1. I understand that the purpose of the project was to measure different rates of carbon consumption by bacteria using different types of carbon found in natural inland water systems. We were trying to imitate natural water systems to better understand their role in the carbon cycle. Our results show that previous conclusions stating that autochthonous carbon is a more labile source of carbon for certain bacteria may be incorrect because there was not a significant difference in the rate of consumption between the two systems we tested. Statistical analysis was used to determine differences because the initial amount of carbon in each system was different.
I gained skills that allow me to understand how research is conducted and how to make a poster. I thought that I was not creative enough to come up with a research question on my own and that I would never be able to call myself a real scientist but this class showed me that it is completely possible for me to do in the future.
Posters are a different method to conveying information than teaching to high schoolers because it cuts out introductory information and only displays the important pieces of the project. It explicitly shows how the research was done, why it was done, and what was found. When teaching there is a hidden agenda where you want to make the kids care about the information and what it means to them but a poster does not display that facet of thinking. It is easier to have a poster because other people can read it and if they have questions you can answer them instead of having to predict what questions will arise and answering them before they are asked.
2. My presentation skills definitely improved. I was not able to stand in front of a group of people, even just two people, without panicking. I guess I still panicked on teaching day but it got better as the day progressed.
I think that I put my presentation together well after a lot of help from Eric and feedback from practicing. I think I still need to improve getting my anxiety under control.
The hardest part about teaching was preparing the lesson.
The lecture from the school of education was awesome. Teaching is a complex practice and it involves thinking about things on many different levels. For instance, you can think that you have come up with a great concept to teach and make a lesson for it but the students may not understand anything you taught if there wasn’t enough clarity in the lesson or if you present the information in one form and don’t differentiate teaching methods.
It is difficult for me to say which module I was most comfortable with because I was not able to present all of them. I enjoyed making the why do we care presentation because I think that part of it really brings the whole lesson together and makes people care and want to understand what is happening on our planet.
3. To learn the material I read the research papers we were assigned, I visited other informative websites when I had questions, I asked questions in class, I went over the powerpoints we were given, and completed the same worksheets that the students completed.
I was comfortable with most of the information by the end of the semester and I can’t think of anything else that could be done.
Practicing the presentation in the classroom with feedback from Eric and Abby was the most effective strategy for my preparation. It showed me what I was doing right and wrong and what I needed to change in my presentation. Reflections on presentations were also very helpful because I was able to really sit and think about every aspect of the presentation and what it meant.
Simply reading over the material and not orally practicing the presentation was least effective in preparing. A suggestion for improvement would be to practice the presentation over and over to a third party audience who may not know about the subject to make sure they understand the material presented and that the presentation flows properly.
4. I really liked that this was a small class. It made things very personal and intimate. It made me feel comfortable to be around you and comfortable to ask questions when I didn’t understand something. This helped me to learn and perform better. I also really liked that I was forced to reflect on my work. I think reflection is an important part of the learning process. I very much enjoyed flexible deadlines because it made things much less stressful if I was able to complete an assignment when I had time. Usually I dread doing assignments and procrastinate on them but the blog posts were not difficult assignments to complete and I really think they helped my development and growth in this class. I wish the high school students had more time on the field trip. I wonder if there would be a way to do the first introduction portion in their class and then do the field trip the next day to the rice center for the rest of it in order to spread out the material.
5. This class has been immensely influential in helping me to become a successful teacher. I will be able to use the skills I learned in this class to help me better prepare lessons and teach students about complex ideas through project-based learning. As far as other aspects of my life, I can use the information I have learned to be a more environmentally-friendly person. We are now recycling in my apartment after I did research into how to go about getting sidewalk pick-up and learning what I could and could not recycle. This class taught me that you don’t have to picket and lobby politicians to try and change laws concerning the environment. I used to be a part of Green Peace but I did not like their methods at all. They were essentially stalking the representative from Northern Virginia in order to influence his vote. They showed up to personal events in his life including his nephew’s birthday party. I thought that was so trashy and inconsiderate and definitely not the right methods to use in order to change policies. Research and facts are much more influential than an angry dread-head yelling at an old man in a suit.
6. I had learned about the carbon cycle and photosynthesis and respiration in Biol 151. We went over carbon emissions and the greenhouse gas effect in Chemistry and Society. However, I was not able to retain the information as well nor was I able to fully understand the depth of the concepts until I took this class.
7. At first, I didn’t think I was going to like the blog at all and that it was just going to be unnecessary extra work. However, as time passed I realized that the blog was actually a very helpful tool to use in order to do homework assignments and reflect on our learning and progress in the class. It also helped to me to research appropriate primary sources to use in our project. I read all of the blogs that were posted because I love procrastinating and looking at crazy stuff on the internet. I loved that Abby was very proactive with her blog at the beginning because I was able to read a lot of cool stories and news articles. Some random person re-posted one of my blogs and it made me feel so cool. My ego grew three sizes that day. I couldn’t believe that someone would want to read the things I write, much less show other people. It was empowering and built my confidence. I thought the topics were very helpful because they forced me to research the subject and learn new things. I also would have liked if we had to do something like a “carbon in the news article” every week along with our other blogs too. Not too much work but just enough to make blogging fun and interesting.
8. I already knew that carbon was an incredibly important element on Earth and that it was heavily influential on global warming and climate change. I think that since I am now able to explain in detail how carbon emissions affect global warming, I will be able to silence critics and nonbelievers with the facts rather than just saying that its happening without knowing why. It has changed my habits because I now understand that recycling is an important practice and not just something that hippies do. I thought that I had a small carbon footprint because I either walk or ride my bike most places but now I see that I am so wasteful and I produce so much garbage. Where did I think that garbage went? I am the worst.
I put a picture of a sad kitty because I know Abby likes kitties and because I am very sad to be done with this class. I think that I will be able to take a lot more away from this class than just information on the carbon cycle. I enjoyed telling people that I was working on a research project because it made me feel important and cool. I also like telling people that I have to go to the lab because it makes me sound mysterious and smart. It makes me feel like I am actually accomplishing something with my time in college. Working on this research project has given me the confidence to think that I will be able to work on other important research projects in the future which is something that I did not think I was capable of doing before. Most of all, I will miss you guys. It has been a pleasure getting to know you both. I have not been able to be so personal with anybody in any of my other classes. I hope to see you both around campus.