PCHS science class discusses global and local issues
December 29, 2011
The AP Environmental Science class offered at Park City High School is about making connections, according Park City High School teacher Ed Mulick. The course has been taught since 2000, and covers a gamut of subjects, including economics, politics and how that infuses with science. More than 100 juniors and seniors are enrolled in the course this year, Mulick said.
"It’s about conservation and laws, water issues, weather and endangered species," he said. "A lot of times there is no right or wrong answer in science, it’s just about the perspective of things."
Mulick said he’s been talking with students about broader subjects such as the ozone depletion. He asks the students to think about how these things are connected and why certain issues are occurring. Students’ home energy bills are also collected each month.
"I try to get them aware of the energy they are using and how they are contributing and I try to get them to connect all the parts," he said.
Global issues are a required element for the course, Mulick said, but the students are most interested in local issues.
"Some kids are really up on the things that are happening in our area such as our local water issues or our local development issues," he said. "Sometimes it takes building background to have a good discussion."
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Mulick also incorporated a current local theme into the class this year by opening up a discussion about the gondola that has been proposed connecting the Wasatch Front at Canyons Resort to the Wasatch Back at Solitude Mountain Resort.
"I tried to get a current theme that we can talk about that is local. I thought this is a good opportunity to tie in something local to all the issues we are learning about and one that affects the students. Some are skiers and backcountry skiers," he said.
Mulick said he enjoys teaching the class because the curriculum is always changing, which makes it great but hard to teach. Students use a textbook as the curriculum backbone and Mulick ties in current events and labs.
Students conducted an Eco-column lab during their first quarter, where they connected three 2-liter bottles and filled one bottle with dirt and snails, one with water and aquatic life and one with compost items. The students put the Eco-column in the window and watched the changes that occurred over an eight-week period, according to Mulick.
"Hopefully the students realize that this class is really about thinking critically about issues," he said. "I think everyone should take this course before they graduate. It ties into their English and math classes and some of the other subjects they are taking and they have to apply those classes to this one."
Students have been talking about population projections and growth throughout the world, according to Mulick, who said the topic is depressing and sometimes makes the students feel helpless. However, he said he encourages them to take Gandhi’s advice and ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’
"We are lucky in North America where we don’t see the huge population growth and the issues related to it," he said. " 2050, it’s projected that there will be about 9.5 billion people. You look at the resources we have available and if you think about the future of our world, sometimes it’s hard to see what’s going to happen. But I try not to do that, because there is so much that can change."