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...
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...
Robots Go to Prison

Robots Go to Prison

On a sunny January Monday morning, a room full of female inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women were troubleshooting robots about the size of a chocolate chip cookie. The little robots were buzzing and wiggling all over tables spread across two rooms in the prison’s education building. TCC runs an education program at the prison and for this special day, partnered with Unloop, a Seattle-based nonprofit, to bring the tech industry and computer programming within reach of prison inmates. About 25 women attended the workshop, and it was a mix of general population inmates and ones who are currently in the TCC program. Lindsey Wilson and David Almeida (with Unloop), led the workshop along with their helpers. Both work in the tech industry, and both want to use software programming skills as a way to break the prison cycle. “Technology is an industry where your ability is what matters, not where you’ve been or the degrees you have. It’s a good fit for people making a life after prison,” said Wilson. After an icebreaker activity of building paper airplanes, the students broke into eight groups to build their AERobot (Affordable Education Robot). Each kit only costs $20, so these are ideal educational tools. After about five minutes, each group had a working robot that would vibrate across a surface using two vibrating motors that you find in mobile phones. With the hardware taken care of, it was time to move to the software side and start testing the robots. With the eventual goal of being able to program a series of commands – turn left, go straight,...
Networking at Night

Networking at Night

It’s likely this is one of the few classes taught at TCC where the instructor openly attacks students’ work. Actually, that’s the entire point of the class. “I will be running active attacks,” instructor Ed Hawkins said during the lecture section of the four-hour long class. The classroom has a very casual feel. You can tell these students are experienced. This Cyber Security Capstone class is filled with students nearing the end of their two-year program, and, like a well-oiled machine, the students start their prep work before class even officially begins. They start up computers and install updates. The lecture section of the night class is fairly simple. Hawkins goes over ideas, and poses questions and scenarios about networking security and strategies. As this is a night class (5:30-10pm), most students work during the day. Some of them work in computer-related jobs. This gives students invaluable, real-life perspectives into the classroom discussions. After lecture, the fun begins. Students break into groups and start working on their projects – the very ones that the instructor will be “attacking.” Walking around the classroom, you can see that each group chooses how to break down the work. One student is controlling the computer. One is recording each and every step the group makes. Others discuss virtual machines, DNS, SQL, DHCP and a host of other technical terms. The capstone structure of this class has students working on projects all quarter with the instructor doing intrusions near the end of the class. Being clever students, they asked Hawkins what techniques or software he would use, and being a clever instructor, Hawkins declined...