Each year, seniors give a presentation on their thesis the week before graduation. As always, this year’s senior projects were varied. Topics included everything from “Rescued from Retirement: Raising a Grandchild with Special Needs and Surviving to Blog About It” and “Enlightened Ascension: a website/yogic toolbox for climbers” to “Challenge of a Young Female Professional in Management Today” and “The Tale of Littlest Borgi: A Children’s Myth”.
Here are just ten of the things we learned from the spring 2017 senior presentations:
An average endurance racer may consume between 6,000-10,000 calories a day.
Skyler Kenna, Liberal Studies, presented on “Extreme Endurance Adventure Racing”, looking at ultramarathons, specifically 100+ mile races like the Hardrock 100 and Western 100. Other interesting facts Kenna included were that the largest demographic is males aged 30-39 years and that races of those distances are known to cause athletes to bruise internal organs.
The average American produces 4.4 pounds of garbage per day.
Sustainability Studies major Devynn Maclure’s project was titled, “Warming Up to Zero: The Feasibility of Zero-Waste in the Last Frontier”. In it, she discussed how 624,7000 tons of waste are generated each day in the U.S and how Alaska’s current waste removal and recycling systems are unsustainable uses of land. However, after citing how other cities reduced their waste production, Maclure asserted that it’s possible for Alaska to be zero-waste, though it would take time.
Kincaid Park now has 1,500 acres. It originally had just 27 acres.
Outdoor Studies major Timothy Jacques chose to do “A Study of Recreational Use at Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska” as his senior project. By counting the number of vehicles (and number of people in each vehicle) entering the park, what activities users participated in in the park, and conducting user perception surveys, Jacques gathered information that can be used by the Municipality of Anchorage to better allocate funds within the Park. He found that Sundays are the busiest day for visitors, followed by Saturdays and Tuesdays. He also found the average number of people per car is 1.58 and that users rank the Coastal Trail as their favorite in both summer and winter seasons (favorability of the rest of the trails varied by season).
Ski jumping clubs across the U.S. are using their plastic summer tracks in the winter due to low snow levels.
Natasha Mattoon, a Sustainability Studies major, explored whether ski jumping could survive as a sport, by looking at snowfall patterns at clubs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. By comparing weather data for snowfall and precipitation over time and performing a perception questionnaire, Mattoon concluded that it’s becoming increasingly harder for clubs to compete. However, she did detail mitigation techniques, such as the plastic tracks and snowmaking, saying “If climate change doesn’t work with you, you find a way to make it work.”
Enemy propaganda gives leaders power to sway their followers.
Michelle Wozniak, Liberal Studies, spoke on “The American Need for Enemy and Its Impact on National and Global Relations.” She discussed how since it’s founding, the U.S. has always had “an enemy” of some kind, whether that be the wilds of the New World and Native Americans that they encountered or terrorists in the media today. Wozniak’s argument was that America’s inherent need for enemies has shaped the American identity. She supported her claim by looking at biological, psychological, and political need for foes. Under the political header, she said enemies can be used to legitimize governments and by keeping enemies in the rhetoric, politicians keep their own power alive.
Classroom pets are powerful teaching aids for preschool teachers because of the social and emotional elements attached to the animal.
Marine and Environmental Sciences major Rachel Ledman chose to install 10-gallon fishtanks in two preschool classrooms at the Anchorage Montessori School to examine if having the aquarium would enrich the learning of the students. Her method involved first doing a pre-test with the students that had them identifying flashcards bearing marine animals as well as drawing marine animals (which were graded on recognition of the animal, basic and advanced anatomical detail and whether or not an appropriate habitat was provided). In the weeks that followed, Ledman visited the classrooms and performed lessons involving sea creatures. The study concluded with doing the same test as before and seeing how the children’s understanding of marine life changed. She found that the students had a far greater understanding of all marine animals, even animals that weren’t in the tank.
North Slope schools found blending old and new teaching approaches work best for their students.
Tenna Judkins, a distance learning student majoring in Alaska Native Governance, explored the “History and Evolution of Education in North Slope Alaska. In her presentation, she discussed the historical background of education in that area (including how religion, assimilation, decolonization and boarding schools shaped the psyche of the population) and concluded that the best practice for educating North Slope students is marrying Western and traditional Native Alaskan programs.
Manmade structures in subarctic waters can help diversify fish in that area.
Charlotte Levy, Marine and Environmental Studies major, spoke on the “Long-term colonization of a subarctic marine pre-planned artificial reef in Whittier, Alaska.” Her and her team deployed two kinds of manmade structures in the waters of Smitty’s Cove to see if it would enhance the marine life there. With bi-monthly scuba surveys, they found that the man-made reefs increased the richness of fish, though the density stayed the same. Her conclusion was that the structures were successfully colonized by the fish, macroalgae, and invertebrates, and therefore is suitable mitigation for Alaska.
Community happiness levels in Utqiaġvik are higher during whaling seasons.
Norman Edwards, a Human Services major residing in Utqiagvik, surveyed members of the community at various points of the year to determine that their happiness levels were higher during subsistence bowhead whale hunting. He credited connection to culture as one of the primary reasons for the spike.
In 2017, 70% of APU students said they’d support a smoke and tobacco-free campus.
Chelsea Farrell, a Counseling Psychology major, chose to do a service learning project, which she titled, “Project Share Clean Air; A Smoke and Tobacco-Free APU”. Her goal was to demonstrate need and provide support to make the campus tobacco free. Currently, APU is the only organization in the U-Med area without a smoke free campus. Smoking, Farrell said, is costly in environmental impact (cigarette butts are the single most littered item in the world) and healthcare (it increases risks of certain diseases and likelihood of sick days).