|the need for
a new science center
long been the nation's leader in the education of undergraduate
scientists. A 1998 study administered by Franklin & Marshall
College showed that since 1920, more doctoral degree recipients
in the sciences had done their undergraduate work at Oberlin
than at any other independent, primarily undergraduate institutionby
a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
facilities have been the key to Oberlin's premier position.
When it was completed in 1961, Kettering Hall was a state-of-the
art facility. Its construction was a direct result of the "space
race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. The
Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957 shocked
the United States into the realization of the inadequate state
of science in this country. In the ensuing years, the U.S. sought
to catch up to the Soviets and make science a national priority.
Science education was a major component in that massive race.
Kettering Hall, the predecessor to Oberlin's new Science Center
was just one part of the national focus on science education.
Instruction and training provided in Kettering helped Oberlin
start the careers of many successful scientists and allowed
Oberlin to maintain its strong record of preparing undergraduate
Much has changed in science since the Sputnik launch. The discovery
of the double-helix structure of DNA, for which James Watson,
Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology
in 1962, moved some scientific disciplines into new areas, and
spurred the evolution of other interdisciplinary fields, such
as neuroscience, that later became distinct disciplines.
in science education also changed. In most areas, instructional
methods moved from lectures and lab demonstrations to more hands-on,
research-oriented activities in both classroom and laboratory.
Science, in turn, became more dependent on expensive instrumentation.
Over the years, computer technology became an important adjunct
to many educational endeavors. Although Kettering was modified
to accommodate these developments, eventually it became too
outdated to permit the best possible science education.
The Oberlin Science Center has been built specifically to encourage
collaboration between disciplines, to accommodate technology
in classrooms and laboratories, and to incorporate research
into every student's science education. Fully compliant with
the Americans with Disabilities Act, the center includes new
construction for the chemistry, biology, and neuroscience departments,
the science library, and a commons area. Renovations were made
to the biology wing of Kettering Hall, the Sperry Neuroscience
Wing, and the Wright Laboratory of Physics. New construction
and renovated areas are joined, creating a unified science complex.
The building will allow Oberlin to maintain its strong record
of educating undergraduate scientists.