Verandah Experience

Students explore cosmos, curiosities during D-Term

Dec 15, 2014

Staying on campus during North Central College’s D-Term meant that Juliano Lodi ’15 (photo, right) could join his fellow classmates on a tour of the cosmos.

D-Term, a three-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, allows North Central College students like Lodi to relax, take courses for credit and explore new and exciting interests through credit and noncredit Verandah Experiences.

“I was on campus to take a computer programming course and train with my track teammates, so I thought it would be fun to take an extra course that goes into the city,” says Lodi, a physics major.

A Guided Tour of the Cosmos takes students around the Chicago area, visiting the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia and the Adler Planetarium in downtown Chicago. Before exploring Chicago, Associate Professor of Physics Paul Bloom took students across the universe with the National Geographic television program “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”

“I was a kid when the original ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’ premiered,” Bloom says. “I was riveted, inspired.”

D-Term gives Bloom and other North Central professors the opportunity to explore their inspirations in a relaxed setting with the opportunity for field trips around Chicago—an attractive opportunity for many students.

“I usually don’t have time to go to Chicago during fall term,” says Cynthia Macias ’16, a biology major who enrolled in Bloom’s Verandah course to visit the Planetarium for the first time. Like many students, she stayed on campus to work and relax with friends.

It was also Lodi’s first time at the Planetarium, where he toured the exhibits, playing with a machine that makes miniature moon craters and embarking on a planetary voyage in the Planetariums’ giant domed Grainger Sky Theater. Under Bloom’s guidance, Lodi and his classmates peered into ancient telescopes and walked through a high-tech recreation of the universe’s adolescence.

Although Lodi and Macias are science majors, their classmates included English, marketing and other non-science majors. Anthony Schullo ’15, a history major with an independent study in gender and human sexuality, says Verandah courses give students an opportunity to explore interests outside their field of study.

“We are a liberal arts college, so it’s about getting a well-rounded view and exploring things outside your comfort zone,” says Schullo, who stayed on campus to work as a resident assistant and enrolled in Bloom’s Verandah to explore his interest in space.

“As a faculty member, when could we do this during the academic term?” Bloom says. “We can get out there, have some fun and check out some really cool places. These are the kinds of opportunities that get students inspired, too.”

Written by Troy Kelleher ’16