'New Burst of Energy Upon the
Sciencenter Celebration Activities October 17-27
Biology, chemistry and physics students are
using Samford's new $27 million SCIENCENTER even as workmen put
finishing touches on the building's exterior.
planetarium of Samford's new $27-million SCIENCENTER is the largest
in a teaching institution in Alabama. There are fewer than six like
it in the nation.
It is a leading example of a trend to support education with the
latest visual imagery available.
entering a darkened 100-seat room with tiered seating, enclosed
in a 40-foot dome with a 200-degree panorama projection system.
The $250,000 projector creates a star field on the domed ceiling.
A professor explains the mysteries of the night sky using a theater-quality
sound system with multiple speakers. The effect is one of total
immersion in the universe. Once the lecture is completed, projection
equipment is lowered into a storage room, and the facility quickly
converts into a lecture hall.
The conservatory interior is divided
into three climate zones--desert, tropical and regional.
21st century learning tool--one of less than a dozen high-technology,
large-scale, immersive video theaters in the world--anchors
the north end of Samford's new science facility.
the south end of the building stands a 2,000-square-foot conservatory,
manufactured in England by Amdega Machin, a company that has
specialized in such structures since 1874. This striking component--glass
fused with structural steel framing--conjures images of 19th
century European glass pavilions.
conservatory technology is strictly 2lst century, with the
main interior space divided into three separately controlled
climate zones--desert, tropical and regional.
fall, the planetarium and conservatory, with adjacent classroom and
lab space within the SCIENCENTER, are providing Samford students,
faculty and visitors with learning opportunities unequaled in the
Southeast. Opened in September, the building will be dedicated in
a series of programs in late October to which alumni and friends are
invited (See Schedule).
learning is the dominant focus in the new home of Samford's biology,
chemistry and physics departments. The 90,000-square-foot building
features the latest in electronic, audiovisual and wet-lab learning
work has always been an integral part of biology study, but Samford'ís
new SCIENCENTER makes labs central to the learning experience.
biology department has designed its teaching around the laboratory,"
said department chair Ron Jenkins. "We have 10 teaching labs
and only three small lecture rooms."
This design allows for more problem-based learning activities, Jenkins
"Our teaching will emphasize PBL and inquiry-based learning
with group work and hands-on experimentation," he said. "Students
learn best when they are the creative ones, rather than merely copying
and memorizing class notes."
forward-looking features designed to enhance learning are
incorporated into the SCIENCENTER, including:
space dedicated to biochemistry, one of the fastest growing
areas of current scientific research.
extensive lab space in all three disciplines, which enables
more faculty/ student research and additional collaborative
research between departments.
and technical capabilities to offer "a more personalized
level of instruction, as well as the technology to show
illuminative simulations at some of the usual "sticking
points in courses," said physics chair Tom Tarvin.
faculty praise the instrumentation of the SCIENCENTER.
Biology professor Larry
Davenport projects a plant anatomy slide onto a monitor for,
from left, Annalee Heard, Jody Miller and Carrie Edwards.
is no lack of excellent microscopes, electrophoresis equipment,
spectrophotometers or any equipment necessary for lab/field experimentation,"
said Jenkins. "We are at the forefront of electronic instruction."
Or, as Tarvin said, "My overall feeling is one of Behold! All
things are become new."
Chemistry chair Morgan Ponder praised another benefit of the new
all three natural science departments under one roof should
enhance interaction between the departments and foster more
interdisciplinary activity," he said.
also cited so basic an improvement as building ventilation.
sounds mundane, but improved ventilation is one of the most
dramatic changes the building provides," he said. "It
meets the latest safety standards in protecting individuals
working in the laboratories and other areas from harmful vapors."
Samford President Thomas E. Corts forecast a year ago that
the SCIENCENTER would herald "a burst of new energy and
emphasis upon the sciences" at Samford. This fall, the
energy burst is upon us.
Jonathan Jarvis studies the magnetic
field of a long, straight wire in physics lab.