With architectural designs for Loyola’s first STEM lab finalized during the fiscal year, construction crews began working on this 21st-century science and technology space in Summer 2018. The construction of the new STEM lab—made possible by a leadership gift from Mr. and Mrs. Timothy P. Sullivan and named in honor of former biology teacher Rev. Peter W. Breslin, SJ—marks the successful conclusion of our Second Century Campaign Science Initiative, which was supported the development of seven state-of-the-art science labs at Loyola over the past decade.
According to Science Department Chair Marissa Cervantes, “The new STEM lab will consist of a chemistry lab and a classroom space that will function like a think tank, with mobile hexagonal desks that can be arranged in traditional rows or small-and large-group configurations, metal grids suspended from the ceiling for makerspace* utilities designed to facilitate student-led inquiry, interactive smart boards for brainstorming sessions and idea development, Apple TVs, document cameras and wireless access points.
“For too long, science education in the U.S. has emphasized rote learning and memorization of facts, concepts and processes,” Cervantes notes. “This approach leaves out the most important part of science: the practices and critical thinking skills that scientists and engineers actually use to do their jobs. With our new STEM lab, we’ll have the tools and physical space necessary to continue to shift our curriculum to more inquiry-based learning and engage students in asking questions, developing hypotheses, making evidence-based arguments and learning other skills that working scientists use every day.”
Loyola’s new STEM lab will open in January 2019 with a chemistry lab and a flexible classroom space. In the next phase of the lab’s development, it will be expanded into a STEAM lab, which will include a dedicated makerspace to inspire integrative learning in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
*What is a makerspace?Part of a global movement to reach students the skills they need to become hands-on innovators, makerspaces are, at their most basic level, communal learning stations with tools that change according to the lessons being learned. The makerspace concept reflects a 21st-century shift in workplace practices as companies like Google and Apple move away from cubicles and silos in favor of “collision spaces” where people come together to innovate and ideas come to life.