McCabe Lecture: Learning Science by Making Connections

Brenna McCoubrey
Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Springfield College
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College

It is inspiring to come across a professor who has invested as much time into her students as she does into her specific field, and that is exactly who we are lucky to have brought to Springfield College.

So lucky, in fact, that a professor all the way from the University of Wisconsin wanted to share her passion with the students who appreciate it the most.

A lecture took place Wednesday evening in the Dodge Room of Richard B. Flynn Campus Union where over 100 students, professors, and community members sat intently on the mahogany cushioned chairs and listened to Dr. Cathy Middlecamp.

Her lecture focused on three key concepts that sports biology, physical therapy, physician assistant, and biology majors indulged in: energy, food, and trash.

Dr. Middlecamp kept things interesting for the audience with her spunky personality, clear knowledge of science, and ability to make connections by having students use their clickers for various questions throughout her presentation.

The professor from Wisconsin grabbed the attention of Springfield science majors with her simple way of expressing what “entangled social and ecological systems” consisted of and how they were “wicked” problems.

“I’m a person, a citizen, like everyone else and I think about energy, food, and trash because that’s what people do,” Dr. Middlecamp expressed.

“I’m a chemist and for years I worked on projects that connected energy to air quality, food and plastic, and I realized those topics were great to involve people in teaching and learning. So I put down the textbooks and went into the field.”

The presentation slides contained several student-made videos of power plants, carbon dioxide in the air, from our breath, and food processing and distribution to what we consider recyclables, trash, or plastics. It made students like first-year sports biology majors Rachel Almonte and Jack Hammond think twice about they are throwing away and what they are eating.

“I never realized how much damage I can do myself to the environment by not separating my recyclables,” Almonte confessed.

“I’m a big meat eater and it’s crazy to see where the processed food is coming from,” Hammond explained. “I know I need to eat more like a vegetarian to help the environment.”

Students, professors, and community members appreciated Dr. Middlecamp’s lecture, “Learning Science by Making Connections,” and walked away with insight and new outlooks about being environmentally cautious.

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