One… two… pause… three! Our third week started with a much needed pause of classes after main campus occupancy fell from 60.5% to 15.1% in just one week. These two days “off” were spent in various ways: students packed up, went house hunting, caught up on missed work, and processed their newly defined college experience. As far as English 105 goes, we only met once this week. Luckily one hour and fifteen minutes still gave me plenty to discuss!
To start class, Mr. Blom asked us all to type how we were feeling into our class Google Doc. I don’t think anyone would be shocked to hear there were some very mixed reviews. “Stressed” and “overwhelmed” were popular responses; however, many students felt they had settled into their new environments. It’s hard to know what you have until it’s gone. If our class is anything though, it’s resilient.
Back to English… the final draft of our Feeder 1.1 was due Wednesday, and we have moved on to drafting Feeder 1.2. These worksheets help us identify our topics, and begin our research for our Unit 1 Project, writing a popular health article. I chose the debate between opt-in and opt-out organ donor registration systems. Being the procrastinator that I am, these worksheets are extremely beneficial. With the prep-work done two weeks ahead of the deadline, I can really focus on the quality of my article.
Did you know that one glass of red wine is equivalent to one hour at the gym? No? That’s because it isn’t true; however, this headline made national television on Fox News. Before class we were asked to watch an episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver on how the media reports scientific studies. Oliver’s satirical take on the media’s lack of scientific credibility was the highlight of my week, and also gave me many tips on what not to do as a writer. All too often major news networks sacrifice their reliability for an attractive headline. As viewers, we must remember to check our sources before we start replacing daily exercise with daily glasses of Cabernet. As a writer, I am responsible for choosing credible studies and writing an article that my readers can trust.
Our class was also asked to read “10 Monkeys and a Beetle: Inside VW’s Campaign for ‘Clean Diesel’” by Jack Ewing. To make a long story short, Volkswagen reported that diesel fuel is cleaner than regular gasoline. They tested the effects of exhaust fumes on monkeys and reported the diesel was less harmful to the monkeys’ health. What they failed to include in their report was their deliberate manipulation of the data. The Volkswagen Beetle used in the experiment was altered to produce cleaner emissions than the actual model. The result… 72,000 people died in Europe over the year 2012 due to nitrogen dioxide pollution. Where does nitrogen dioxide come from? Diesel vehicles. This article showed me the importance of experimental replication. Unfortunately, few scientists are willing to perform replications because they don’t offer much glory.
During class we looked at effective research strategies, how to properly cite sources in CSE format, and the basics of study design. Questions were welcomed with the most popular being how to construct in-text citations of quotes. Now we are tasked to find a study on our topics that is worth reporting on. I will be on the lookout for questionable procedures and biased results!
It was an interesting week of class to say the least, but English 105 managed to pull through just fine. The brief interruption helped me catch up on many aspects of my life, and I am more than grateful for that time. The Fall 2020 semester will not be typical. We will never even meet each other in-person; although, there is always a silver lining. In a few years, this class of writers will have great content for stories about our experience at college amidst a global pandemic. We will be the authors of primary sources from the COVID-19 era. To quote Hamilton, “How lucky we are to be alive right now!”
Featured Image Source:
Schleiniger, Megan. “UNC empty dorm room.” Digital photograph. UNC-Chapel Hill, 2020.