In the Department of Communication, hands-on learning can mean getting your hands pretty dirty

by Kristin Leonato

In the Department of Communication, hands-on learning can mean getting your hands pretty dirty

A team of students enrolled in COMM 443: Environmental Communication this spring can now add “worm bin management” to their resume. The Department of Communication tries to bring the real work of the industry into each course and for communication students Anabella Tourkaman, Elise Wilansky, Faizah Hoque, Feker Belay, and Matt Keen that meant running a table at this year’s School Environmental Action Showcase.

Mason hosted the sixth annual School Environmental Action Showcase (SEAS) on April 25, 2017. The drizzling rain couldn’t dampen the excitement of the hundreds of school children who crowded under tents by Mason Pond or the spirits of the students in science communication program director, Kathy Rowan’s course, who helped support this unique event.

Environmental communication students show off their materials for the SEAS

Organized by NoVA Outside, an alliance of environmental educators, SEAS aims to empower students by celebrating the “green” or “eco” work they are doing at their school and in their communities and encouraging them to apply science concepts to real environmental problems

Environmental communication students share information with children attend the showcase

As part of an ongoing project, the team of communication students prepared public relations plans for Mason’s participation at the showcase and created and distributed outreach materials in advance of the event. The most fun, though, was participating in the showcase with the happy mob of middle and high school students from six neighboring counties were invited to campus to present their work and take enjoy a variety of environmental education demonstrations and activities.

Vermiculture in actionSupporting the efforts of Donielle Nolan, greenhouse and gardens specialist in Office of Sustainability, the communication students provided materials and infographics on Mason’s greenhouse and gardens, photographed the event, and helped teach the participants the importance of vermiculture. Vermiculture or vermicomposting is the process of using worms to decompose organic food waste and turning it into a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer. 

Effective displays and materials are useful, but nothing really grabs the attention of elementary school children like watching the process occur in a plastic bin full of worms and soil. Sometimes the best way to learn or communicate your message is to have a lot of fun.