Environmental Science Seminar

PSU Fall 2008 

Teaching experiences-Plattsburgh State University

This semester in class we have been talking about the process of science writing and have been critiquing primary literature and developing a research topic for a secondary literature review paper on a topic of environmental concern. In class we have been discussing journal articles, critically evaluating, and have been debating the pros and cons of hot topics- most recently nuclear energy. Soon class will be acting as peer evaluators of their own literature and will embarking on writing resumes and creating web pages.

Sarah Preston and Carolyn Strauss at the pond on campus reading the global warming debate literature.




Mike Oettinger, and Ian Helmer working hard carefully reading their side of the debate as they prepare to meet point for point with Sarah and Carolyn.




Right to left Ian, Adrian Sellars, and Antonio Pires are examining their side.


Sarah reads alongside the ducks at Hawkins pond on a sunny afternoon.



Carolyn, Adrian, Sarah and Tony are formulating their argument surrounding the positive aspect of GMOs. The basic tenet of their argument at this point is beer, cheese, and potatoes! Adrian is all about the fertilizer as well!


Mike, Lee, James, and Ian are anti- GMOs and their basic platform is that it's not lack of food, rather the unequal distribution of it. Additionally, they are concerned that farmers will have to pay for seeds and are not happy about the "terminator gene"!

Pro-GMO on the left and anti-GMO on the right...the class had a great time debating this argument and acting out a scene from a case study on petri-dish steak!

 Spring 2009 Seminar:

This semester in order to expose students to primary literature writing, I had them run mock-field experiments. I brought in Sherman traps, my field kit for collecting animal metrics, and baggies containing scientific names of common small mammal species and sex for "easy" sampling. Later students wrote a methods and results section based on their data collection. Students chose to sample in 2 different habitats ranging from rural to urban TO unmowed versus recently mowed hayfields.  Here are some pictures from that class:

Ross Holland is sampling small mammals and Paul Allison is recording data.

Evan is "handling" his animal and Chris, Brad, and Greg (clockwise) are carefully recording metrics.


Look at all this "field work" in the classroom!




Nick Rowell gets his turn to handle small mammals.



Taylor "surveys his trap-line" and finds a closed trap. Britney is anxiously awaiting his identification.