January 19, 2018

Week 1 in the books

The first week of school is often chaotic, especially in the admin office. I confess that I was a bit apprehensive as we got started, especially given the staffing and scheduling changes we were making right up to the last minute. Despite all the changes, though, the first week went off well, even smoothly. Without everyone – staff, students, parents – school would never have gotten off the ground. Well done.

In my own courses, we began right away to dig in. In Environmental Science, we began with a look at the importance of agri-biodiversity using the story of the Irish Potato Famine as our vehicle of investigation. In the 19th century, the Irish became critically dependent on the Lumper Potato as the result of overlapping economic and social forces. When an airborne potato fungus arrived on ships from the new world. the Irish Potato Famine was on. Hundreds of thousands of Irish died or fled the country in search of a better life. In the US, our crop of dependance is corn. Are there important parallels?

In Physics, we began thinking about a common phenomena: acceleration. Think you really understand this concept? Question: How many accelerators do you have in your car? The answer – 3! If that doesn’t make sense, ask your physics student. The really crazy thing about physics is that often, the things we think are simple turn out to be counter-intuitive in the extreme.

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