Introduction to Physical Science

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
SCIE 1106
Introduction to Physical Science
Environmental Science
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours lecture / 2 hours laboratory
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

The course will be presented using lectures, problem sessions, small group activities, and practical demonstrations. Video and other audio-visual aids will be used where appropriate. When the nature of the experiment permits, lectures and laboratory experiments will be integrated to allow for discussion and analysis of results. More formal lab sessions will be conducted for those experiments having safety implications. Projects and homework will be assigned to be done individually in person or on-line,  or in small groups.  

Course Description
This course is a basic introduction to physical science, and is intended for students with little or no science background. It will present an integrated approach to topics in physics and chemistry, which will include the scientific method, laws of motion, energy, heat and temperature, electricity and magnetism, light, atoms, molecules, chemical reactions, and the atomic nucleus. Laboratory exercises will illustrate the practical applications of the course content.
Course Content


The scientific method, organization of science, describing the physical world, measurements, direct and inverse relationships, graphical analysis, SI system of units, scientific notation. Use of computers: searching for information, data analysis. Library searches.


Speed and velocity, acceleration, forces and motion, inertia; Newton’s Laws of Motion; friction.

Energy and Momentum

Momentum, conservation laws: momentum and energy; work, kinetic energy, power, simple machines. Gravitation, projectile motion, circular motion.

Heat and Thermodynamics

Heat and temperature, heat capacity, changes of phase, heat transfer, greenhouse effect. First Law of Thermodynamics, heat engines, Second Law of Thermodynamics and consequences for power generation and thermal pollution.

Mechanical Waves: Sound

Wave motion, sound waves, speed of sound, interference, standing waves, musical sounds.

The Atom

Early experiments, fundamental particles, isotopes, Bohr model, modern view of the hydrogen atom, lasers.

Elements and Compounds

Elements, molecules, compounds and mixtures, states of matter, properties of gases and the gas laws, liquids, solids and liquid crystals.

The Periodic Table and Chemical Bonds

Electronic structure of atoms, periodic table, metals and non-metals, types of bonding, equations, ionic compounds, covalent compounds, organic chemistry.

Principles and Applications of Chemistry

The mole, molar mass, acids and bases, oxidation and reduction, batteries, acid rain, the ozone layer, air pollution, soaps and detergents.

Electricity and Magnetism

Static electricity, Coulomb’s Law, electric fields, electric circuits, resistance, Ohm’s Law, power. Magnetism, magnetic fields, connection between electricity and magnetism, induction, electric motors and generators.

Properties and Nature of Light

Speed of light, reflection, mirrors, refraction, lenses, telescopes. Nature of light: wave or particle? diffraction grating, spectral analysis, electromagnetic spectrum, polarized light.

The Nucleus

Structure of the nucleus, isotopes, radioactivity, radioactive decay, radiometric dating, nuclear fission, fusion, nuclear reactors, environmental issues.

Laboratory Content

The following laboratory experiments will be performed:

  1. Measurement of Volume and Density
  2. Laws of Motion
  3. Static Electricity
  4. Electrical Induction and Motors
  5. Properties of Light and Spectroscopy
  6. Types of Chemical Reaction
  7. Graphing and Data Analysis
  8. Force
  9. Electrical Current
  10. Heat and Temperature
  11. The Gas Laws
  12. Acid-Base Reaction
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Outline how scientific knowledge is acquired, organized and retrieved.
  2. Make and report scientific measurements using correct significant figures.
  3. Draw properly labeled graphs to show the relationship between two variables.
  4. Perform unit conversions within the SI system.
  5. Solve numerical problems involving motion.
  6. Define and/or explain work, energy, force, acceleration and inertia.
  7. Explain and apply the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.
  8. Solve problems involving heat flow and temperature.
  9. Apply Coulomb’s Law to calculate the force between two static charges.
  10. Explain the operation of an electromagnet, electric motor and a.c. generator.
  11. Analyze a given electrical circuit (current, voltage, resistance).
  12. Explain the terms “longitudinal, transverse, constructive and destructive interference” as they apply to waves.
  13. Describe the properties of radiation in each part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  14. Describe the early experiments which were used to elucidate the structure of the atom.
  15. Describe the Periodic Table of the Elements and explain its use.
  16. Explain and draw diagrams to illustrate the difference between ionic and covalent bonds.
  17. Describe the three phases of matter: solids, liquids, and gases, with respect to structure and bonding.
  18. Given the chemical equation for a reaction, indicate what type of reaction it is and explain why.
  19. Explain the differences between acids and bases.
  20. Explain the three types of radioactive decay.
  21. Describe how radioactive isotopes may be used to determine the age of materials.
  22. Explain the two processes by which energy can be extracted from the nucleus: fission and fusion.
  23. Discuss the relevance of the topics covered in this course to current environmental issues.
Means of Assessment

Tests and Examinations (40-60%)

Two in-class tests will be given during the semester (10-15% each) and a final comprehensive exam will be written at the end of semester (20-30%).

Laboratory (20-30%)

A report will be required for each laboratory experiment. One complete write-up will be required, the remainder will involve pre-formatted report sheets. Some of these reports will be marked Pass/Fail.

Assignments (10-25%)

Problem assignments will be handed out regularly to be done by small groups or individual students, or on-line. 


Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

The textbook and laboratory manual will be chosen by the instructors at the time, but will be similar to

Hewitt, P., Suchocki, J., and Hewitt, L. Conceptual Physical Science, Pearson


Douglas College, Science 1106 Laboratory Manual,


BC Pre-Calculus 11 with a grade of C or better or Douglas College MATH 1101 or Douglas College MATU 0411 or equivalent.





Which Prerequisite