Oct 162002
Authors: Laura Kath

One of the newest and most advanced facilities for science in Colorado is located on the CSU campus, and is almost entirely dedicated to undergraduate education.

The 78,000 square foot chemistry/bioscience building has paired lab and recitation rooms, changing the way science can be taught at CSU.

The professors can teach what the class needs to know before the lab, participate in the lab and then come back and discuss what the class learned, said Jim Cox, information technology director for the College of Natural Sciences.

Traditionally, classrooms and labs are not right across the hall from each other. Normally, they are in separate buildings, which can result in class and labs having non-correlating curriculum.

“It is a greatly advanced and a highly effective learning environment,” said Norman Curthoys, chairman of the biochemistry and molecular biology department.

In the new building, with each lab room there is an assigned recitation classroom. This means there is more flexibility in the lab, so the professor can pick how they split up the three hours of lab and class. Before the building was built, time schedules were very rigid with one hour in the classroom and two hours in a laboratory, Curthoys said.

“The building’s unique design is leading to beneficial changes in course structures as each period can now be designed differently to split up lab, classroom and computer time accordingly to provide the best educational experience,” said Louis Hegedus, a chemistry professor.

There is Internet access terminals at each station in each lab room and in the classrooms, which means that students can do Web labs, calculations and compare data. All workstations have 19-inch computer monitors and high-speed connections, which the instructors can control for teaching purposes.

The vibration-proof building is a wireless environment, which means that if someone has a laptop and a wireless network card, they can access the university’s computer network and high bandwidth Internet connection from anywhere inside the building.

There are separate instrumentation labs on each floor that have equipment used to analyze the compounds students create in their labs. The rooms are filled with the equipment students would find out in their field of choice, so they get hands on experience, said Brad Bohlander, from university relations.

This new building provides more space for the chemistry, biology, biochemistry and molecular biology departments, which was needed.

Also, this new building allows labs to be three hours in length, instead of just two hours.

Last year there were Saturday labs, as well as labs during the weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.

“Although there will be no more Saturday labs, weekday labs will still be running from 7:30 in the morning until 9 at night on weekdays for the convenience of students,” Cox said.

A 254-seat lecture hall has been provided along with a small area for a materials chemistry lab. The lab is the only space in the entire facility not completely dedicated to undergraduate education, because the area was provided for chemistry professor Bruce Parkinson to replace the lab space destroyed in the 1997 flood.

The lab also has new state-of-the-art equipment and technology that were designed to meet the needs of the future, Cox said. As science and higher education become increasingly more computerized, the building can adapt to the growing needs and changes in technology.

-Edited by Shandra Jordan, Colleen Buhrer and Ben Koerselman

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