Physical Science Department

1.     MISSION: The mission of our department is to provide the rigorous science foundation necessary for students to achieve the skills, knowledge, intellectual curiosity and scientific literacy essential for a wide range of professional or technical careers. The department fulfills the primary missions of community colleges by providing support to academic (science and engineering) education and workforce development/vocational programs (nursing and teacher preparation). Hands on laboratory skills are a critical component for the development of critical thinking skills in many of our courses. The department primarily offers transfer level courses designed to satisfy the needs of science majors, allied health students, college general education requirements, and liberal studies teacher credential programs.

2.     PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The Physical Science Department encompasses eight disciplines which affect many of BC's students and Bakersfield's population. These disciplines (Architecture, Astronomy, Chemistry, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Physics, and the area of Physical Science) variously satisfy general education requirements, provide courses for majors, serve as prerequisites for the allied health programs, and aid in BC's community outreach efforts (both directly and through K-12 teacher training support). All are active in supporting BC's Strategic Initiatives and core processes.

Examples of specific activity include planetarium programs (outreach); Physical Science classes (heavily attended by teacher trainees); strong faculty involvement in MESA and AMP (retention), IMPAC (articulation), and assessment development techniques (retention/success); and continued development of on-line classes and web pages (access). Within each discipline are found these and/or other examples of both current and planned (future) program components which further enhance the success of our students through the guidelines found in the strategic initiatives. Brief descriptions of each discipline are given below, with an assessment of future growth directions following these.

Common threads: satisfy general education requirements, courses for majors, allied health pipeline, community outreach-K12 teacher support.

General Education: Astronomy, Geography, Geology, Physical Science 11.
Courses for majors: Architecture, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Physics.
Allied Health pipeline: Chemistry, Physics
Community outreach-K12 teacher training/support: Astronomy (esp. planetarium), Physical Science 11.

BC Strategic Initiatives #2 to #4 support Initiative#1 of improving student access, retention, and success. EVERYONE does initiative #1, so need to focus on what particular other initiatives weíre involved in to support initiative #1. Other BC Strategic Initiatives we fit in:
Initiative #2:
Provide effective learning and earning pathways for students. ìStudent success and goal achievement is strengthened by development of clear, seamless transfer and career pathways through the curriculum. In defining and supporting student pathways, the college must be responsive to the needs of the community and the imperatives of sustainable economic development.î All 4 threads fit in Initiative #2.

Particular sub-bullets in Initiative#2 we fit in are:

      Improving articulation and cooperation across the higher education system, within the Kern Community College District, and throughout the K-12 system. (Planetarium expansion + teacher support/training in future science center fits in here.)

      Continuing the Title V process to improve student learning support systems and seamless transfer roadmaps to the CSU and UC systems.

      Strengthening advisory committees and strategic partnerships within the community. (Architecture + engineering have advisory committees.)

      Streamlining career pathways that afford students a variety of professional-technical options that include non-credit short courses, certificate programs, associate degrees and pre-baccalaureate preparation.

Initiative#3: Support student learning through appropriate technology.
ìAcquisition of the ìhabits of mind,î knowledge, understanding, and values that support lifelong learning and success in the emerging global economy requires a supportive learning environment and mastery of the `tools of the trade.í These may include among others higher order critical thinking skills, information competency, disciplinary scholarship, and mastery of current tools and technology. The college must provide and continuously improve technologically mediated learning and support systems to enhance teaching effectiveness and student learning.î

Particular sub-bullets in Initiative#3 we fit in are:

      Making new technology and techniques available to students, faculty, and staff to support assessment, advisement, placement, and teaching and learning.

      Developing and supporting Ö faculty web pages, Ö multimedia, and information competency curricula.

      Expanding distance, online, asynchronous, and self-paced learning options.

Career Pathways of our students: Agriculture & Natural Resources (science majors students), Engineering & Industrial Technology (architecture + engineering students), Health Services (those in the Allied Health pipeline). The students in the general education classes are in the other three career pathways [Arts, Media, & Communication; Business, Management and Technology; Public & Human Services (education students are in this one)].

The Architecture program provides a comprehensive program with a series of beginning core courses consisting of materials, drawing, both hand and CAD, and practice and design courses for transfer to a 4-year (BA) or 5-year professional degree program. The program currently offers A.A. and A.S. degrees in Architecture and a Certificate of Achievement in Architectural CAD. Career pathway: Engineering & Industrial Technology. Methods to attain career: Lower Division Preparation for Baccalaureate Degree & Beyond method or the Professional, Career & Technical Associate Degree/Certificate method to achieve their goals. All courses are designed for transfer, except for Arch 55 and 56 (Uniform Building Codes).

The astronomy program has one beginning course in astronomy, taught in three modalities; on campus in the classroom, over the internet, and telecourse (ITV). An estimated 95% of the students enrolled in astronomy take this non-lab science class to fulfill their general education science requirement. The most common career pathways of students in the astronomy program are: Agriculture & Natural Resources; Arts, Media, & Communication; Business, Management, & Technology; and Public & Human Services. Over 95% of students are using the Lower Division Preparation for Baccalaureate Degree & Beyond method or the Professional, Career & Technical Associate Degree/Certificate method to achieve their goals. The astronomy program has developed student learning outcomes for its course.

BC planetarium that is used primarily by K-12 school groups in Kern County, as well as BC students, is under the umbrella of the astronomy program. Approximately 4500 K12 students come to the planetarium every year.

The chemistry department offers courses that directly contribute to the career pathways of a wide variety of students. These classes are prerequisites for some on-campus programs (e.g. chem 11 for allied health sciences), and all transfer to many 4-year institutions for programs such as engineering, the primary sciences, related health careers (e.g. medicine), and education. Some also serve well as general education requirements.

Classes stress core education competencies in a variety of ways, including important hands-on laboratory exercises. Our teaching practices enhance the learning environment well beyond the usual, with extended discussion/problem sessions in group environments, the use of computer-based visualization/computational techniques, and various lab practicals stressing skills application and good communication.

The faculty are heavily involved in the on-campus assessment development efforts, including participation in an NSF-funded project to model assessment practices at BC. We participate in the broader science departments' work in program planning, scheduling, and retention efforts (MESA and AMP). Other areas of work includes issues of matriculation (through IMPAC and campus committee work) and governance (Academic Senate).

The engineering and engineering technology programs at Bakersfield College are comprehensive programs designed to meet the curriculum core for most engineering or engineering technology disciplines agreed upon by the Engineering Liaison Committee (ELC) composed of representatives from California community colleges, Universities of California and California State Universities. Although the engineering technology program is offered through the Applied Science and Technology Division, the engineering support courses are offered in the Physical Science Department.

All engineering courses offered help prepare students for transfer to a four-year college or are required for an A.S. degree. Most of these courses involve hands-on applications, which include laboratory experience, machine technology, applied mechanical projects, and use of special software. Engineering faculty actively participate in department work (program planning and scheduling), articulation (ELC and IMPAC), development of student leadership (MESA and Engineersí Club), and recruitment/retention efforts (presentations at local schools and conferences and MESA).

The geology and geography programs offer introductory level classes designed to satisfy the general education requirements for many students, particularly liberal studies majors. The lecture and laboratory courses provide students with an insight into our physical and cultural worlds, and the processes that have shaped and will continue to shape our planet and our civilizations.

The physics area in the physical science department offers two physics sequences to students. A two - semester trig - based general physics sequence is offered for the students going into the professional field such as medicine, architecture, pharmacology, dentistry, optometry, veterinary science, physical and occupational therapy, and also for the students who need to take a science course with lab as general education requirements at Bakersfield College. The other sequence of the physics course offered is a three-semester calculus-based physics, which is taken by students majoring in physics, astronomy, engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine, architecture and medically related fields.

Physical Science:
The Department offers an Introduction to Physical Science course, which is a key course in the science curriculum for liberal studies/pre-teaching majors and general education.  Although this is not an academic discipline but merely a course, the course lacks continuity due to the high number of adjunct and rotating faculty who teach the course. The number of sections of Physical Science 11 is 10 sections per year.

Faculty Contributions
The Physical Science faculty are heavily involved in the campus assessment development efforts, including participating in an NSF funded project to model assessment practices for the college. We participate in the broader science departmentsí work in program planning, scheduling, and retention efforts (MESA and AMP). Other areas of work include issues of matriculation (through IMPAC and campus committee work) and governance (Academic Senate). Our teaching practices enhance the learning environment well beyond traditional lectures, with extended discussion/problem sessions in group environments, the use of computer-based visualization/computational techniques, and various lab practicals stressing skills application and good communication.

3.     UNIT WSCH/FTES PROJECTIONS: In Fall 2002, the FTES for the Physical Science Department was 231.63 (Maas data says zero FTES/WSCH in satellite centers for Fall 2002ócheck!). 25.18 of the FTES was through distance education modes in astronomy and geology. The WSCH was 6948.75 with 755.34 of the total via distance education modes. The courses were taught by an equivalent of 14.47 FTEF. We are expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.5% so by 2020 we are expected to have a FTES of 361.26 (increase by factor of 1.5597 in 18 years OR use factor of 1.4717 in 18 years if annual rate is 2.17%).

Breakdown by Program in Fall 2002: Architecture FTES = 28.35, FTEF = 2.04, WSCH = 850.29; Astronomy FTES = 20.090 (12.69 via distance education), FTEF = 0.80, WSCH = 602.7 (380.7 via distance education); Chemistry FTES = 80.82, FTEF = 5.64, WSCH = 2424.66; Engineering FTES = 17.34, FTEF = 1.30, WSCH = 520.17; Geography-Geology FTES = 44.15 (12.49 via distance education), FTEF = 1.98, WSCH = 1324.26 (374.64 via distance education); Physical Science FTES = 15.21, FTEF = 0.96, WSCH = 456.27; Physics FTES = 25.68, FTEF = 1.75, WSCH = 770.40. (This breakdown by program does not need to be in the final report.)

4.     FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: The Physical Science Department is projected to grow at the same rate as the College. What follows is the development by discipline.

The replacement of the existing instructor will need to take place the calendar year 2005-06. An additional instructor will need to be added to the program with projected growth. Presently, six adjunct faculty are involved in the program, which is equivalent to 36 hours per year.

The addition or revision of courses to the program will be revisited periodically as we articulate with the schools of architecture and Cal Poly SLO in particular.

More sections of the beginning astronomy course will need to be offered. A course focusing on only the solar system will be developed in the future. It will also fulfill the general education science requirement. Cooperative-learning strategies will be more extensively deployed in the on campus and internet sections. The planetarium will be upgraded and expanded.

Our planning includes some major upgrades to our aged laboratory equipment, and the expansion of our curriculum to include a year-long transferable organic class. External funding sources (notably NSF) are available and will be sought by the faculty to aid in the purchase of the major equipment necessary for the organic course. A Fall 2003 poll of students shows a significant need for organic chemistry, as 47 of 69 responding science majors at BC would take an organic chemistry course, if offered, and 26 of those need organic before transferring. A full year sequence in organic chemistry is required for most chemistry/biology/ physics majors transferring to 4-year institutions as well as for those moving into pre-professional health programs (medical, veterinary and pharmacy schools). It also complements our plans to update the requirements for the chemistry A.S. degree.

Lab upgrades include both an overhaul of current equipment and the addition of modern computing facilities readily available to our students. While there are a number of computer labs on campus, they are not readily accessible on short notice nor are they amenable to lab use over a period of days. A number of stations (est. 12) are desirable for each lab, with up-to-date computers. Some additional facility upgrades are probable with the addition of the organic class (hoods in particular).

The engineering program will continue to grow and additional sections of some engineering courses will need to be offered. An electric circuits lab will be developed and offered soon. In addition, a strength of materials course with a lab and a computational course for engineering using Excel or Matlab will be included in the engineering curriculum. It is expected that as new computer programming languages are developed that the existing numerical programming course for engineers will need to be updated.

There is interest among the engineering faculty to offer some engineering courses at the Delano campus. Consequently, this may require adaptation of existing curriculum for the Delano facilities.

More sections of the geography and geology courses will need to be offered. Currently we have one lab class available for both subject areas. Recognizing that Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings are not suitable lab times because of conflicts with most day lecture classes, there is only one time slot available for an additional lab: Tuesday night. Staffing needs are detailed in the next section below.

Physical Science:
Our plan is to increase the teaching staff and support for Physical Science 11 so that more class sections can be offered each term.

An endeavor will be made to update the course objectives and student learning outcomes to provide the students with more effective physics education at Bakersfield College.
The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education will also be used to improve physics instruction at Bakersfield College.
BC physics faculty needs to attend the AAPT or TYC21 workshops to update teaching skills and new information about physics education.


  1. REQUIRED RESOURCES: Many department lectures are taught in laboratory space due to the low availability of lecture rooms.  Often these rooms are poorly configured for lectures, and none of the labs in physical science are equipped with advanced media capability.  The department requests a concerted effort to equip or furnish the department with at least two laboratory spaces with permanent media capability or 2 portable units that can then be moved based on need.

    What follows are the required resources by discipline with justification. (Note justification for planetarium expansion + teacher support in Astronomy section applies to other general education science classes—why science classes are an essential part of a general education program.)

    Major items to be considered:
    1. With the growing presence of CAD, MS-12 will need to be converted to a third CAD lab. This will mean the addition of 25 computers, 2 plotters, and an overhead mounted data projector.
    2. A conversion of MS-12 means that the 24 tables now in MS-12 need to be moved to MS-4 and the 18 tables in MS-4 removed.
    3. One inclusive teaching station for MS-4 or 12, which would include, but not be limited to: digital camera w/ zoom lens, latest generation of computer, projection screen, pressure sensitive tablet, video cassette recorder, slide projector, scanner, printer, sound system, wireless microphone, surge protectors, software (to be determined) and teacher situation which would include modular shelving, camera bracket, lights, and drawing board.
    4. Replacement blueline printer ó 42-inch minimum.
    5. 11x17-inch copy machine.
    6. Additional office space


The over 40-year old planetarium will be upgraded and expanded beginning mid-December 2004 with completion May 2005. The current 24-foot dome theater will be expanded to a 36-foot dome theater. A new star projector will replace the 1950s technology star projector and all-dome video will be included in the upgrade plans. The money for the equipment will come from the congressional earmark that was funneled through FIPSE. Because the FIPSE money must be used by June 30, 2005, the planetarium expansion must be moved up in the queue of construction projects that will use Measure G money. Approximately, $370,000 of the Measure G money allocated to the Math-Science building will be used to expand the walls and ceiling of the planetarium. The FIPSE money will be used to purchase and install the equipment inside the building shell.

One of the
primary missions of a California community college is "to advance Californiaís economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to continuous work force improvement." The United States' economy is becoming ever-more dependent on science and technology-based industries and agriculture. In order to maintain our competitive edge in innovation and economic influence in the world, our workers and industries will need more knowledge and skills in science to prosper in the 21st century. Therefore, the demand for highly-skilled, science-literate workers in our country is great and will only continue to increase. Local workers will need to be able to apply more scientific reasoning and concepts where they work and at home in the future. In order to compete with other areas of the country, local workers will need to improve their knowledge of and skills in science and technology. Of the seven "business clusters" identified in a study by the Natelson Company for the Kern Economic Development Corporation and the city of Bakersfield, five (aerospace, chemicals and plastics, high-tech, and to a lesser extent: textiles/apparel, and value-added agriculture) require college-level science education. The Natelson report noted that educational levels lag in Kern County and that especially the high-tech and aerospace business clusters dictate a need for increased skills in our local workers.

The national study "On the Origins of Scientists and Engineers" by Dietz, Lund, and Rosendhal, found that over 84% of the PhD scientists in the physical sciences and mathematics chose to go into a science or engineering career before going to college (almost a third chose even before high school). Teachers were ranked equivalent to family members or greater in the influence of choice of career area. Teachers in elementary and secondary education are key to developing the passion in the physical sciences and mathematics and to getting children to choose science or other technical careers. However, teachers in our area (particularly, the K-8 teachers) are poorly prepared to teach science in ways that will spark their students. One of the key findings of The Workforce Investment Boardís 2002 State of the Workforce Report is "that if the local economy is to be transformed into an economy which produces a significantly higher per capita income, lower unemployment rates, and a highly-skilled workforce, the general product of our educational system is not suited to meet all these needs."

An expanded and modernized Planetarium will provide the stimulating shows and exhibits needed to "light the fire" in the children who visit the Planetarium. Planetariums and science centers/natural history museums expand the horizons of children by showing them possibilities beyond their own limited experience. This is especially true for those who will become physicists, astronomers, and earth scientists. A significant fraction of the physicists, astronomers, and earth scientists in the Dietz, Lund, Rosendhal "Origin of Scientists and Engineers" study said that planetariums and science centers had a very influential impact on their choice of careers. Finally, the teacher training programs offered by the Physical Science department faculty in the future will address the current deficiencies in teacher training and support in the sciences and mathematics. In the long run, this will help BC with one of its strategic initiative to improve student access, retention, and success.

A single full-time faculty teaches all of the astronomy classes currently offered and is the director of the planetarium, including giving all of the shows. Additional faculty will need to be hired to meet the projected demand for more astronomy sections. Additional faculty or classified staff will need to be hired to help with the expanded planetarium program.

Based on the areas of development for the chemistry program detailed in the previous section, we will need the requisite infrastructure to support workstations in the chemistry labs. This includes networking and tables. The organic class will necessitate the dedication of space for a low-field NMR spectrometer and other instrumentation (est. 15x20 ft.) along with power requirements.

Teaching staff will have to be added to accommodate increased load related to the year-long organic chemistry course, as well as growth in all other classes served by the department. An estimated 0.6 FTE of chemistry faculty will be needed to serve the organic chemistry course, and a burgeoning enrollment in the general chemistry sequence (2 sections of science majors turned away this semester) necessitates an additional 0.6 FTE. Stockroom staff will have to replace the part-time student assistants that were removed during budget cuts to handle the increased work load.

In order to offer supplementary courses and sections, an additional faculty member minimally qualified for engineering will need to be hired and subsequent office space provided. A computer and projector need to be purchased and installed in SE-45, the engineering testing lab. Some of the testing equipment in this lab will need to be replaced in the next 50 years, including the Rockwell tester and the metallographic microscope. When an electrical circuits lab is incorporated into the curriculum, some relatively inexpensive equipment and supplies will need to be purchased. The required testing apparatus to equip the strength of materials lab could be manufactured by the Applied Science and Technology faculty and/or students. This equipment can be incorporated into the existing engineering testing lab. Service plans or repair monies should be reserved for equipment maintenance.

For several years, all of our geology and geography courses have been impacted. To accommodate past and present growth we have requested additional staff, only to see our repeated requests denied. As a result we will not be able to provide classes or space for the anticipated growth of 2.5% in WSCH. To resolve the need and demand for additional courses in geology and geography, we need to hire more staff. The ideal person would be qualified to teach both subjects. More desirable, with the upcoming retirement of one of our instructors, we would like a new full time faculty to teach geology and a separate new hiree to teach geography.

To achieve a growth in enrollments, we need access to one additional lab classroom. In addition to the lab space, we would need to furnish this lab with a complete set of maps, rock and mineral boxes and other supplies.

Equipment: Most of the supplies, materials and equipment we have been using are relatively low tech and can last for years. The one major piece of new equipment we would like to see is a new seismograph. Additional desired equipment included a computers for the lecture room (MS2) and the geology lab (MS 6); new overhead projectors for the lecture room (MS 2) and the geology lab (MS 6) and a flatbed scanner for the geology program. Most other items we use are classified as supplies.

Another consideration is that if we hire someone more recently graduated from college, there may be new methods, approaches and experiments that require new and different equipment. To assist us for any future planning, we would require a reasonable supplies an equipment budget. Our almost non- existent budget needs to be increased.

Physical Science:
The Bakersfield College Physical Science Department is currently not meeting demand for Physical Science 11 (General Physical Science) and turns away 1-2 sections worth of potential students each semester and during the summer session, as well. This demand is expected to increase with increasing population and increasing enrollment of education majors. CSUB education majors come to Bakersfield College to take this course.  A major upheaval at CSUB is occurring in Spring 04 that will drastically change their physical science requirements, and our PHSC 11 (and perhaps other courses in chemistry, physics and biology) may need to be redesigned to meet that need.  Bakersfield College has voiced a commitment to have seamless transfers, especially for education majors, and a strong effort must be made to provide the prerequisite courses for future teachers in Bakersfield.

After substantial purchase of physics equipment in the early 1960s, there were no major equipment purchase for mechanics, thermal physics, electricity & magnetism, optics, and modern physics due to the nearly non-existing equipment budget. To modernize the current obsolete equipment for the physics lab, the physical science department needs a substantial fund to purchase a number of computer-interfaced equipment that is available to every student group in the lab at the same time. Some remodeling of the lab may be required to install such computer aided lab equipment.


 Link to MS Word format version

Return to Physical Science Department Home

Last update: 16 February 2004


Document editor: Nick Strobel