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The Sanpete Messenger

New ‘interactive Snow science building has integrated artwork

Snow College Dean of Science Dan Black explains to Snow College trustees the cutting-edge planetarium the school has planned as one of the crown jewels of the new 56,600 square-foot science building, now under construction. Trustees toured the building during their regular meeting on Friday, June 23. The building is scheduled to be completed in time for fall semester.
New ‘interactive Snow science building has integrated artwork

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

6/29/2017

 

EPHRAIM—A new science building on the campus of Snow College will be more than just labs and classrooms; the state-of-the-art building will include several interactive displays and features to enhance the school’s science education.

The building, and explanation of those features, was presented to the Snow College Board of Trustees last week as they inspected the nearly-completed project on last week, with Dean of Science Dan Black serving as tour guide.

“The whole idea of this building is to be interactive and to get people to want to come in,” Black told board members.

The first of the interactive displays in the 56,000-square-foot building appears immediately upon entering: a large, art installation that moves along the ceiling.

Black explained that the installation would be a sculpture made up of many aluminum bars attached to pulleys. A nearby control box, accessible to entrants, will have several buttons, and by pressing each, those bars will morph into various geometric patterns, such as a helix or a wave.

Board member and renowned Utah composer Michael McClean jokingly asked Black if the programmable art installation could be set up to display a visualization of musical notes from his compositions.

“Actually, yes,” Black said. “We can integrate audio into the programming, so yes it is possible. … Through more advanced programming, it can form nearly any shape.”

Snow President Gary Carlston said that the inclusion of art was required by the state, which mandates that one percent of the construction cost of new state buildings goes towards integrating art into the structure design.

“This was one out of several options we looked into,” Carlston said.

Another science-oriented display will be a fully-functional robotic farmer.

“It will be able to plant and start seeds, water, fertilize and weed its planting area autonomously,” Black said.

The new science building will feature a self-contained beehive, a transparent structure so people can see how bees moving throughout their home and make honey.

A “virtual cadaver” will enable students and visitors to use a screen to zoom in on areas and organs of the body, such as the heart or even the entire cardiovascular system, to learn more about them.

“It will be very detailed,” Black says “People who might be too squeamish to deal with a real cadaver could use this to learn more about anatomy.”

Black said the learning displays are all meant to be touched and played with, fun to engage with—but all have educational value directly related to science.

“I know where I’ll be spending most of my time,” Black said to the board members with a smile.

The crown jewel of the new building will be a planetarium says Black, a state-of-the-art computerized dome meant not only for stargazing, but also designed so images and video can be projected in full 3D against the dome’s interior.

“Anyone who has ever used virtual reality has an idea of what it will be like,” Black said. “It should be able to give the sense of flying to places, and be able to interact in virtual environments such as Google Earth.”

The new building is scheduled to be open in time for fall semester, Black said, and its many interactive components will be up and running then, too.

Carlston said the school wants to plan a grand opening for sometime in October.