Field of Science

This week's lab - quad spring field trip

Today and yesterday have been the first two days this semester when you could actually conduct some out door instruction and not be cold or wet, or both.  One of the problems with lab instruction is that the bits and pieces, the specimens, the pickled items, the microscopic slides, don't get integrated into the minds of many students because they didn't take them apart to begin with.  This is why it's so useful to take people and show them where everything came from, i.e., that cones and flowers are actually attached to plants, in particular ways, in certain places, and that if you observe closely you can see some things you've never noticed before, like the North American corkwood (Leitneria floridana) in full glorious bloom!  OK, actually some pretty unremarkable catkins, but the plant is plenty unusual.  The only problem today is that the entire campus is outside too and inevitably somebody has made the mistake of choosing some space under the only "male" ginkgo on the campus, or the only doug-fir with nice cones, and so on.  TPP tried to include them, you know, make them feel like part of the group, show them what's going on, and some seem happy enough to play along, and others give you let's-leave-the-weirdos-alone stare.  You can even suggest they shift their lounging over to a flowering crab or some other inconsequential tree.  If they get a bit crabby TPP points out that this is his classroom, and they are welcome visitors, but he's got a class to teach.    

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