What we learnt in class

Whatwe learnt in class

Throughoutthe class, there are a couple of concepts that we learnt, whichrelate directly to the course requirements and what we are expectedto know by the end of the semester. During the first day, we learntof the benefits that one can get by performing experiments in thelaboratory. In the lesson, we came to learn that the purposes of thelab is to help students gain an understanding of the world thatsurrounds them. In addition, tests in the laboratory are essentialsince they help students to understand physical sciences, especiallywithin the local context. The class also taught us about the variousspheres that constitute the earth and what each sphere comprises of,as well as the relationships between the spheres.

Theclass taught that analytical thinking is a crucial component of anylearning experience. The analysis of complex materials is based onthe understanding of diverse subjects and fields such as humanities,mathematics, social sciences, as well as natural sciences. We learntthat students should have the capacity to acquire information fromdiverse sources, evaluate this information and analyze it in order toderive some meaning. Effective communication is also another keyquality that all students should possess. This attribute helpslearners to identify the form of communication to use in variouscontexts. This is because contexts keep on changing and so does themessage exchanged between the sender and receiver. The class alsotaught us that reasoning is an essential component that determinessuccess in school. While reasoning, students should ensure that theyput into consideration all factors that affect the learning processand base their arguments on each factor, without leaving out some andgiving others priority.

Anotherimportant concept that we learnt in class is the concept of RiparianBuffer Zones, their functions, as well as recommended width. In theclass, we gained knowledge that Riparian buffers can be regarded ascrucial elements that are used in watersheds. They help in protectingthe quality of ground water from the activities of humans thatcontribute to land destruction. In addition, the buffers, which arevegetated, act as sources of habitat, as well as food, for animal andplant species that can be termed as unique. The degradation of waterresources has resulted from the removal of vegetation in thestreamside, especially for the purposes of development. The classalso taught us that it is crucial to maintain the natural conductionsof Riparian buffers as this ensures that they function effectively.

Fromthe class, we learnt the impacts of excess nitrogen on the particlesof the soil. When farmers use a lot of nitrogen and phosphoricfertilizers, there is a tendency that they will flow into waterbodies, thus polluting aquatic life. The class taught us that thewidth of buffers should help in preventing erosion and its impacts.The class also taught us the various soil types and the conditions inwhich it is appropriate to plant crops in these soils. Based on thetype of soil, it becomes possible to determine the speed within whichthe absorption of water can take place. Clay soils are likely toexperience greater runoff because they are not that permeable on thecontrary, sandy soils have the capacity to drain water rapidly, thusmaking it impossible for the roots of plants to have the capacity oftrapping pollutants. The class also gave an explanation of why soilswith a lot of moisture can take up nitrogen from the soil and alsoensure that the nitrogen is released to the atmosphere.

Inclass, we learnt that the vegetation mix in riparian buffersdetermines their ability to capture pollutants. In buffers wherethere is a mix of grasses, shrubs and trees, there is a highpossibility that pollutants are well captured than in buffers wherethere is no mix of vegetation. The class also taught us the beststrategy to use when removing sediments. I came to learn that, inorder to remove sediments effectively, it is necessary to use grassfilter strips. Since grasses have roots that are denser andshallower, they have the capacity to ensure that sediments aretrapped from the flow in the surface. The root system of trees isdeep, and this enables them to take nutrients from the groundwaterwhile trapping the nutrients effectively. In addition, the regulationof water flow is enhanced by trees. We were taught that this helps inreducing water flow to streams of water.

Theclass also taught us that the functions of trees are quite differentfrom those of grass. Trees have the capacity to provide shade torivers, as well as braches that are useful for aquatic life. From theclass, we learnt that there are several buffer types, and each typehas unique characteristics that differentiate it from the rest. Theclass was essential in helping us learn how to conduct laboratoryexperiments and know what is required when conducting experiments.During class time, we were taught the importance of testinghypothesis before carrying out an experiment, as well as having anappropriate sample size that will enhance the accuracy of results.For example, the collection of soil samples while determining theimpacts of pollutants should be done from various locations. Thisensures that the data collected is both valid and reliable andreduced errors that may be encountered in the laboratory experiments.It is also necessary that the researcher makes some observationsregarding the place from which they are collecting the samples.

Welearnt how to create a dichotomous key, as well as how to use it inthe classification of animals based on their genus, species, and thefamily. In addition, we learnt that, in order to identify organismsthat may be unknown, it is necessary to use a dichotomous key as ithelps to identify such organisms. The class also taught us that theuse of contrasting statements is a crucial aspect when creatingdichotomous keys. From the class, we learnt about the criteriaemployed to categorize water bodies as either healthy or unhealthy.Borrowing from the handouts given by our instructor, it can be arguedthat there is “ecological integrity” exhibited by healthywaterbodies such as rivers, streams, and lakes. In addition, with theuse of appropriate tools, it is possible to determine whether thequality of water has been degraded. The most commonly used tool isbio-assessment, which helps to evaluate whether a water body has metthe required biological conditions. It is necessary to make anassessment of the biological conditions, as this helps to determinewhether a water body is well equipped to handle life in an aquaticenvironment.

Thereare a number of courses that we learnt in class, which are quiteinstrumental. Some of these courses included sedimentation this wasbased on the sediments of the Red Cedar River. During this course, welearnt how to conduct research and laboratory procedures in order todetermine the sediments in the soil. Another course we came to learnis the texture of soil, as well as its permeability. In this course,we learnt that the flow of water had a huge impact on the texture ofsoil. The class also taught us how to put the results of anexperiment in a table, as well as the presentation of the resultsusing graphs. My feeling towards class teachings is that it offeredexclusive information about the issues being discussed. The conceptslearnt can be applied in diverse situations. The class also gave usan experience that we did not have before, and this enabled us togain knowledge on how best we can conduct experiments.