola University Chicago
Cudahy Science Hall, Rm. 404
1032 W. Sheridan Rd.,
Chicago, IL 60660
Phone: 773-508-8352
E-mail: dslavsk@luc.edu

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