BYU students reflect on unique classes

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A BYU student walks around campus. BYU offers students the opportunity to take unique electives. (Olivia Tillotson)

BYU students reflected on unique classes they have taken during their time at the university.

“I took EXDM 123 this semester with Phil Kelly,” BYU senior Connor Knight said. “SWELL classes are fun classes to take and help students destress too.”

According to BYU’s Undergraduate Catalog, EXDM 123, or Introduction to Outdoor Recreation Activities has five course outcomes: “leave no trace,” “skill acquisition,” “teach skills,” “outdoor safety” and “outdoor appreciation.”

BYU’s Undergraduate Catalog says EXDM 123 helps students who take the class “reflect on the impact of God’s creations in your life and your feelings about this beautiful world He has given us.”

Knight said he took the course because he wanted a fun class that would help him take a break from his other stressful classes.

“We did a lot of diverse activities, which showed me all the options there are for having fun in nature,” Knight said. “Being outdoors with your peers, having a good time doing whatever activity was planned, was the most enjoyable part of the class.”

Garrick Hargrove, who teaches TMA 252, or Puppetry, at BYU shed light on why students enjoy taking his class.

“Puppets. Need I say more?” Hargrove said. “I have had great reviews because students really enjoy learning the ins and outs of puppetry, and who doesn’t want to take a big mouth puppet home to keep forever?”

Hargrove said in TMA 252, students learn theories and techniques and experience constructing and operating puppets for use in performance, recreational and educational settings.

“The students get to create puppets from anything in the world around us,” Hargrove said. “There isn’t a puppet store to buy puppet parts, so it is a regular skill-building exercise to give new life to common or unusual materials.”

Knight said it is important for students to take classes outside of their majors so they can learn more about other topics, noting that most of the people in his EXDM 123 class were there for the experience rather than for a major requirement.

Hargrove agreed, saying escaping the comfort zone is good for growth.

“It is good to get uncomfortable, to fail, to be a complete novice,” Hargrove said. “It makes for interesting stories, life experiences and problem-solving skills you may not have developed on that level before.”

BYU’s undergraduate catalogue sheds light on some of the projects TMA 252 students will go out of their comfort zone to create throughout the course, including designing and manipulating marionette, wannabe, found object or recycled, big mouth and parade puppets.

The undergraduate catalogue said students will also develop puppet strategies and skills in environments like schools, churches, arts and community centers, clubs, etc.

“Students will use puppets to explore social and ethical issues within a targeted community,” the undergraduate catalogue said of TMA 252.

Hargrove explained how he got involved in teaching Puppetry and why it is a valuable skill for students to learn.

“It is awesome to get to teach people unique skills which, are not taught everywhere, and to be able to keep these traditions alive in the next generation,” Hargrove said. “I had the chance to learn these skills from some true masters of the craft and it would be a shame if I let it die with me, so I teach and share my love for the art so it may keep bringing joy and expressing the stories which the makers need to share.”

Hargrove said art and theatre students may have an interest in the class.

“Puppetry construction falls under soft sculpture, fibers as well as the overall umbrella of sculpture, and is also a theatre staple,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove said the class may also be interesting to elementary education students who are excited about adding puppets to their class environment and people who recognize the guests who come to visit the class.

“We had Dallin Blankenship of ‘Blank Puppets’ come and talk with the class as well as share some puppets and his recent experience as the builder and puppeteer of BYU TV’s series 9 Years to Neptune,” Hargrove said.

GEOL 100, or Dinosaurs, teaches about the relationship between science and religion, deep time, diversity of life, plate tectonics and genealogy of the Dinosauria. Dinosaurs is one of many quirky classes students can take at BYU (Made in Canva by Olivia Tillotson.)

According to BYU’s undergraduate catalogue, the university offers a slew of other unique classes.

ANTHR 440, The End of the World (As We Know It), is another class students like Knight have reported peaks their interest.

“Analyze a range of ethnographic, historical, and archaeological case studies of groups whose millenarian, apocalyptic, and utopian outlooks revolve around concerns with and conceptions of the end of the world as they know it,” the Undergraduate Catalogue says.

A more widely-known class BYU students like Sarah Christiansen, a junior at BYU, report liking is GEOL 100, a class about dinosaurs.

“I took Dinosaurs and I really liked it,” Christiansen said. “It has a lot of papers, but it is super interesting.”

According to the Undergraduate Catalogue, GEOL 100 teaches about the relationship between science and religion, deep time, diversity of life, plate tectonics and genealogy of dinosaurs.

In GEOL 100, students learn to “have an infectious sense of awe and wonder for today’s biotic and abiotic realms as part of an ever-changing Earth,” the undergraduate catalogue said.

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