At Truman, as at most Universities, each STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) major has a curriculum that provides learning experiences for its students that lead to deep mastery of their major content area. This specialized training usually begins in the first semester of college. But many students, while knowing they want to pursue a major in science or mathematics, do not know on their first day of college which major to pursue. The SPECTRA Program will provide these students with an alternative way to start college.
The SPECTRA Program has developed courses that introduce the study of science and mathematics in an integrative fashion and that explore the interrelatedness of the branches of science and mathematics.
- STEM 101: Integrative Freshman Seminar
- This course prepares you for earning a degree in science or mathematics at Truman in many of the ways that a traditional, major-specific Freshman Seminar does. Topics include study and time management skills, campus resources, co-curricular opportunities, academic expectations, and academic planning. Unlike the major-specific Freshman Seminars, this course presents the STEM disciplines in an integrated and interdependent fashion. By the end of the course, students will have a better idea which majors reflect their interests and talents, and they will have the tools to succeed in their chosen STEM major. This course is appropriate for any student who has an interest in, aptitude for, or curiosity about STEM majors. This freshman seminar should be taken in addition to a major-specific freshman seminar. This course is typically taught by a team of professors from Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics, so students get to see integration of ideas at work and also witness challenges of integrative thinking. It is offered each fall semester. A natural follow-on course is the Integrative Inquiry Seminar (below).
- STEM 105/110 Integrative Inquiry Seminar
- This course presents science as a way of knowing and will serve as an early introduction to scientific literature and professional development skills. Topics include ethics and scientific misconduct, the importance of writing papers and grant proposals, searching the primary literature, interpreting data, writing a survey of literature, preparing scientific posters and giving scientific presentations. By the end of the course, students will be prepared with the skills to engage in an independent research experience with a faculty member. This course is appropriate for any student who would like to prepare for a research experience. Although designed to be taken primarily by second-semester first-year students, any student with an interest in scientific research is welcome regardless of major, field of study, or year in school. This course is offered each spring semester. STEM 110 is a writing-enhanced, two-credit version of the course.
- MATH 196 Calculus and Mathematical Concepts in Life Sciences
- The work of chemists, and increasingly biologists, relies on mathematical tools and techniques. Classical courses in mathematics were designed to support students of physics and engineering. This course is designed from the ground up to serve the needs and interests of biology and chemistry students. In addition to covering traditional topics in the differential and integral calculus courses, this four credit-hour class presents useful ideas and modeling techniques from matrix theory and linear algebra, elementary differential equations, probability, and statistics. Learning through inquiry-based modules places mathematical tools and theory in a context that is relevant to the students so that they can more immediately appreciate the nature and perspective of the mathematical sciences. The course does satisfy the Mathematical Mode of Inquiry requirement as well as the Calculus requirement for the Biology Major.This course sequence will be appropriate for all biology students or pre-med students who desire formal exposure to mathematical methods not normally presented in the Calculus sequence.
- CHEM 350: Analytical Chemistry for the Life Sciences
- Biology majors are often surprised to discover that the chemistry requirements of their major is only one course shy of a chemistry minor. Biology majors most often choose Quantitative Analysis to complete their chemistry minor, and find its intensely quantitative nature rather frustrating. The SPECTRA program’s alternative course for the life sciences presents many of the same techniques and principles, but provides students with more experience with instrumentation than they would get in the traditional Quantitative Analysis course. This course is also be an option for the Biochemistry major and Forensic Science minor that are currently under development. With statistics as a prerequisite, the course uses an inquiry-based modular approach to apply chemical analysis and statistics to solve biological problems.This course has been approved by the University and is usually offered once per academic year (sometimes fall, sometimes spring). The course does satisfy the Mathematical Mode of Inquiry requirement as well as the Calculus requirement for the Biology Major.This course would be appropriate for Biology majors seeking the chemistry minor, and other chemistry minors.