It’s an ideal time to be a science student at Western Nevada College’s Fallon campus.
Chemistry and biology faculty and students will enjoy the newly renovated and expanded Science Lab in Virgil Getto Hall.
The finishing touches to the $1 million project were completed this past spring, creating excitement and enthusiasm prior to the Aug. 29 start of fall semester.
The improvement project, encompassing Rooms 309 and 310 in Virgil Getto Hall, was generously funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation, which has been instrumental in upgrading classroom and learning experiences for Western Nevada College science students across WNC campuses. Previously, the Pennington Foundation funded new biochemistry and human cadaver laboratories, as well as a state-of-the-art Biology Lab with an Anatomage table on the Carson City campus.
More than anything, the renovation and expansion of the lab in Fallon enabled WNC to add technological advances to the facility and to create a learning space that will increase WNC’s ability to serve students and dramatically improve teacher-to-student learning experiences in the lab.
“The facility also has updated resources for the students and the capacity to provide responsive distance courses, high-quality lab images and demonstrations to students who may need to take these courses from their homes or from rural communities outside of Fallon's borders. This will help more of the students in Northern Nevada access education and achieve their professional goals,” said Fallon Campus Director Jessica Rowe.
The arrangement of the classroom is one of the biggest changes. New circular student lab tables promote interaction and teamwork among the students. Coupled with an assortment of LCD TVs along the perimeter of the lab, demonstrations will be more visible and teaching-friendly for students who may have struggled to follow them in previous teaching formats.
Students will also benefit from use and instruction from a state-of-the-art Anatomage Table. This virtual dissection tool features an 8-foot display of pre-loaded cadavers, medical scans showing pathologies (MRI or X-rays), and more. Instructional Technology has hooked the table up to the bank of LCD TVs, bringing more uniformity and advanced technology to the lab.
Rowe expects that the new facility will help promote enrollment in other programs:
“We anticipate that this will help us welcome students into our Nursing program and into science-centered fields of study. Many of our students might not otherwise have these opportunities. We can extend our support in stabilizing these needed fields in the region,” she said. “As we know, the nursing and health care fields are experiencing shortages, and these shortages are particularly painful in the rural regions. These lab courses are also the cornerstone of many of the transfer fields that are experiencing high need in the communities that surround us.”
Naturally, professors on the Fallon campus are excited about the new ways they will be able to teach and inspire students this fall. Biology Professor Rachelle Bassen and Professor of Biosciences Dr. Gary Evett have begun preparing the lab for students. Their enthusiasm follows the excitement that began when the project started last year.
“Having a renovated Biology and Chemistry lab brings a new energy to the science programs here at WNC,” said Fallon Biology Professor Holly O’Toole when the project surfaced. “Students will love working in the updated research space with advanced equipment and the anatomy students will gain an improved depth of understanding with the addition of the Anatomage Table. I am really excited to be able to offer labs in the new space!”
The community will also become familiar with the lab. Rowe said that children will visit on Fridays once per month for science-based and STEAM-centered learning activities. A community event is scheduled for Oct. 14 to spotlight the careers that WNC classes take students.
“We had great response from area artists and professionals, Churchill Arts Council, the Office of the Sheriff, NAS Fire Services and from Churchill County during the summer, and we would like to have the science lab feature in that,” Rowe said of the college's career day.
Research students will also benefit from the new lab space. Dr. Evett has been leading that group of students each summer in INBRE research and is eager to relocate the program into the updated lab.
To learn more about the Fallon campus and what it has to offer, phone 775-445-3379 or email [email protected] Science classes are filling up quickly! To enroll go to wnc.edu/enroll.
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