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Updated science labs meet needs of 21st century

October 20, 2011
By Melissa Mary Smith
Over the past few years, Poland Seminary High School has experienced renovations to several of its facilities: a new library, gym, stadium and field house. Despite these updates, however, Superintendent Dr. Robert Zorn felt that the 35- to 40-year-old science facilities were still behind the times.

Zorn said that the science labs and their materials required updating because science and math are two of America’s greatest needs.

The $250,000 renovations to five science labs were funded through Zorn’s savings from his salary. He was able to apply the savings when he retired and was rehired at a lower salary.

”It’s a nice way to update them all for the kids without costing the taxpayers anything,” Zorn said.

With one lab completed every year, each of the five labs cost around $50,000 and are equipped with what Zorn explained as the newest and most state-of-the-art materials.

Zorn said that the labs are furnished with newer safety eyewash stations; integrated fume hoods, which filter out noxious gases and chemicals; lab stations where student conduct their experiments; and the physics lab is now updated with computerized, integrated equipment.

In addition to the more advanced materials, the overall layout of each lab has also been remodeled.

“There’s all new furniture, all new cabinetry, all new lab stations, all new desks, all new chairs,” Zorn said.

During the construction process, Zorn said that each room was gutted and left a complete shell before they underwent an entire remodel.

Before any of the remodeling, Zorn explained that PSHS only had two full science labs, or science labs that provide water, gas and chemicals to do science experiments but now that the renovations are complete, there are now five full science labs.

“Some of those were like what I called science lecture halls. You might have a science class, but you couldn’t do experiments in those science rooms,” Zorn said.

While Zorn funded the renovations and materials, former PSHS physics and chemistry teacher and department chair Bill Snyder was brought in for production.

Snyder met with science teachers for the renovation process; he oversaw production and the science staff came up with the design drawings for the new labs.

Zorn expressed that as science is ever changing and expanding, outdated school labs and materials won’t generate scientists or contribute to the science field.

“My role was just to try to find the money and since money is so tight the only way I knew to fund that was if we do a retire-rehire and if you’re going to save $50,000 a year on me, what are you going to do with the money? Well, I’d like to see the money spent on the students,” Zorn said.



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