Environmental Science to get lab

Biology professor Tracy Rayl, tends to the plants in the campus Greenhouse which will host experiments for her Environmental Science class.

Fall 2014 will be the first semester where the Environmental Science course will have a lab.
The class has been offered without a lab for the last 15 years at MCCC.
   “Environmental Science is ecology, plus the human factor,” said Tracy Rayl, Biology teacher at MCCC.
 The class looks at how we impact the environment, she said.
     MCCC is the first school where Rayl has taught Environmental Science without a lab. Before teaching here, she was an adjunct teacher at Oakland Community College for five years.
   Rayl assessed her Biology 151 and 154, Introduction to Biology and Environmental Science, classes side by side for the past two years. Biology 151 has a lab, and 154 did not have a lab.
   According to her assessment, the students in Biology 151 were understanding scientific inquiry and critical thinking through the scientific method better than the students in 154.
   Rayl presented her assessment to the administration and they agreed with her assessment.    
    According to Maltese, the value of adding a lab to the class will be worth the cost and extra hours.
      The administration also looked at the hours needed to run the lab.
   “It is tough when you have a small college with a small staff,” Maltese said.
  “The administration won’t do something just because of cost.”  
   Maltese thinks the lab will be a good thing for the students, and thinks the class would have had a lab at some point in the future.
 “There is a greater emphasis on environmental issues right now,” Maltese said.
 “The great thing about a lab is you do the science,” Maltese said.
    He thinks the reaction among students will be mixed. He said the students who like having a lab will be excited, while those who do not like labs will not be. He mentioned that the class will also be offered at the Whitman Center.
  Maltese said that this will have no impact on the changing general education requirements, and that everything is in line with the proposition, and will meet all the requirements.
    Rayl has the lab syllabus completed. The experiments will look at community and population data, demography, soils, water quality, toxicity, pollution, the agricultural industry, predator/prey relationships, stream ecology, and various other environmental issues.
    Rayl hopes to have a field trip to the Monroe Waste Water Treatment Plant to show the students how the local water is cared for.
  Another part of the lab will be looking at the stream ecology on campus.
     Rayl thinks that students will better understand critical thinking through the lab, and exposure to field work.
     “I love teaching the lectures, but the laboratory experience is just that period of time to work with the students on a different level, and I just really enjoy that,” Rayl said.