MATSE 081 - Materials in Today's World
Complete Course Outline, Rules and Regulations
Materials in Today's World presents a culturally relevant, contemporary and historical
account of the applied science of materials. Because we live in the Age of Materials, an
understanding of our material culture is of considerable importance. This course briefly
traces the development of materials science from the Paleolithic Age to the present; it
then concentrates on the Materials Science Tetrahedron, the relationship between the
processing, structures, properties and performances of materials. The course aims to
promote cultural, scientific and linguistic literacy.
Materials in Today's World is constructed around three major, interrelated themes:
• An historical, and worldwide account of the development of materials' cultures and
technologies, beginning in the Old Stone Age.
• A modern account of the applied science of materials, which is the application of basic
physics and chemistry to the world around us.
• A discussion of the relationship among the processing (creation) of a material, its
consequent structure (from the atomic to the macroscopic), its attendant properties
(e.g., mechanical, physical, and chemical), and its performance in a given application.
The course textbook, Earth, Air, Fire & Water: Elements of Materials Science, was
written specifically for the course. The book is the major provider of content and also
provides example quizzes and essays.
There will be two major forms of assessment: twelve quizzes, and a series of seven
assignments. The quizzes will comprise a series of low-stakes, open-book quizzes that
will be taken online. The quizzes will concentrate on the reading materials and the
content covered in the online videos and animations. The answers and feedback to the
quiz questions will be provided immediately following submission of the quizzes.
The assignments are designed to develop some of the skills necessary to both read and
write a scientific article. The assignments also stress the importance of web-based
research to obtain quality scientific information. Feedback to the assignments will be
provided immediately following submission.
1-2 0. Orientation
3 1. Introducing Materials in Society
4. 2. The Materials' Science Tetrahedron
5. 3. Historical Perspectives 1
6. 4. Historical Perspectives 2
7. 5. Materials' Tetrahedron 1 – Structure 1
8. 6. Materials' Tetrahedron 1 – Structure 2
9. 7. Materials' Tetrahedron 1 – Structure 3
10. 8. Materials' Tetrahedron 1 – Structure 4
11. 9. Materials' Tetrahedron 2 – Properties 1
12. 10. Materials' Tetrahedron 2 – Properties 2
13. 11. Materials' Tetrahedron 3 – Processing
14. 12. Materials' Tetrahedron 4 – Performance
The overall goal of this course is to teach scientific, cultural and linguistic literacy through the
medium of applied science – materials' science and engineering. The course is designed to help
prepare students for life in a technology-based twenty first century. The course is grounded in the
basic sciences of physics and chemistry but is taught in a predominantly non-mathematical
fashion. The goal of cultural literacy is approached through a discussion of the history of
materials' science and of the atomic theory, linguistic literacy is addressed by a series of
assignments that are designed to teach the fundamentals of scientific writing.
This course is designed as a web-based introduction to the science of materials. You will not
only learn using technology, but also evaluate how technology can be used effectively in place of
classroom instruction. The emphasis is to develop curricula using technology as a primary means
In this course, we will cover a wide variety of topics that should help you grow as an innovative
thinker, but also foster an understanding of the material world we live in. With the help of the
John A. Dutton E-Education Institute and the Open Educational Resource Initiative, this course
is concerned with making education accessible to all students and educators. Therefore, we bring
to you, the learner, an online course prepared to deliver an interesting and stimulating
introduction to the world of materials science and engineering.
Learning objectives are divided into three components: scientific literacy, cultural literacy and
linguistic literacy. The learning outcomes are similarly compartmentalized.
1. To teach the fundamentals of an applied science; to present the basic physics and chemistry
of materials' science and engineering.
2. To help prepare students for the technology-based 21st century.
3. To show how the modern world is dependant on the materials it produces and the new
materials it develops.
4. To forge a link between the world of science and the world of our daily lives.
5. To describe how materials are processed (the act of creation), to teach the many levels of
structure of materials, their properties and their applications.
6. To illustrate basic concepts in materials' science by presenting in-depth "written portraits" of
a variety of materials.
1. To place the science of materials into an appropriate historical context.
2. To teach the history of the "atomic theory of matter" as a continuum from pre-history
through the twentieth century.
3. To emphasize the geographical diversity of the genesis of materials technologies.
4. To present the histories of selected materials from early pre-history to the modern day.
5. To personalize the history of materials' science through the lives of some of the great
1. To teach some of the skills of scientific writing through the critique of specially crafted
2. To show the student how to abstract information from scientific writing and from web-based
3. To encourage students to be reflective and to use formative feedback to produce high-quality
After completing the course, the student should:
1. Display a critical thinking ability when faced with challenging, open-book quiz questions.
2. Be able to interpret the details of data, which are presented in graphical form.
3. Be able to differentiate between e.g., a metal, a ceramic and a polymer.
4. Be comfortable using the "River of Paradise" as a taxonomic device for the classification of
5. Know the difference between an atom, a molecule and a monomer.
6. Have a basic understanding of the relationship between the processing of a material, its
structure, its properties and its performance in a given application.
7. Be aware of the different bond types that create solid materials, and how the properties of a
material depend on the bond type.
8. Understand that the preferred state for solid material is crystalline, and that the crystalline
state forms one of the links in the hierarchical levels of structure, from the sub-atomic to the
After completing the course, the student should:
1. Be able to specify which material innovations were associated with each of the Old-World
2. Appreciate the worldwide nature of the development of material cultures. To accept the
notion that Europe was not the fountainhead of all science and technology.
3. Understand something of the complexity and sophistication of e.g., technology in ancient
4. Recognize the diversity of building styles and building materials of various buildings in
After completing the course, the student should:
1. Understand how to abstract information from the scientific writing of others.
2. Be able to critique the scientific writing of others.
3. Be comfortable in obtaining answers to scientific questions using web-based researches.
What do I need for my computer in this course?
For this course we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on Penn State's ITS
Homepage, or comparable to lab computing standards.
Not sure if your computer is set up correctly? You can use the links below to test your settings:
1. Adobe Acrobat
3. Java [This may take a minute to load.]
If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the World Campus
What is a plugin?
A plugin is an extra piece of software that your Web browser uses to view certain types of files.
Web browsers come with the ability to view only the most standard types of files like Web pages
(HTML files) and image files. Adding plugins gives your Web browser "specialized training" in
viewing movies and other types of interactive files. This course relies mainly upon two plugins,
Flash and QuickTime. Secondary plugins include Windows Media Player, if you prefer that to
QuickTime for movies and MP3s.
QuicTime Player plugin
QuickTime files (.mov) can be simple movies, panoramic movies, virtual reality movies (you'll
see what we mean later), or even audio files. In this course, you'll find that video clips play a
significant role in the lessons, and QuickTime produced the highest quality videos, so it is one of
our best plugin friends. You can make sure your QuickTime plugin works by clicking on this
video link or on the image below to take a short video visit to one of Dr. Howell's favorite
places. You will need at least version 5.0 of the QuickTime plugin, and can get it here if you
don't already have it.
The Flash Player plugin
Macromedia Flash files (.swf) can be images or animations, with or without simple interaction
(like buttons or roll-overs). You will need Flash MX (Version 6.0) of the plugin for MATSE
081. If you're able to see the number flashing in the animated picture below, then you already
have the plugin. If not, click here to get it. When you get to the page select the appropriate
operating system (Windows, Mac, etc.) and the browser that you are using. The download page
has all the directions to help you install the plugin.
MP3 Player plugin
MP3 files (.mp3) are certainly nothing new to most of you, so we're assuming a good percentage
of you will already have your favorite player installed, and if this is so, by all means use it.
If MP3s are unfamiliar territory for you, here's a very quick rundown. On most Windows
computers (Win 2000, XP), Windows Media Player comes automatically configured to handle
MP3s. RealOne and Quicktime are also decent alternatives. If you don't have an MP3 player
already configured, get the QuickTime player, or grab Windows Media Player, RealOne, or one
of the other popular MP3 players readily available online.
If you're set with the plugins listed here, then your computer is ready for MATSE 081. We'll also
be experimenting with Streaming Media this semester, and will update you on any technical
issues related to those files when the time comes. If at any point in the course you have
additional questions or encounter problems, first consult the "Help Page" located on the ANGEL
homepage, and if that doesn't work, an email to one of the course TA's is your next best bet.
The Instructional Team
Dr. Paul R. Howell, 231 Steidle Bldg. Telephone. 863-3363
Raymond (RJ) Defrain, 211 Steidle Bldg., Telephone. 865-9316
Monday, Wednesday, 11.00am – 2.00pm. Other times by appointment.
There will be 12 quizzes, and 7 assignments. Final scores will be calculated using the
percentages shown in Table 1.
o There are 2 quizzes with ~10 questions.
o There are 8 quizzes with ~20 questions.
o There are 2 quizzes with ~30 questions.
The strange number of points/ quiz (Table 1) reflects the built-in bias for multiple
response questions; 6 points maximum for three correct answers, 4 points maximum for
two correct answers. The numbers of questions per quiz and the maximum point values
per quiz are provided on the Lesson Check sheets.
Table 1. Grading Policy
Category Points Point Percentage (%)
Total of Grade
2 @ 30 60
2 @ 70 140
8 @ 50 400
Sub-Total, Quizzes 600 600 60
7 @ 50 350 350 35
Communications 50 50 5
TOTAL 1000 1000 100
Your course grade will be determined by giving the different assignments the weights shown in
Table 1 to give a course total out of 1000 points. Table 2 gives the breakdown of letter grades by
final score. I don’t anticipate any changes, neither do I grade on a curve.
Letter Grade Final Score
F 0 – 55.9
Schedule Of Assignments
Lesson Lesson Name Due Wednesday at Due Sunday at
Number Midnight of Lesson Week Midnight of Lesson Week
00 Orientation Assignment 1. A Materials'
Essay; Part I
01 Introduction 1 Lesson 1 Quiz
02 Introduction 2 Assignment 2. A Virtual Lesson 2 Quiz
03 History 1 Lesson 3 Quiz
04 History 2 Assignment 3. A Materials' Lesson 4 Quiz
05 Structure 1 Lesson 5 Quiz
06 Structure 2 Assignment 4. A Materials' Lesson 6 Quiz
Essay; Part II
07 Structure 3 Lesson 7 Quiz
08 Structure 4 Assignment 5. A Materials' Lesson 8 Quiz
Essay; Part III
09 Properties 1 Lesson 9 Quiz
10 Properties 2 Assignment 6. A Materials' Lesson 10 Quiz
Essay; Part IV
11 Processing Lesson 11 Quiz
12 Performance Assignment 7. A Materials' CRRA Final Report
Essay; Part V
(NO) Final Exams
Deadlines and Lateness Policy
All end –of-lesson quizzes and all assignments will be available the first day of class.
Thereafter, all quizzes will be available until scheduled to close.
The twelve open-book end-of-lesson are scheduled to close by the Sunday deadlines
posted in the “assessments” tab and in the “Check Sheets” provided in each Lesson. The
quizzes will be taken online, and may be completed at any time before the stated
deadline. Each student in the class will receive a "custom-delivered", unique quiz.
Students should access the quiz through the link provided (in the lessons folders). The
quiz will be graded automatically and you will receive instant feedback. If for any reason
you are unable to access the quiz, or if your computer crashes, it is your responsibility to
contact the TAs, via e-mail on ANGEL, before midnight of the Monday following the
closing of the quiz. The quizzes will close automatically at 11:59 p.m. of the stated day of
the deadline. This means that the quiz must be finished (not started) by 11:59 p.m.
The assignments, should be submitted online, on or before midnight of the Wednesday
due date given in the "Assessments" tab and in each respective Lesson. When
submitting a file in an ANGEL drop box, all written submissions must be in
Microsoft Word (.doc format), or should be converted to a PDF format. All written
work should be submitted using the appropriate drop boxes.
There will be a ten percent deduction per day for late submissions.
Submissions will not be accepted for any reason after midnight of the Sunday
immediately following the Wednesday deadline. It is your responsibility alone to
ensure that you meet the stated deadlines, to confirm that your work has been submitted
(e.g., by checking the drop box or the ANGEL grade book), and to check that your
assignments have subsequently been graded (e.g., by checking the drop box or the
ANGEL grade book.) You are also responsible for collecting your graded submissions,
either during class (Section 1), or from the bookshelf outside of 210 Steidle Building
(Section 3). No grade adjustments or additions will be made after the final grades
have been submitted.
All communications to and from the instructional team will be via ANGEL e-mail.
Do not use WebMail to contact the instructional team — we do not monitor our
WebMail for course-related e-mails. On ANGEL, please address all e-mails to
“All Faculty”; do not address your e-mail to an individual instructor.
All written communications, whether by ANGEL e-mail or on the discussion
forum, must be grammatically correct, properly punctuated, and free of spelling
All written communications must be courteous and polite.
E-mail is only to be used for communications between single students and the
Breaches of e-etiquette will result in deductions of 1% or 2% of the course grade,
depending on the seriousness of the infraction.
Code of Conduct
(1) From Polices and Rules 1999-2000;
“All members of the University community have responsibilities and rights based
on the educational process and the requirements of the search for truth and its
free presentation. These rights and responsibilities include: …..obligation to respect
the freedom to teach, to learn…..”
“The code of conduct describes possible behaviors which are inconsistent with
the essential values of the University community…..Such behaviors include but
are not limited to…Obstruction or disruption of classes”.
In both the online and hybrid classes, any oral, or written communication that is
perceived to create an environment that is not conducive to the learning process for
students and faculty, will be considered as a violation of the Code of Conduct.
Students who are in violation will be asked to drop the class, and may be reported to
the Office of Judicial Affairs.
(2) Persons caught cheating will receive a failing grade in the class and will be
reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs. Cheating includes, but is not limited to
plagiarism. University policy, which is also course policy, on Academic Integrity
can be found at:
Book Information and Description
The course textbook isEarth, Air, Fire & Water: Elements of Materials Science, 2nd
Edition. It is published by Kendall Hunt
The book was written specifically for MATSE 081 and it is the major content
provider for the course. The textbook presents the applied science of materials,
in a predominantly non-mathematical fashion without sacrificing scientific rigor.
The text emphasizes the basic sciences of physics and chemistry but also places
the study of materials science into an appropriate historical context. The latter
two-thirds of the book are built around the materials' science tetrahedron of
processing, structure, properties, and performance.