Took the plunge and enrolled in the Understanding Plants-Part 1: What a Plant Knows on Coursera. Decided to make this move because I want to transition from a career in IT to a career in Environmental Science.
There’re other subjects in Environmental Science that interest me. Ecology, Biology, Environmental Economics, Plant Science, and Chemistry just to name a few. For now, I’ll start at the foundation which I think are plants and this course is a great place to start learning.
The course is offered by Tel Aviv University and taught by Professor Daniel Chamovitz, Ph.D. There is a part 2 to the course which I’ll take that part after I complete part 1.
The course comes with video lessons, discussion sections, and quizzes for a weeks worth of learning with seven weeks total. Videos ranged from 1 minute to 13 minutes long.
Right now, I’ll talk about my first week talking the course. I’ll discuss what I’ve learned during the week, my thoughts on the information, and the presentation of the information.
Lets get started.
Professor Chamovitz’s presentation of the information was very clear and was able to keep my attention. His tone wasn’t monotone or spoke too slow. The examples he used to explain complex information were simple to grasp. He made sure to articulate the information so that anyone with zero knowledge of plants can understand the material with ease.
Along with his lectures, there were some visuals further explaining the information. This helped me better understand plants and how they function in the environment. The discussions sandwiched in between the lectures were also a great help in retaining the information.
I got a chance to read what other students have written about the discussion topics. My answers were similar to most of theirs, but some were interesting and thought provoking. Those comments sparked thoughts and ideas in my head that I didn’t even think of before.
I’m fascinated by the information I’ve received from this course so far. In the introduction video, Professor Chamovitz talks about how plants are different from us and animals. The main difference is plants are sessile (new word I learned) organisms. They can’t move, they’re forever rooted in the same spot from which the seed was planted.
Try to imagine your life stuck in one spot for the rest of your life. How would you live? How would you adapt to the environment around you?
Plants all over the world have to figure out how to adapt to cold or warm temperatures, different climates, and find ways to get sunlight for energy.
On a basic level, every animal and human on this planet can’t survive without plants. They’re our main source of oxygen for us to breathe. Humans and animals get our energy from plants. We need plants for just about everything we make. The chairs we sit on, the clothes on our backs, the drugs we take, everything is thanks to plants.
Plants have played a huge role in human history. For example, wheat was the first plant to be grown by hunter-gatherer tribes in the past; which lead to agriculture and the the start of civilization. Other plants include, opium poppy, corn, potatoes, cotton, etc.
I’ve learned about three people who used plants in their experiments. They are Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, and Barbara McClintok. Lets start with Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin was made famous from his evolutionary theory. However, what I didn’t know was most of his research were on plants. Gregor Mendel, known as the father of modern genetics, based his research on peas grown in the garden. His research not only affected agriculture, but also modern medicine. Last but not least is Barbara McClintok.
She received her Ph.D. in plant biology, in botany. She did a lot of work in cytogenetics and made many discoveries. She discovered what's called transposons. She also found that pieces of DNA can move in the genome. This went against what others believed that it was unchangeable. At the time, her work wasn’t recognized for the discovery. She did get her Nobel Prize in 1983 for her findings and was the only woman to to receive one in medicine on her own without anyone else.
Learned about the process of photosynthesis, which is the ability of plants to take carbon dioxide (CO2), mix it with water, and expel oxygen (O). I also learned about plant evolution throughout the billions of years from cells to bacteria, and from bacteria to plants we see today.
Took the quiz at the end of the the lesson. Took a couple of tries before I passed it. Need to take better notes when I start the next week’s lessons. Should go get a composition notebook to use for notes.
On top of that, I saw Professor Chamovitz has a book called What A Plant Knows (not affiliate) on Amazon and I’m interested in reading the book along with the course. I want to look for others books to go along with my studies.
May write about the books a read and my thoughts about the topics brought up. Already did start reading Environmental Science For Dummies a few days ago. Its a start I suppose. Thinking about getting some ink for my printer to print out the reading material for the course to read. Save them in a file on my computer and have a hard copy.
Overall, the course is fantastic so far. Great content, full of visuals for help retain the information, and Professor Chamovitz is a great teacher. Gonna start Week 2 lessons soon and I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn from that.