The Science Commons “our new SciLi” is a space composed of an array of carefully designed informal learning, social, study, and working environments. It includes the following:
(I) On the first level is a “gigantic” central student/collaborative social/workspace (aka formally as the Souder Science and Technology Commons), flanked by an amazing Science Colloquium/Shared classroom space (aka formally as the Scarlett Family Shared Science Colloquium) a space that supports dynamic teaching/learning configurations and community interactions. During the day it is a classroom, at noon it may 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 to all members of our community. On this level, we also have the Science Commons Collaboratory (aka formally as the Becker Science and Technology Collaboratory). This is a space adjacent to the main commons area with 11 new PC systems for drop-in use by anyone in the EC community. On this first floor, we have probably the most important area, the Science Commons Circulation Help Desk run by an amazing student group and managed expertly by Barbara Miller. In this welcoming spot, students and faculty can ask for help related to information literacy and also check-out a series of technologies for class or project work – some of the books and tools we have available are: academic text books on reserve for key science courses, iPads (3), Flip Cameras (3), Digital cameras (3), TI-84 calculators (16), Mac-laptops (60), clickers (30), and more. The Science Commons Help Desk is also Earlham’s hub for academic/research poster printing and support.
(II) On the second level, you will find our Science Commons Reading Room (aka formally as the Van Zant Science and Technology Commons Reading Room), a key space for our students to engage in quiet reflection and independent work. On this level is the Director's office, named after Sara Penhale, an Emeriti Faculty, a dear friend, and Earlham Alum ‘71.
(III) On the third level, we have our beautiful Science Commons Lounge area where working students will have an amazing view of the heart while engaging in their studies and socializing. We also have our newest technology enhanced active learning environment, the Fishgold Science Commons Computer Lab. We call this space our “pedagogical sand box”. In other words, this is a space for faculty to experiment creatively, play, and dream of new ways of teaching, as well as a space for our students to engage in new ways of learning. Our hope is that this flexible room will help inform our campus-wide decisions on the next generation of learning spaces at Earlham.
Finally, in terms of other Science Commons informal environments, you will find dispersed throughout the different levels a number of outstanding informal project/group work study rooms; for instance, the Ray Ontko S&T Group Study on the 1st floor and three additional clustered group study rooms on the 3rd floor.
The Science Commons is part of a bigger vision in a puzzle, it is part of an intricate set of connected buildings and people that actively support a mindset of community partnerships, collaboration, and active creativity where interactions and constructivist collisions are fostered among community members. We aspire as a place to be a source for scientific inspiration where our science community can engage in innovative and exemplary teaching, and thrive in research and learning. The STC strives to be a place where collaboration, discovery, and deep learning in the sciences is supported. As such a place, we also endeavor to provide spaces that are quiet, noisy, pleasing and comfortable. We hope to be a living example of successful integration of science-information-technology and scientific interdisciplinary work. We see ourselves as a fundamental place that fosters scientific discovery and technology integration in EC’s science teaching, research, and learning environments.
“We are interdependent –the sciences need to be more connected than ever and these connections need to be fostered, be incubated, they need to be visible, social, and interactive." I believe the design and vision of the entire Science Complex (i.e., The Center for Science and Technology, the New Stanley Hall, the future Noyes Hall and Dennis), in combination with the amazing Faculty, Staff and Students, are a great recipe for academic excellence and an exemplar operation of the sciences at Earlham.
Jose I. Pareja, Ph.D., M.S., M.Ed.,
Director of the STC.
Earlham College • 801 National Road West • Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095