NCC faculty experiment with new Science Center

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On the first day of spring term at North Central College, the new Science Center opened to students after a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony, and nearly two years after the college first broke ground on the building.

While, for good reason, most of the media about the new center is focused on the way that it will impact students, the people that have experienced the most remarkable shift with the initial opening of the building is the college’s faculty.

From math, physics, biology and psychology, professors have moved their offices into the outer rim of the Science Center, putting themselves within arm’s length of the new labs and classrooms, not to mention their students.

Yes, it’s a new and exciting time for NCC students, but faculty such as neuroscience professor Dr. Margaret Gill is just as thrilled with the opportunities that the new space affords.

The faculty has many reasons to look forward to the facility’s potential, but for many, including psychology professor Jon Mueller, it is the “breakout” study spaces that can make a big difference as a learning environment.

Professors are also able to take advantage the sheer size of the building. In the past, club advisors such as Dr. Nicole Rivera had a more difficult time getting their students together for meetings.

Not only advisors, but other resource study groups benefit from the new space. The math department utilizes its math resource center as a means for students to collaborate, but until the new Science Center, their “resource center” was more of a stolen classroom. Mathematics professor Dr. Katherine Heller explains:

One of the reasons why faculty is able to quickly employ these new areas is due to the professors’ involvement over the course of the planning of the Science Center. Staff, in many cases, was consulted in regards to how design should complement their respective departments.

One such example of the planning and collaboration between faculty and the design team is in the layout of the classrooms and research space in the revamped neuroscience department.

While new and improved study areas and research laboratories are vital to the success of the new Science Center, it can be easy to overlook the smaller things that go into creating a healthy space for students and faculty to work in every day. The new Au Bon Pain restaurant is one of the amenities that has proven a fan favorite so far.

Professor Mueller is already waxing about his struggle to avoid the array of pastries that wait for him.

* Video and story Peter Medlin, Kathryn Bloch and Emily Arias

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