BIMS

Tag: lab renovation

Move-in Underway!

by gwilson on Oct.28, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

Today was the first day of use for the new microbiology lab.  Our BIOL 3410 class met there for lecture (mutations and repair systems of bacteria) and lab (streaking plates and doing stains to see microbes in food).  Although we are not anywhere NEAR ready to call the move-in a “done deal”, we’re making enough progress to move the class from our sparse classroom upstairs to the well-equipped classroom/lab downstairs.

Official ribbon-cutting will be Saturday November 6th.  We have a Student Preview for prospective students that day and then a football game that afternoon, followed by the dedication of the renovated facilities and ending with the McMurry Science & Math Advisory Board Wall of Honor Induction Dinner.  Whew!  Will be a busy day!  Hope you can be part of it!

firstdaymicro

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Home Stretch

by gwilson on Sep.16, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

When I was a college student and later teaching high school, my grandfather, James Wilson raced horses at Sunland Park, a racetrack in southern New Mexico just across the border and Rio Grande river from El Paso.  He owned a ranch on the Mexican border (the location where Chuck Norris and others filmed “Lone Wolf McQuaid”) and got into racing as a tax write-off and because he loved the animals.  He would purchase horses, sometimes in claiming races, and feed them his special diet until they were strong and healthy and ready for the track.  My friend Bob and I would talk with him and then head to the track on Friday nights to make modest bets for cheap entertainment.  We would bet until our $20 stake was either gone (after which we just watched the races) or grew into a modest gain.  We felt successful if we came away with enough money to pay for our post-race meal at Denny’s.

One horse in particular was my grandfather’s favorite – Reigh Reed.  The horse loved distance and James would give us this insight into the horse’s style:  he will be the last horse the first time by the finish line and the first horse at the end of the race.  It was a bit disconcerting to watch as he trailed the pack the first time past the grandstands, but it was pure excitement when he left the other ponies behind and owned the home strech.

We are in the home stretch of construction.  The furniture is being installed on the new floors this week.  Then, connecting the plumbing and installing the electrical fixtures will begin to signal the final steps needed to bring this project to a close.   Once the 60″ monitors are installed in the labs and the 47″ displays are put in the hallways, and once the card entry system is in place, we will be ready for business.  A $2.5 M renovation project of 8,000 sf of instructional and research space from beginning to end in five months.

We hope you will join us in celebrating the completion of the labs during October, whether at a special public open house to be announced soon, or during Homecoming Saturday, October 16th.  Come see why the operative word for the project from all who see it is “WOW”!

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Adaptations

by gwilson on Aug.30, 2010, under A Day in the Life...

IMG_1181It is hard to teach lab-intensive courses without labs.  That truth is very apparent to us as we enter the second week of classes with at least another four weeks of work remaining before our labs are ready for occupancy.  Though the walls now have sheetrock and mud and tape, the work left to be done is staggering. Finish and paint, installation of doors and windows, flooring and cabinetry and equipment – all these and more are left to do to turn cold, sterile spaces into a home for science.  After all, you need an autoclave to teach microbiology; you need incubators to teach the biology of unicellular organisms.

Yet, the work of educating students continues, albeit modified.  There are adaptations galore as we find alternative activities that teach the same principles in labless spaces.  Today in BIMS 1300 Introduction to Scientific Research we saw a case in point.   The topic for the day was use of logic and the scientific method to solve mysteries and problems.  What better way to teach that than by playing Clue and Mastermind!  Students identified the variables and recognized the problems occurring when one doesn’t isolate and address them.  It became clear very quickly that careful annotation of results can help reduce possibilities and hone in on the answer.  Students enjoyed an unconventional way of approaching learning central to the work of a scientist.  Make an observation, pose a question, predict an outcome, conduct an experiment, analyze the results, and move on to the next question.  All of those elements track perfectly with the logic going into figuring out of Col. Mustard did it in the dining room with a rope.  At the conclusion of the lab, students fit their decision-making processes into the format of the scientific method.  All agreed that this was an exceptionally effective way to get a grasp of the thought processes and skills we all possess to one agree or another that enable us to interrogate nature.

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