Genius! Bar none.

January 16, 2015: Every once in a while I have a flash of genius, that “aha moment” that gets me excited for the start of the new year.  A few years ago, it was having my Intro Astronomy students make videos about a topic in Astronomy. This time, I modified a standard writing assignment.

As a scientist, writing is not my first love – math is! – but I know it’s an important component for success, especially in the education of undergraduate students.  Assigning writing projects in science classes, however, usually ends in disappointment for me – the papers read like encyclopedic entries and/or the spelling/writing/grammar is so poor that I guffaw in disgust.  When some classes, such as Honors or first-year experiences, include (or even require) a large writing component, I dread the assignment and the outcome.

This past semester, however – in my moment of genius – I decided that my final writing assignment would consist of a written narrative and not a term paper. I left it to my students to decide what this narrative would be.  The results? Amazing!

 

Darwin’s “diary”. (HSP 124, Fall 2014, L. Stull)

Children's book about cyanobacteria (HSP 124, Fall 2014, L. Rasmussen)

Children’s book about cyanobacteria (HSP 124, Fall 2014, L. Rasmussen)

 

Short story about collecting comet dust, from the perspective the humanized Stardust spacecraft (HSP 124, Fall 2014, S. Murphy)

A short story about collecting comet dust, from the perspective the humanized Stardust spacecraft (HSP 124, Fall 2014, S. Murphy)

 

I think the students liked it, too, so this is definitely an assignment that will be continued.

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