Archive for October, 2008

100+ Incredible Open Courseware Resources for Science Geeks

Posted by Staff Writers | Posted in College Education, Online Learning, Uncategorized | Posted on 29-10-2008

Science geeks continually on the lookout for more information can hit the motherload when it comes to open courseware classes. No matter what field of science you may be interested in learning about, there are a number of enlightening and challenging college courses that you can take absolutely free. From life sciences to astronomy to health sciences and so much more, you are sure to find courses that will teach you exactly what you want to know.


From genetically modified foods to animals in extreme environments, these biology classes will educate the beginner or the advanced science student.

  1. Gene manipulation in plants. Take a look at current work in the field of genetic modification in plants and also examine common traits of GM and a case study.
  2. Social issues and GM crops. Examine concerns, controversy, and safety issues associated with genetically modified food crops in this class.
  3. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: The Brain and Cognitive Sciences III. Study the major areas of cellular and molecular neurobiology in this graduate level class.
  4. Experimental Biology–Communications Intensive. Study the scientific research and writing a research article in this class.
  5. Evolution through natural selection. Examine the life and works of Darwin as well as delve into the study of natural selection here.
  6. Meiosis and mitosis. Study cell division and chromosome reproduction in this course that looks at inherited traits and patterns of inheritance.
  7. Eutrophication. Look at the causes, effects, and ways to manage the increase in the concentration of nutrients in plants in both terrestrial and aquatic systems.
  8. Animals at the extremes: the desert environment. The first in a three-part series, this class examines the desert and the integration of the animals within that ecosystem.
  9. Animals at the extremes: hibernation and torpor. The second in the series, this class looks at characteristics of hibernation, physical and physiological adaptations, and control systems in the brain that allow successful hibernation.
  10. Animals at the extremes: polar biology. The final class in this series, this course focuses on the processes and adaptations that occur in animals who live in polar regions.


Learn about the properties of metals, chemistry in the kitchen, chemistry lab techniques, and more in these interesting chemistry classes.

  1. Physical Metallurgy. Learn about the structure and properties of metals in this course.
  2. The molecular world. Study atoms, the periodic table, electronic structure, and molecular reactivity in this class which strives to provide an understanding of some of the problems chemists wrestle with in their research.
  3. Principles of Chemical Science. Take this introductory course in chemistry from MIT to get a firm grasp of the basics.
  4. Kitchen Chemistry. Learn basic chemistry principles while practicing cooking experiments in this class from MIT.
  5. Advanced Kitchen Chemistry. The follow-up to Kitchen Chemistry, this course is a hands-on class examining topics such as cheese making, joys of tofu, and the science of spice.
  6. Organic Chemistry I. Get your feet wet with this introduction to organic chemistry that also touches on the chemistry of aromatic compounds.
  7. Physical Methods in Inorganic Chemistry. Study topics such as x-ray diffraction, limits of x-ray diffraction methods, and structure data bases.
  8. Chemistry Laboratory Techniques. Watch videos to learn proper laboratory techniques which will allow you to safely and successfully carry out chemistry experiments in the lab.
  9. Protein Folding Problem. Complete a research paper on a topic surrounding protein folding, misfolding, and the physiological roles they play.
  10. Kinetics of Chemical Reactions. Study the "experimental and theoretical aspects of chemical reaction kinetics" with discussions on reactions at the gas and liquid phases and on surfaces.


If physics is your thing, then you will enjoy learning about electromagnetics, fusion, scattering and tunneling, and superconductivity in these classes.

  1. Electromagnetic Interactions. This graduate level class examines the basics of electromagnetic theory.
  2. Describing motion along a line. Learn about motion, positions along a line, and the various forms of motion along a line.
  3. Neutron Science and Reactor Physics. Study the basic properties of the neutron as well as nuclear physics and reactor design.
  4. Seminar: Fusion and Plasma Physics. This course covers plasma physics and fusion engineering while exploring the development of fusion power.
  5. Scattering and tunneling. Learn about the physics of scattering and tunneling in both a stationary-state approach and a wave-packet approach.
  6. Superconductivity. Examine the properties of superconductors and examine the two main types of superconductors in this course.
  7. James Clerk Maxwell. Study the life and works of this famous physicist and examine the results of his work on electromagnetics.

Earth Sciences

From plate tectonics to ocean circulations to the history of the African continent, these Earth science classes are sure to educate and entertain you.

  1. Science and Communication. Offered through the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, this course strives to help the graduate student in marine science develop questions that can be incorporated into their research.
  2. Practicing science: reading the rocks and ecology. Get an introduction to both earth science and ecology in this course.
  3. Special Topics in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences: The Environment of the Earth’s Surface. Learn about the processes that affect the surface of the Earth and gain practical knowledge that can help with management of the Earth’s environment.
  4. Applications of Continuum Mechanics to Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. Learn "practical applications of the continuum concept for deformation of solids and fluids."
  5. Plate Tectonics. This class serves as an introduction to plate tectonics with information on the theory, motion, driving forces, and implications of plate tectonics.
  6. Introduction to Ocean Science and Engineering. Get the basics of science and engineering as it is applied to exploring and observing the oceans in this class that includes video of students field-testing their lab projects.
  7. Atmospheric and Ocean Circulations. Learn about the physics of the circulations that occur in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
  8. Dynamics of Complex Systems: Biological and Environmental Coevolution Preceding the Cambrian Explosion. Study the effects of biogeochemical cycles on the of animals starting from the earliest known microscopic animal fossil and ending with the Cambrian explosion.
  9. Geodynamics. This course covers the mechanics of the deformation of the Earth’s mantle and crust.
  10. Crosby Lectures in Geology: History of Africa. Professor Kevin Burke lectures on the unique properties of the African continent.
  11. Structural Geology. Examine the processes and products of rock deformation in this class that includes both class lectures as well as lab exercises.
  12. Geodynamics Seminar. Not only can you examine the questions surrounding how the earth formed, what it looked like, and how life came to be, but you can also relive the class trip to Ontario where students applied their knowledge in hands-on research.

Environmental Science

Learn about climate change, ecology theory, environmental policy and more in these environmental science classes.

  1. Seminar in Environmental Science. This course offers a look at the current research trends in environmental science with the topic for this specific class being Global Respiration.
  2. Strange Bedfellows: Science and Environmental Policy. Learn about the relationship between science and politics when it comes to setting environmental policies.
  3. Global Climate Change: Economics, Science, and Policy. From the Sloan School of Management, this course looks at the intersection of science, economics, and ecology when it comes to policies regarding global warming.
  4. Environmental Earth Science. Learn how geologic processes have changed the Earth’s environment throughout the history of the Earth.
  5. Dynamics of Complex Systems: Complexity in Ecology. This course reviews both classical works and recent literature that discuss the complexity of ecology.
  6. Dynamics of Complex Systems: Ecological Theory. A sister course to Complexity in Ecology, this class also examines classical and recent works, but with the emphasis on ecological theory.
  7. Climate change. Learn about climate change, global warming, and the greenhouse effect in this course.
  8. Introducing Environment–taster materials. This basic course is designed to instruct the novice about scientific and technical aspects of studying the environment while also teaching writing and learning skills to effectively communicate your findings.
  9. Health and environment. Learn about the impacts of changes in the environment on health by studying the environmental legacy, pollution, population growth, and ecology.
  10. Global warming. Examine the changes in the Earth’s temperature through study of natural temperature changes, history of the climate, and recorded temperatures.


From observing stars and planets to studying modern navigation techniques using celestial bodies, these astronomy classes will have you seeing stars.

  1. Introduction to Astronomy. Get a quantitative study of the physics of the solar system, stars, the galaxy, and more through observation and models.
  2. Hands-on Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets. Learn to use small telescopes while studying the moon, planets, satellites, and stars in this course.
  3. Modern Astrophysics. Study the physics as they apply to processes in celestial objects such as Supernovae, Collapsed Stars, Pulsars, and more.
  4. The Early Universe. This course examines the big-bang theory and particle theory in this introductory course to cosmology.
  5. Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity & Astrophysics. Study black holes through a combination of class assignments, lectures, videos, and a project.
  6. Modern Navigation. Examine modern navigation techniques using celestial bodies and satellite positioning for ships, automobiles, and aircrafts.
  7. Extrasolar Planets: Physics and Detection Techniques. Study the properties of extrasolar planets and explore the possibilities of the atmospheres and interiors of these planets.
  8. Icy bodies: Europa and elsewhere. Learn about icy satellites surrounding outlying planets and explore conditions and potential for life on these entities.


While you might not be building the next space shuttle, these classes will teach you all about the mechanics of space travel.

  1. Aerospace Biomedical and Life Support Engineering. Study the problems and countermeasures to physiological adaptation in microgravity and partial gravity environments.
  2. Space Systems Engineering. This class asks students to consider the challenges of designing both ground and space telescopes and eventually design one or two of the top proposals from class.
  3. Dynamics. Learn the basics of Newtonian mechanics, orbital mechanics, flight dynamics, and more in this aeronautics class.
  4. Satellite Engineering. Write the problems as well as the solutions while learning the basics of subsystem design in engineering spacecraft.
  5. Cognitive Robotics. Learn theory and application of autonomous systems that possess artificial reasoning abilities such as the Mars Exploration Rover.
  6. Rocket Propulsion. Find out about chemical rocket propulsion systems in this class.
  7. Space Propulsion. Begin with a review of rocket propulsion, then move on to chemical and electrical propulsion techniques in this class.
  8. Space Policy Seminar. Through completion of a project, learn about the current issues surrounding space policy as well as the history of these issues.


From classes using Legos as teaching tools to a study of the history of computing, these technology classes offer the latest combination of science and technology.

  1. Technologies for Creative Learning. This hands-on course, a must for Lego fans, examines the ways new technologies can help stimulate learning and creativity.
  2. Lego Robotics. Use Legos to explore robotics, programming, and more in this fun technology class.
  3. Information Technology Essentials. Get an overview of technology concepts and trends, concepts, and hardware and software in this course that teaches the basics.
  4. The Anthropology of Computing. Learn about the people behind computing from the early days to the modern world while exploring issues such as hackers, privacy, and more.
  5. New Global Agenda: Exploring 21st Century Challenges through Innovations in Information Technology. This class examines how IT development has affected globalization and international politics.
  6. Social Study of Science and Technology. Take a look at scientific, social, biological, and electronic reproduction of knowledge in this course.

Health Sciences

Learn about biomedical ethics, mad cow disease, magnetic imaging techniques and more in these classes with a focus on health and medicine.

  1. The life sciences industry: an introduction. Learn about the history of human healthcare as well as the development and management of the pharmaceutical industry.
  2. Projects in Microscale Engineering for the Life Sciences. This project-based course is an introduction to cell and biological molecule manipulation using microfabricated tools.
  3. Biomedical Optics. Get an introduction to the physics and engineering that goes into optical technology in this class.
  4. Engineering Biomedical Information: From Bioinformatics to Biosurveillance. This course examines the intersection of computer science and biomedical research while studying the technological advances in the field of biomedics.
  5. Obesity: balanced diets and treatment. Learn about balanced diets as well as causes of obesity including genetics and environmental factors.
  6. BSE and vCJD: their biology and management. This course out of the UK examines mad cow disease and the link between the similar disease that affects humans as well as the management of these diseases.
  7. Computing for Biomedical Scientists. Examine the ways computing can work in problem-solving in the biomedical field.
  8. Magnetic Resonance Analytic, Biochemical, and Imaging Techniques. Learn the basics of NMR theory while students participate in detailed examinations of imaging techniques.
  9. Medical Computing. Study how clinical medicine is supported by computing, including specific needs and solutions.
  10. Dilemmas in Bio-Medical Ethics: Playing God or Doing Good?. Examine the ethical questions of biomedics with case studies including abortion, cloning, organ transplantation, and more.
  11. Career Options for Biomedical Research. Explore employment options for biomedical graduates with PhDs or MDs in both hospital and academic settings.

Social Science

From brain and cognition to the psychology of gender, these social science classes offer a look at the relationship between brain and body.

  1. Computational Cognitive Science. Those interested in artificial intelligence and cognitive science will enjoy this class that examines computational theories as they apply to human cognition.
  2. Topics of Philosophy of Science: Social Science. Take an in depth look at the philosophy behind social sciences with this course.
  3. Reasonable Conduct in Science. This course discusses the ethics involved in human and animal research in the social sciences.
  4. Topics in Brain and Cognitive Sciences Human Ethology. Examine and analyze human behavior patterns and also study the intersection of human behavior with animal behavior.
  5. Special Topics in Vision Science. Learn about both human and computer vision in this class that explores the psychology of vision.
  6. Psychology of Gender. Learn about the gender differences and social influences within several social realms.
  7. A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain. This course is geared for all students wanting to explore the nature of the human brain and cognition.
  8. Brains and Culture: Love, Lies & Neurotransmitters. Study the human brain as a modern cultural object in this course that looks at digital images of the brain, mental illness, psychopharmacology, and more.
  9. The social in social science. Learn about the challenges of social science and how best to practice and connect theory to practical applications.
  10. Statistical Methods in Brain and Cognitive Science. This course teaches statistical methods used when analyzing data for behavioral and biological sciences.
  11. Probability and Causality in Human Cognition. Find out how the probability theory applies to cognitive processes in this class that is great for an advanced course in artificial intelligence or cognitive science.

Variety of Scientific Topics

These courses don’t really fit into any one category with their wide-reaching subject matter that includes topics in the history of science, writing the science essay, the development of the scientific revolution, and more.

  1. Maths for Science. This course studies the particular types of math used in scientific study with an emphasis on measurement, probability, and descriptive statistics.
  2. History of Science. Take a look at the history of science from the 17th through the 20th century with particular attention to the physical sciences, natural history, and medicine.
  3. Finding information in science and nature. Teaching the basics in finding and evaluating information, this course will help you know where to look for information, how to organize it, and how to stay current in your knowledge.
  4. Cold War Science. Examine the changes that occurred to the field of science, predominately in the United States, during the Cold War.
  5. American Science: Ethical Conflicts and Political Choices. Study the changing roles of science in the United States from World War II forward while examining topics ranging from the atomic bomb to genetic engineering to whistle blowing.
  6. The Rise of Modern Science. Without looking at specific scientific discoveries, this class will examine how science has been practiced and by whom from the 17th century to the present in both the US and Europe.
  7. The Science Essay. Learn how to write an essay with the intended audience being that of the scientific or technological field.
  8. Methods in Science. Intended as a course for elementary school teachers, this class covers the standards in science education as well as approaches to learning science that will serve all learners.
  9. Toward the Scientific Revolution. Examine the study of nature from ancient times through the Renaissance and its effect on the evolution of science.
  10. Natural Science Parts I and II. Learn the basics about life science, physical science, and Earth science in this 16 week course.