2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

The Science Behind the Headlines: What's the Truth?


Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 quarters

Paula Schofield organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, biochemistry , Andrew Brabban biology, genetics, microbiology
Fields of Study
biology, chemistry, environmental studies and field studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
environmental and laboratory sciences, the liberal arts and education.
This program begins a week early.  After registering, you will receive an email from the faculty requesting some additional information needed for field trip clearances at Hanford and Grand Coulee Dams, along with a program covenant.  You must email the completed covenant and the additional information to Lab I program secretaries  (lab1support@evergreen.edu) by September 1.

Are you curious about the world around you? Would you like to really understand "buzz terms" the media uses such as sustainability, green materials, climate change, the water crisis, the energy debate, genetic engineering, DNA fingerprinting and cloning? How can we believe what we are being told? What is the evidence? How is scientific data actually collected, and what analytical methods and instrumentation are being used? Are the correct conclusions being drawn? As responsible citizens we should know the answers to these questions.

In this two-quarter program we will use various themes to demystify the hype surrounding popular myths, critically examine the data, and use scientific reasoning and experimental design to come to our own conclusions. In fall quarter we will study "water" and "energy" as themes to examine our environment, considering local, nationwide and global water issues. We will also examine current energy use and demand, critically assessing various sources of energy: fossil fuels, nuclear, hydropower, etc.

We will begin the program on September 19 , one week before the regularly scheduled start of fall quarter (during Orientation Week). This will enable us to prepare for an extended field trip the following week by beginning our study of energy, and to establish our learning community. The field trip, to Eastern Washington, will be a unique opportunity to visit Hanford Nuclear Facilty and Grand Coulee Dam. Personalized tours at each will include the B-Reactor at Hanford, the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor which produced the plutonium used in the "Fat Man" bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan, in August of 1945, and at Grand Coulee, the largest hydropower producer in the United States. On this trip we will also learn key field science techniques: how to take measurements in the field, collect samples for laboratory analysis, and identify and precisely determine the concentrations of nutrients and pollutants.

In winter quarter we will use "natural and synthetic materials" as a theme to study petrochemical plastics, biodegradable plastics and other sustainable materials, biomedical polymers, as well as key biological materials such as proteins and DNA. We will carefully examine the properties of these materials in the laboratory and study their role in the real world. "Forensics" will be our final theme, learning techniques such as DNA fingerprinting, blood spatter analysis and ballistics, as well as other modern forensic procedures. We will gather our own data from mock crime scenes to practice these techniques. Winter quarter will culminate in a student-originated and designed research project.

In this field- and lab-based program, scientific analysis—rather than conjecture or gut-feeling—will be the foundation of our work. Throughout our studies we will use and apply state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation. Other class activities will include small group problem-solving workshops, seminars and lectures.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
Fall $300 for an extended field trip.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 17th, 2011 Winter enrollment conditions updated.
April 12th, 2011 This program is starting during Orientation Week to accomodate a field trip; the description, prerequisites, and fees have been adjusted.