Archive for May 24th, 2016

Construction of the new Life Sciences building begins, and the geologists welcome our new biologist labmates

May 24th, 2016

Mateer May 2016Wooster, Ohio — The College of Wooster community will soon say goodbye to Mateer Hall (above), which has housed the Biology Department for decades. It will be demolished next month to make way for the new Ruth Williams Hall of Life Science. I haven’t heard anyone yet say they will miss the creaky and undersized Mateer. The new Life Sciences building, which will be joined to the existing Severance Hall (chemistry), will be beautiful, spacious, and filled with the finest of scientific equipment and facilities.

Scovel 216 052416In the meantime the biologists (sensu lato, including neurobiologists, biochemists and so on) have to go somewhere with all their stuff for two years. Scovel Hall will be home for some of the biology labs, so the geologists have been making room throughout the building. I thought I’d record the process at its most chaotic in Scovel 216 (above) and Scovel 219 (below). The biologists have to move everything out of Mateer in just a few days, so our lab tables and just about every other flat surface in Scovel is occupied by specimens, equipment, and massive bottles of distilled water. I especially like the stuffed animals (including a small bear), the crocodile skulls, and the human skeleton in an ancient tall display cabinet.

Scovel 219 052416We are looking forward to spending quality time with our biologist friends. We’re each going to learn a great deal about how the other group works, and we’ll have new appreciation for our disciplines. Science marches forward!

Thinking like a scientist

May 24th, 2016

San Diego, CA – Thinking like a scientist is a challenging and important learning goal for the Wooster Geologists, and one of the primary reasons that we engage our students in undergraduate research. Although science is often portrayed as a collection of facts or as a series of exercises designed to prove something that is already known, our research students learn that science is a way of thinking. It is a method of inquiry that involves creativity, examining a question from multiple perspectives, and understanding uncertainty. Science requires hypotheses that are testable, data that can be collected and interpreted, and explanations that are supported by evidence. Today, our Black Mountain research group focused on these aspects of science as we developed our research goals and plans for the rest of the summer.

Amineh AlBashaireh ('18) filled the whiteboard with an impressive set of ideas and questions, which jump-started our research discussion.

Amineh AlBashaireh (’18) filled the whiteboard with an impressive set of ideas and questions to prompt our research discussion. On the left are “broad impacts” that define the significance of the research and put the research into context of the larger society. On the right are sources of “potential error,” which Amineh is recognizing and attempting to minimize.

Eventually, we developed a couple of research questions that Amineh will be able to address this summer. We formulated hypotheses for the answers to these questions and designed a research strategy that will generate the data necessary for testing our hypotheses. In the end, we created a research plan that is both achievable (given the constraints of time, expertise, resources, etc.) and flexible enough to allow the research to evolve as Amineh discovers new findings and develops new questions.

For an excellent resource on the process of science, check out the Visionlearning module by Anthony Carpi and Anne Egger. It’s an incredible resource for teachers and students alike.

References:

Carpi, A., and Egger, A.E. 2009. The process of science. Visionlearning POS-2 (8).