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CMC Corner

Do you want learning that will last? Get real experience. Research shows the most effective and long-lasting education uses some degree of experiential learning. Learning by doing, in addition to reading and learning in class, is a powerful way to absorb new information.Colorado Mountain College offers many courses that educate through experience. One such class you can sign up for this spring is Marine Biology/Ecology (Bio 229), which will be taught along the coral reefs of Belize in June 2006. Imagine doing your college science lab immersed in the ocean and seeing live species that you’ve just read about in class. You gain a personal ownership of the knowledge when you witness it firsthand. The excitement of being the first to spot an eagle ray soaring past the snorkeling group can make a lasting impression on your learning, and on your life.Bio 229 is a 10-day course hosted by the Tropical Research and Education Center located on Ambergris Caye, Belize. The center has classroom and lab facilities and a 60-foot vessel that takes the group to various snorkeling locations. Ken Mattes, who has a Ph.D. in marine biology, provides lectures on the boat before each snorkel activity in addition to background lectures at the center in the evenings. One evening is reserved for a nighttime beach seining activity and another evening includes a night snorkel with spotlights. Ken spices up his lectures with discussions about current ecological and political issues surrounding the marine biology of the reefs.Between 20 and 27 percent of the earth’s coral reefs have been effectively destroyed, according to the World Conservation Union. Another 30 percent will become seriously depleted if no action is taken within the next 20-40 years.The exciting thing is that reefs can recover. In the Bio 229 course, you’ll visit one of the marine nature preserve parks that Belize has established to counter this dramatic loss of reef. At the preserve you’ll see a greater diversity and abundance of fish. As a result, the larger predator fish are also in higher supply. The urgency of the coral reef depletion may be what inspires you to future action when you return from your studies.Experiential learning takes on additional benefits when it occurs outside of the realm of your own country. In this era of globalization, your effectiveness as a student, employee or volunteer is increased when you can bring an international perspective to your work. I have found that my own study abroad was the most powerful learning experience of my undergraduate education. I invite you to discover this for yourself, in this class or another study abroad course at CMC.Merne Dragonette is CMC’s faculty director of the marine biology/ecology course. To find out more about the program, contact her at mdragonette@coloradomtn.edu or 947-8260. The deadline to apply and put down a deposit for this course is March 3.


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