Science At Park – Then and Now

On this #ThrowbackThursday, we wanted to take a dip into the archives. 88 years ago today, Dr. R. L. Edwards, a professor of physics at Park College, penned an article that spoke passionately about the recently-opened Wakefield Science Hall. He praised not only the aesthetic merits of the new building, but also the instruments available for teaching.

“In its appearance it is beautiful, and those of us who have been working in the various science departments consider it unsurpassed from the standpoint of utility.”

Although the building boasted a Foucault Pendulum and a collection of special-current switchboards, both of which were outstanding for their time, it was another large-scale innovation that set Park’s new building apart. In one of the newly-finished lecture halls, Park’s physics department had left a 12-foot wide opening in the front wall, just above the blackboard. Set into this opening was a frosted glass scale, and in the adjoining storage room, a small-scale galvanometer had been mounted to the opposite wall. The indicator arm had been modified to accept a shop-built light fixture that displayed the instrument readings to the entire lecture hall. The instrument was described as “so sensitive that the current generated by merely placing two wires in one’s mouth turns the indicating beam of light across a scale twelve feet long,” and visible from any seat in the room.

Although this technology has been surpassed somewhat by smart boards and projectors, Park still strives to keep abreast of the latest in technology.

Recently, Park added a scanning electron microscope to the selection of tools available for student use. Far from the large-scale impact of the galvanometer, the new apparatus allows students to examine items at the molecular level. But like Park’s original innovation, it opens new worlds for our students and prepares them for success after their time at Park.

Photo of a JEOL JSM-5900 Scanning Electron Microscope

In the basement of Wakefield-Findley Hall sits the latest addition to Park University’s collection of scientific tools.

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