Chaminade High School’s science center breaks barriers
In May 2018, Chaminade High School opened its new 34,000-square-foot Science, Technology and Research Center, which was named in recognition of a gift from the Dolan Family Foundation. Since its opening, the high school’s science center has been breaking barriers with its top-notch technology and teaching methods, proving that it is the only space of its kind for high school students in the tristate area.
The concept for the science center began 2014, spurred by an ongoing national discussion about the importance of STEM education and feedback from past students.
“We have a very connected alumni association that stays connected with us,” said Brother Thomas Cleary, president of Chaminade High School. “I’ve been hearing over the years how prepared students were for college, yet they wished they were better prepared for math and science. I always want to be proactive instead of being reactive with what’s going on in the world. We knew that this was the direction the school really needed to grow in to best serve our students.”
All of Chaminade’s students take classes in the new science center, which includes seven new teaching labs where students study biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, fabrication and robotics. The new science center also has a dedicated space for the school’s Science Olympiad team, a space that is 40 times larger than its previous facility.
Students also have access to the latest technology for hands-on analysis and research, including Anatomage digital anatomy tables, computerized lab probes, a Foucault pendulum, a meteorological observatory dome and a hydrodynamics simulator.
Funding for the new building was generated by the support of Chaminade parents, alumni, alumni parents and friends as a result of an impressive $23 million capital campaign. The high school also hosted a campaign called #55for500 during the lead up to the opening of the center.
According to Brother Benjamin Knapp, the chairman of the science department at Chaminade, every student uses the equipment that is inside the science center—the kind of equipment students would only encounter at college.
“These tools [at the science center] can electronically transmit data from experiments to students’ iPads, allowing them to collect more information and do more with it,” explained Knapp. “During lab time, our men won’t just be learning science, they’ll be doing science.”
The science center’s rooftop is also designed to accommodate both scientific instruction and environmental stewardship. The rooftop features a meteorological observation deck allowing students to study atmosphere, weather and sunlight. A digital programmable telescope for instruction in astronomy resides in the center’s observatory dome. Also on the science center’s rooftop is a low density soil mixture that hosts a mass variety of different types of flowers and plants. The soil manages run off while the flowers shade the building from direct sunlight during the day and insulate the building during the night, eliminating the school’s cooling and heating costs.
The Science, Technology and Research Center complements Chaminade’s liberal-arts curriculum, which expanded in recent years to include more modern technology. In 2014, Chaminade opened a 16-terminal Bloomberg Business Center for third and fourth year students to research market analytics, finance, and economics. Since 2016, each student has been issued an iPad for classwork with their tablets linked to an AppleTV in every classroom for group projects and presentations.