Undergraduate Classes

students in classroom

Classes Taught by Museum Staff

BIO 320/377 Early Childhood Environmental Educator

This two-credit hour course is taught by Julia Robinson, Early Childhood Specialist and Environmental Educator at the Hefner Museum. While this course is tailored to Early Childhood Education majors, we welcome students from diverse disciplines.  All that is required is a passion for helping young children develop a sense of place, an awareness of nature, and ultimately, a love of learning more about the Earth.

Young children are natural scientists. They possess an inherent curiosity about what they see, smell, hear, feel, and taste. Fostering that curiosity is the key to helping children develop a lifelong love of nature and a sound foundation for environmental literacy. Students will participate in inquiry activities stemming from major themes in Early Childhood Earth, Life, and Physical Science Standards, such as

  • Animal and Plant Adaptations
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars
  • Seasons
  • Rocks
  • Fossils
  • Animal Behavior

Course Goals

  • Provide background information to create meaningful inquiry activities necessary to teach early childhood environmental education
  • Encourage ways to develop a sense of place and an awareness of nature for all ages
  • Offer a certification opportunity and professional development that help students to become more marketable in their employment searches

Students meet a minimum of 16 class hours while engaging in inquiry activities that cover the above listed topics.  Then students work independently on projects the remainder of the course.  Projects are predetermined and assigned hour values.  Students must successfully complete a minimum of 10 independent hours of projects.  Due to the set-up of inquiry lessons and time commitment restraints, class attendance is imperative to complete the certification.  

BIO 311 Vertebrate Zoology

This is a four credit-hour course that explores the biodiversity of vertebrate animals with emphasis on Ohio vertebrates. 

Course Goals

  • Identify and name selected Ohio vertebrates
  • Appreciate the form and function of vertebrates
  • Distinguish the biological features and characteristics of the major groups of vertebrates
  • Use dichotomous keys to identify vertebrates
  • Learn and discuss the natural histories of selected Ohio vertebrates
  • Develop an awareness of conservation issues of Ohio's endangered and threatened vertebrates.
The course combines discussions, inquiry lessons, laboratories, and local field trips. Students will receive Ohio field guides for major vertebrate groups furnished by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Field trips will be used as "hands-on" experiences to reinforce classroom lessons.

Required field guides: Peterson Field Guide Series: Freshwater Fishes, Amphibians and Reptiles, Eastern North American Birds, and North American Mammals available 2nd semester at Miami Bookstore

Special Note: It will be beneficial for the students to have access to binoculars for the outdoor field trips. However, do not purchase binoculars specifically for this class.

BIO 351 Environmental Education: Focus on Natural History

This is a four credit-hour course designed for students interested in learning more about natural history. This course will prepare students to teach about the environment in non-traditional settings, such as nature centers, zoos, arboreta, and museums.

Course Goals

  • to present a comprehensive overview of the region's natural history
  • to encourage a greater respect for, and understanding of, our natural world and our place in it
  • to provide the background information, presentation skills, and creative activities necessary to teach natural history in informal settings.

The class will emphasize knowledge about natural history and the environment, as well as methods to convey that information to the public. The course consists of inquiry labs, group discussions, and field trips. Students will develop the skills necessary to teach natural history in informal settings. Field trips will be used as "hands-on" experience in observing and teaching about nature.

BIO 477 Undergraduate Environmental Fellows

This two-semester class is a project sponsored by Miami University's Cecilia Berg Center for Environmental Education and is offered for Honors Students only.

Course Goals

  • identify a local ecological site for future restoration by MU students
  • develop a plan for environmental education at the site
  • establish the site as a service-learning project for future honors students, undergraduate fellows, and students interested in certification in natural history and environmental education

CCA 222 Museums and Collections: Beyond the Curio Cabinet

This course explores the evolution of public and private museums, providing a historical perspective on the global significance of object-based collections and institutions and how they have contributed to a deeper understanding of cultural practices. Students explore the societal value and meaning of collections to gain insights into collective memory and the shared human experience.

Exhibit and Design


Taxidermy Tuesday

Other Classes Taught at the Museum