A fine place to learn

Most students would probably agree that your learning environment can have a tremendous impact on how well you learn.With sunken floors, constant dripping noises, and the echoing throughout the lecture hall, the building formerly known Black Science Center was not a good environment for students to learn in.

But all that has changed and renovations of the building, now known as Jeffords Center, are nearly complete.

The building is divided into four parts, the oldest of which was built back in the 1950’s, according to Bill Allen, Dean of Administration, who gave this reporter a tour recently.

As he walked, Allen talked about how the old science building had simply gotten too old. From his description, one could picture a dark cellar-like room with no windows, no air conditioning, and the annoying noise of dripping water.

And the teachers weren’t impressed with the lecture hall either, he said. They didn’t like teaching on a stage and talking down to the students. Teachers like to be involved with the class, to walk around and see how the class is progressing – more of a “hands on” style to teaching, Allen said.

The new lecture hall provides that and also includes four handicapped seats and a ramp going down the side of the lecture hall giving handicapped students the ability to reach the bottom level where the teacher is.

The former lecture hall is now a renovated lab with top of the line research equipment for students to use, he said.

A new G.I.S lab and sub-zero freezers are a few new additions that are expected to give students the ability to conduct experiments more precisely and efficiently, he said.

In addition to the new labs and the new lecture hall, two new offices and a new math and science computer lab were added. The offices were formerly a storage room and a dark room. There is a no longer a need for a dark room with the advances in digital photography and the storage room wasn’t needed, he said.

The next addition will be a new greenhouse to replace one that had been torn down weeks earlier. The former greenhouse was made of Plexiglas and was so scratched up that it was no longer see-through. The foundation for the new greenhouse is already underway and the pre-made greenhouse is expected to be delivered in early November.

Allen said the renovations are in part thanks to a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy.

A tour of the renovated facility revealed a sparkling new lecture hall, with students waiting for their professor – and no lecture stage.

The labs and offices and classrooms were equally shiny new, a perfect learning environment.

“I was happy Monday morning when I heard all the positive feedback coming from the students and faculty,” Allen said when asked how he felt about the building.

He admits he was a little worried it wouldn’t be well-received by the faculty so he was delighted to see they were excited about the change. He also, when prompted, said he thinks students’ desire to learn will be enhanced there.

Although the lecture hall is still awaiting the installation of technical equipment, Allen said once it’s complete, it could be a multi-purpose facility, perhaps even hosting movie nights.

With its comfortable seating, relaxing atmosphere, and a new wide screen on the way, it’s a prefect candidate, he said.

It could also be used for college and town meetings, he said.

The building is expected to be totally complete after Christmas break with air conditioning fully installed. The only reason air conditioning hasn’t been installed yet is because the noise would be too distracting to students trying to learn during the fall semester, he said.

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