Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois U

ESCI 121
Fall 2009
Section 06

This photo by NEIU Earth Science major Alexandra Cichon was a finalist in the Earth Science Week 2009 photo contest sponsored by the American Geological Institute.

Schedule of Activities

Homework Wiki

Instructor Contact Information:

        Instructor: Dr. Laura L. Sanders             
        E-Mail (the fastest way to reach me!):     L-Sanders (at)
        Voice Mail: 
Office:  During daytime office hours, I will be in S-130; during evening office hours, I will be in S-120. 
                       Mail may be left for me on the door to S-130.

        Office Hours:  Tuesdays  10:00-10:50 a.m., 1:40 pm-2:50 pm, 7:20-8:00 pm
                                   Thursdays 10:00-10:50 a.m., 1:40 pm-2:50 pm, 7:20-8:00 pm
Class meeting times: 5:40-7:20 pm, Tuesday and Thursday, Room S-120.

Course Prerequisite: MATH 102 (Intermediate Algebra)
Course Website:
Text:  No specific textbook is required.  However, each student must have a general geology textbook (or physical geology textbook) published by a scientific or academic publisher in the last 8 years.  One example is Tarbuck and Lutgens, Earth Science, 11th edition (Prentice Hall, 2006).  Other readings will be provided, posted on the web, or posted on the class wiki


* This outline will be adjusted daily as the semester proceeds.  Please check back frequently for updates.  
*  Reading assignments should be completed before coming to class on the day listed.
* Assignment due dates listed here are approximate; for more information check the homework page.

* To see a list of each day's learning objectives, click the date.  Links will be added as the semester progresses.

SEP   1  Introduction to the study of Earth Science. SEP   3  Using our class wiki.   Density.  World map due (Homework #1)Homework #2 is due by 12:01 a.m. this coming Sunday morning!
SEP   8  Density, contd.  Earth's internal structure.  Large-scale patterns in Earth's surface.  World map /geotectonics research due (Homework #3) SEP 10  Geotectonics. 
SEP 15  Geotectonics: finding patterns. SEP 17  Geotectonics.  Rocks and minerals.  Mineral properties and investigation tools.  Homework #4 "Rock Your State!" is due.
SEP 22  Rock Your State!  Mineral properties and classification. SEP 24  Exam #1. 
SEP 29  More minerals.  Using a mineral key.  Rock Your State in-class work.   OCT   1  Rock Your State in-class work, cont'd.
OCT   6  Class cancelled due to instructor illness.  It's Green Week! OCT   8  Rock Your State in-class work, cont'd.  Sediments, continued, and sed rocks, continued. Metamorphic rocks.  It's still Green Week!
OCT 13  Metamorphic rocks, cont'd.  OCT 15  The Rock Cycle, and putting it all together.  How do they fit into the big picture of global geotectonics?     
OCT 20  Exam #2.  Get the review sheet here! OCT 22  Volcanoes.  Maps, latitude and longitude. 
OCT 27  Rock Your State Points of Interest assignment due (Homework #5).    OCT 29  Volcanoes. 
NOV   3  Earthquakes: focus, epicenter, and measuring earthquakes.  Earthquake maps in living color! assignment is due NOV  5  Earthquakes: focus, epicenter, and earthquake maps from the USGS. Finding the epicenter of an earthquake.
NOV 10  Tsunamis.  Global geotectonic boundaries.  See the homework page for the Weather Tracking assignment and extra credit assignment. NOV 12  Exam #3. Get the review sheet here!
NOV 17  Topographic maps.  NOV 19  Topographic maps and streams.
NOV 24  Topo maps and streams, continued.  NOV 26  Thanksgiving.  No class. 
DEC   1  Weather: air masses and fronts.     DEC   3  Weather: highs and lows.  All weather tracking assignments are due today.
DEC   8  Weather: forecasting.  DEC 10  Weather: the global picture.  Course evaluations.

DEC 15  Note the unusual time!  6:00-7:50 pm  Exam #4.  Please check right away to see if this conflicts with any other of your scheduled exams, and contact me before September 20 if you find a conflict.   Get the review sheet here!


Course Goals: Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to

Use real-time data from publicly-accessible scientific monitoring stations to analyze Earth processes.
Describe the processes involved in geotectonics and tell how they relate to geologic phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building, continental movements, and the development of landscapes.
Explain the relationships between atoms, compounds, minerals, and rocks.
Use the techniques and tools of mineral and rock identification. 
Describe the rock cycle and the processes involved in the cycle.
Describe the geologic time scale and explain how relative and absolute age dating are used.

Use topographic maps and geologic maps.
Describe the hydrologic cycle and the processes involved in the cycle.
Use weather maps to predict the weather.

Course Requirements: Attendance at all class sessions is expected.  Frequent in-class assignments will be given and may not be made up.  Students who do not attend regularly will not be given the benefit of the doubt in cases of borderline grades, and a lower grade may be given at the instructor's discretion if absences are excessive.  All course requirements must be completed to pass the course.  The final date to drop the course, per University policy, is November 13.

Students are expected to check their e-mail at least every other day to watch for course announcements and updates.

Students should bring the following to every class meeting: notebook, handouts, pencil and eraser.  Also bring your textbook if possible.

Students are expected to participate in all course assessments.  On some days, you will be asked to complete anonymous "minute papers", ungraded quiz-type questions, concept maps, or survey-type questions.  This information will help me to determine the extent to which the course is meeting its goals.  To provide me with the most information so that I can make the course better, I ask that you give me your most thoughtful, honest feedback--the more, the better.

Academic integrity:  The NEIU policy on academic misconduct will be strictly enforced.  A site from the University of Indiana explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.  Cheating on homework, exams, quizzes, or other course components will result in a score of zero for that assignment or more severe penalties, as described in the NEIU policy. 

Flexibility: This outline will change as the semester evolves.  Check this page frequently for updates!

Evaluation and Grading

    Homework (includes in-class and at-home assignments):   40%         
    Four exams (weighted equally):                                               60% 

* The grading scale is as follows:  A 100-90%; B 89-80%; C 79-70%; D 69-60%; F 59% and lower.
* Homework assignments will include in-class assignments as well as work done outside of class.
* Late homework assignments will not be accepted
unless there is an approved reason for missing the deadline, and only if I approve the excuse before the assignment is due.
* Make-up exams will be permitted only in a case where there is an approved reason for missing the exam, and only if I approve the excuse before the regularly scheduled exam begins.  Missed exams that are not made up will result in a score of zero for that exam.
* Please note the schedule for the final exam and university policies governing final exams (inside the back cover of the Schedule of Classes.)  No exceptions will be made other than those allowed by this policy.
* Grades will be posted on Blackboard, but the official gradebook will be kept by the instructor.  Please check your scores on Blackboard and let the instructor know of any discrepancy.

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

Copyright 2009 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated December 10, 2009.