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Experiential Learning

Led by Environmental Earth Science (EES) Professor Bryan Oakley, students took a photographic inventory of the extensive erosion along the coast of Block Island, RI, post Superstorm Sandy. The team took approximately 400 photos of the island's dramatic bluffs (coastal cliffs) at GPS points along the coastline, uploaded them to Google Earth for others to reference, and then presented their findings and techniques at a Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting this past spring.

Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education announced last December that "Paint and Easel" by Community Playthings and "Hot Wheels Cars" by Mattel have both been named 2014 TIMPANI Toys (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination). This is the second consecutive year that two toys have been named TIMPANI toys in the annual study conducted by Eastern faculty and student researchers. Now in its sixth year, the study investigates how young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings. In the fall 2014 semester, 10 toys were randomly selected for the study from a list of 108 recommendations from parents and teachers.

The partnership between Eastern and the global health services company Cigna saw two developments in the fall 2014 semester. In October, the partnership celebrated the expansion of Cigna's on-campus internship, as it relocated from Winthrop Hall to the more spacious Wickware Planetarium. Now in its fifth year, the internship is part of Cigna's "Technology Early Career Development Program" (TECDP). Many computer science and business information systems students who have gone through the internship have begun successful careers with Cigna upon graduating.

In November, the "Eastern-Cigna STEM Accelerator" (ECSA) program was announced. The program aims to provide greater access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers for the diverse student populations attending Connecticut community colleges. Students from area community colleges who have completed at least 45 credits with a GPA of 3.2 or above in a discipline related to computer science, information systems, computer security, digital design or information management are eligible to apply for the ECSA program. Selected students receive scholarships to prepare for information technology careers at Cigna by completing their bachelor's degree at Eastern.

In the 2014-15 academic year, students from departments across campus embarked on six global field courses, where, accompanied by faculty, they received immersive educational experiences that could not have happened in the classroom setting. Communication students visited countries in Central Europe as they saw an up-close view of the effects of the Holocaust. Theatre students toured the performing arts scene of London, England. Biology students learned about desert ecosystems as they investigated the Great Basin, Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of the western United States. Environmental earth science students researched the mountainous geology of Idaho and Wyoming. Another group of biology students studied the topical flora and fauna of the Bahamas.

Students in the business administration course Human Computer Interaction and Design were lent the recently released fitness wristband IRONMAN Move X20 Activity Band so they could conduct industry-standard usability evaluations. Timex's Steve Glynn, user experience research lead, came to class in the fall 2014 semester to learn of their findings. The students were pleased to hear that Timex was in agreement with their findings. "It was a validation of their work," said Professor Sukeshini Grandhi.