BC program changes for spring quarter

Image courtesy of usanmiguel.org

Spring registration is right around the corner at Bellevue College; preparing for this, many programs are instituting some changes in order to better prepare students to go on into their career.

In the Math Department, a new class in Scientific Computation is being offered. It’s a requirement for many engineering and scientific majors at other colleges and universities. The class is being taught by Larry Susanka, who said, “[The course] allows them to do modeling of physical systems and manipulate data to make predictions about and interpret observations of real-world phenomena.

“The program preferred by most Engineering Departments to do this is called MATLAB, and we will use that here. It will transfer to UW as AMATH 301. Calculus and Linear Algebra are prerequisites.”

In addition to a new class in the Math Department, new classes are also being offered in the Cultural Ethnic Studies program and the English program. These classes, both taught by James Torrence, are an interesting new subject matter: Punk Rock and the American Underground Culture, and Zombie Literature and Film, which are classes in CES and English, respectively.

Bellevue’s Biology department has been undergoing numerous changes science lovers and other students alike can bow their heads in gratitude for. Nutrition courses have been changed from one class – 130 – into two, 101 and 100.

The Nutrition classes, taught by Allen Farrand and Jason Fuller, have been modified to distinguish students who are pursuing medical careers and those who may be taking the course to fulfill a science credit.

Dr. Gita Bangera, the Chair of the Life Sciences Division, explained the change. Nutrition 130, which is a requirement for the nursing program, transfers as Nutrition 300 to the University of Washington. “Half the class was doing great and half the class was failing,” said Dr. Bangera.

The half who were in over their heads were non-science students who took Nutrition to fulfill science credits with no idea of how advanced the class had to be in order to transfer as a 300 level course.

So, nutrition courses have been modified to convenience the non-science students by splitting Nutrition 130 into Nutrition 101 and 100. 100 is designated for non-science students.

The Biology department is proud to announce changes in Biology 211, which allows students to generate real data from a single DNA sequence shared with a lab partner.

The 275 course is much more specialized; it requires each student to sequence five DNA segments throughout the quarter.

“It gets them excited about research,” said Dr. Bangera.

The idea was first attempted at Tacoma Community College to test its effectiveness, and the results were outstanding. It was then slowly integrated into two 211 courses at BC in Winter Quarter, and because of the highly positive results, it will be replacing regular labs in all 211 classes this Spring.

Usually research experiences are not available to community college students. It gives the pre-med student something extra to their application for medical school. Since biological research classes are typically a graduate-level course, reviewers will definitely be impressed among the masses of 4.0 GPAs and community service, impressed to see research experience.

So far responses for this new course have been more positive than expected. Not only is Bellevue one of the only three community colleges in the country offering this course, but Bellevue College has also been mentioned in Science magazine for this pioneering educational opportunity in their program called Com-Gen – The Community College Genomics Research Initiative.

According to the observations of Dr. Bangera, this class has been a ground level for students to blossom in various ways. Dr. Bangera said that the teaching style “uses research as a teaching tool.”

The class emphasizes public speaking, fostering growth in ways biology students hadn’t originally expected. “It teaches them to think critically.” said Dr. Bangera.

The 275 course teaches students how to solidly identify and thoroughly understand dense original scientific articles. Dr. Bangera says that after enduring this course “[one will be] coming out with a senior university level experience.”