2021 Ogden College of Science and Engineering Day of Caring
On this Day of Caring, we want to share our stories and celebrate the accomplishments our college has made despite times of uncertainty and challenges. Please consider supporting us by donating to OSCE.
"There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man," rings true, especially during challenging times. Luckily, agriculture remains an essential sector and horseback riding requires social distancing of at least 6ft, pandemic or not.
The COVID-19 pandemic threatened isolation but, as a college, we had to respond with creative ways to stay connected to best serve our students. What better way to connect a group of like minded individuals than re-establishing a team - The WKU Equestrian Team, a competitive intercollegiate horsemanship organization.
It required a shared vision and goals, cooperation, and strong leadership on the part of all student officers who wished to spearhead the effort. It required help from alumni who had been part of the team years past, and equine community members who wanted to see it succeed. It required a supportive staff and faculty in the Department of Agriculture and Food Science. It took a village but the excitement and pride on team members' masked faces at each show proved that the team was a success.
It fostered a feeling of community within the student equestrians at WKU, reprieve from outside stressors of constant reminders of the COVID-19 crisis, and connection to not only each other but with the horses as well.
Our region was one of the three out of the 36 in the nation to participate in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association shows both Fall and Spring semesters. The team was comprised of 17 members and each won ribbons and prizes but most importantly, they persevered and created a team that will continue to serve all equestrians at WKU. Next year, we will climb even higher. Please consider helping us do so by donating.
SKyTeach, a joint program between Ogden College of Science & Engineering and College of Education & Behavioral Sciences, meets the challenge of training the next generation of science and mathematics teachers.
During the past year, SKyTeach and its clinical training model has been substantially impacted. What we took for granted (field experiences with ‘real’ students in local schools, hosting STEM education outreach events for area young people, mentoring opportunities with current math and science teachers, etc.) seemed to disappear overnight. The SKyTeach faculty knew it was critical to reach out to our students and let them know that in spite of the fast-moving and comprehensive changes to our program (as well as the university), we were still here. We were steadfast and resolute to continue to assist them as they build their pedagogy and practice as they become the most effective STEM teachers for the next generation of students. In those first few days after it felt like the world stopped, we almost immediately created an outreach event. By way of this thing called Zoom (that we really didn’t know too much about) we invited our students to gather virtually to “see” one another, ask questions, share stories and challenges, and simply be together. Our students were used to a ‘family’ feeling in our designated SKyTeach workroom, and we knew we needed to recreate a virtual substitute to provide this connection.
After the initial Zoom “check-in” session, we planned and implemented several “social” activities in the form of game nights and competitions. We gather via Zoom to say hello, catch up on the latest news, and then we usually have a few healthy (and competitive) rounds of trivia, scavenger hunts, or similar fun. These “socials” have helped our students stay connected to one another and the faculty. The SKyTeach faculty invest in our students and literally walk through the undergrad experience with each of them as they develop their pedagogical skills and knowledge in our classrooms and in a variety of field experiences. The onset of pandemic has not changed our commitment to our students; even though the “field” experiences may be a little different and we have had to think ‘outside-the-box’ with regard to how we teach future teachers how to teach, this difficult time has given us the opportunity to remind our students of the power of relationships and the learning that takes place when those bonds are strengthened through adversity. We just had to get a little creative to figure out how to stay “connected” and foster those bonds from a distance.
Please consider donating to SKyTeach and OSCE this year and ensure our ability to continue providing a great, connected, STEM education.
Those are the first two questions that WKU’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Industrial Partnership asked in March 2020.
Currently, the Industrial Partnership has 14 member companies. Throughout the last year, they have provided advice for our programs and continued to invest in the professional development of our students. Normally, the Industrial Partnership companies attend on campus events and network face-to-face with SEAS students. With in-person events not possible, the Industrial Partnership companies shifted all activities virtual with the goal of continuing to network/connect with students and invest in their professional development. Throughout the year, Industrial Partnership members have helped host virtual Industry Showcases, relevant topical seminars, and panel discussions. Topics of the seminars/panel discussions have included The Value of a Graduate Degree, Working Across Generations, and Appreciating the Skills of Others. These opportunities have allowed students to stay connected to our IP companies, ask relevant questions of what industry looks like in a COVID-19 work, and stay connected to internship/workforce opportunities in the area. Navigating the pandemic has not been easy, but the Industrial Partnership’s commitment has helped our SEAS students navigate this difficult time.
Now, in the spirit of #WKUDayOfCaring, we are asking for your continued support. Please consider giving here: Donate Here
Dr. Ahmet Ozkan Ozer of the Department of Mathematics became an advocate in the new trend in teaching Calculus courses with the help by combining new technologies and traditional teaching methods.
Calculus I is one the most fundamental courses for college level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics intended majors. In the fall of 2010, there were over 300,000 US college students taking Calculus I yet these universities are struggling with high attrition and failure rates in calculus. In fact, the recent National Study of College Calculus, conducted by the Mathematical Association of America with support from the National Science Foundation, observed that success rates in Calculus I are very low for traditional students, and even lower for non-traditional students. Students also express concerns about the insufficiency of information covered in the course and the lack of opportunities to practice learned pedagogy. Therefore, students struggle in practicing complex steps of calculus.
Dr. Ozer explains his new approach to Calculus. “I have been an advocate of the new trend in teaching Calculus courses by the support of cutting-edge technologies in addition to the traditional teaching techniques. This allowed me to help solving the complex problem of student learning in calculus courses. This approach is time-costly and it this requires very long planning and preparation of the materials such 3D and 2D Wolfram’s Demonstration Projects, in addition to the recently popularized Desmos and Geogebra simulations. The main rationale behind creating the content is simple: with its rules, formulas and derivations, calculus can be overwhelming for some students, and without simulations, it is so dry.” Dr. Ozer explains that he wants to show students another side of calculus with visuals that make it more fun and digestible.
“Everything started with recording recitation videos for calculus sections because recitations (tutorial sessions) are the biggest problem for calculus sections. Students give up at some point so we don’t want students to give up. I was simply recording videos at my WKU office using a ring light with stand and an iPhone in front of a whiteboard. Then, I discovered the CITL studio and its lite-touch board technology they have been using. After recording 175 videos there two summers ago, I started recording videos at my home office since it is 10 times easier having a green screen technology set at my home studio. Since then, I have speeded up substantially in recording and reached over 700 videos in less than two years. It was a long learning curve to adopt all of this technology.”
He explains he’s not replacing teaching with these videos, but rather supplementing the lessons with these videos that allow students to see the content explained repeatedly and the problems worked step-by-step. “The pay-off is big so far even though this long project costs me more than 1,800 hours; preparing content, recording, editing, post-captioning, uploading, etc.”
Indeed, this approach has resulted in a very powerful impact in student learning. “We’ve exposed these videos to experimental and control groups since spring 2020. Using a mixed-methods approach, the analysis for the collected data revealed that there is a significant long-term effect (about four months) in student success” said Dr. Ozer. “This giant project has been serving not only for the development of the on-demand Math 136 (Calculus I) and Math 137 (Calculus II) courses, offered for the first time at WKU, but also for my semester-based Math 136, 137, and 331 (Calculus IV) courses to complement lectures and recitations. Cengage, a textbook publisher, also partially acquired the rights of around 100 videos in Differential Equations, I recorded only for them. These videos are blended in their e-book via the platform called WebAssign, a student assessment system, and accessed by approximately 165 countries and territories around the world.”
Student feedback from a QTAG-funded survey shows students most are satisfied with the overall quality of Dr. Ozer’s video demonstrations and explanations compared to other instructional video series such as Khan Academy. Students said the videos contributed to their achievement in meeting learning objectives.
For anyone interested in designing similar videos, Dr. Ozer shares his experiences and insights at the following sites:
Please consider supporting Dr. Ozer, his development methods to increase successful students, and our Department of Mathematics by giving here:
Sophomore, Biochemistry major Amara Danturthi of Elizabethtown and Junior, Chemistry major Lauren McQuaide of Columbia have worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic since June 2020. They work as pharmacy technicians who administer COVID-19 PCR tests and will soon administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
When Danturthi reflected on her experiences working during the pandemic, she says that it is “humbling to combat the pandemic at the forefront” and noted that the experience makes her a better student and pre-professional. The concepts Amara learns about while working fuel her excitement to become an M.D. in the near future.
McQuaide stated that working as a front-line healthcare provider was “challenging during the worst parts of the pandemic,” but she is thankful for the opportunity to support those who need it most during these hard times. Lauren felt like providing healthcare during the pandemic was the biggest ways she could support the WKU and Bowling Green community.
Both Lauren and Amara reflected upon the evolution of their work during the pandemic. They are now training to immunize for COVID-19, and they feel overwhelming gratitude and optimism in the fight against COVID-19.
When you make a gift to OSCE, you are providing opportunities and give back to charitable/compassionate/dilligent and hardworking students like Amara and Lauren who have worked tirelessly to serve their community. You can help Amara and Lauren work towards achieving their goals of being healthcare professionals by giving here:
Tristan Skipworth, a sophomore Biochemistry major, has worked on the COVID-19 Pandemic front lines in Emergency Medical Services.
He works in both Allen County and Warren County. Tristan reflected on his work by saying he has witnessed unity within the medical field to combat COVID-19, and he said it is a privilege to be part of a medical care team.
Tristan believes he is a better student and community member by having this front-line experience, noting that working diligently in healthcare brings light to the idea that the spirit makes the master. Tristan is continually “striving for the wellbeing” of his patients, and this desire to help those around him has “carried over to life at WKU.”
When you make a gift to OSCE, you are supporting hardworking, passionate, and caring students like Tristan who are growing to become talented academics and great citizens. Please consider donating here: