February 10, 2023 | FEATURES | By Beatrice Roussell
Every January, Colorado College offers a variety of Half Block courses that students can take, including both for-credit and non-credit options. There are a broad number of nine-day courses available, ranging from classes about the chemistry of snow to Brazilian music and language.
Half Blocks can be a great opportunity to learn skills needed for the professional world, gain a foundation of knowledge to prepare for a full Block, or learn more about certain passions or interests that you don’t have time for throughout the school year.
They can also be beneficial for the students who are not fans of our near two-month winter break and are itching to get back to the mountains.
Ana Martin ‘25, a neuroscience major at CC, recounts her half-block experience. She took Advanced Joint Anatomy, a 300-level Human Biology and Kinesiology course taught by Dan Miska. This course combines both lab and lecture to provide an engaging, hands-on learning experience for students.
Instead of having morning lectures and afternoon labs, the class was split in half by the week.
Martin said, “We had a week of lecture where we basically just covered the entire skeletal system and a teeny-weeny bit of ligaments and tendons. And then we had our intro to lab on Friday, got our scrubs… and the next whole week we were in lab.”
The lab she referred to is the anatomy donor lab in the basement of Barnes Science Center. When asked about what the labs entailed, Martin beamed with excitement.
“I personally got to dissect a hand, as well as a spinal cord – pretty much the entire spinal cord,” she said. “I actually got special permission from Dan and Maddie [the paraprofessional] to come in an extra day and spend an extra two hours dissecting [a] spinal cord. Best day of my life.”
To Martin, the course was less about filling her brain with textbook images of joints, and more about the experience of working in the donor lab as well as taking an anatomy class at CC.
“I now know how much I love Dan, first of all, and how much I love taking anatomy classes. So, I will be taking probably at least three more and that’s exciting for me,” she shared.
While the donor lab was a positive experience, Martin described the less pleasant experience of returning to campus early.
“Yeah, no one’s here during Half Block. And at least for me I really like people being around. I missed my residents, as I am an RA, and I actually really enjoy being in a house full of good people,” she explained. “So that was a little hard, for it to be just quiet when I came home and not have people hanging around. And some of my friends weren’t here and I missed them. But other than that, it was good to be back and good to be back in Colorado.”
In the last couple of years, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, these Half Block courses were offered on Zoom and could be taken from anywhere in the world. This year, students taking a Half Block were required to come back to a campus that was largely empty except for the anatomy department’s donors.
Despite the solitude on campus, students, like Martin, may find an ability to focus on specific passions beyond the basic classroom approach. Though it can have its downsides, enrolling in a half-block is one great way to take advantage of available opportunities.
Even with the changing classroom setting, it might be worth looking into what is being offered when Half Block season rolls around again in January 2024.