COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new free iBook written by students in an introductory environmental science course at The Ohio State University describes some of Earth’s biggest challenges and how people are using cutting-edge science and engineering to provide sustainable solutions.
Called Environmental ScienceBites, the 184-page e-book for Apple devices was written by undergraduate students in Introduction to Environmental Science, a course offered by Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR). The school is in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. A version of the book is also available for Android devices.
The new book’s topics are as diverse as the students enrolled in the course, said the book’s lead editor, Kylienne Clark, an instructional aids associate who works to support SENR’s eLearning initiatives.
“Contributors to the book represent virtually every college, school and department here at Ohio State,” she said.
The new book features 25 student-written scientific articles organized into five chapters: Climate Change, Ecosystem Degradation, Energy, Pollution and Population. The Climate Change chapter, for example, has articles on climate change’s role in the California drought, the Syrian uprising and the growing intensity of tropical storms.
Inspired to document the environmental challenges of concern to students and engage them in a more meaningful way, Clark and Brian Lower, associate professor in SENR and the course’s lead instructor, along with Travis Shaul, co-editor and former SENR graduate student, re-imagined the course’s major assignment.
As part of the course, students are required to complete a project called ScienceBite, where they write a short-format article on an environmental topic of their choice. Each article is about 1,500 words long, has four to six figures, and uses sources from various scientific journals. Students conduct peer-reviews before submitting their revised manuscript to their instructor for a grade.
The Ecosystem Degradation chapter looks at such topics as invasive Asian carp and the Great Lakes, habitat loss and Sumatran orangutans, and how coffee production can cause deforestation, soil erosion and water contamination.
“We really wanted to make this project real for them — to have a tangible product for their efforts — much like when an academic submits an article for publication in a journal,” Clark said.
The new book features 25 student-written scientific articles, each describing a topic within the environmental sciences. Among the topics are hydraulic fracturing for gas, desalination of seawater, colony collapse disorder in honey bees and the effects of the tsunami-caused Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan.
The book’s 25 articles include, among others, “Warming Oceans Cause Coral Reef Bleaching” in the Climate Change chapter. Students in Ohio State’s Introduction to Environmental Science course researched, wrote and reviewed all the articles as a project for the course.
The book will be used in future offerings of the course to highlight excellent examples of the ScienceBite project, Clark said.
“We believe this book will serve as a valuable educational resource and is a great way to get future students excited about environmental science,” she said. “We hope this book will help to promote scientific and environmental literacy beyond The Ohio State University.”
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