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Learning by Doing at Washington Universities

Experiential learning is just a fancy term for "learning by doing." And that's exactly what students at these Washington universities are undertaking.

Redesign a park at Washington universities.
The park-design class at Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) recently collaborated with the Mason County Parks and Trails Department to provide a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to rejuvenate Foothills Park.

In August 2007, the parks department contacted the recreation program of this Washington university to design project plans for Foothills Park The groundbreaking, learning-by-doing project provided students with an opportunity to generate ideas that could actually be implemented in the real world. Based on the design guidelines they were given, students communicated their creative ideas through presentations to the department. The student proposals are also being shared with Mason County residents during public meetings to discuss plans for park renovations. The goal is for components from each of the student proposals to be combined to create a final park design to meet the needs the community. It all starts at Washington universities!

Discover asteroids at Washington universities.
While combing through images from a specialized telescope, undergraduate astronomy students at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) have discovered more than 1,300 asteroids that had never before been observed. That's about one out of every 250 of the 335,000 known bodies in the solar system.

Through the school's pre-major in astronomy program, freshmen and sophomores are able to begin doing real scientific research at a time when they are still determining their majors. These particular underclassmen found the asteroids in 2005 and 2006 and submitted them to the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University for verification. The center has given each asteroid a preliminary designation, but if enough data is gathered during a three-year period, each can be named by its initial discoverer--a Washington university student!

Buckle down in international media boot camp through Washington universities.
Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA) offers its students the unique opportunity to take part in a four-week summer boot camp immersion experience in Cagli, Italy, or Armagh, Ireland. Throughout this international media training program, these Washington university students spend their time interviewing everyone from priests and pipers to barkeeps and bell ringers.

As opposed to conventional, semester-long multimedia programs, the key to this particular program is experiential learning. As such, the program breeds high-energy, motivated journalists who can uncover rich stories and translate them with digital tools. There are fewer distractions in this captivating environment, which motivates students to seek great stories and express them with in a fresh, authentic way.

Why spend time muddling through lifeless textbooks when you can be learning by doing at Washington universities?

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