For many majors across campus, in-person engagement has been a pipe dream. Yet for some majors, particularly ones in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related fields, the experience of seeing classmates and professors in a physical classroom or lab setting is now a reality. Lasting until the end of the semester, these courses and activities are being offered on a limited basis.
Ayse Macknight is a senior oceanography major and a scientific diving minor. Macknight is a teaching assistant for the scientific diving program and assists where she can. The diving program meets once a week in-person to do exercises in the HSU pool.
“I’m helping mainly with skills,” Macknight said. “I’m helping out with all the other diving classes.”
Macknight is satisfied with the way that the diving program is handling all of this with major coronavirus safety measures being enacted.
“When the students first arrive, they meet outside and they brief and then they go into the pool through one door and they pick up their gear and they put it down, and then they go outdoors,” Macknight said. “It’s kind of like a circle — everyone’s always going one direction so it’s like minimize chances of running into each other. Afterward, we disinfect all gear that anyone’s put their mouth on or anything.”
Senior forestry major Sarah McGee is involved in more hands-on classes. She is doing both individual and group activities.
“For my soil fertility class, we’re doing experiments in the forestry greenhouse and so we’ve been assigned two to three 30 minute time slots a week where we can go into the greenhouse by ourselves and conduct our own experiment that’s soil fertility-related,” McGee said. “For my soil microbiology class, we are doing some algae experiments in the soil lab.”
McGee is excited to be back in person doing things rather than staying at home sitting in front of a screen all day.
“It’s a lot more motivating and it’s a lot easier to stay on task and be accountable when you’re meeting up and doing things in person, I think,” McGee said.
Not all in-person classes and labs are STEM-focused. A few other majors like film are also conducting face-to-face instruction. Kylie Holub is a junior and a film major currently in Film 2 where she is learning about lighting and audio. She reiterated the significance of being in-person for film projects.
“Seeing the equipment and being able to have different students have the ability to check out the equipment and then test it out and things like that and to learn about it,” Holub said. “So it’s definitely, I think, very important to have these face-to-face opportunities, plus film is super collaborative so like getting to know your classmates and just like vibing with people is kind of important.”