Some Rocking Movies


It was over two years ago that I first heard about RMC’s Rockumentary Film Festival – back when it was only an idea of Outdoor Recreation Director (and my Campus Compass instructor) Tim Lohrenz. On this past Wednesday in Losekamp Hall, the festival finally became a reality.

     The contest had two categories: nonfiction and fiction films. While no films were submitted in the former category, three short films were submitted to the latter.  The winner was picked by Tim and myself since I was the only other person in attendance who wasn’t involved in making any of the films. The winning director received a cash prize and was automatically submitted to Billings’ own film festival: the Magic City Shorts Festival taking place at the Babcock Theater in September.

    As a major film buff, I thought I’d take the time to share my thoughts about each of the three works and to commend everyone involved for their excellent work.

And may I have the envelope please…

Third Place: Ray Lazor

     Let’s make something clear from the start: Ray Lazor is a very cheesy science fiction movie complete with bad special effects, worse acting, and a confusing plot. But you also need to give director Joseph Benzel credit for realizing that it is a cheesy movie and mining a lot of laughs out of the material. His cast seems to be having a great time as well –particularly his SAS advisor Bob Ketchum whose purposefully bad acting made the audience laugh out loud more than once.  I felt the film needed to be much more polished, but you can tell that everybody enjoyed working on it. What more could you want?

Second Place: First Bite

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of zombie movies, but director and star Shane Mcclurg added some much needed comedy to this growing genre in his short film. He plays a college-student-turned-zombie trying to eat brains and deal with what he fears most: his overbearing mother. The film was a bit too bloody for my taste, but the director’s quirky sense of humor and the talented supporting cast helped make up for that a bit.

First Place: Third Date

     In his second film of the night, Shane Mcclurg further proved himself to be a talented director and star with an absurdly silly sense of humor. He plays a serial killer who plans to kill his obnoxious date (played by the hilarious Laura Barsotti). However, when he takes her to his evil lair, she isn’t terrified, but is instead thrilled and starts redecorating the room and giving a manicure to a visiting police officer among other things. Out of all the films, I thought this one was without a doubt the most clever and original. Congratulations to Shane and his cast and crew!  _____________________________________________________________________________________

     As with any thing in its first year, the Rockumentary Film Festival has room for improvement. It’d be great to have more than three movie submissions and even better to have more than twenty people come to watch them. Tim has ideas on how to expand the festival in the future as well –including letting art majors design movie posters and creative writing majors submit scripts. Obviously there’s room to grow. But for film fans like myself, this first festival was a good place to start. I can’t wait to see what my fellow classmates come up with next year.

April 11th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Professor Profiles: Luke Ward Pt. 2


Here is part 2 of my Professor Profiles interview with Lucas Ward. Enjoy!

SD: How long have you been teaching at Rocky?

LW: I better get this one right. (Laughs) I guess this is my third year because my family moved here in 2011.

SD: How long have you been teaching all together?

LW: Well, I started right off the bat in grad school. We had what were called recitations which we don’t have here. They were essentially supplements to the main lecture that were taught by graduate students like me rather than the main professor. So if you count that, I have been teaching for twelve years. I have been teaching independently for eight years.

SD: What do you like most about Rocky?

LW:I like the flexibility that I have here for my classes.  You can do a lot in the classroom, but also get people out on the landscape and look at some of the things that we talk about in class.

And the students are good. They each have diverse skill sets but everybody’s pretty respectful and nice and polite. They’re fun to work with. I’ve enjoyed that for sure.

 I definitely enjoy the people that I work with too- the people in the environmental program especially.

SD: What would you tell undecided prospective students to convince them to become environmental policy majors?

LW: The program at Rocky is unique for the way it combines environmental science courses, policy courses, and courses in economics and business administration. So students get a broad background in how policy works and various perspectives on how policies are and should be implemented. So you get good training here, but we also have a good field base. The main hook for this type of environmental program is that we go out in the field and we talk to people. For “Energy and Society”, you’ll remember that we went out to the coal mine.

SD: Yeah.

LW: I think those experiences are what really stick with people. I can jabber all I want up there, but the students really learn the most when they can tie that jabbering to an actual place on the landscape.

We’ll go to a hydraulic fracturing site this year too. I think we’ll get to handle fracking fluid. It’s kind of like dirty snot. (Laughs)

I think those kind of opportunities to get out into the field and see how the landscape changes over time is unique. Students can get their hands dirty.

SD: Sometimes literally.

LW: (Laughs) Yeah, especially if they’re handling the frack fluid.

SD: Do you have any suggestions for prospective Environmental Policy majors?

LW: Be prepared to work, go outside, and get your hands dirty. My main advice would be to get engaged with the Rocky community and people in the environmental program right off the bat. There are tons of opportunities including the Yellowstone River Research Center. The Environmental Club is also very active. The amount of recyclable materials they collect on campus every month is incredible. They keep thousands of pounds of material out of the landfill every month. There is tremendous freedom for both faculty and students here. So dive in! That’s my advice.

SD: What do you do for pleasure outside of teaching?

LW: Usually it involves hanging out with my two kids Zane and Isabella and my wife Emily who’s also a professor here. I’ve been starting to get involved in what some people might consider nerdy activities. I’ve recently become interested in geocaching. Do you know what that is?

SD: I have no idea.

LW: People hide little containers in different places and put the coordinates for those containers online. Then you can look at the coordinate and take a GPS and go find them. Then you write in a little log book that’s inside of the container and say “I was here!” There are hundreds of these around Billings. I’ve found seventy. I’ve been trying to get Rocky students involved and now in “Intro to GIS”, students have to do this.

I fly fish a lot when I have a chance.  I like to get out on the river in a canoe. I go backpacking when possible. I also enjoy playing music with friends and eating good food.

I hope you enjoyed this latest installment of “Professor Profiles”. I’d like to give a special thank you to Professor Ward for taking the time to meet with me for this interview.

If Ward’s comments made you interested about the Rocky Environmental Club, feel free to visit their site:

If you’re curious about geocaching, visit this site featuring a map of different caches in the Billings area:,-108.57634#?ll=45.77833,-108.5741&z=14

April 6th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Professor Profiles: Lucas Ward Pt.1


LukeWard1This week “Professor Profiles” returns with an interview with Professor Lucas Ward. Ward is the Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Environmental Management and Policy program at Rocky. I first got to know him nearly two years ago when I took his “Energy and Society” class. I discovered that he was not only very knowledgeable, but also a lot of fun to be around. I hope you enjoy learning more about him and his passion for environmental policy through this interview!

Stephen Dow (SD): Can you talk a bit about the field of science that you teach? What are some examples of classes that you’ve taught?

Lucas Ward (LW): I’m trained as a geographer, but I teach in the environmental management policy program which I view as the middle ground between “environmental studies” and “environmental science”. “Environmental studies” is humanities-based while “environmental science” consists of the physical and natural sciences. So this field integrates both the physical and social aspects of environmental problems.

To those ends, I’ve added a couple of classes to the environmental management policy core that are geographical. I’m trying to build up students’ literacy in that. I have a “Regional Geography of Landscape Change” class for freshman management policy majors that I really enjoy. That’s probably my favorite class to teach because it gives them a global perspective on environmental issues and helps them start thinking about how political and economic processes shape the landscapes around the world and not just here in Billings. I’ve also been starting to get into the GIS(Geographic Information Sciences) classes. Did you take that course?

SD: Nope. Not yet anyways.

LW: You’ve got to get in there man! You’ll have so much fun. You liked using Google Earth right?

SD: Yeah.

LW: Then you’ll enjoy it. GIS is like Google Earth on steroids. But I’ve been enjoying that course. The goal  of that course is to develop a certificate program so that students can leave Rocky with an education comparable to what they might get at a technical school. Employers in the Geographic Information Sciences are looking for students to have a very particular set of skills that meet the geoscience education standards when they come out of the program. If we could get a certificate program, that’d be cool. I’m shooting for that.

Another cool thing is the Yellowstone River Research Center (YRRC). It’s a program that gets some funding from the school and matching dollars from other places. We work with students and get them started doing research projects in the watershed. We’ve done some osprey research and some bat research. I have a student doing some sage grouse research right now. So that’s been good because we’ve been able to have some students doing field work which is very unique for undergraduate students.

SD: When did you first become interested in environmental policy?

LW: Right after I finished my undergraduate degree, I was in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. First, I was a beekeeper and then later I had a job planting nitrogen-fixing cover crops. As I did that, I kept hearing about all these policies that were in place, but it seemed like nobody was ever implementing them. There were policies, but they were never being put into action the way they were supposed to be. I got really interested about why there were these gaps between what the policies were supposed to achieve and what they actually did achieve. I also got interested in the role that poverty played in this.

I then went to grad school and studied “Integrated Resource Management in Paraguay.” What do regulatory frameworks look like in Paraguay? How do they affect different people and places? I was particularly interested in how it affected the indigenous people.

So in conclusion, I’d say that being with people and talking with them about how they saw their landscapes changing is what got me interested.

I love it. It’s cool coming to Montana after having background in South America. Learning about Montana’s unique regulatory environment has been very interesting. I enjoy it. There’s a lot of new policies coming down the pipeline that I’m trying to get Rocky students involved in. For example, by 2015, the state has to come up with a plan for managing the entire watershed in situations where there are droughts. So essentially that will come down to who gets water and who doesn’t when there isn’t enough for everybody.

That’s a pretty detailed answer isn’t it?

SD: Absolutely. How long were you in Paraguay?

LW: I was in Paraguay for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer and another year-and-a-half as a graduate student.

I’ll have more of my interview with Luke next week as we discuss geocaching, his advice for incoming students, and much more. In the meantime, feel free to learn more about the Yellowstone River Research Center by visiting this link:

March 30th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Rocky Reading List


As I walked through the Rocky library earlier this week, I passed by an interesting display that I wanted to share with you.  It featured books that were written by RMC professors. I was honestly a bit surprised that so many professors had published their work. I was equally surprised by the diversity of works on display –from fiction to nonfiction to children’s books.

Thus, I decided to share some information about these various writers and books with you this week. Please note that I am not endorsing any of these books as I have not read any of them and can’t comment on quality or content. Rather, this blog is intended to shed a light on the many talented and knowledgeable individuals whom Rocky students interact with on a daily basis.


Andy Farkas is an Assistant Professor of English at RMC.. He teaches such classes as “The American Short Story” and “Advanced Imaginative Writing”. In 2008, he published a collection of short stories titled (appropriately enough) Self-Titled Debut. He is currently trying to publish another short story collection and is in the process of writing a novel.


Steve Germic is an Associate Professor of English at Rocky. “American Literature” and “Creative Nonfiction” are among the classes he teaches at RMC. In 2001, he published his first (and so far only) book American Green: Class,Crisis, and the Deployment of Nature in Central Park, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. In the book, Germic focuses on the creation of the National Parks and specifically reveals how America’s first parks were created and organized to mitigate the most threatening social and economic crises in the century following the Civil War.


Andrew Kirk is also an English professor and he teaches such diverse classes as “British Literature”, “Literary Criticism”, and “Studies in Shakespeare.” In 1996, he published the book The Mirror of Confusion: The Representation of French History in English Renaissance Drama which analyzes how English Renaissance drama presents a distorted reflection of French history.


Tim Lehman is a Professor of History and Political Science at RMC. Among the classes he teaches are “American History”, “Recent America”, and “Environmental Politics”. He has written two books. The first is Public Values, Private Lands: American Farmland Preservation Policy, 1933-1985 which was published in 1995. This book examines the political battles over public policies to protect farmland from urban development. Lehman’s second book is Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations which was published in 2010. The story incorporates the perspectives of Native Americans, soldiers, scouts, and women to provide an in-depth look at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

mckenziePrecious McKenzie is an Assistant Professor of English at Rocky whose classes include “Professional Writing” and “First-Year Writing”. She’s also been a very prolific writer over the past five years. In 2012, she published her book The Right Sort of Woman: Victorian Travel Writers and the Fitness of an Empire which analyzes the travel writings of Florence Douglas Dixie, Aubrey Le Blond, Isabel Savory, Isabella Bird Bishop, and Mary Kingsley.  In the book, Professor McKenzie focuses on how these writings explored the Victorian ideologies of femininity and equality. In addition, McKenzie has written fifteen childrens book including both fiction (including Who Stole the Veggies from the Veggie Patch? and Buff Ducks) and nonfiction (including Oceans and Manatees).


Elizabeth McNamer is an Associate Professor of Religious Thought at RMC and she leads students on annual summer trips to Israel. She is also a very prolific writer. Since 1976, she has published three nonfiction books: Christian Family Life, Women in the Gospel of St. Luke, and most recently Jesus and First-Century Christianity in Jerusalem. In 2012, she published her first novel The Death of My Mother: A Return to Ordinary Life.


I’ll be back next week with more Rocky new and info. Until then, have a great week!


March 22nd, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

The Write Stuff

In addition to learning new things, one of the best things about going to college is that you are given the opportunity to develop skills that will be useful – not only in the classroom, but throughout your life. These skills include writing, reading, public speaking, and many others. Today, I will begin a semi-ongoing series called “The Skills” that will turn your attention to these abilities and how RMC takes the time to cultivate them.

For centuries now, writing has been one of the most popular and efficient ways to communicate one’s thoughts to an audience. However, in our modern day and age, writing is becoming a lost art as we seek more concise ways to communicate our thoughts through texting, Facebook, and Twitter. Luckily, the faculty at Rocky Mountain College realize that the ability to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and knowledge through writing is a very important skill to cultivate.

If you’re hoping to avoid writing, Rocky is probably not the best school for you to attend. No matter what major you choose, you are going to have to write multiple papers. For General Education, students are required to take two English courses. In addition, most General Education courses frequently require that students express their thoughts through writing. Thus, even if you pick majors that aren’t writing-heavy (such as computer science or geology) you’ll still be writing a lot of papers.

One of the most helpful writing resources for Rocky students is the Writing Center located in Tyler Hall. This small area provides an environment for students to brainstorm ways of approaching an assignment, read over a rough draft, proofread a paper, ask questions about correct citation methods, create an outline, and address any other concerns. Whether you’re an experienced writer or not, this is a great place for you to develop your writing skills.  In case you’re curious, here are this semester’s hours for the Writing Center:

  • Monday: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., 4:30 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1:00 – 8:00 p.m.

For those of you (like myself), who love writing and want to do it outside of class, Rocky Mountain College actually provides a few ways  to pay students for their writing. The recently restarted student newspaper The Summit is paying $30 per news story that you submit. Or you could be like me and blog for the college!

The writing center will also pay students who choose to serve as writing consultants. However, in order to do this, you’ll have to pass the three-credit course “English 355 – Writing Consultant Practicum” which provides training for writing consultants every fall semester .

As you can see, RMC provides many different opportunities for students to improve their writing skills. Whether you love writing or can’t stand it, I guarantee that you’ll improve as a writer at Rocky – as long as you put in the time and effort.

March 17th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Course Review: Creative Nonfiction Writing


This week in “Course Review”, I’ll be discussing one of my favorite courses of this semester – Creative Nonfiction Writing. When I first registered for this course, I must admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d be learning. As it turns out, this class introduces students to the genre of memoir which involves writing about true events from one’s past. Here is everything else that you need to know about this course:

Name of the course: Creative Nonfiction Writing (ENG 319)

Instructor: Steve Germic

When the class meets: 6:00-8:30 on Tuesday evenings. It is important to note that these times are definitely approximate. Our class has been known to go both early and late depending on how much work needs to be done.

Hardness Level: 3 (out of 5)

Required Materials: There are three required books from this course that the class reads every week. The first is “Story Craft” by Jack Hart which is our guide for how to write Creative Nonfiction. The second is “In Brief” by Judith Kitchen which is a collection of short Creative Nonfiction essays. Lastly, there is “Line by Line” by Claire Cook which is a general reference guide about how to use proper grammar and punctuation. I’ve found “In Brief” to be quite entertaining to read. Meanwhile, both “Story Craft” and “Line by Line” have been very helpful as I write my essays for this course.

Homework: As mentioned above, there are weekly readings. In addition, short Creative Nonfiction essays are due on a biweekly basis.

 What you’re graded on: This is where things get interesting because Professor Germic does not believe in grading essays. Thus while you still MUST do the writing assignments, they don’t factor very much into the grade.

Thus, the final grade comes from two main things. The first of these is in-class participation. Everybody is expected to present their essays in front of the class and provide feedback on other people’s essays. They are also required to participate during in-class discussions about the course readings.

The second thing that factors into your final grade is your effort. Professor Germic expects well-written essays and he also expects us to revise our works over the course of the semester. His biggest hope for his students in this class is that they will be better writers at the end of the semester than they were at the beginning. If he doesn’t see this, he will take points off of the student’s final grade.

What you’ll learn: There are two main things you’ll learn from this course: how to write Creative Nonfiction and how to provide constructive feedback to other writers. In addition, you’ll learn about proper grammar, creative writing styles, and the importance of revision.

My thoughts: I have some mixed feelings about this course.  On one hand, I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Not only have I learned a lot, but the relaxed small-group setting encourages discussions and laughter. This is without a doubt one of the most fun and relaxing courses I’ve had this semester.

On the other hand, the two-and-a-half-hour (or longer) class can be pretty exhausting – especially after the end of a long day. In addition I would have preferred if Professor Germic had a more objective way of grading rather than basing it on subjective things like in-class participation or effort. I’d also prefer it if he would grade the papers as well.

My grade: B+    

March 5th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

A Historic Night


Last night, I was honored to take part in RMC’s 105th annual Candlelight Dinner. Before I get into the details of the event, I thought that I’d give you some background on why this is one of the most significant and prestigious events offered by the college.

It all started 105 years ago. Back then, Rocky Mountain College was actually three different colleges: the Montana Collegiate Institute in Deer Lodge, the Wesleyan College in Helena, and the Billings Polytechnic institute. In 1909, all three colleges were being consolidated together in the area of Billings that currently houses Rocky Mountain College. During this consolidation period, the students encountered weather very similar to what is currently occurring in Billings: very icy, snowy, and cold. In fact, the ground was too frozen and hard to finish the buildings in time. Thus, during the fall of 1909, students took their classes in downtown Billings until the buildings could be finished. In January 1910, the campus was finally ready, and students, faculty, and staff loaded hay wagons and made their way up 27th Street to the college.  Not only were they cold, tired, and hungry when they arrived, but they discovered that the electricity had not been turned on. Thus, they ate their first meal at the new college by candlelight. For some reason, the students felt that it was worth commemorating the day that they were cold, tired, and almost got hypothermia. Thus, Rocky Mountain College has celebrated the Candlelight Dinner every winter since 1910.

While last night’s weather was certainly as frigid as the weather encountered by those first students, I am confident that I had a better time than they did. The evening started out with a cocktail hour where students were able to thank alumni for their contributions to the college. Then, after a short speech by Rocky President Bob Wilmouth, we gathered together in the dining hall and enjoyed a delicious beef roast by candlelight.

One of the best aspects of the candlelight dinner was how it made me feel connected to the Rocky students of the past. I, like thousands of students before me, was able to gather together with friends and faculty and celebrate all that Rocky has been and will be.

And that is definitely something worth celebrating.

February 9th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

General Education Courses: A Retrospective


During my freshmen year, I frequently heard a complaint from my fellow classmates regarding the required General Education classes. “Why do we need to take these?” they would wonder. “Why can’t we just take courses in our major and get out of school quicker?”

While it’s true that paying for college would be far easier if Rocky followed these students’ suggestions, I can’t help but feel that doing so would take a lot of fun out of the college experience.

In my opinion, General Education courses have been enjoyable because they allow me to broaden my horizons and learn about things that I might not learn about otherwise. They also allow me to meet new students and professors that I don’t meet while taking courses related to my majors. As I’ve progressed through my schooling, I’ve also found that these classes have provided a nice break away from the more rigorous work in my primary fields of study.

This semester, I am taking my final required General Education course. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I have decided to compile a list of my five favorite General Education courses that I have taken so far.

5. HST 212-American History 2 –  I’ve always loved history, but professor Tim Lehman’s passion for the subject helped me love it even more. In this class, he covers important events of the twentieth century, but also focuses on some more obscure moments. This means that everybody (even history nuts like myself) can learn a lot from this class.

4. MUS 101- Introduction to Music – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not even remotely musical and couldn’t tell a melody from a harmony. Thus, I was very nervous about taking Professor Tony Hammond’s music class during my first semester. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry- This class is simple enough for the musically illiterate like myself while Professor Hammond injects a lot of fun in as well by requiring students to see local symphonies and operas.

3. COM 102- Public Speaking/ COM 250- Small Group Communication – I realize I’m cheating on this one, but these two courses actually complement each other very well. “Small-Group Communication” helped me learn the basics of communicating with others while “Public Speaking” encouraged me to utilize those skills even more. Shelby Long-Hammond (Tony’s wife) does a great job with these courses and I highly recommend them. If you want to take COM 250, you’re going to have to hurry though – it is no longer required as a General Education course and will soon be phased out of Rocky’s program entirely.

2.ESC 225- Energy and Society – Before I sing this course’s praises, I need to give you a warning. This is not an easy course. In fact, it is one of the hardest courses that I’ve ever taken at Rocky. However, it has also been one of the most rewarding. This class about how energy is generated and consumed is fascinating and fun and Professor Luke Ward includes some fun field trips and interesting insights along the way. Speaking of Professor Ward, he is quite possibly one of the nicest and funniest professors on campus – and one of the toughest too.

1. ENG 119- First-Year Writing – One part of a good General Education course is an element of surprise: it awakens an interest in a certain subject that you never knew you had. While this is certainly true for all of the courses on this list, it probably applies the most to this course. During my freshman year, I wasn’t planning on becoming a Creative Writing major, but this course and its instructor Linaya Leaf helped instill a new love of writing in me. For that I am truly glad and grateful.


I’ll be back next week to let you know about Rocky’s Annual Candlelight Dinner. Until then, have an enjoyable week and study hard.

February 1st, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Geology Rocks Pt. 2


In last week’s blog, I reviewed GEO 101 – The Fundamentals of Geology. This week, I will be reviewing its companion course GEO 104- The Fundamentals of Geology Laboratory.

I must admit that I was a bit surprised about how difficult this course was. I certainly didn’t expect to have any difficulty classifying and naming different types of minerals and metamorphic rocks. But what I had forgotten is that most rocks look VERY similar to one another.

Thus, in my first lab, I was quite confused about how to solve this mystery. Luckily, I had some help. First was the required textbook for the course – The Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology. This book is great because it is full of charts and diagrams that help explain what to look for when identifying rock samples.

Another great help is the presence of Professor Emily Ward and her Teacher’s Assistant Cody who are more than willing to provide suggestions (except during pop quizzes of course.)

Thanks to the help provided through both of these sources, I’ve started enjoying Geology Lab quite a bit. It’s a nice break from my normal schedule and quite a bit of fun as well. I’ve enjoyed trying to solve the mystery of which rock is which and I think you will as well.

If you still need to take a science lab, be sure to consider Geo 104. Just be aware that it might not be as easy as you think.

Final Grade: A

January 26th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Geology Rocks Pt. 1


Pardon that terrible pun in the title, but it was too good to resist. Anyways, welcome back to my blog and the first “Course Review” of the Spring. This week, I’ll be providing a review of “Fundamentals of Geology” taught by Professor Emily Ward. Then next week, I’ll review its companion course: “The Fundamentals of Geology Laboratory”.

Name of the course: Fundamentals of Geology (GEO 101)

Instructor: Emily Ward

Hardness Level: 3(out of 5). It is important to note that I’ve only been in this class for two weeks so it might not be as easy as it seems.

Required Materials: There is a textbook, but it is not required. However it is required that students buy a “clicker.”(I’ll have some more information on this in a minute).

Homework – As mentioned above, there is optional reading in a textbook. Mrs. Ward also recommends that students review the power point slides from each class that are posted on Moodle.

What you’re graded on: There are four tests throughout the semester. In addition, there are multiple-choice quiz questions in each class that you answer through using your clicker – a small remote-like device with numbered buttons. Lastly, there is also a group project in which students have to travel around downtown Billings and identify the different rocks that make up the buildings.

What you’ll learn: Topics covered include plate tectonics, minerals, rock types, and the effects of climate and weather on geology.

Extra Credit: Mrs. Ward does offer extra credit trips to Red Lodge although she hasn’t stated what we will be doing there. Hmm…I wonder…

My thoughts: Even though I’m only a few weeks into this class, I’ve enjoyed it a lot and find that Mrs. Ward does a good job of explaining the course’s topics clearly and concisely. On the negative side, the class has over 80 students, which limits one’s ability to interact with the professor and get to know their classmates. Overall, I highly recommend this class to anybody who is interested in geology or needs to take a science course as part of their general education credits.

My grade: A-

As promised, I’ll be back next week with another “Course Review.” In the meantime, feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think about the new structure of this article.

January 19th, 2014  |  Category: Uncategorized  |  No Comments