Natural Sciences Education Master of Natural Sciences Education (M.N.S.E.)

Course Descriptions

Fall (Offered Even Years):

NSCI 630 – Spectroscopy for Science Educators

Theory and applications for spectroscopy for grade 6-23 science teachers. A Science Lab Kit is utilized during this course.

NSCI 650 – Pollution and Environmental Biology for Educators

The course is designed for grade 6-12 science teachers. It explores the environmental consequences of energy production and consumption. The topics covered include the effects that oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur and mercury pollution have on biological systems and the methods and technologies for ameliorating and/or reducing emissions.

After successfully completing this course, the student will be able to:

  • Develop and implement methods for teaching lab exercises in pollution chemistry and biology appropriate for secondary school science curricula
  • Understand, in a very concrete way, how to teach and demonstrate, in a secondary school setting, basic knowledge concerning pollution and its environmental consequences
  • Understand the effects of pollutants from fossil fuel combustion on animals and plants

Fall (Offered Odd Years):

NSCI 620 – Chemistry for Science Educators

NSCI 620 explores how the structure and chemical properties of molecules are related. It covers chemical bonding, thermodynamics, states of matter, surface chemistry, solubility, and acid-base chemistry. The unique molecular properties of water provide a focus to understand such diverse phenomena as surface tension, cloud formation, protein folding, detergents, thunderstorms, and water quality. This course includes experimental work such as conducting basic experiments on the properties of water in its different states, constructing a global hydrolytic cycle, and measuring the pH of various solutions. A Science Lab Kit is utilized during this course.

Spring (Offered Even Years):

NSCI 612 – Myth Busters: Science/Controversy/Evaluation

What is science? What isn’t? Modern western science is a product of the Age of Reason in the 18th century, but its origins are traced back to the ancient Greeks. Skepticism and the scientific method are critical to modern scientific practice. Throughout history there has always been an uneasy relationship between science and culture. Science as a human activity is influenced by culture and vice versa. The course weaves science philosophy, methodology, and history with social and cultural contexts. “Culture wars” centered around heliocentrism, evolution, relativity, continental drift, genetically-modified organisms, and climate change are examined. A major part of the course is devoted to evaluating claims purporting to use “scientific” evidence. Are there common strategies that people use? The placebo effect and confirmation bias are discussed. The goal is to equip you with practical tools for making science-informed decisions, and not simply accept a claim at face value; in other words, being a skeptic. The course concludes with a section on bioethics and social policy, using The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a resource.

NSCI 619 – Physics for Science Educators

NSCI 619 takes optics as its central theme, from the ideas of ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, to the quantum theory of light and matter. Along the way, questions both practical (how does a magnifying mirror work?) and deep (what is light, really?) are considered. Experimental work includes explorations of pinholes, reflection, refraction, polarization, diffraction, scattering, electromagnetism, phosphorescence, and optical phenomena in the sky.

Spring (Offered Odd Years):

NSCI 640 – Energetics for Science Educators

This course explores the production and use of energy. Topics covered are thermodynamics, energy conversion and efficiency, biochemistry of energy metabolism, and global energy production. Lab exercises encompass experiments like using microencapsulated liquid crystal sheets to track energy flow, calculating equilibrium constants from thermodynamic parameters, and analyzing energy expenditure in athletic performance. A Science Lab Kit is utilized during this course.

EDUC 660 – Advanced Methods-Science and Math Instruction

Knowledge and skills to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for in service K-12 teachers.


EDRM 602 – Action Research

Provide educators with knowledge and skills to plan and implement school-based research to improve teaching and learning.

EDUC 619 – Curriculum Development

Curriculum Development seeks to provide practicing and pre-service classroom teachers and administrators with a framework for making curriculum decisions. The course examines historical traditions, curriculum philosophies, best practice instructional theories, contemporary curriculum issues, standards practices, and backward design theory.


NSCI 660 – Evolutionary Biology for Educators

NSCI 660 focuses on the processes and patterns of evolution. You study the four mechanisms of evolutionary change and how that change creates the complex biodiversity of the world. Topics covered are the mechanisms of evolution, mendelian genetics, quantitative genetics, phylogenetics, speciation, adaptation, origins of life hypotheses, evolution and medicine, evolution and conservation, life history, sexual selection, human evolution and developmental biology and evolution. Exercises range from problem solving to essays based on the reading of primary literature and articles intended for broad audiences. Some of the problem-solving exercises use simulation software to explore how the mechanisms of evolution alter the frequency of alleles in populations.

NSCI 698 – Research Experience in Natural Sciences

In collaboration with an advisor, you develop and complete research in your preferred science discipline. Advisors assist in creating the project and in identifying a research location. The experience can be completed during any semester after your first year in the program, either at CSU or at a research institution convenient to you. Advisors have regular faculty appointments in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.

Fall & Summer:

STAT 511A – Design and Data Analysis for Researchers I

Statistical methods for experimenters and researchers emphasizing design and analysis of experiments.

Fall, Spring, & Summer:

NSCI 695 – Independent Study for the M.N.S.E.

Independent study immerses you in the primary scientific literature in biology, chemistry, or physics, and allows you to further tailor the degree toward your preferred science discipline. This study can be completed during any semester throughout the degree, and involves weekly meetings (in-person or at a distance) with your research advisor. It does not require access to CSU campus or another research institution.

What Next?

  • One of the best ways to learn about science is through experimentation and exploration, and our science lab kits give you the opportunity to do just that.