Anyone who frequently travels through the Science Theatres may have noticed signs for the "Elbow Room" tucked away between the two largest lecture halls.
Since the Science Theatres were designed and built in the late 1960s, the Elbow Room has historically served as lounge area for faculty members, a cafeteria for students, and most recently, a computer lab owned by the university's IT department. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Elbow Room was reopened as the Science Collaborative Space (SCS), hosted in the Faculty of Science.
Student collaboration and effort at the heart of funding success
The SCS is the first dedicated space for science students. In 2015, Students' Union representatives from Science recognized the need for a supportive and positive environment for science students to study, collaborate and hold events. With support from faculty leadership, they obtained a $535,000 grant through the SU Quality Money Program. The amount represents one of the largest capital grants from the Quality Money Program to date.
"Financial support from SU Quality Money was instrumental in making this space a reality," says Lesley Rigg, dean of the Faculty of Science.
Building on the work and vision of the 2015-2016 representatives, the 2016-2017 group was responsible for working with infrastructure planning teams and contractors to see the project through to completion.
"The new Science Collaborative Space is a true reflection of students' voices being heard and acted upon. It will help to build community, and is a place that science students can call their own," says Tina Miller, 2016-2017 science representative. "Over the years, the Students' Union science representatives have been instrumental in advocating for a student lounge, securing funding, and ensuring that students were involved in the process."
She notes that 5,000 science students will benefit from having a centralized location to congregate between classes, connect with peers, study, and host programming and events.
Collaborative space will provide new opportunities for learning
The SCS has several features designed to enhance students' learning experiences. It facilitates learning through the use of technology-equipped collaborative workrooms and group initiatives. A central open space with tables, chairs and couches allows students to work individually and in groups, or socialize with other science students. Additionally, it is equipped with moveable furniture, a stage and podium, which makes the room easily converted to serve various functions.
Special programming will soon be offered in the space through the Undergraduate Science Centre (USC) to encourage innovation, discovery, community, and collaboration.
"The programming for the Science Collaborative Space will be as diverse as the faculty itself. We will be bringing presenters and hosting activities from all areas of science," says Kathleen Ralph, USC student engagement co-ordinator.
"I hope our programs will inspire students, help them discover new ideas, and encourage them to work together to build a vibrant community that will support them through their university years and beyond."
See more information about booking and programming.