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PROVIDENCE—The experiment is a simple one—creating out of clay a floating vessel that will support the greatest mass.
While the density and buoyancy exercise proves to be a fun introduction for the students at St. Patrick Academy to their brand new science lab, a look around the room reveals the full potential of this state-of-the-art learning environment.
Featuring new professional laboratory tables and stools, running water and gas at each student station, the lab is outfitted with the latest science materials and equipment—including new microscopes and triple beam scales, an electronic white board and emergency shower/eye wash center. The lab even has a safe to secure chemicals used in experiments.
“It makes us feel older, like we’re already in college, not just high school,” sophomore Karolyn Richardson said of the fully equipped lab, as she worked with her team around one of the sink wells on the experiment.
Msgr. Albert Kenney blessed the lab during its dedication Nov. 4.
Accompanied during the blessing by Father James Ruggieri, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, and Father Angelo Carusi, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Providence, Msgr. Kenney said St. Patrick Academy has been built upon the love and dedication of its staff, as well as the generosity of those who believe in its mission.
“It’s because the school is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ that it is successful.” Msgr. Kenney said. “Anything of Christ will succeed.”
The renovation of the science lab was made possible by a $70,000 donation from John and Jean Accino, the former owners of East Side Clinical Lab. The Accinos were not present for the dedication of the new lab on Nov. 4, and wish to keep a low profile with regard to their donation, school officials said.
“It’s miraculous,” Father Ruggieri said of the Accinos’ gift, which was unsolicited.
“They came forward and asked what they could do to help the academy. That’s real philanthropy.”
Last year, according to Father Ruggieri, the Accinos also offered a $100,000 math grant to the high school to help provide tuition assistance for students attending St. Patrick Academy.
The science lab was also made possible by in-kind labor donated by engineer Ray Horridge, plumber Michael Langfords and architect Luis Torrado, according to school officials.
For the students, the learning environment was very different last year. They worked primarily on a pair of tables and had limited ability to perform complex experiments. They often had to travel from room to room to do the research that supplemented their science lectures.
“I like being able to stay in one room,” said sophomore Stefanie Harry-Luna.
Sophomore Steven Lara said the new setup would definitely allow the students to compete with their peers anywhere.
“It makes us feel like we’re more advanced,” he said.
Science teacher Martha Philipps said the new lab is an exciting introduction to the school.
“It gives students a real feel for what science is,” Phillips said. “It’s a learning process of experimentation and inquiry.”
The facility, located on the second floor of the school, offers learning opportunities in four areas of science: life science, physical science, chemistry and physics.
Each station comes complete with Bunsen burners, as well as access for students to gas, water and electricity outlets.
“We can do a wide variety of experiments,” Phillips said.
Students said they felt the lab provides them with a more interactive learning environment.
“It’s more hands-on, we’re not just reading about science out of a book,” said sophomore Ariana Wilcox.
The new science lab supplements a technology lab— added last year—that is outfitted with computers, an interactive Smart Board, Wi-Fi networking capabilities and new audiovisual equipment.
“We have all of the technology capabilities that you could want,” said technology teacher Barbara Barry, of the way the labs complement each other at the school to provide the best resources for the students.
St. Patrick is in the third year of its transition from an elementary school to a small, four-year secondary school, a process that will be completed in the 2013-14 academic year.