Athens, Ga. – In a ceremony that included remarks by state and university leaders, the University of Georgia broke ground on its newest state-of-the-art learning facility, the 122,500-square-foot Science Learning Center.
The public event was the ceremonial start to work on the learning facility, which will be located at the southwest corner of the D.W. Brooks Mall, adjacent to Pharmacy South and across from the Miller Plant Sciences Building.
UGA President Jere W. Morehead said the Science Learning Center will transform the way faculty members teach and the way students learn in the basic sciences.
“We say on this campus that every decision we make should be for the benefit of our students, that the students should come first,” Morehead said. “The Science Learning Center is certainly emblematic of that philosophy.”
Morehead said that more than 40 percent of this year’s first-year students have announced an intended major in the sciences.
“This high interest in the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math—is a very positive development and bodes well for the future of our state and our nation,” he said.
The Science Learning Center’s 33 instructional labs will be designed specifically for interactive learning in core undergraduate science courses. Funded by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly, the center will cost $44.7 million and feature design elements that promote active learning.
The facility will contain two 280-seat lecture halls and two 72-seat SCALE-UP classrooms. SCALE-UP stands for Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs, a learning model that focuses heavily on group-work class participation and technology—making student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction easier in a larger class setting.
Deal and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby also lauded the many benefits of the Science Learning Center in their remarks during the ceremony.
“What’s going to be done in these 33 laboratories is a complement to what Gov. Deal’s been talking about his entire term, and that is STEM education,” Huckaby said. “It’s critical to the economic vitality of our state; it’s critical to the future of so many students who come to study at the University of Georgia.”
Deal said the faculty who teach in the Science Learning Center will be training some of the best minds not only in the state, but also in the world.
“As we continue to see jobs created in the STEM areas, the ability to train college students in the sciences—like this building will allow us to do—is going to be even more important,” he said.
“It is a great day for beginning the construction of a facility that will mean a lot to increasing the prestige of this university,” Deal also said. “This is providing the kind of facility that great young minds need to be great young professionals, and that’s what it takes to keep Georgia moving in the right direction, and it’s going to be something we can all look back on and be proud of.”
Lydia “Meg” Babcock-Adams, who is completing her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and marine sciences and her master’s degree in marine sciences as part of UGA’s combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program, said the new facility’s focus on a deeper, more personal learning experience will benefit all students.
“For non-science majors, it provides an exciting environment for them to learn about scientific and technological advances; for science majors, it provides a gateway to more advanced scientific work,” she said. “It gives me great pleasure to see the construction of the Science Learning Center, which will make an already excellent education, exceptional.”
The Science Learning Center is scheduled to open in fall 2016. A video of the ceremony is available at http://vimeo.com/104434946.