The Fountain - The Official SLCC Blog

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SLCC offers new fitness degree, easing path to four-year schools

Students at Salt Lake Community College now have a new path to a four-year degree in fitness. SLCC added an Associate of Science degree in Exercise Science/Kinesiology as well as several exercise science courses. The new offerings will prepare students for seamless transfer to four-year degree programs at the University of Utah and other state schools.

The new degree and new courses, which include Intro to Exercise Science, Sport and American Society, and Special Topics in Exercise Science, are designed to complement the college’s existing Associate of Applied Science degree in the Fitness Technician program. Now, students who want to gain industry experience while seeking an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science will be able to enter the workforce more quickly by earning the Fitness Technician degree, and some of the credits in that program will fulfill the requirements for the Exercise Science/Kinesiology degree.

Nathan Thomas, associate dean for the Department of Exercise Science, said the added courses and new degree option are more in line with programs offered at other local and national higher education institutions.

“The goal is to accommodate the many students, about 75%, in our program who want to work in the industry while going for their bachelor’s degree,” said Nathan Thomas, associate dean for the school’s Department of Exercise Science.

SLCC worked closely with the University of Utah and other state schools to ensure the changes accommodate a seamless transition to four-year degree programs. The changes at SLCC prepare students for careers and transfer pathways in exercise science and kinesiology, the study of human movement. These new offerings started in August.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

College’s Planetariums a Hit at KidCon

Visitors prepare to enter one of two planetariums during KidCon.

Salt Lake City’s biggest annual costume party had something uniquely “outta this world” for kids at this year’s KidCon, the quasi child of the wildly popular FanX.

Janalee Harrison, physics lab coordinator for Salt Lake Community College, brought two giant  planetariums, put them in a large room and watched children become wowed by what was inside. Harrison borrowed from KidCon’s pirate theme to add even more fun to the experience.

“I pretended to be a pirate captain and the kids had joined my crew,” Harrison says. “After ‘boarding’ the planetarium, we learned there was a mutiny and we had all been marooned on a deserted island. We then had to figure out where we were and how we were oriented and then we could navigate off the island.”

About 2,000 children (and adults) visited the silver and blue Portable Planetarium Systems over the course of three days in early September. Once inside the blue “Digitalis” planetarium, kids used the sun and stars to determine longitude and latitude and a north orientation, “just like ancient sailors,” Harrison notes. Then they navigated off the island to end the 20-minute show. The shows ran non-stop each day and were at maximum capacity each time. “Our public debut was a big hit and a great success,” Harrison says.

The silver planetarium in the room is the old StarLab the college purchased in 1984 – yes, it still works! It projects a star field via a gel over a lightbulb for a more simplified show that focuses on finding and identifying a few constellations, the North Star and measuring latitude. In busier times during KidCon, the silver sister to the more popular blue planetarium handled some of the overflow.

Harrison said using the planetariums was a way for SLCC student volunteers during KidCon to gain leadership experience, ideas for research projects and hands-on time with a STEM-related experience. “I knew Salt Lake City’s FanX would be a great way to reach a lot of people, and their KidCon event is S.T.E.A.M. centered – so, I knew we would fit right in,” Harrison says. The show she developed focused on astronavigation.

Most things and experiences at FanX and KidCon cost money, but Harrison was able to keep the planetarium show free, much to the “surprise and relief” of otherwise hesitant parents. She also made sure that it was ADA compatible, which meant many children with disabilities were able to participate. “Our interactions with them were always very special, and I’m pleased we could provide that service,” Harrison says.

Harrison was helped by SLCC student volunteers, SLCC’s TRIO STEM volunteers and a crew of others. By networking during KidCon with other organizations, SLCC gained potential partners interested in hosting the planetarium experience during future events. “KidCon has already invited us back,” she says. “So, if you missed us this year, you can catch us next year.”

Monday, September 16, 2019

Adam Dastrup Wins Award for OER Efforts in Geography

The Open Education Consortium (OEC), a global network for open education, recently announced Adam Dastrup, geosciences coordinator for Salt Lake Community College, won OEC’s prestigious Open Geography award.

The Open Education Awards for Excellence, presented each year at the Open Education Global Conference, provide annual recognition to outstanding contributions in the Open Education community. These awards recognize distinctive Open Educational Resources, Open Projects & Initiatives, as well as exemplary leaders in Open Education worldwide.

In 2014, Dastrup started the Open Geography Education initiative as a way to provide educators with OER textbooks to students. “The philosophy of the initiative is to provide open resources, products and services to anybody interested in learning about the earth, its places and the relationships between people and their environments,” Dastrup says. 

Currently, the OER textbooks are being used at two- and four-year institutions across the United States, and in over ten countries. Since the initiative began, students at SLCC have saved over $5 million in textbook costs. To view the textbooks at Open Geography Education, go to

“A student’s learning experience within a course, including the textbook, should be included with student tuition and fees” says Dastrup. “That way, students are prepared on the first day of class and not waiting or worrying how they are going to pay for their textbooks.”

The OER textbooks are mobile friendly and multi-modal, with embedded videos to enhance the learning experience. The textbooks are continuously updated with current events that bring life to the subject matter. “Most students are not only grateful they do not have to pay for a textbook, but have stated they enjoy reading the material because the mobility allows them to study and watch the embedded videos on their smartphones,” Dastrup says. “The textbooks literally meet students where they are at.”

The Open Education Consortium (OEC) is a non-profit, global, members-based network of open education institutions and organizations. OEC represents its members and provides advocacy and leadership around advancement of open education globally.