A View from the Lecture Hall

A View from The Lecture Hall: Comments from COSEE-West Program Participants

Over the years, of all the things we at COSEE-West have learned, one of the most reliable is that the educators and public we serve have no qualms about letting us know what we do right and what needs to be improved. We have recently begun asking the people who attend our lectures and workshops to comment on their experiences on COSEE-West’s new blog.

Our first round of comments all happen to be from high school students who attended one of our public lectures with their teachers. On January 21, 2009, Dr. Peggy Fong of the University of California, Los Angeles spoke on Phase Shifts, Alternative Stable States and the Loss of Ecosystem Function in Southern California Lagoons. Following is a sampling of what the students had to say about her lecture:

CVHS student said...
I attended a COSEE-West lecture at USC, by Dr. Peggy Fong. At first I went in with the heart only for extra credit, and the mind only to learn the bare minimum about the subject at hand. But, as I sat there in the middle of the room, I started to take notes on things that were interesting to me. I had learned about wetlands in our Advanced Placement Environmental Science class, but not in as much detail as Dr. Fong began to explain to us.

As I sat there, I realized that other GROWN men/women were sitting alongside me, listening to Dr. Fong as she spoke of her research in the wetlands of Southern California. In my mind I was thinking "Oh great, another lecture for intellectual professors, which means I won't understand any of this...” But, to my surprise, Dr. Fong explained her research in a way in which I could understand. I took notes, listened carefully, and drew my full attention to Dr. Fong's lecture. By the end, I was engulfed in a new way of thinking about the effects of the diminishing wetlands of our "beautiful" Southern Californian coastline.

Dr. Fong explained her research from the very beginning to the end and explained her final discoveries, which helped me, a high school student, understand the complexities of her lecture. She had pictures for those who learn better with visuals, and she talked about the graphs of the experiments she did in the field herself for those who learn by listening. In the end, I actually had 2 pages full of notes, and a brain that had retained most of the information Dr. Fong spoke on. It was a very enjoyable lecture, and one that will surely influence me into going to other COSEE lectures.

Hector said...
My name is Hector and I am a senior at Animo Leadership Charter High School. I am an active member in our school's Marine Biology Club and have been attending COSEE-West lectures since my sophomore year. The lectures are very informative and they allow me to gain a deeper understanding of certain oceanic topics that I can then use during club presentations and competitions such as the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB).

To be exposed to research and professional findings through COSEE lectures early on in life is very rewarding. COSEE-West has given me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and also to converse with adults and not be looked down upon or taken lightly just because I am only a high school student. COSEE-West lectures bring together different people and connect us in a way where we all share a common goal: to learn from one another.

Noemy said...
USC, along with COSEE-West lectures, have provided once in a lifetime opportunities for me. The information I have obtained in these meetings has proven to be a great asset to me. I have learned background information for my personal theories and hypotheses. For example, in the most recent lecture I attended on January 21, 2009, speaker Dr. Peggy Fong educated me on salt marshes and how slight changes can alter the food chain as well as shift the abundance of certain species such as seaweed.

This information has not only helped me in recent school projects, but it has also helped me to understand our world's ecological balance. Dr. Peggy Fong is clearly an expert in her field and it is beautifully exemplified in her interactive presentation. I have become a fan of COSEE-West meetings and I hope to continue to attend beyond my high school years.

Contributed by Jane Lee