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Unity Takes the Initiative With New Labs to Provide an Enhanced Learning Environment for Students

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Unity College has recently upgraded its facilities in order to provide better learning experiences for students. Some new renovations on campus include three new state of the art labs for the chemistry, molecular biology and geology classes. Planning the labs included input from several faculty members who drew upon their experiences and expertise in creating spaces that are conducive to learning. 

“The chemistry lab was near the end of its useful lifecycle and needed to be upgraded,” said Dan LaForge, Director of Facilities and Public Safety at Unity College.

Unity students are very enthusiastic about the new labs and see them as an integral part of their learning and research.

“It is much easier for students to give each other feedback because we no longer feel cramped in a confined space,” said Wildlife Biology major Jazmyn Atteberry ’16 who also works in the chemistry lab.

Some of the upgrades in the chemistry lab include new lab stations, new floors and ceilings, upgraded plumbing and gas lines, installation of cabinets, and a fresh coat of paint.

In particular, Atteberry finds the installation of cabinets to be safer because now people will not trip over backpacks and other items left on the floor any more.

“Before the renovations, the chemistry lab was full of useless materials which had not been used for many years and were just lying around,” Atteberry added.

Others are benefitting from the changes in the classrooms as well. Several professors on campus believe that the upgrades are helpful improvements to enhance their teaching methods.

Wilma Lombardi, a Chemistry Professor at Unity College finds it easier to make her demonstrations without worrying about the lace of visibility for the students. She also says that she is now able to illustrate concepts and other information anywhere in the room.

“By having new, up to date learning environments, our classrooms are now much more inviting places to work and study,” said Lombardi. 

Lombardi also notes that the students are clearly very pleased with the upgraded classrooms. During a recent Chemistry II class, she observed that students brought a lot of equipment out to use for their experiment and then carefully put it all away, noticing that there wasn’t even a speck of dust on the tables when they were done.

Another room that has been upgraded is the geology lab. It was relocated to a larger space, and includes a door connecting the lab section of the room to the classroom section, which is used for geology lectures. New cabinets and furniture have also been put in to place.

The newest lab available to Unity College students is the molecular biology lab, which was formerly a classroom, and has been renovated with new cabinets and furnishings. To create this lab, there was input from several professors who are experienced in creating better learning environments for their students. 

“Before the molecular biology lab was put in place we had to go to storage rooms in order to get the materials needed for the lab which just wasted time,” stated Secondary Education major Chris McArthur ’13.

“Now it feels more like a scientific atmosphere because everything is organized and in one place,” added Secondary Education major Sasha Hamlin ’14.

Both McArthur and Hamlin also agree that the new, much larger tables make it easier to do group projects.

“The hands on experience in the molecular biology lab helps students actually discover the material that they are learning about, rather than learning about it from a lecture,” stated Evan Donoso ’16 Wildlife Biology major.

The new labs are greatly beneficial to Unity College students, providing them with an enhanced environment for their hands on experiential learning practices.

“The point of lab work is to be visual and hands on, to be able to show students the nature of chemical reactions and related phenomena, and have them ‘explore’ that which we present in the classroom through scientific inquiry,” said Lombardi.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including: its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education. Unity College has repeatedly received superior placement in the Washington Monthly magazine annual college rankings, including being named among the top baccalaureate colleges in 2013.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013