Monday, August 3, 2015

The University of Wyoming is Making Connections with Community Colleges and Utilizing the State’s Resources

Dr. Andrew Parsekian, a professor at the University of Wyoming, researches groundwater processes using non-invasive geophysical methods.  Having taught at the University of Wyoming for a year and a half, Dr. Parsekian brings valuable knowledge to the Geology & Geophysics Department as well as the Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering. 

This summer, Dr. Parsekian teamed up with the Northern Wyoming Community College District at Spear-O-Wigwam near Sheridan, Wyoming for a one-week course. The course was entitled Field Based Environmental Science: Examining Global Problems through a Local Lens.  More specifically, the course was designed to engage students in the scientific inquiry of environmental problems while gaining experience in field techniques.  Dr. Parsekian, Dave Munsick of Sheridan College and Scott Hardon of Gillette High School taught the class, along with the aid of Trudy Munsick, the Dean of Outdoor Education at the Northern Wyoming Community College District.  The course contained eleven early career college bound students from across the state of Wyoming.  The students spent an average of 13-14 hours a day in the field camp and received three college credit hours.  At the end of the week, the students wrote a paper, presented the results of their research, and had a comprehensive exam.  

Spear-O-Wigwam is a fascinating part of Wyoming’s history; in 1923 Wyoming State Senator, Willis M. Spear, founded it as a dude ranch.  The acclaimed writer, Ernest Hemingway, used Spear-O-Wigwam as one of his writing workshops in the 1920’s.  Hemingway was quoted saying that Wyoming and Africa were his two favorite places to be.  As an ode to Mr. Hemingway, there is a cabin at Spear-O-Wigwam named after him.  The Northern Wyoming Community College District purchased Spear-O-Wigwam in 2011 in order to enhance their academic programs.  Located in the Bighorn National Forest, Spear-O-Wigwam offers many educational outdoor opportunities. 

Many high school students are not exposed to hypothesis driven science due to lack of time and resources.  Hypothesis driven science uses deductive reasoning wherein an idea or hypothesis is proposed and then tested.  Dr. Parsekian’s course introduced hypothesis driven science to the students who participated.  Wyoming’s resources are plentiful and this course took advantage of Spear-O-Wigwam to conduct their hypothesis driven science research.   

As the only University in the State of Wyoming, it is important to make connections with the community colleges and share each other’s resources since across the state; Wyoming has a lot to offer.  Dr. Parsekian will run a similar course next year with a different science question to be researched and answered by students at the Northern Wyoming Community College District.  For more information regarding registration or community events, visit     

By: Chelsea Parsons 

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