CHAMPION Science teachers' wish for new labs is granted

One teacher reported a change in student attitudes.
CHAMPION -- A couple of years ago, Trumbull Career and Technical Center science teachers came up with a wish list of items they'd like to see in their classrooms to make learning more hands-on.
The result is four renovated science classroom-labs and loads of technology. TCTC's board invested about $650,000 to renovate the rooms and buy the equipment.
"It was a significant undertaking, but it was something we needed to do to fulfill our mission," said Roger Samuelson, a TCTC board member.
Teachers traveled to Columbiana, Liberty and Canfield, checking out those schools' science labs to determine equipment needed and design.
Involved in design
The board and administration involved the teachers in designing the classrooms and working with the architects. Samuelson said the board wanted to ensure it was making an investment that would last rather than buying equipment with technology that would be outdated shortly after renovation was complete.
"One of the nice things is that we not only have equipment for science but we have technology and that's what students need," said teacher Terri Zolka. "It's global now."
Two Smart Boards, blank screens that are hooked up to computers, and two Elmos, devices similar to overhead projectors except they work with any object not just transparencies; computers, 50 new microscopes, digital cameras, larger televisions and safety equipment are among the new teaching tools. Most of the equipment and the room conversions occurred during Christmas break, so the teachers are still settling in.
"They were designed as science rooms," said Jeff McClain, another science teacher.
Previous rooms
The previous science rooms had been converted from carpentry and a wood shop area by the school's building trades class.
"It's more hands-on and there's more equipment available," McClain said.
They've also seen a change in the students.
"Student attitudes are a lot different," science teacher Agostino Ragozzino said. "They're more enthused. The learning is a lot more hands-on and that's what science really is."
Five or six years ago, the state changed the rules making academic requirements at career and technical centers the same as at other high schools, said Larry Crawford, TCTC academic supervisor. That led to TCTC offering classes like chemistry, anatomy and physics.
"Higher level science classes can be taught more efficiently in a lab setting," Crawford said.
Superintendent Wayne McClain said another science class, environmental biotechnology, a tech-prep course, will be added next year. Students enrolled in tech prep programs are able to test out of college courses in pursuit of a degree.
Crawford pointed to Gary Hoffman, TCTC director, as spearheading the effort a few years ago to make the conversion.
The teachers are satisfied with the change.
"Now teachers from other schools are coming here to see what they want in their science rooms," Ragozzino said.