Environmental science, Mini-THON planning to be focus of 2 new classes

Baldwin Mini-THON raises money throughout the school year to fight childhood cancer.

Image courtesy: 4 Diamonds

Baldwin Mini-THON raises money throughout the school year to fight childhood cancer.

Izzy Swanson and Sam Tobiczyk

AP Biology teacher Tina Gaser knew an environmental science class was necessary when she heard some of her students talk about their career plans.

“The last couple of years in teaching AP, I’ve had students say ‘Ms. Gaser, I want to be an environmental engineer,’ or `I want to be an environmental lawyer.’ So I’ve had kids wanting to go into these fields, but they don’t have any experience with a true environmental class,” Gaser said. 

AP Environmental Science will be one of the new courses implemented next school year.  In another, students will plan and run Mini-THON in an English elective called Informational Media Literacy. 

As for AP Environmental Science, it will be offered to sophomores, juniors, and seniors and be taught by Gaser. The course will be structured around the environmental processes that affect humans, and how humans affect the Earth. 

“We’re looking at air pollution, water pollution, water usage, agriculture, energy resources, as well as how humans impact those systems and how those systems impact our health,” Gaser said. 

Sophomore Cate Skowronski plans on taking the course her junior year.

“I want to do something in medicine, and the environment is a huge part of diagnosing people,” Skowronski said. 

I think it’s every bit as important as taking a civics course and learning how our government works. ”

— Tina Gaser

The class will be lab based, and students can expect to be working with ecocolumns, a self-sustaining aquatic and land environment.  

“We’re trying to mimic a little Earth. So they’ll be growing different kinds of plants. We’ll have fish tanks in here. We’re going to be keeping worms and various decomposers,” Gaser said. 

Gaser believes that knowledge of environmental science is a crucial factor in being a well informed citizen. 

“I think it’s every bit as important as taking a civics course and learning how our government works, so that you can be an informed citizen and know how that system works. I think every single student should have to take an environmental course to know the impacts we have on Earth and how that’s going to impact us,” Gaser said “If we don’t understand and are not knowledgeable about the choices that we make, we can find ourselves in some places that we don’t want to be in, in the future.”

Skowronski agreed. 

“I think having knowledge on how the environment works can help one understand the more practical parts of science, like chemistry and biology. And it just sounds cool,” Skowronski said. 

Meanwhile, students in the new full-year English elective will be responsible for planning and raising money for Mini-THON. It will be taught by two English teachers, Rachel Murrman and Leah Younkins, who are also Mini-THON co-sponsors.

Officially titled Informational Writing & Literacy, it will focus on Mini-THON, a yearlong fundraiser for childhood cancer research and treatment that culminates in an all-night celebration.

“The most important element of this course is going to be planning every step of the Mini-THON event,” Murrman said. “In order to accomplish this task, students will learn to plan and execute fundraisers, develop organization skills needed for event planning, write grant proposals for a non-profit organization, research philanthropies and understand the purpose of charitable contributions, and make connections with the community by seeking out corporate sponsorship.” 

Murrman and Younkins saw the popularity of the event growing, causing them to propose the course, which will be available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

The most important element of this course is going to be planning every step of the Mini-THON event.”

— Rachel Murrman

Sophomore Lacey Bonetti said she wants to take the course.

“I am looking forward to event planning, being more involved with the school, and learning more about professional writing,” Bonetti said. “I am very excited.”

Both teachers are happy to see the course added to the curriculum, citing the potential for the event to grow in the future.

“I’m very excited to teach it. We wanted to expand and raise more money, and this course is a great avenue to do so,” Younkins said.

Another way the educators hope to see the event grow is through attracting more corporate attention.

“We hope to gain many more corporate sponsors, while increasing our community presence and awareness,” Younkins said.

Sophomore Kelsi Boyd, who plans to take the course next year, is also excited to see the event grow.

“I am looking forward to expanding the program and learning how to organize events,” Boyd said.