STL 125 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program:
Health Theme

Victor Stanionis
Iona College

A continuing study of science and technology in the context of societal concern about problems related to the understanding and sustenance of mental health. The structure and operation of the human brain is studied with an emphasis on the psychological as well as the physiological factors that influence function. Problems of personality development, behavior, social adaptation which relate psychological health are addressed.

An integrating course which employs the student's understanding of science and technology and some current health 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. 3 credits. Scheduled every semester.

Course Objectives
STL-125 focuses on systems that influence mental health. An emphasis is placed on understanding the interactive effects of biological, psychological, social and environmental factors on mental health and illness. Special consideration is given to practical and social issues involving the development and enhancement of mental health.

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 health, 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.

Student Evaluation
A student's grade in STL 125 is based on a cumulative point score. Grades on labs, homework, tests, quizzes, presentations and reports contribute to a student's overall grade plus research papers which are handed in late are reduced one letter grade.

Grading (typical)
The following is the quantitative grading percentages that determine a student's final grade:

Labs and homework 33%
Reports and presentation 33%
Exams 33%
Class participation 1%

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 all examinations. 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 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.

Each formal laboratory activity or demonstration in STL 125 is recorded by students in the form of a lab report. It is an STL requirement that all reports be prepared by computer or word processor. Reports should be securely bound.

There are two major research papers assigned during the semester for STL 125. The first paper is due on the day of the mid-term exam and the second paper is due on the final exam date. To satisfy the computer literacy requirements of the course, all term papers are to be typed on a word processor. WordPerfect software may be purchased and used to assist students in preparing the report.

The possible topics for the research projects are discussed in class with the professor. The length of the paper should be between three and five pages and should include a title, page, introduction, footnotes and bibliography and two references. References should be pertinent and recent (within the last five years). Correct bibliography form must be used.

Term papers are graded based on neatness, organization, content grammar and punctuation, educational value and usefulness. Letter grades with plus (+) or minus (-) are used on term papers. Late papers are scored one letter grade lower.

In order to expand on knowledge of the health sciences, student presentations are performed throughout the semester. Presentation topics may be based on one of the two required term papers. Oral presentations from four to six minutes long and are followed by a question and answer period.

Each student of STL 125 is required to present a health-related topic during the semester. Topics and time schedules are organized by the professor. Students are encouraged to use handouts, graphics, visual aids and other forms of reinforcement materials. Presentation is graded on content only.

There is a mid-term and final examination in STL 125. Students are informed of the examination dates at the first class meeting. The examination covers information acquired from labs, notes, discussions, handouts, student presentations, and homework. The exams contain 50-100 multiple choice questions; the final exam is noncumulative. All exams are open notebook tests and have a designated time restriction.

Students in STL 125 are required to participate in all laboratory activities. Lab materials are supplied by the STL department, however, occasionally the professor requests that students bring in materials from home. Every student has a lab partner, chosen at the first class meeting. Each student must write up his/her lab report on all labs except those designated by the instructor. Late work receives 1/2 credit. Any lab report that is more than one week late receives no credit.


1. Introduction for STL

Problems in Defining Mental Health; Major Models of Mental Illness

Activity 1 - Review of Manual (lab manual)

- Judgments of Mental Health & Illness (lab manual)

2. Anatomy & Physiology of the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems

Neurons and Neurotransmitters and the Electrolytes; The Cerebral Cortex

Activity 2 - Sheep Brain Dissection (lab manual)

- Comparative Anatomy lab

3. Cortical Hemispheric Specialization; The Autonomic Nervous System

Activity 3 - Right Brain/Left Brain Lab Activities (lab manual)

- Balancing Rod Experiment

4. Anxiety & Stress Management; Mind as Healer: Mind as Slayer

Activity 4 - Stress Audit

- Relaxation Techniques

5. Biofeedback; Pathogenic Aspects of Social Institution

Activity 5 - Biofeedback using EMGs (lab manual)

- Indicators of a Stressful Environment

6. Drug Abuse and Alcoholism; Common and Severe Mental Disorders;

Sexism and Gender Issues

Activity 6 - Marketing Human Needs

- Subliminal Seduction

7. Environmental Hazards and Mental Health; Nutritional Factors of Mental Health. The Effects of Household and Industrial Pollutants on the Human Nervous System

Activity 7 - The Poisons around Us

- Maintaining Good Mental Health

- Nutritional Feedback

8. Midterm examination and mid-term paper due.

9. Applications of STL 125 in Human Health & Disease

10. Inherent Human Risks; The Poisons Around Us; Risks from Commercial Products

Activity 8 - Corn Plant Genetics

- Human Genetics Field Study

11. Technology and Risk

Societal Pressures on Technological Development

Activity 9 - Increased Risk of Dying

12. Determining Risk Association Coefficient

Activity 10 - Quantification of Risk

13. Risk Associated with Industry and Business

Activity 11 - Cost Benefit Analysis

14. Environmental & Ecological Impact on Human Health

Activity 13 - Tap Water Test

15. Health Risks Related to Future Energy and Commercial Developments

Activity 14 - The Effects of Percolation on Acid Rain

Final Examination