Hands-On Science: A Philosophy, a Curriculum, and a New Facility
As co-inventor of the integrated circuit and co-founder of Intel, Robert N. Noyce '49 brought computers to our desktops and led the way to the information age.
Phase II of the expansion and renovation of the Robert N. Noyce '49 Science Center celebrates Noyce's legacy as a scientific pioneer and makes amazing resources available to all Grinnell scientists. The College is preparing for a spectacular dedication weekend for Phase II, Oct. 3-4. Many events are open to the public; alumni are invited to attend and enjoy the campus celebration.
"In the spirit of Bob Noyce -- a Grinnellian who truly changed the world -- we are pulling out all the stops to make this an exciting, inspiring, and moving experience for all Grinnellians," says Mickey Munley '87, vice-president for college and alumni relations. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, to honor an extraordinary man and celebrate an innovative facility."
The schedule kicks off at 4:15 p.m. Friday with a panel discussion on how design affects teaching, featuring Nobel Prize winner Tom Cech '70, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; principal architect James Baird of Holabird and Root; Associate Professor of Biology Kathy Jacobson; Associate Professor of Chemistry Elaine Marzluff; and Professor of Chemistry Jim Swartz.
The All-Campus Science Celebration at 6:15 p.m. Friday evening will tell Grinnell stories in a stirring, evocative event hosted by one of Grinnell's star alumni, Munley promises. Details are still under wraps, but this event will be truly amazing.
Saturday morning offers the opportunity to tour the building and view demonstrations in six different laboratories representing the departments. Student research posters will be on view as well.
At 11 a.m., the dedication ceremony will begin on Eighth Avenue facing the Kistle Library. Speakers will celebrate the spirit of Robert Noyce; they will include Life Trustee Kay Bucksbaum '51; Professor of Biology and Associate Dean Leslie Gregg-Jolly; President Russell K. Osgood; Jim Swartz; and biology major Katie Lee '09.
Above all, the Noyce Science Center supports Grinnell's active, hands-on learning philosophy, which has enhanced the liberal arts curriculum and campus life. Grinnell's innovative science programs and its state-of-the-art facilities represent the College's commitment to science education.
Swartz, who stepped down in June after a decade as dean of the College, has been instrumental in bringing the Noyce project to fruition. Along the way, he has acquired a national reputation as a consultant for other colleges designing science facilities. He has now worked with more than 30 institutions, most recently Augsburg College.
The natural tendency, he says, is to begin by placing the electrical outlets. He advises stepping back and asking overarching questions. What is the mission of the institution? Who are we serving? What are we trying to accomplish? Once these fundamental questions have been considered, define the goals for the particular building, and only then think about the spaces themselves.
Welcoming users was a particular goal in the design of Noyce, Swartz says. "We didn't want to build a beautiful building that only had scientists in it. Since we don't require that students take any science courses, we have to attract them."
Interaction and collaboration are basic, according to Swartz. "You have to make sure the right people are part of the process," says Swartz, "That often means people who don't ordinarily work together. You need somebody who will keep the building functioning, and somebody with a larger vision of the overall needs of the College, and somebody who can speak for those who will be investing in it."
Designing the Noyce Science Center has been collaborative in the same way doing science is collaborative. Not only does the building tell you what it's about -- the story behind it does too.