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Many Beacon College students appreciate the field of science but find they need to have a clear understanding of the practical application of what they learn. This semester, Beacon College is pleased to offer Zoology on a trial basis. Beacon freshmen will be participating in regional and national community science projects, and feedback from these groups will determine whether the Zoology classes will be offered in the future.

Professor Ogle has created three separate Zoology courses. Community-sourced Science serves as the required science course that all Beacon College students must complete, and it also acts as a basis for the more advanced courses, which can be used for elective credit. Ogle notes that these courses “differ from traditional courses in that they offer a global perspective and an insight into the scientific process and the actual application of science.” Students learn the scientific method and then apply their knowledge in real world projects, called Citizen Science, that rely on community data.

Experiential learning is a fundamental principle at Beacon College, and the hands on experience is always appreciated by students. Through the Citizen Science program, students fill a critical role for scientific research projects being undertaken across the nation. They become responsible for collecting data that will be instrumental in the completed research project. Topics range from tracking butterfly species to studying various wildlife, including various mammals and plants. Students have an opportunity to select the projects they become involved with, guaranteeing a stronger interest in the experience.

Students in the Zoology course will all begin with a test project- the Great Backyard Bird Count, held by the Cornell Lab- before they embark on their own selected projects. Data collection takes place from February 13-16th, and anyone can participate by keeping track of how many birds, regardless of type, are seen during that time period and reporting it to the Audubon. The data is also open to all participants, giving anyone the opportunity to look for patterns and analyze the data. Learn more about this project here.

These newly developed courses have been intentionally designed, according to Professor Ogle, in a manner that would “make science more user friendly so students will become curious about learning while they are given the skills they need to participate in the scientific process, no matter what their major is.”

Freshman Katherine France concurs, saying that the course is “very different from your normal science classes. I like it so far, and it’s very interesting. I’m hoping to learn more about different animals and their habitat.”

With the already positive response to this new course, it is expected that Zoology will fill the required science component for the foreseeable future. While the course itself provides a strong foundation to understanding the proper application of science and analyzing of data, anyone can participate in these fun and engaging community science programs, with the proper training and materials. Should you want to get involved, simply check out one of the many Web sites devoted to these projects.