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# Area of Knowledge: Natural and Mathematical Sciences Component

## Requirement

In the AOK Natural and Mathematical Sciences category, all emphasize courses either the natural or mathematical sciences. At least one of the four courses must be in mathematics. At least two of the four courses must have a laboratory components and at least one of these courses must be in the natural sciences. The term "Mathematical Sciences" here is meant to include mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

## Rationale

Scientific and mathematical knowledge plays an important role both in shaping our society and in facilitating a deeper understanding of our world. Knowledge gained from life- and physical-science laboratory courses allows students to understand in more practical and concrete ways their own physical makeup and the natural world around them. Knowledge gained from computer science courses allows students to utilize and understand an essential (and rapidly changing) tool for discovery in the sciences, mathematics, and many other disciplines. Knowledge gained in mathematics courses provides students with the analytical skills necessary to investigate and solve problems, and enables students to apply greater clarity and precision of thought to future endeavors. Since these students will become voters, parents, teachers, and legislators, both these students and society in general will benefit from an educational experience that includes exposure to the natural and mathematical sciences.

## Goals

Graduates of the College should have knowledge of the major principles of natural and mathematical science, an appreciation of the powers and limitations of these disciplines, and an understanding of current issues in science and technology. They should gain laboratory experience and experience in utilizing technology, as these are fundamental for the acquisition of much of this knowledge. They should have ability in mathematical thinking, and in the formal written communication of such thinking, as these provide a precise means of describing phenomena in the realm of natural and computer science, and contribute to one’s ability to think rationally. They should have the ability to design and implement algorithms or experiments to further such knowledge.

## Learning Objectives

Students must meet at least one of the following learning objectives:

- Students should be able to explain the philosophical underpinnings of scientific inquiry, including how the relationships among hypotheses, theories, and predictions provide the context for making observations and drawing conclusions.
- Students should be able to develop methods to gather reliable empirical data in order to accurately describe phenomena of interest, and where appropriate, include in those methods the use of formal experimental protocols such as replication, randomization, and controls.
- Students should be able to build a model (including, for example, statistical, mathematical, and numerical models and/or computer algorithms) that abstracts the properties of a system or phenomenon of interest.
- Students should be able to explain the differences between science and technology, and understand that social and ethical issues are intertwined with scientific and technological progress.

## Criteria

A course in the Science and Mathematics Area of Knowledge must meet at least one of the following conditions (in addition to those specified for Computer Science, and Mathematics):

- A significant component of the course is devoted to instruction in empirical data collection and/or observational techniques and skills, including the role of data analysis and observation in the formulation and evaluation of hypotheses and theories. It must include instruction and practice in preparation of formal written reports in a form appropriate to the discipline involved.
- A significant component of the course involves the student in the design, execution, and analysis of an appropriate formal experiment. These activities includes the development of hypotheses, the collection and analysis of data, and the drawing of conclusions. The course must include instruction and practice in preparation of formal written reports in a form appropriate to the discipline involved.
- A significant component of the course involves developing formal models of systems or phenomena, generating representations of these models, reasoning within the models, and assessing model results in the context of the original system or phenomenon.