The 42,000-square-foot Center for Science and Technology (CST) is home to the math, physics and computer science departments and the Science and Technology Learning Commons, a shared space for all the sciences. The CST connects directly to the newly renovated biology and chemistry departments in Stanley Hall.
“The new labs in the CST are the first purpose-built facilities for computer science at Earlham,” says Professor of Computer Science Charlie Peck ’84. The CST includes a state of the art computer lab and a robotics lab. “They support changing both what we teach and how we teach it. The layout and adjacencies are designed to support the multidisciplinary nature of much of the work that we do in computer science.
“The future of science education is much more interactive, collaborative and experientially rich than what we experienced as undergraduates. We believe this building speaks to that future.”
On the first level, the Souder Science and Technology Commons serves as a large central student space and is flanked by the Scarlett Family Shared Colloquium, a space that supports dynamic teaching and learning configurations and community interactions. Sliding floor-to-ceiling glass partitions allow the area to accommodate various uses.
“During the day it is a classroom, at noon it might become a space for science colloquiums, and in the afternoons and evenings we envision this space metamorphosing into a collaborative and active learning hotspot that is busy, noisy and welcoming,” says José Ignacio Pareja, director of the Science Commons and a Science and Technology Learning Specialist. Adjacent to the main commons is the Becker Collaboratory, which is equipped with 11 new computers for drop-in use by anyone in the Earlham community. Also on the first floor is the Science Commons Help Desk, where students and faculty can request help related to information literacy and also checkout technology including iPads, cameras, calculators, Mac laptops, clickers and more.
The Science Commons continues on the second level with the Van Zant Reading Room, a quiet space for reading and independent work.
The Science Commons lounge on the third level offers an amazing view of The Heart. The third level also includes Earlham’s newest technology enhanced active learning environment, the unique Fishgold Science Commons Computer Lab, which features five round tables with seating for up to nine. Each table has its own projector.
“I call this our pedagogical sandbox,” says Pareja. “In other words, this is a space for faculty to experiment creatively, play, and dream of new ways of teaching, and it is also a space for our students to engage in new ways of learning. We hope this flexible room will help inform our campus-wide decisions about the next generation of learning spaces at Earlham.”
Scattered throughout the building are classrooms of various sizes and configurations that are flexible, adaptable and allow for experimentation. Large and small study niches also are dispersed throughout and allow for informal work or study areas. Occasional student workspaces for up to four students are located just outside professors’ offices, and in physics and math, faculty offices are intermingled.
“We did this specifically to strengthen the interactions between both faculty and students,” says Michael Lerner, who is excited by the day-to-day, formal and informal collaborations that will take place, by the teaching spaces designed with modern pedagogy, and by the new physics labs, which were intentionally designed on different vibration isolating slabs.
The Math Studio is designed to call to mind images of artist studios, according to Martha Byrne, visiting assistant professor of mathematics. “Our studio is a place where students can come and work and play with mathematics. We have a collection of books students can borrow, comfortable seating, games, and often faculty will leave puzzles or problems to jumpstart conversation and thought. We have floor-to-ceiling chalk- and white-boards, and the tables in the studio have dry-erase surfaces, so no one will ever lack for writing surfaces.”
Three of the math department offices are in close proximity to the studio, so faculty and students will interact frequently in the space.
“With a laptop cart and updated classrooms, we will be able to bring more innovative and nontraditional teaching methodologies,” Byrne continues. “We’re probably going to see more inquiry-based and active learning because the space invites conversation and collaboration. With so may inviting study spaces in the building, I hope that we’ll see more students working together, which will foster better communication and interaction with the faculty.”
“Our Science Commons is part of a bigger puzzle; it is part of an intricate set of departments, formal and informal learning spaces, and connected buildings that actively supports a mindset of community partnerships, collaborations and active creativity — one where interactions and constructivist collisions are fostered among community members,” says Pareja.
In addition, the CST is on track to receive LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is Earlham’s fourth LEED certified building since 2013.
“It is projected to use half of the energy per square foot of our more traditional buildings,” says Director of Facilities Ian Smith. “It is heated by a ground-source geothermal system, the first on our campus and the only one of its magnitude in Wayne County.”