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Teaching Stories #9: Erica Hendy

Erica Hendy is a Senior Lecturer in Biogeochemical Cycles in the School of Earth Sciences.

Students in Erica’s lecture monitor the CO2 levels in the lecture theatre throughout their lecture, which creates a ‘realness’ around the science they are learning in the session.

Students are also given two small plastic cups of ice – one made from freshwater and one made from salt water (see images below – freshwater is in left-hand cup, salt water in is right-hand cup). Throughout the lecture they can monitor and observe how the two different types of ice melt. For students, this exercise is much more than a visual one – it is much better to observe what is happening to the ice through the lecture with all senses. Erica wants students to notice differences like which feels colder, which melts faster, which has ice and which has liquid droplets forming on the outside of the container, what the ice crystals look like and how resistant they are to pressure, which has trapped air bubbles, etc. This activity gives students have both a visual memory of the types of ice melting alongside the theory they’ve been though, which, in turn, strengthens the memory and learning of this topic.

Erica also regularly uses https://earth.nullschool.net/ with her class: a free, online resource that provides a visualisation of what is happening around the globe in the atmosphere and ocean over the last 24 hours (winds, temperatures, currents etc) and allows you to predict what will be happening in Bristol by the next lecture.  Do you remember the day the sky in Bristol was orange (Oct 2017)? Erica’s class tracked the dust from the Sahara and storm Ophelia for the week before hand. This type of ‘real-world’ example solidifies knowledge in student’s minds and allows them to apply the learning to an current issue.

Source: Twitter/ BBC.

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