STL 115 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program:
Environmental Theme

Victor Stanionis
Iona College

A continuing study of science and technology in the context of societal concern about problems related to waste, matter, energy. A variety of the types of waste produced by modern society are studied with emphasis on management techniques, toxic effects and recycling possibilities.

An integrating course which employs the student's understanding of science, technology and some current environmental problem areas in order to appraise alternative futures. Technology assessment and systematic forecasting methods are studied. Case studies and/or individual student projects are used.

Prerequisite: STL 100 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program: Matter, Energy, Life, and Systems. (Please note: a description of this course is included in a separate entry in this disk.) Class meetings include lecture and laboratory. Special fee required. 3 credits. Scheduled every semester.

This course builds on the foundation laid in the prerequisite first STL course. A student entering this course is expected to bring experience with and the ability to make practical use of problem-solving techniques, modeling approaches, the systems viewpoint, and quantitative techniques involving graphing, standard algebra, and probabilistic reasoning. She/he is also expected to have had some practice in making, organizing and recording measurements, and in writing appropriate reports based on observations and hands-on activities. Moreover, fundamental concepts such as energy, the cell, atomic and molecular structure, the scientific laws of conservation, the genetic code, etc. should be familiar. By organizing this course about the theme of the environment, we are able to apply some of our basic skills and emerging literacy to interesting problems that illustrate many of the facets of science and technology at work in our society.

Course Objectives
- an understanding and appreciation of our position in the environment and our contribution to it;

- a knowledge of the ways in which civilization pollutes the environment;

- a development of skills in experimental measurements;

- a development of responsibility to the nature of the environment and an awareness of performing an active role in the future of the environment; and

- the ability to use written and oral skills to present and discuss environmental concerns.

Student Responsibilities
To become eligible to earn a passing grade in this course, a student must first complete the course, which means: attend virtually all lectures, complete all laboratory activities, complete all assigned readings on time, submit all the required written assignments and reports, and take both the mid-course test and the final examination. Allowance is made for a minimal number of absences, but the professor must be informed in each case and, when possible, in advance. It is frequently not possible to make up missed lab work, but arrangements can sometimes be made if the absence is anticipated or reported immediately. Make-ups are not automatically given for tests and exams. The reason for the absence must be documented and compelling, and the opportunity to take a make-up test is decided on a case by case basis.

Plagiarism, cheating or any form of intellectual dishonesty on any work for this course results in forfeiture of all credit for that work with no opportunity to make up the loss.

Two public STL lectures take place during the semester. Both lectures take place during college activities hours. The schedule contains the dates and identifies the speakers. Their topics are announced as soon as the arrangements are confirmed. Students in this course are required to attend and present written reports on the lectures.

Laboratory reports are due one week after completion of the laboratory exercise. No late laboratory reports are accepted without prior permission. Failure to hand in a lab report results in a grade of zero for that lab.

All lab reports and other written assignments are to be done using a computer word processing program.

Grading (typical)
Lab reports 25%
Quizzes 20%
Final 20%
Group project 20%
Reports 15%


1. Introduction: A Scientific and Ecological Perspective on Wastes
2. Defining the Municipal Solid Waste Problem
3. Waste Management Techniques I
4. Waste Management Techniques II
5. Waste Discharged into Water: Effects on Water Quality
6 Waste Water Treatment Methods
7. Toxic Substances, Laws and Regulatory Agencies
8. Quiz 1
9 Risks and Hazards I
10 Risks and Hazards II
13 Risks and Hazards
14 Introduction to Probability
15. Introduction to Probability
16. Case Study: Lead
17. Environmental Decision-Making
18. Systematic Approach
19. Identification of the Problem of Lead in the Environment
20. Health Risk of Lead
21. Quiz #2
22. Decision Making Patterns
23. Evaluation of Decision
24. Introduction to Technology Assessment
25. Technology Assessment Continued
26. New Technologies and the Environment
27. Group Report Presentations


1. Personal Contribution to Municipal Wastes;

View videotape; Prepare for Air Sampling Lab

2. Introduction to Polymers
3. Combustion of Plastic Refuse
4. Clean Water Challenge
5. Assessment of Air Sampling
6. Personal effects of Air Pollution
7. Computer Model of Probability
8. Qualitative Analysis of Lead
9. Quantitative Analysis of Lead
10. Limits of Detection
12. Chromatographic/ spectroscopic analysis of lead
13. Environmental Transfer of Lead
14. Lead in the Environment