Recently, Weehawken High School proudly opened the doors to five newly renovated science classrooms. The classrooms were equipped with laboratory tables, SMARTboards (electronic whiteboards), and upgraded safety equipment.
In conjunction with the state-issued bond referendum passed on April 15, 40 percent of the project was funded by the state of New Jersey.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Friday Oct. 3, one school day before eager students entered the new facilities.
“This is the first time we’re able to bring in gas and experiment tables to the seventh and eighth grade science classes,” said Superintendant Kevin McLellan.
The experiment tables, or student stations, give students access to water through a tap, and built-in gas lines for supervised experimentation.
According to McLellan, the previous, 70 year-old classrooms didn’t provide the instrumentation necessary to provide a thorough education for the students.
Now, McLellan said, “we can give the students state-of-the-art facilities that are needed in order to make sure the students have the necessary skills for their upcoming college careers.”
Each of the five upgraded labs features a SMARTboard, an electronic white board, which allows teachers to teach interactively. Originally produced by SMART technologies in 1991, the SMARTboards have become popular teaching tools for business conferences and educational classrooms alike.
The boards are a hybrid whiteboard and computer that allow teachers to touch the screen like a computer monitor, type with an on-screen keyboard, and even print, save, and e-mail class exercises.
“The SMARTboards make learning interactive,” said science teacher Edward Monahan. “With students growing up with computers,” Monahan said, “students learn much better in interactive environments.”
According to McLellan, all teachers are required to participate in a SMARTboard informational class, designed to help teachers utilize the new boards more productively.
A safer design
In addition to technological upgrades, the labs have also been designed with safety in mind. “From day one, we got the science faculty involved with the design of the lab,” said Superintendent Kevin McLellan. “The lab is now repositioned to allow teachers more sight supervision of the students.”
The lab boasts new eye wash facilities, emergency overhead showers, and emergency shut-off valves for all gas lines throughout the classrooms.
“The new facility,” Monahan said, “is much safer for the kids, with more safety precautions.”
According to McLellan, the classrooms are up to all Department of Education safety codes and are compliant with the American Disabilities Act of 1990, making the labs accessible to disabled students.
With college acceptance becoming more and more competitive, the new science facilities will better prepare students for their college careers.
“The sciences are extremely important in this day and age,” said Mayor Richard Turner. “The students can now avail themselves to a scientific curriculum that is not offered in many, if not most, other schools.”
Excited to finally have an up-to-date facility to teach his students, Monahan said, “On Monday, we’re coming home.”
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