Posts from September, 2011

Mike Taber Wins SPORE Science Award With Teammates

Mike Taber, Colorado College associate professor of science education and chair of the education department, is a member of the team that won the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education, presented by the journal Science. The team won for the development of the Earth Exploration Toolbook an educational website that allows students to use real data to see a connection between science and the world. Each chapter of the toolbook focuses on a different earth science topic, with Taber publishing chapters on “Climate History from Deep Sea Sediments,” “Protecting Wetlands from Exurban Development,” and “Tsunami Run-up Prediction for Seaside Oregon using MyWorld GIS.”

Additionally, Taber coauthored an essay in the September 30 issue of Science journal titled “Making Earth Science Data Accessible and Usable in Education” that discusses the objectives of EET. The online resource came about when science educators realized that, in general, a large gap existed between the scientific and educational communities, and that little productive communication occurred between the two.

The Earth Exploration Toolbook seeks to ensure the development of the next generation of scientists by helping students develop the skills that enable them to explore scientific questions, assess the results of scientific research, and draw and communicate conclusions to others.  One way to help students develop these skills is to involve them in exploring scientific questions using the same data and data analysis tools that scientists use. Like a key to the kingdom, the toolbook provides students with all they need to enter the world of real scientific data. (See more at http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/index.html)

The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award reflects seven years of National Science Foundation effort.  The journal Science developed the award to promote the best online materials in science education. The acronym SPORE suggests a reproductive element adapted to develop, often in less-than-ideal conditions, into something new. In a similar way, the winning project can be seen as the seed of progress in science education, despite considerable challenges to educational innovation.  Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.

CC Students, Faculty to Present Research at Geology Conference

Six members of Colorado College’s geology department will present their research at the2011 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, to be held Oct. 9-12 in Minneapolis. Those presenting are Ashley Contreras ’12, Eleanor Emery ‘12, and Benjamin Mackall ‘11, as well as Associate Geology Professor Henry Fricke, Geology Professor Christine Siddoway, and Geology Technical Director Stephen Weaver. 

Contreras, who worked with Siddoway, will present a paper titled “New Insights on the Timing and Extent of Cretaceous Exhumation in the West Antarctic Rift System, from U-PB and (U-TH)/HE Zircon Analysis. Emery, who also collaborated with Siddoway, will present a paper titled “Use of Stereoscopic Satellite Imagery for 3D Mapping of Bedrock Structure in West Antarctica: Example from the Ford Ranges and Neogene Volcanoes of Marie Byrd Land.” Mackall, who collaborated with Geology Professor Eric Leonard, will present a paper titled “Estimates of Last Glacial Maximum Climate of the Snowy Range, Southern Wyoming, using Numerically Modeled Paleoglacier Reconstructions.”

Fricke’s research is titled “Stable and Clumped Isotope Study of Authigenic Carbonates from the Kootznahoo Formation, Alaska, and Implications for Study of Paleogene Climate and Hydrology.” Siddoway will present research titled “Potential Sources of Crustal Anisotropy in the Wyoming Province: Insights from Basement Structures of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming.” Weaver, who shoots the cover photos for Colorado College’s annual State of the Rockies Report and subsequent poster, will present “Beyond the Snapshot: Making the Excellent Geo-Photograph in the Field.”

Get to Know: Inger Bull

Inger Bull was in her senior year of college before she figured out what she wanted to do, and, unfortunately, it had nothing to do with her major. She had nearly completed her major in math and actuarial science at Kearney State College in Nebraska before discovering her passions lay in literature and foreign travel.

“But in those days, no one asked you what your passion was,” said Bull, CC’s new director of international programs. “I was good in math and statistics, and they were pushing females to go into those fields. That was where the demand, job security, and salary were. People were trying to help, but really, it was a disservice.”

After graduation, she took off for the University of Plymouth in England, where she studied – and traveled, and met people, and experienced new food and new languages and new cultures. “It was my year of self-discovery,” she said, especially for someone born and raised in Gretna, Neb. “It was the best liberal arts education I could have received – very interdisciplinary.”

While traveling, she visited Heidelberg, Germany, and wandered through the famous university. “I loved the atmosphere there. I would walk by classrooms and students talking with professors, and I felt completely at home, even though I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I felt so comfortable there. That’s when I knew I wanted to work at a college or university.”

She returned to Nebraska and earned an MBA at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, then went on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln get a Ph.D. in higher education administration with a specialty in international education. Along the way, she spent a year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. The time in Australia helped shape her thesis, titled “Faculty Exchanges and the Internationalization of the Undergraduate Curriculum in Australia and the United States.”

Bull wanted other students to have the same transformative experiences abroad as she had, so she went into international higher education administration. She worked about 18 months at the University of Nebraska’s international affairs office before becoming the director of international education at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

“I can’t imagine being liberally educated without traveling, even if it is within the United States. It is vital to the understanding of differences, and not being threatened by those differences,” she said. “Experiential learning is a key player in critical thinking.

“I love to watch students and see the gradual transformation in them. And it is gradual; it doesn’t happen all in one year. Sometimes the process is ongoing for years and years afterward.”

At Nebraska Wesleyan, Bull developed and co-taught two adjunct courses, one titled “Preparing for Education Abroad” and the other, “Processing the Experience Abroad.” The first one dealt with pre-departure preparations and cross-cultural communication; the second was Bull’s favorite, a writing-intensive class in which students dissected their experience abroad. “The course went way beyond asking the students to evaluate the program,” Bull said. “We asked students what their experiences meant given their host culture in comparison to their home culture. A lot of them had to relearn how to be back on campus and in our own culture. Over and over again, we saw convictions that the students had held since childhood dissolve when faced with other cultures.”

Traveling, she says, gives one a better understanding of reality. She would use one of her favorite quotes from Aldous Huxley’s “Jesting Pilate” to begin the Processing class:

So the journey is over and I am back again where I started, richer by much experience and poorer by many exploded convictions, many perished certainties. For convictions and certainties are too often the concomitants of ignorance…When one is traveling, convictions are mislaid as easily as spectacles; but unlike spectacles, they are not easily replaced.

Bull sees a major difference between the students at Nebraska Wesleyan and CC. At the former, 92 percent of the students were from Nebraska, few had been abroad before, and parents often needed to be convinced that study abroad was safe and beneficial.  “At Nebraska Wesleyan, we were working on building that ethos in, cultivating an expectation that students go abroad. At CC, that’s a given expectation,” she said. “Most of the students here have been abroad before, and fully expect study abroad to be part of their college experience.”

Bull started at CC in May, but spent June in Scandinavia with her husband, Anthony, an exercise physiologist at Creighton University, who leads a class there every other year. This year they went to Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, with Sweden being one of Bull’s favorite places: her mother was born and raised there before moving as an adult to Nebraska. In 2009 they spent the fall semester in Stockholm, where her husband was on sabbatical.

Bull’s husband is still at Creighton, and so far it’s been mostly a one-way commute: He comes to Colorado. “I love the climate here,” she said. Colorado is conducive to so much that Bull enjoys doing. A certified Pilates instructor, former college volleyball player, and lifelong fitness advocate, she especially enjoys jogging and biking (in fact, she and her husband own a tandem). Her other passion is reading; Bull just finished “Ludlow” because she felt she was part of the incoming class also. “I can’t finish a book without having the next one lined up,” she said. One of her favorite genres is historical fiction – especially when set in foreign countries.

In a moment of serendipity, Bull read Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” while living in Stockholm on the island of Södermalm, where the main characters live and much of the action takes place.  At the end of the semester she took the Stockholm City Museum’s “Millennium Tour” and traced the geographic locations of the books’ setting.  “I was in book geek heaven.”

Donated Butterfly Sculpture Alights at CC Children’s Center

There’s a new symbol of caring and creativity at the Colorado College Children’s Center: a brightly painted butterfly.

The 8-foot-tall metal butterfly sculpture, donated by Laurel McLeod ’69 and her husband, Jim Allen, is an appropriate image for the center.

McLeod, the former vice president for student life and later special assistant to the president, purchased the butterfly last fall at an auction sponsored by the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs. The “Butterfly & Friends” event is a community-service initiative created by the Rotary Club to raise awareness and funds to serve children and promote the arts in local schools. Participating artists contribute by transforming large-scale metal butterfly “templates” into works of art. Each transformed butterfly sculpture is then auctioned off, with more $100,000 being raised in the first three years of the program.

McLeod’s butterfly sculpture, titled “Doing Yoga with the Rotary,” was painted by local artist Kat Tudor, ‘77; her husband, Bob Tudor, created the whimsical design, in which the drawing on each side of the butterfly’s wing is a mirror image of the other.

McLeod wasn’t sure where to put her newly purchased sculpture when Debby Fowler, CC’s development officer for stewardship, suggested the Children’s Center. McLeod immediately knew that was the perfect location for it, as the Children’s Center is a place she deeply values. The sculpture was installed in early summer, once the ground was prepared for the base, and is located outside the fence on the north side of the center, where it overlooks playground equipment and a painted cow.

McLeod was a member of the first committee that sought to establish an on-campus children’s care center; as a single mother and the first CC woman administrator to have a baby and continue working, she felt such a center was vital to recruiting and retaining quality staff and faculty. (A second incarnation of the committee did succeed in getting an on-site children’s center established in 1987.)

McLeod took her younger daughter to the Children’s Center for several years. “The quality of care was amazing, and education was part of the curriculum,” she said. She recalls linguistics classes, developmental psychology classes, and drama classes working with the staff of Children’s Center. “It’s just a great place for creative development,” McLeod said.

It’s the creative development aspect that makes the site so perfect for the butterfly sculpture: The Children’s Center provides a safe, nurturing cocoon for the children, and encourages a creative metamorphosis for each child.

The next butterfly auction will be held Sept. 17 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort; for more information go to: http://www.artsandfriends.org/Register.htm

New Arbor Raises Bench’s Profile on Campus

A bench located between Cutler and Ticknor halls has gained greater visibility on campus, thanks to the addition of a striking vine-covered arbor.

The bench was given to CC by W. Robert Brossman’s children in his memory following his death in 1997, and is inscribed “W. R. Brossman, Vice President of Colorado College 1956—1981, Pioneer and Champion of College Development.”

The stone bench was designed by Carl Reed, CC professor emeritus of art, and installed in 2001.

The Brossman children established the original fund, which paid for the design, construction, and placement of the bench. However, there was a small amount left over in the fund.

Recently, the Brossman siblings sought to lessen the starkness of the bench and give it a softer, more welcoming feel. CC’s facilities services came up with the idea of the wood arbor encased in a canopy of vines, and, using the remaining funds, they completed the additional work  this summer.