SciNatura in Action! Blogging for Productivity

Last week  I wrote a post about SoTL, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Check it out). How that post came about is a perfect example of why I wanted to start a blog–personal motivation and accountability. I started that blog post about a week before I actually published it and for that week it kind of just languished in my drafts bin. I knew I should finish it, but I had so much else to do. It’s an important topic, and one that I really am excited about, but last week was unusually brutal in commitments and shear workload. The kind of week where, as they say, a lot of things get kicked down the road.

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SoTL–What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

This semester I am enrolled in the second semester of Iowa State’s Preparing Future Faculty Program. This program supplements graduate education with training and mentoring opportunities focused on teaching and learning. It prepares graduate students for future careers as faculty members at institutions of higher education. I’ll post more on PFF itself later, but today I would like to talk about something we recently learned about–SoTL.

What is SoTL?10919000_10204909223988660_48762338856790272_n

SoTL, or the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, extends the realms of research into teaching. SoTL is more than being a good teacher. SoTL integrates the scientific method of research into teaching and learning. Continue reading

What’s in a name? Scientia Natura

I chose the name SciNatura for a couple of reasons. It’s a blend of science and nature, obviously, and while this completely fits the scope of my blog, it is actually a little more complex than that. SciNatura is actually the blend of two Latin words, scientia and natura.


Scientia f (genitive scientiae); first declension Pronunciation (The Classical not Ecclesiastical)

knowledge; body of knowledge

Natura f (genitive naturae); first declension Pronunciation

the natural world (as well/alternatively: the nature of a thing; character)


Therefore, the full and complete name of my blog is actually Scientia Natura.

If you listen to the pronunciation found in the links above, you’ll note that both words, in Latin, are pronounced quite a bit different than their English descendants. I know that most people who read the title will pronounce SciNatura with the expected Sci (as in the word ‘sigh’) Natura (nature with an “ah” ending), and that’s ok. But, it’s really supposed to be:

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Teaching Outdoors! Field Laboratories

This semester I volunteered to be a Teaching Assistant for a 400 level course in the Natural Resource Ecology and Management department, my home department here at Iowa State University. I absolutely love teaching, and it had been too many semesters since I had had the opportunity to TA. I am fully funded as a research associate and thus do not NEED to teach, but I WANT to, so I volunteered!

What I find really exciting about my home department is that many of our labs are OUTDOORS! Given that we study the environment, ecosystem management, animal ecology, and the interconnections between these disciplines, our laboratory is the outdoors. The best way for our students to learn is to actually go outside and see first hand the ecological and environmental concepts they are learning about in the classroom.

Not only does this really enhance student learning, but it’s a lot of fun!


The course is called Watershed Management and it focuses on managing human impacts on the hydrologic cycle. Throughout the course students learn about the hydrologic cycle in its natural form, and how human development affects water quality, quantity, and timing, as well as how those alterations impact surrounding ecosystems.

For this first outdoor lab we went to a lovely little woods nearby campus that has a walking trail known as Peggy’s Trial. This forested landscape features gently rolling hills, some degrading small creeks, a stream with a lovely terrace structure, and some very straightforward examples of human landscape alterations.

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