P226: Interdisciplinary courses for non-majors: “SEEing Science in Appalachia”
With an NSF TUES grant, the honors program at Eastern Kentucky University developed and implemented a 6-credit hour course that satisfies both the physical science and life science gen ed requirements (with labs) for graduation, by “serving, exploring, and engaging the natural world”. The target students are non-science majors in the honors program in their second year, although we have seen this as a pilot project aiming at a general student population. This course is in its third semester and has two versions, one focused on watershed evaluation and the other using bees; both also look at coal science (this being Eastern Kentucky). Each course is team-taught with one physical scientist and one biological scientist. One highlight of the course is its service-learning component in which our students work with about 130 7th graders from the local middle school. The kids come to EKU to carry out scientific projects guided by our students. Each student shepherds a group of 6-12 kids to collect and analyze samples from a natural setting over several sessions. They then prepare posters for presentation at an end-of-semester convocation. Other components of the course include an inquiry focus and being taught in a studio-type environment. The course also uses “place-based science”, in which locality of scientific investigations (and thus familiarity with the subject) communicate basic ideas. The presentation will show how these components come together to provide a highly robust science education for our students, and improve their overall appreciation for and understanding of scientific ideas.