STEM Classroom and Lab building opens for classes
Published January 27, 2016
NDSU's new STEM Classroom and Lab Building officially opened the first day of spring semester. The structure is made up entirely of state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and study areas, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.
"I am over-the-moon excited about this," said Jennifer Momsen as her classes began Jan. 12. Her teaching space, rooms 130 and 132, is designed specifically for active learning and collaboration – exactly what the NDSU assistant professor of biological sciences had hoped for.
Her classrooms feature numerous white boards, video screens and round tables instead of desks. There are microphones and other multi-media equipment at the center of each table. To get settled in, Momsen and her Biology 151 students enthusiastically spent much of their first class period exploring the room's potential.
"The technology is great. I love that students can work on their laptops and project their ideas on screens to share with others," Momsen said. "In this building, we are focused on the student as a learner, someone who can contribute to the learning of the class."
The STEM building will serve approximately 4,000 to 5,000 students every day. Like many of those students, sophomore Erica Odegard, a zoology major from Fargo, was impressed.
"To say that I am excited to take classes in the STEM building would be an understatement," Odegard said. "As soon as I walked into the building, I knew that new advances were going to make a huge change in the way students learn. The environment makes our learning a top priority."
NDSU's new STEM Classroom and Lab Building is a student-focused structure made up entirely of classrooms, labs and study areas, with an emphasis science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is designed for hands-on, active learning that is common at NDSU.
The state of North Dakota provided $29.4 million for the structure, which is located east of the Memorial Union and west of Churchill Field. The 119,505 square-foot facility has 23 labs, nine classrooms and 13 study areas, but the spaces have great flexibility, allowing specific use to change hourly depending on the class schedule. Classroom capacity ranges from 24 to 300 students.
There is an abundance of windows, allowing natural lighting throughout much of the building. Curved corners on the first floor encourage and create easy traffic flow. A three-story atrium in the center of the building gives it an open, welcoming feel.
"My first thoughts when entering the STEM building were how spacious it is and how much light there is," said Autumn Marmon, a junior pre-med student majoring in biology from Williston, North Dakota.
Marmon will have plenty of opportunities to use the new facilities. She is taking two courses in the building this semester and serving as a learning assistant for another course.
"The building's design is to have more teacher/student interaction," Marmon said. In my endocrinology class, the professor stands in the middle of the room and I think that makes her more accessible to students. The tables and chairs can be arranged in any direction, making it easier to work in groups. It's a more personable setting in this type of atmosphere and students are learning from each other as well."
And that's what this building is all about – an active-learning environment where technology and collaboration can bring out the best in students and instructors.
"This clearly is a building that supports what we know about learning and how it is fostered and facilitated," Momsen explained. "Whether it is the large scale-up rooms, smaller active learning rooms or the amazing laboratories, this is a dream come true to be able to teach and learn in a space like this."