Teaching Activities at Iowa State University
AGRON 183: Basic Skills for Agronomists.
Each fall semester since 2016 I have taught this one-credit laboratory to all first-year agronomy students. Graduate students who have helped teach the class include: Kelsie Ferin (2016); Victoria Walker and Richard Cirone (2017); Arthur Da Silva (2018); Qi Mu and Alex Caruthers (2019); Nick Boerman and Kyle DeLong (2020); Kyle DeLong and Oyeyemi Oyeleke (2021); and Jacob Stai and Kyle DeLong (2022). The semester is divided up into seven two-week units. In the first week of each unit we collect data through an activity, like these about soil physical properties and photosynthesis. In the second week we use the data collected to learn and practice basic skills that include teamwork, organization, critical thinking, and quantitative analysis. Listed below are some quantitative analysis resources.
- significant figures
- reporting mean values
- propagating uncertainty
- finding an empirical model using linear regression
AGRON/MTEOR 206: Introduction to Weather and Climate.
Each fall semester I teach 206. I team-taught with Dr. Ray Arritt beginning in 2004 until he unexpectedly passed away in November 2018. Graduate students identified as the official teaching assistant for the class include: Jimmy Correia (2004-2005), John Baranick (2006-2007), Tracy Rowlandson (2008), Eric Russell (2009-2010), Jason Patton (2011-2013), Ben Carr (2012-2013), Victoria Walker (2014-2016), Kati Togliatti (2017), Richard Cirone (2018-2020), and Kyle DeLong (2021-2022). Brian Viner also helped with the class several times in the late 2000's. Due to the large enrollment (10-year average enrollment of 301 students) the course is taught using course management software (Canvas beginning in 2018, Blackboard Learn in 2011-2017, WebCT previously). We use a wireless polling system (formerly TurningPoint, currently Top Hat) that allows both students and faculty to obtain immediate feedback by displaying student responses to multiple-choice questions. At the 2015 Iowa Climate Science Educators Forum I spoke about how Dr. Arritt and I taught the greenhouse effect.
AGRON/ENSCI/MTEOR 405/505: Environmental Biophysics.
Since 2005 I have taught 405/505 in the spring semester of odd years. The course closely follows Campbell and Norman's An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics. The material culminates in determining the water and energy balance of plants, animals, and humans, and the requirements needed to maintain a balance that allows the organism to survive. The same physical principles are implemented in numerical weather and climate models to predict how water and energy move between Earth's surface and atmosphere. Another topic especially relevant to agronomy is how growing degree days, or more generally thermal time, can be used to predict crop development. Growing degree days should NOT be called "heat units!"
AGRON/EE/MTEOR 518: Microwave Remote Sensing.
I teach 518 in alternate years (even spring semesters, first class was in Spring 2006). The first quarter of the class is a review of basic electromagnetic theory. The remaining part of the course is divided between: the theory of passive microwave remote sensing; case studies on temperature sounding of the atmosphere, remote sensing of precipitation, remote sensing of ocean salinity, and remote sensing of Earth's soil moisture and vegetation; and comparing and contrasting passive and active microwave remote sensing. Here is an outreach program I give about remote sensing.
Environmental Science 698: Environmental Science Seminar.
This is a one-credit seminar course taught each spring semester for graduate students in the Environmental Science Graduate Major. From 2007-2010 I team-taught with Dr. Amy Kaleita and Dr. Kristie Franz, from 2011-2013 with Dr. Kaleita and Dr. Alan Wanamaker, and in 2014 with just Dr. Kaleita. Since 2015 I have been the sole instructor. There are two main activities: eight hour-long seminars scattered throughout the semester; and an all-day scientific symposium consisting of invited talks and student poster presentations.
LaTeX, a Document Preparation System.
LaTeX can improve scientific writing. And now, with resources like Overleaf, everyone can use LaTeX! The best way to learn is to look at examples, experiment, and then use them as templates to create your own documents. Visit my Canvas LaTeX course for examples. I'm not a LaTeX expert, but I use it to write just about everything!
Teaching Activities as a Member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps
Term paper: "Desegregation: How It Happened in Clarksdale, Mississippi."
Labs for high school chemistry.
- The concept of isotopes presented with beans!
- Learn conversion factors by making Kool-Aid!
- Prove Kroger Baking Soda really is baking soda with a chemical reaction!
- Learn about molarity (if you can stand salty water)!
A great resource for middle and high school physical science: TOPS Task Cards!
Other Teaching Resources
Soil horizons taught by Amber Anderson.
Soil Moisture School: activity instructions; USDA bulk density instructions; presentation slides.