How Do You Encourage Service-Learning in a Microbiology Class? You Spend a Day at an Elementary School!
Author: Jennifer Hatchel, Ph.D.
Community Partner: Mary Lee Clark Elementary School
When you think of Service-Learning, doing it in a Foundations of Microbiology (BIOL 2215) class probably isn’t what comes to mind. You probably think classes like history and literature. I have found a way to incorporate service-learning into a science class. In my Foundations of Microbiology classes in both fall 2018 and fall 2019, my students have partnered with the nurse, Mrs. Denise Johnston, at Mary Lee Clark Elementary School in St Marys, Georgia. The students were divided into groups and were given one of the following topics: dental hygiene, wound care, influenza, head lice, and hand washing. Each group had to research their particular topic and use the information they found to design a pamphlet or flyer. They also had to design a skit or presentation to give at Mary Lee Clark Elementary School at the end of the semester. The day we spent at the elementary school was a great experience. We put the groups in different areas around the gymnasium, and as each class of elementary students came in for P.E., they were able to rotate through the various stations for a short amount of time. This service-learning project exposed College of Coastal Georgia students to a microbiological topic in greater detail and the service they provided was to the students at the elementary school. By having my students present these topics, it allowed the school nurse to focus her efforts on other key required areas. The students from Coastal Georgia submitted final reflection papers with very positive comments. It went so well that the school nurse is hoping we will do it again soon. Service-learning doesn’t have to be restricted to only certain classes. It just takes a little outside-of-the-box thinking to create a project.