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Dr. Karen Walters focuses on hands-on learning

From filming stop motion videos to isolating DNA out of fruit, creating model cells out of play dough to regenerating flatworm bodies, AP biology provides a college-level study of biology, with various hands-on activities along the way. 

Sam Cross | The Feather Online

AP biology students examine the amounts of sugar and starch in different kinds of food.

After years of teaching in only one room for multiple classes, Dr. Karen Walters and Scott Bucher now instruct in their own lab spaces. Dr. Walters can now expand AP biology and focus on running its science labs properly in her own space. 

Dr. Walters teaches zoologybiology, and AP biology and has taught courses on campus since 2013. Previous to FC, she taught at Sierra High School and instructed at UC Davis. She defines science as seeking truth and getting to know God’s creation.

“To appreciate how science works, you need to try experiments and see how they work,” Dr. Walters said. “God’s creation is way too cool to just read about in a text book. He provides us with living, working examples to explore.

“AP bio offers an in-depth, college-level study of biology,” Dr. Walters continued. “We run many experiments including sperm-egg interactions in sea urchins, photosynthesis in plants, regeneration in flatworms…they grow whole new bodies! We also do some biotechnology with glow-in-the dark bacteria.”

Kyler Garza interviews Hannah Garcia on what she most enjoys about AP biology and her reasons to join the class.

The 3rd period course contains 11 students, presenting them an opportunity to grasp a more in-depth knowledge of biology. Dr. Walters instructs how to run proper labs, dissect and prepare for higher level education. 

Natalie Nichols, ’20, hopes to achieve a higher GPA this year by taking AP biology. Nichols finds cellular components interesting, specifically cell signaling.

“I really enjoy the labs we do inside the class,” Nichols said. “One of my favorites are when we created sea urchin babies. We had to find the different PH’s, substances, and acids that will help create a sea urchin baby, which is my favorite animal they added this year.”

Sophomore Hannah Garcia decided to join AP biology this year to learn more about the function of the human body.

“My favorite part about the class is how interactive the class is,” Garcia said. “We get to learn a lot more in depth about certain things that are more genetically based, and that’s what I really enjoy about the class. I don’t really enjoy the ecology aspect of it but more of the anatomy part and all the dissections we get to be apart of.”

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

AP biology student, Landon Goldsborough, ’19, creates a stop-motion movie highlighting the process of cell communication.

Colton Allen, ’20, views the class as an opportunity to learn more high level facts about biology. Colton appreciates the opportunity to study outside of a textbook.

“I think that there’s a lot to learn in AP biology and a lot of special things you don’t get from a non-AP class,” Allen continued. “It’s a smaller class so you really learn how to run a proper lab. It’s not as much the fun aspect, it’s more like studying in depth and that’s the reason why I find it really fun.”

Campus science teachers Dr. Walters and Bucher planned for expansion after Bucher was hired in 2015.

“Now with the expansion of the two rooms for the science department, we can really focus on the student,” Dr. Walters said. “It’s more of a one-on-one with the student and provides new opportunities for science experiments.”

Walters hopes to offer biotechnology next year as an elective and give students the technology aspect of biology. Biotech teaches a cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.

For another feature article, read Renovated science lab provides new opportunities. Also, read Campus science teacher encourages hands-on learning.

Kyler Garza can be reached via email.

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