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Science lab generates positive reactions

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Miles Macdonell Collegiate is finding chemistry with its brand-new lab.

The school, located at 757 Roch St., completed upgrades to its science labs in time for the beginning of its second semester with over $240,000 in grant funding from the provincial government. The school also received a $25,000 grant for new equipment and technology. The improved lab was the first to be completed under the province’s five-year Science Education Action Plan, which will spend $25-million upgrading labs across Manitoba.

Premier Greg Selinger visited the school to unveil the new lab on Feb. 15.

"The investments we are making today to build and renovate science labs across the province will create learning opportunities that inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences," said Selinger in a release.

Chemistry teacher Shaun Best said the biggest change was movable tables that can be configured as he sees fit, which simplifies the teaching process.

"There were stationary benches with sinks and gas at each station, and the stations were right where the students were working daily," he said. "This way, the stations are all around the perimeter, so when we’re working with the movable tables, we can arrange the stations as we need.

"Before, with a class this size, it would have been very difficult manoeuvring around and getting to all the different lab stations, but with this set-up, I can easily get to wherever they’re working."

Best said experiments involving Bunsen burners are completed more easily, as there are now devoted spots for them in the lab. He noted in the old lab, taps and gas valves would get plugged, while all stations are good to go in the current lab.

Another upgrade was the school-provided smartboard, which Best said appeals to the way his students learn.

"It’s a lot easier to work and manipulate this," he said. "It’s like a whiteboard, but it can be saved. The students can come up and move things around. It’s very visual and the students seem to react better to the visual learning."

Best said the students also enjoy the rubberized flooring, which makes standing easier, while the new tables are chemical-resistant.

Grade 11 student Breanna McFarlane has already noticed the benefit of the upgrades.

"It’s really wonderful. It’s definitely a change from our old lab. Everything is updated, we have more space, and we can get more accurate results," she said. "We have deeper sinks, so when we’re disposing of chemicals, it’s a safer way to do it."

Principal Greg Daniels said work on the lab began last summer, and while the school did have to shuffle some classes around for the first semester, there wasn’t much grumbling from teachers or students who knew the benefits would outweigh a little inconvenience.

dan.falloon@canstarnews.com

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