In the Classroom: Human Development 101

In the Classroom: Human Development 101

So much rides on one piece of paper. A resumé, instructor Nigeria Bell told her Human Development 101 students, “demonstrates who each of us is,” so it’s important to emphasize the qualities and skills that make you the best fit for a potential job. Now, Bell asked the class, who likes writing resumés? (One yes. One maybe.) “I’ll be honest,” Bell said. “I don’t like writing them either.” But with a focus on four key components—format, job-specific information, other relevant content, and accurate spelling and grammar—a resumé can represent the applicant and catch the eye of an employer. And so the 14 students in this Monday’s Human Development class began the tasks of identifying necessary facts and details, comparing resumés and coming up with words and phrases for their own. That’s one of the goals of Human Development 101—a class designed to provide students the skills to navigate both college and career. The quarter-long class covers stress management and test-taking strategies, along with setting job goals and writing resumés. The resumé, Bell explained, is part of a culminating project—an action plan for college. “We want students to identify the career they’re hoping to achieve and build a road map to the future,” she said. For the resumé-writing assignment, some students already had a document to update, while others were about to draft their first one. Students broke into groups to brainstorm the essential categories of information. Joshua Keely brought his resumé to share with his group. Classmates Judy Rudolph and Eric Bass noticed how Keely separated the text into “qualifications,” “work experience,” “education” and “references.” “I had a fair...
In the Classroom: Biology Salmon Release

In the Classroom: Biology Salmon Release

There are Coho salmon in the Building 15 fish tank most of the year. TCC’s biology Laboratory Staff pick them up as eggs from a local hatchery during winter break. As they develop into newly-hatched alevin, and then rapidly develop into free-swimming fry, they educate several classes of biology students, who study and help care for them every step of the way. But for the students, laboratory staff, instructors, and salmon alike, the most exciting day of the year is the day – always during Earth Week – when the fish are released into Puget Creek. Located about 1,000 feet from Puget Sound, where the salmon will eventually end up, the Puget Creek watershed has come a long way in the last few years. With help from a number of volunteers and local groups, in particular the Puget Creek Restoration Society, the area has been restored into the kind of habitat salmon fry love – with pebbly creek beds, plenty of hiding spots along the bank, and salmon berries and other greenery waving overhead to protect the water from overheating in direct sunlight. The salmon will hang out there until they’re ready – usually about a year, according to Biology instructor Shaun Henderson – and then head out into the Sound as sea-going smolts. The fish make their journey from aquarium to stream in a bucket nestled in crushed ice and filled with constantly aerated water. Biology instructors give a little talk about what makes Puget Creek good habitat, and then the group plunges into the muddy trail that leads to the release point. (Always wear boots!) The instructors...
In the Classroom: Straw Tower Engineering

In the Classroom: Straw Tower Engineering

Once a quarter, engineering students take over Building 15’s big ground-floor study room. Working in teams of five, they build build load-bearing, earthquake-proof bridges with working elevators — out of drinking straws. Each team chooses a table and sets out supplies: Masking tape, cardboard, Styrofoam, Dixie cups, and straws. Focus is not a problem; it’s going to be time. When instructor Scott Piecuch gives the “start” signal, the students have only one hour. Time starts ticking. The teams have their plans laid out. They’ve done the design – triangular pillars, four-pillar towers, and pillars reinforced by X-shaped support beams are popular — and they can refer to the models they made during the construction dry run a few days earlier. However, none of these efforts guarantees smooth sailing. “We’ll see if they make it,” said Piecuch dispassionately. “They seem to be struggling.” As the struggle gets real, team members cheer each other to the finish line. “Guys! Keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing – faster!” urges a member of Team Hot Sriracha. “I think you’re on to something!” enthuses a teammate, who is buzzing around the table at top speed, masking tape in hand. “It’s 11:06. We have 20 minutes,” warns a member of team Agree to Disagree. “Sharpie! Sharpie!” cries another engineer from across the room. As 11:15am approaches, towers rise from tabletops, and bridges are taped to the towers. Weight testing starts, and adjustments are made. The students clearly understand that time is of the essence, but Piecuch reminds them anyway. “At the end of 10 minutes, if you’re still working, you’re going to be...
TCC Students Experience “Spring Break of Service”

TCC Students Experience “Spring Break of Service”

Fourteen TCC students spent their first three days of Spring Break exploring the network of organizations that grow community in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) created “Alternative Spring Break Program 2016 Serve and Learn: Exploring the Past and Present of Community Organizing in The Hilltop” to help students develop leadership skills – and learn how to use those skills in the interest of building an equitable campus culture and community. Community partner organizations included: Peace Community Center The Conversation Tacoma Fabitat Hilltop Urban Gardens write@253 “This pilot Alternative Spring Break program aims to deepen students’ understanding of the importance of civic engagement and spark a passion for serving one’s community,” said OSE Director Sonja Morgan. For three days and two nights, students brought a “give it all you’ve got” attitude to service learning. They learned about food sovereignty while planting seeds for Hilltop Urban Gardens. They completed a Fishbowl Activity on race and social justice with “The Conversation Tacoma.” At Fabitat, they learned about “The Five Elements of Hip Hop and Youth Organizing.” Before heading out to volunteer, students completed related short reading assignments and heard from leaders of community organizations. “Not only was it a hands-on experience, but we were able to engage prior to being hands-on by the curriculum component of the trip, such as the presentation Dean Jackson gave us on food sovereignty or the history we learned about graffiti from Kenji Stoll, artist at Fab-5 (a creative lab for youth in Tacoma),” said student Gloria Muhammad. After a day of volunteer experiences, they reflected on their learning in after-dinner sessions that...
Math, Science and Technology for Young Children

Math, Science and Technology for Young Children

It’s Game Night at the Early Childhood Education 102 class. The games look like this: board games with brightly colored squares. Big, fuzzy dice to roll. A spinner that takes toddlers and young children to the finish line. Each game was created by a student and based on a book – from Goodnight Moon to The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Dr. Seuss. All of the games have a math concept that included counting, adding and subtracting. The games are meant to help develop little ones’ minds and provoke questions, interest and learning. In essence, the games need to be fun. And that’s a bit of the spirit of this night class, taught on Monday nights, from 6-9pm. Mary Skinner, the instructor and program coordinator, says the class is very hands-on, and was built to be interactive and collaborative – reflective of a child’s classroom. “We model how the students would be as teachers with young children,” Skinner said. The students took turns playing their classmates’ games. “I got it!” one student said, as she moved her pawn forward. “This game is fun,” another said. “Even I would play this, and I’m not a kid.” “Hmmm, this game is not age appropriate,” a student said. “If I was three years old, I would get really frustrated. You will need an adult to assist.” After an hour of playing and discussion, the class of 22 students take a break. They pull out snacks, heat up food, or walk outside for some fresh air. “I’m taking these classes to be a better teacher,” said Mary, 50, who is a preschool and pre-K...