Plastics, Oceans, and Earth: Field-based Learning Influencing Education
Friday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Course-Based Research Projects
Julie Masura, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
Cheryl Greengrove, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
Peter Selkin, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
Faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma offer several opportunities for students to engage in field-based learning to explore science topics. These experiences are intended to evaluate student ability to apply the process of science, use quantitative reasoning, and connect science with society. This presentation will highlight student projects from three courses including introduction to science, oceanography, and field studies. Introduction to science is a general education course, affording a field experience for incoming freshmen. Specifically, this course collects samples from a local beach and surface waters of Commencement Bay to evaluate the presence of plastics in the ocean. A survey is given to each student at the beginning and end of the course to assess their growth in learning the process of scientific applications and discovery. Oceanography is a laboratory science course designed for both science and non-science majors. Students participate in lectures and laboratories with an oceanographic cruise on a research vessel, affording students an opportunity to look at water properties discussed in class. The course ends with a comprehensive report demonstrating their understanding of concepts learned in class and what they experienced in the field. Field studies are actually a number of courses students may take as an upperclassman in environmental science. These students are out in the field weekly engaging in research activities throughout the Pacific Northwest. A collaborative exercise is completed by the group to share class results with interested community partners. Results from each of these courses have shown that students gain a better understanding of concepts addressed in class when they participate in real-world, hands-on activities. Field-based experiences are not only important for upper division environmental science majors, but also important for all students entering the university as freshmen.