ABERDEEN, S.D. –In 2007, NSU’s biology and chemistry programs had nearly 80 students enrolled. Today, they have three times that many. This increase in students has naturally brought in more faculty and staff to the science department, as well as an expansion in course options and research topics. It only makes sense then that NSU instructors and students alike are looking to the years ahead with enthusiasm as the Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center is being built on campus. This two-story, 50,000-square-foot building will be state of the art and designed with the future of science learning in mind. The new addition, located at the corner of 12th Avenue Southeast and South State Street, is being made possible by private donations.
It would take pages to list all the features the new center will have in comparison to the space the science department occupies now. Indoors, the facility has well-planned labs with showcase windows, research stations for hands-on learning, and study pods plugged in throughout that invite students to stay and collaborate on projects together outside of class. Faculty offices are placed strategically nearby all of this, giving students easy access to their professors. Biology will get to thrive outdoors in both a greenhouse and area dedicated to native prairie plants. A new cadaver lab and imaging suite will also enhance NSU’s programming.
With this building, the university hopes to add new opportunities to their science department, including a graduate program and updates to their current undergrad curriculum. Dr. Alyssa Kiesow, NSU professor of biology and department chair, says, “We’re looking at creative ways to hit what the labor market needs are for our students. One way we’re doing this right now is by revamping our program to be more comprehensive for those going into science education.” Science teachers are considered a “hot job,” meaning they’re in high demand in South Dakota and all over the country.
The new science education center is an important addition for not only NSU, but for all students from the surrounding regions. It will reach a wide range of ages, hosting summer youth science camps as well as teacher workshops. Grants have already been received to host imaging workshops for middle school students and instructors that are scheduled to take place as soon as 2020. Dr. Kiesow says, “We’re going to focus especially on those middle school students—getting them excited about science and then making sure that excitement continues to grow.” // — Jenny Roth
The Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center will be ready for use by the fall of 2019.