STL 135 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program:
Energy Theme

Iona College
Victor Stanionis

A continuing study of science and technology in the context of societal concern about problems related to the production, distribution and uses of electrical energy. The flow of electricity in an industrial society will be studied with an emphasis on the fuels, production processes, efficiency, impact and safety of this dominant technology.

An integrating course which employs the student's understanding of science, technology and some current energy 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 energy, 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 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.

Students are expected to take part in classroom discussions. Since this course is not dependent on a text book, there will be more than the average number of occasions when students have the need to ask questions or seek individual help. Students are expected to recognize these times and take advantage of the professor's willingness to help.

Two public STL lectures take place during the semester. Both lectures take place during college activities hours. The schedule, the speakers and 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.

Grading Policy (typical)
Course grades are developed from the following formula (for those students who have completed the course as described above):

Assignments 20%
Lab activities and reports 30%
Mid-course test 20%
Final exam 30%


1. Introduction: Course Overview and Requirements

Activity 0. Energy Usage Patterns and Policy

2. Technology and Problems
3. Electric Circuit Quantities Defined

Activity 1. Measurements of Current, Voltage and Resistance

4. Ohm's Law, Electrical Energy, Power
5. The Electrical Supply System: Generation Sub-System

Activity 2. Generators and Motors

6. Alternating Current Electricity
7. Generation: Focus on Efficiency

Activity 3. Model Transmission Line

8. Transmission Sub-system: Losses

Activity 4. A Lighting Power and Lighting Level Survey

9. Transmission: Environmental, Health and Aesthetic Issues
10. Distribution Sub-System: Aesthetics and Reliability: Chained Solutions
11. More on Problem Solving with Chained and Cabled Solutions

Activity 5. Probability

12. Usage Sub-System - Electric Lighting
13. Electric Lamp Efficiency; New Lighting Technologies

Activity 6. Powering an Electric Vehicle

Midterm Examination

14. Usage - Electric Vehicles

Activity 7. The Electrocardiogram

15. Electricity and Living Cells; Cardiology
16. Shock Hazards: Introduction to Risk Assessment
17. Technology and Techniques for Analysis Activity
18. Overview of Nuclear Power Systems
19. The Atomic Nucleus and Radioactivity

Activity 8. The Delphi Technique

20. Nuclear Reactions
21. Binding Energy; Fission & Fusion

Activity 9. Radioactivity and Counting Statistics

22. Fission Side Effects: Radioactive Waste, the U Fuel Cycle, System Malfunctions

Activity 10. Decision Tree Analysis

23. Comparative Analysis: Fission vs. Alternatives

Activity 11. Nuclear Reactor Control Simulation

24. The Potential of Fusion
25. Energy Policy Positions (Discussion)

Activity 12. Radioactivity vs. Distance

26. Forecasting the Energy Future: Elements of the Analysis
27. Energy Policy Positions (Continued); Course Summary

Final Examination - Comprehensive, 2 hrs. 10 min.