The content that would normally be reserved for our printed syllabus. This syllabus is still a draft version until this line is removed.
Questions answered on our Canvas page:
- When and where are our class meetings?
- I want to talk. How do I get in touch?
- Where are we keeping our notes, handouts, and other things we would normally get in class?
Questions answered by clicking on them [links in progress]:
- How do I earn my grade?
- What are the policies about makeup work, late work, extra credit, and similar matters?
- Can we work together? What's your policy on cheating?
Questions answered below:
- Why would a student want to take this course?
- What are the course objectives? What will I learn?
- Where do these objectives lead, intellectually and practially?
- What are the prerequisites? What should you already know?
- Why do the parts of the course come in the order they do?
- Will the course be primarily lecture, discussions, or group work?
- Important: What do I expect from my students?
- What is the purpose of our assignments?
- What will the assignments be like? Memorization? Understanding? More?
- Why have these specific books been chosen?
1. Why would a student want to take this course?
Most students who take the course will be atmospheric science majors or minors, or those with a keen interest in the fundamental properties of the atmosphere. If you want to begin to learn some of the gory details about how our atmosphere works, this is the place for you.
2. What are the course objectives? What will I learn?
Please visit the Course Plan.
3. Where do these objectives lead, intellectually and practically?
This is a foundational course in atmospheric science and meteorology. It is akin to mineralogy and petrology in the geology world -- thermodynamics, with Dynamics 1 at its side, open up all the future topics of study for you. Without these, it is incredibly difficult to have a truly comprehensive understanding of how the atmosphere works. Practically, you also gain knowledge about important but basic processes: how cloud droplets form; why air rises; how heat & movement are related; and more. These processes have applications far beyond meteorology, and are found frequently in our daily lives.
4. What are the prerequisites? What should you already know?
This was addressed on the front page. So that I don't have to edit multiple sections if something ever changes, please visit there.
5. Why do the parts of the course come in the order they do?
Bottom line: because I can't think of a better way to organize them. We start by reviewing units & calculus & basic concepts. The laws of thermodynamics, which underpin almost all the physical sciences, come next. Then we add in what makes the atmosphere so special: water vapor. After that, we continue with discussions of phase changes, cloud growth, and remote sensing of the atmosphere. Starting from the basic laws, we complicate them, and then we observe the results -- I don't know another way to arrange this.
6. Will the course be primarily lecture, discussions, or group work?
It's my goal to make our online sessions -- which will be live ("synchronous") but recorded -- as similar as I can to what in-person meetings would have been. The reason for this? I think learning is made better when students get to spend time solving problems with one another, not just sitting there while I click through slides. Yeah, there has to be some of that, but not 75 minutes a day of it.
So our classes will have all three, in various percentages:
- some time spent with me talking to you ("lecture");
- some time with you talking to me ("discussion"), either using our microphones or in the chat; and
- some time with you talking to teach other in teams of 3 to 6 people ("group work").
As for our in-person meetings, I honestly don't know how it will feel to have 10 people spread out in a 250-seat auditorium. I don't know what an effective balance is for that environment. So we will test it and see.
7. Important: What do I expect from my students?
All the work you submit in our course should demonstrate your upper-division standing at one of the top 100 universities in the US.
8. What is the purpose of our assignments?
In the face-to-face version of the course, the homeworks, warmup questions, and quizzes all build toward the exams -- the "high stakes" places where you get to demonstrate what you've learned. But online, I want to spread the grades out a lot more. So each assignment is like (graded) practice, a little bit at a time, so that you get more and more comfortable with the content in the course. You'll see the same kinds of questions on the same topics multiple times, so that you continually get more practice with each content area.
9. What will the assignments be like? Memorization? Understanding? More?
I use Bloom's Taxonomy -- a lot -- when planning our course. As juniors, you have already acquired some of the needed vocabulary (the "Remember" level tasks), and you'll be expected to acquire new vocabulary quickly on your own. You are also developing your ability to Understand how parts and processes fit together. As a class, we will work on more complicated tasks: Apply concepts to demonstrate how the atmosphere works, Analyze how all of these ideas and properties are connected, and Evaluate our conclusions and usage of atmospheric rules.
10. Why have these specific books been chosen?
In my best judgment, there are only two textbooks that are suitable for the mix of students we get in this course -- that is, a mix of ATS majors, minors, and "friends" who enroll typically from SPEA, geology, and geography. Petty's book is, hands down, the one that best blends conceptual and mathematical content together. The runner-up, by A. Tsonis, is highly mathematical, almost to a fault. It's probably better for a "Thermodynamics II" course, or for first-year graduate students.