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Achievements

Twelve NMU faculty members received NMU Academic Service Learning through Action grants in 2012-13. The funds were provided by the Provost’s Office. The projects involved 178 students, engaged 26 community organizations across the Upper Peninsula and resulted in more than 3,130 community impact hours. The recipients and an overview of the projects carried out by their classes follow:

Teresa Bertossi’s (Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences) UN295 freshmen students created “Cool Teen Journals,” a wish list item solicited by Teaching Family Homes, a child welfare organization serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that works with troubled children and families. After visiting the Teaching Family Homes campus and meeting with TFH representatives and youth, students applied their own experiences to craft the content and design of the journal. The project enhanced understanding of the struggles faced by some of today’s youth and helped new students gain a better understanding of the community they live in and the role they can play in helping at-risk teens. The project’s goals were to enhance students’ oral and written communication skills, engage them in the academic and career planning processes, and strengthen their awareness of who they are as college students and as community members.

Jason Bishop’s (HPER) adapted physical education course is designed to demonstrate understanding of the unique characteristics of individuals with disabilities, as well as to demonstrate understanding of the essential modifications needed to successfully include students with disabilities in general physical education classrooms. Bishop’s academic service learning experience provided an opportunity for the hands-on application and practice of the concepts presented in class lectures through the provision of supervised adapted physical education services to students with disabilities in the Marquette area. Ten hours of APE services were provided to Marquette area public school students aged 4-26 by each PE346 undergraduate teacher candidate. Bishop’s students created short-term and long-term goals and objectives for their local students, as well as individualized lesson plans based off of the assessment data.

Ross Christensen’s (Technology and Applied Sciences) heating systems II students conducted a steam trap assessment for Powell Township School. The experience was initiated with the hope that students would have a better idea of what will be required of them when working for a mechanical engineer. In small groups, HV270 students measured the cast iron radiators and the temperature difference across the 50 steam traps throughout the school. At the conclusion of the assessment, Christensen’s students projected that the school could save approximately $5,300 per year by repairing or replacing the steam traps. In April, the school board took action on the students’ recommendations, reviewing contracting bids to complete the work.

Scott Demel (Sociology and Anthropology) taught a seminar in archeological field methods, in which students worked in tandem with the Beaver Island Historical Society (BIHS) on an archaeological excavation in the town of St. James on Beaver Island. Involving students in a hands-on, real-world archaeology project, the BIHS and NMU worked together to conduct excavations in a proposed construction area in order to learn more about the site and rescue artifacts and site data that would otherwise disappear during construction. The students were looking for artifacts remaining from those that lived on the island during the Woodland Period, as well as from the Mormon residents of the late 1800s. The findings from the project were included in the 2012 NMU Report of Archeological Investigations on Beaver Island, and became part of BIHS exhibits and the archaeological record for the State of Michigan.

Kathryn Johnson’s (History) special topics freshman seminar students mentored North Star Academy’s JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) senior students through a digital writing project using a class-created wiki webpage. Students designed introductions, created presentation pages about NMU campus programs and answered questions about the transition from high school to college. Johnson’s project allowed students to become more knowledgeable about the services NMU has to offer, enhance their writing and presentation skills, and foster a stronger relationship with the Marquette community while motivating at-risk high school students to pursue a college education.

David Kronk’s (HPER) protected area management course gives students real-world experience in land management. Kronk’s RE371 students met with local natural resource management agencies to develop plans, conduct assessments, and monitor land and water as a means of gaining valuable insight into the management and protection of natural land and water areas. The course was split into two projects: the first project assisted Munising Public Schools in the management of the school forest in Wetmore, while the second project dealt with data collection to ease the proposed relocation of Nelson Creek in Skandia. At the conclusion of the course, students submitted a Munising School Forest Management Plan to the Munising Public School and a Citizen Stream Action Guide to the National Park Service, focusing on ways in which Skandia area residents can monitor the health of Nelson Creek.

James McCommons’ (English) nature writing course provides students with a sensory, tactile experience to address in their essays. McCommon’s EN410 academic service learning project allowed students to participate in field trips with naturalists, botanists and other environmental professionals from around the region. The trips enhanced students’ natural science hands-on learning opportunities and guided their writing. Students worked on dune restoration with the Lake Superior Watershed, harvested wild seeds from the Hiawatha National Forest with the Michigan DNR and removed invasive plants with the Nature Conservancy. Following the projects, students produced nature essays directly reflecting on their experience.

Keith Norton’s (Technology and Applied Sciences) reciprocating engine overhaul students worked under the supervision of Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) mechanics and spent a weekend restoring rare reciprocating aircraft engines ranging from those of antique biplanes and former military aircraft to experimental amateur-built aircraft. The primary projects included engine inspections and repairs on a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor aircraft, performing an annual inspection on a modern Piper twin engine aircraft, preparing a historic, prototype, acrobatic aircraft for display in EAA’s museum and forming sheet metal on an English wheel. Students also participated in a guided tour of the EAA museum that focused on the engines being studied in class and had the unique opportunity of taxing an experimental aircraft around the Oshkosh airport.

Kia Jane Richmond’s (English) methods and materials of teaching English students researched young adult literature appropriate for youth affected by domestic violence. After interviewing the director of the Marquette Women’s Center and Harbor House, students developed reading guides to enhance the learning process and personal literacy practices of youth living at the Harbor House or seeking services from the Women’s Center. The materials from the reading guides were then purchased and brought to the organization for use by community members accessing their services.

Martin Reinhardt (Native American Studies) had his academic service learning project students participate in a series of academic service learning experiences throughout the semester. Students assisted in developing a course proposal for NAS309: Advanced Anishinaabe Language, which required students to reflect on their past experiences as a means of advancing the education of the language. Complementing national reading month, NAS488 students created and gave presentations to Big Bay School youth, educating them on Native language and storytelling. Additional projects included organizing an activity for visiting Hannahville Indian School students, collecting data about the transportation needs of American Indian residents in the Harvey area, compiling a list of resources for Voices for Youth staff to reference that are designed for their American Indian clients and to assist with the on-going Decolonizing Diet Project.

Linda Sirois’ (English) technical writing class assisted Superior Central School with the manifestation and dissemination of information regarding its recently constructed Hoop House, or greenhouse. Students researched the most effective templates for brochures, posters, presentations and other educational materials to articulate the details and benefits of the school’s new Hoop House development. 

Richard Ziegler’s (Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences) minerals and rocks class conducted background research on banded iron formation rocks and studied them in the field in order to develop content for a hands-on audiovisual display on the history of its formation in the Upper Peninsula for the Michigan Iron Industry Museum (MIIM). Throughout the semester, students traveled to the MIIM to observe current displays and interview staff to determine the needs and desires of the museum, as well as to learn more about banded iron formations. At the conclusion, the class presented their findings, as well as an implementation plan, to staff at the MIIM.

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