Making Ideas CONCRETE
Each year Catawba College Professor Steve Coggin fries an egg for his introductory biology class.
It's typical Coggin: taking a complex idea and making it concrete.
"The white of an egg is clear before you cook it," Coggin explains, "and when you fry it, it turns opaque. By adding heat, you change the three-dimensional structure of a protein."
That creativity in conveying ideas -- plus his enthusiasm for teaching and learning, his accessibility to students and his constant effort to stay current and bring the latest information into his classroom -- has garnered Coggin the Swink Award for Outstanding Teaching.
It is typical for students to comment that Dr. Coggin's courses are among their favorites. "He was willing to stop and explain things," says graduate Erica Vedeikis. "He cared that we were learning."
"I teach things that you don't see with the naked eye -- introductory biology, genetics, cell biology, microbiology," Coggin says. "I'm always showing pictures or drawing things on the board or using overheads or computer simulations."
Or frying an egg. "Words aren't really enough," he says.
Making his labs interesting and current is important to Coggin. "I try to do something new every year in lab," he says. Students in his genetics class recently analyzed their own genes by doing DNA fingerprinting.
"I want my students to understand the material, but, more than that, I want them to have an open mind and be willing to accept something new."