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New Science Center

New science center will change science education at Carthage

By Elizabeth Young, Carthage College

Back to Science Center Spotlight

With 12 new interdisciplinary laboratories, an outdoor classroom overlooking one of the world’s greatest natural resources, and new spaces dedicated to student-faculty research, Carthage’s new science center will be a model for integrated science education.

“Our investment in undergraduate research and education in the sciences is one of our strongest institutional commitments,” said Carthage President Gregory S. Woodward in announcing the project. “Our rapidly expanding enrollment and reputation in the natural sciences will be enhanced further through the creation of this state-of-the-art collection of laboratories, classrooms, faculty centers, and collaborative learning spaces.”

The project calls for a major renovation of the 70,000-square-foot David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences, and a new 35,000 wing to the building’s south and east.

Here’s a look at how the new science center will change science education at Carthage:

Focus: The Lake

Physically, the new science center embraces its lakeside location, with a glass-enclosed atrium, soaring views in the new east wing, and an outdoor stone classroom overlooking Lake Michigan. But the lake provides more than just stellar views.

“The lake is symbolic of the division’s emphasis on interdisciplinary, grand challenges in science: energy, freshwater, the brain, the cosmos, climate change,” said Prof. Kevin Crosby, chair of the Division of Natural Sciences. “This new building provides us with a way to re-envision our curriculum around these societal challenges.

“Our integrated sciences initiative focuses in part on resource studies including freshwater and its ecosystems,” Prof. Crosby continued. “What better place to study these than on the shores of the second largest body of freshwater in the world?”

Focus: Students

Architects met extensively with natural sciences faculty to determine the facility’s goals and priorities. Faculty emphasized the importance of a student-focused building, said Prof. Deanna Byrnes, assistant professor of biology. “Faculty wanted to have more interactive space in which to work with students on research projects and homework assignments, and spaces where students could work together outside of class.”

The new center features 12 laboratories for research in such leading areas as material science, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and space and atmospheric sciences. There will be collaborative learning areas on every floor, complete with frosted glass surfaces for sketching out ideas as inspiration strikes. A glass-walled learning commons will serve as a tutoring center and student gathering spot. Open, social spaces are surrounded by faculty offices.

It’s going to be a second home for science students, said Associate Vice President for Business Bill Hoare, who oversees all campus construction. “Here, students develop a relationship with the academic department that really exceeds the traditional four walls of teaching mentality. That’s why we’re paying very close attention to this building’s interactive zones, to where teaching continues outside the classroom, and where students will be at all hours of the day and night.”

Focus: Innovative Instruction

Classroom and laboratory space increases by 40 percent in the new science center, and the “lines between classroom and lab are blurred,” Prof. Crosby said. “In the new building, we’re broadly adopting studio-style integrated laboratory/classroom spaces that allow us to switch smoothly from hands-on investigation to discussion and lecture.”

That’s exciting, Mr. Hoare said. “I’m very interested in the instructional technology that’s going to go into this building. Our faculty are breaking away from the ‘Sage on a Stage’ type of classroom presentation, and moving toward a teacher-as-facilitator teaching style, which causes all kinds of changes to how these classrooms are designed.”

Focus: Science on Display

In addition to giving faculty new ways to educate, the new science center will provide both faculty and students with new opportunities to share the results of their work. The center’s two-story glass Integrated Sciences Pavilion will provide a striking new area for poster sessions, exhibits and other presentations. Glass-walled classrooms and laboratories will allow students and visitors to see science happening.

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  • Quick Facts

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • In recent years, the number of students majoring in the natural sciences at Carthage has seen a sharp increase particularly in:

      • Biology (up 77 percent)
      • Computer Science (up 88 percent)
      • Neuroscience (up 67 percent)
      • Physics (up 58%)
    • Distinguished full-time faculty teach in nine fields of study in the Division of Natural Sciences: biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, entrepreneurial studies, geography and earth science, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics and astronomy.

    • Carthage has the nation’s oldest undergraduate technical entrepreneurship program. Founded in 1994, the ScienceWorks program has propelled hundreds of Carthage graduates beyond traditional postgraduate options and into entrepreneurial and innovative areas.

    • The Division of Natural Sciences at Carthage currently has more than 720 science majors — a number that has doubled in the last five years. The division serves every student on campus.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …