Earth & Environmental Science Lab

Summer 2015 Online


I’m excited for this new format for the class and hope that you have a great time learning this material. Earth and Environmental Science is a great practical science class because it deals with things that we see and experience in our day to day lives. In the laboratory, this class has many practical exercises that will help you understand the course material at a deeper level. I hope that this class opens up a whole new understanding of the world around you as you learn more about God’s amazing creation. I know I never cease to be amazed by how ordered and unique our planet is and I hope you come to feel the same way.

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Amy McGrann and I’ve been teaching Earth and Environmental Science at WJU for the last two years. This last year, my husband, Dr. Michael McGrann and I have been co-teaching it in the classroom. It is fun sharing the teaching load and working together and it allows us to spend more time at home so we can homeschool our two boys. Clayton is six and is in first grade this year. Micah is four and has been doing Pre-K alongside his brother. They are two budding scientists who love to hike and geocache with us.

Also, our family just expanded this spring with the addition of our daughter, Addamay, who arrived in early May. We are very excited to have a little girl finally and we’re adjusting to the challenges of three kids and homeschooling, as well as teaching on campus and online, with an infant. I apologize in advance if some of my responses to questions are a bit scattered or delayed. I will be doing my best in a somewhat sleep deprived state to keep up with everything.

I have two master's degrees, one in Environmental Science and one in Geography, and my main field of study within these disciplines is California native plants. I love plants and spend a good amount of time digging in the dirt at home enjoying my fruit, vegetables, and flowers. I have worked with several endangered plant species in the past and have a passion for conserving God’s creation – more on that later. My husband and I also have spent many months in the wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail in California doing research on birds (his specialty) and their habitats (my specialty). We have each hiked over 5000 miles collecting data and publishing our work on this research. And, as a side note, if you want to test a marriage to see if it will stand the trials of life, I recommend spending months in the wilderness collecting data, hiking thousands of miles, sleeping on the ground, and eating trail food! If a marriage can make it through that, it can make it through anything!

I look forward to meeting each of you as you post your introductions before class starts and getting to know each of you as the class progresses. Like I said before, this is a great science lab, but it is not easy. There is a lot of work each week that will require a basic understanding of the material. You will likely have to read through the material multiple times to fully grasp it – this is okay, and even expected. However, if you are still having a hard time understanding something after being thorough with the reading, including the reading in the textbook, please feel free to post a question about it on the discussion board. I will be happy to help and some of your classmates may also be very helpful. As you know, the online format of this class requires you to take full responsibility for your learning. You will not even have a lab partner to rely on, so you will not be able to cruise through this course without doing the hard work it requires. It will require copious amounts of your time for the next seven weeks and the schedule is rigorous. However, hopefully you will come out of the course with a much better understanding of the world around you.

An additional optional component of this course that I highly recommend you take advantage of is the fieldtrip. Instead of doing the assigned exercises for weeks 6 and 7 of this course, you have the option of doing either two 1-day fieldtrips or one two-day fieldtrip. This class should be so much more than just working on your own each week. It should involve time spent observing many of the things you are learning about in God’s creation. The fieldtrip gives you this opportunity. The trip(s) can be completed at any time during the seven week course, but must be completed during this time for credit. You will go to one of the places listed in the syllabus and make observations about the environment and natural features. You will then write a narrative of your trip, including pictures of yourself at the location, and turn it in at the end of the course. It is a great way to have a more intimate understanding of the course material.

Please begin by downloading and thoroughly reading our course syllabus. Next, introduce yourself in the introductions forum. Then you'll be ready to start Week 1!