From toucan beaks to fungus, the wonderful world of biomaterials

Wikipedia assignments come in all shapes and sizes, but some of the most interesting are from classes that have found an open lane and return to it year after year. Directing your students to the same topic area term after term allows them to build upon the work of your previous classes. That can have … Continued

Students journey to the center of the Earth… and Wikipedia!

A few decades ago, exoplanets were like alien life — their existence seemed likely, but none had ever been detected. But since the first confirmed discovery in 1992, the existence of over 5,000 exoplanets has been confirmed. While direct observations of exoplanets are impossible, it’s possible to estimate their size and mass. Using the planets … Continued

Judging Wikipedia’s content

In an idealized vision of the world, judges in common law countries are unbiased actors who rely on expert knowledge and detailed research to craft rulings which accurately reflect both the substance of the written law, and the body of precedent that applies to their jurisdiction. A judge must be proficient at doing their research … Continued

Why good information on the environment matters

Human-dominated landscapes tend to be homogenized in a that’s often invisible to us. Tourists visiting anywhere in the tropics expect a see lot of the same things — coconut trees, mangos, pineapples, bananas. Despite the fact that the tropics are some of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet, we see this artificial aggregation … Continued

Filling Wikipedia’s gaps about plant evolution

Life, as we are inclined to picture it, relies on the existence of diversity in the world. The existence of different species makes it possible for living things to exploit different ways of making a living in the world. And that all stems from lineages to split and generate new species. Major waves of diversification … Continued

Improving Wikipedia’s coverage of racial justice

Wikipedia remains the product of the world in which it is created. A recent survey of US-based contributors to the English Wikipedia found that only 0.5% of editors identified as Black or African American. Making the contributor base more closely resemble the world at large is an important step toward a more equitable Wikipedia. And … Continued

The missing bedrock of Wikipedia’s geology coverage

The Catoctin Formation is a geological formation that extends from Virgina, through Maryland, to Pennsylvania. This ancient rock formation, which dates to the Precambrian, is mostly buried deeply under more recent geological deposits, but is exposed in part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And until a student in Sarah Carmichael’s Petrology and Petrography expanded it this Spring, Wikipedia’s article … Continued