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Sunday, December 3, 2023

The best science courses to fulfill general education requirements

These are some of the most popular STEM GEs that UC Davis has to offer 


By KATIE HELLMAN — science@theaggie.org 


Every undergraduate at UC Davis needs to take a certain number of general education (GE) units to explore a variety of different subject areas, including science. These courses can be taken by students in any major and can range from subjects like diseases of the human brain to the evolution of dinosaurs.

Here are some of the best science GEs that UC Davis has to offer, according to students who have taken them.

ABT 49: Field Equipment Operation — Perhaps the most unique course on this list, this is usually dubbed as “the tractor driving class.” Students spend time learning about the components and operation of tractors and field equipment and how they relate to agricultural practices, but most importantly, they get hands-on experience operating the tractors themselves. 

AST 10L: Observational Astronomy Lab — This is only a one-unit course and is perfect for astronomers, physicists and stargazers alike. Students learn about major constellations, asterisms and celestial coordinates and gain direct experience operating telescopes to view night sky objects. 

Nicholas Richmond, a third-year mechanical and aerospace engineering major, took AST 10L in the fall of 2022.

“By far my favorite part was finding faint objects like galaxies and looking at them with my own eyes,” Richmond said. “I ended up enjoying the class so much that I applied to be a roof helper — we facilitate and teach everything on the roof — and now I work there during the fall and spring quarters!”

ECH 001: Design of Coffee — An Introduction to Chemical Engineering — This course is for all of the coffee lovers out there. Students learn the principles of engineering analysis and design through the process of roasting, brewing and tasting coffee. During the lab portion, they analyze how the flavor of coffee changes throughout various experiments. 

ENT 001: Art, Science, & the World of Insects — This entomology (the study of insects) course is run a little differently than most lecture-based classes. While half of the course revolves around the discussion of insects and their importance to human cultures, the other half is spent in an art studio designing and constructing clay insects that later become a part of a larger art piece.

NUT 010: Discoveries & Concepts in Nutrition — This class covers the properties of nutrients and foods as well as the development of nutrition concepts in history. It is (allegedly) one of the easier GEs you can take.

PSC 001: General Psychology — This course covers basic psychology concepts and dives into the discussion of human behavior, including perceptions, cognition and personality. It’s great for those who want to understand why people think, feel and act the way they do. 

Miko Santos, a fourth-year psychology major, took the class during his first year at UC Davis.

“That class is one of the reasons why I switched majors to psychology,” Santos stated. “The class got me thinking about questions I had already been asking, such as: How do people change over time? Why do people think, feel, and behave the way they do? Where does our behavior come from? but in a more academic manner.”

There are plenty of interesting courses to take as an Aggie, but you can’t go wrong with adding these to your schedule.

Written by: Katie Hellman — science@theaggie.org