Tag: science renovation
It 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.
When renovation is undertaken, demolition must clear out old space and furnishings before new construction can take place. Everything unwanted is removed so a blank slate is created for supporting a new vision for the spaces. Stage one is asbestos abatement – DONE! Stage two is removal of unwanted walls and furnishings – DONE! Next up – CONSTRUCTION!
In ten short weeks we will go from blank slate to some of the most innovative and efficient labs for teaching biomedical science found anywhere. We will keep you updated as walls are laid out, infrastructure is replaced, furnishings are added, and equipment is installed to transform bare, empty spaces into impressive new science labs.
This week, the population of the BIMS labs has shifted from students to construction workers as demolition gets underway. The project is a multi-stage event: demolition, asbestos abatement, infrastructure improvements, construction, installation of cabinets and furniture and equipment, and resupply of the spaces with materials for teaching and research. We are at step 1 and need everything done by August 15 or so. Within two weeks, we will be past asbestos abatement and on to the infrastructure changes. Before long, new walls will define the new configuration of spaces and the finish work of installing cabinets and floors and equipment will begin.
We are ahead of schedule in some ways. Labs got packed and moved well ahead of schedule. Crews made rapid progress in the removal of casework and lab benches yesterday. These photos don’t show halls lined with cabinets that will be recycled in other locales or the pipes and wires that are being removed to be repositioned and replaced. There’s no turning back now! Still, much is left to be decided with some key bids still outstanding. Architect Rick Weatherl and McMurry Vice President over facilities Brad Poorman will have their hands full, as the science renovation is one of at least half a dozen projects to be accomplished on campus this summer, from updates in the apartments to improvements to the Radford Social Hall and others scattered across campus.
As far as science labs go, plenty has to happen between now and mid-August when we move in to prepare for the fall semester. Pray for fair bids, timely delivery, no construction delays, and safety for all involved!