Dr. Maiko Arashiro, Environmental Studies

Utilizing Carlisle as a Lab Space for Environmental Health

I participated in the 2017 Valley and Ridge program to modify the lab section of my Environmental Health course. The primary objective of the lab is to supplement lecture material on topics such as air pollution, water pollution, and pesticide exposures. Previously, the labs were disjointed and, even though Pennsylvania is a prime example of many of the environmental issues I teach, I had not utilized the surrounding area effectively as a living laboratory.

As a new faculty member, the field trips were extremely useful to me to discover places close to campus that I can easily access in a lab period. Valley and Ridge helped me think of ways to incorporate place-based learning into my lab activities. The field trips we took and discussions with other faculty members who have had experience utilizing the area as a learning space inspired me to relate many of my existing labs to the surrounding area of Carlisle.

Since participating in Valley and Ridge, I have restructured the lab section of my course into four distinct modules that are each rooted to places around the central Pennsylvania region. Labs that are meant to teach the students about risk assessment, pesticide exposures, water pollution, and air pollution will utilize places like Three Mile Island, the Dickinson Farm, local waterways, and the town of Carlisle, respectively. Having each module linked to a place familiar to students should enhance engagement and lead to better understanding of the general concepts I hope to teach in the course.