About the Facility
The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center building contains the Dupont Planetarium, the
Crawford Greenewalt Solarium, the Herb Eleuterio Teacher Resource
Room, The Westinghouse Physical Science Class/Lab, the NCNB Life
Science Class/Lab, and the Apple Computer Learning Center. Many
science, mathematics and engineering applications are architecturally
integrated into the building itself to enhance learning. These
special features, which were integrated under the direction of Dr. Henry Gurr, a physics
professor at USCA, demonstrate science principles and everyday
applications of science.
The building provides other learning opportunities in the form of
alternating and permanent exhibits, many of which are prepared by
local volunteers. Among the permanent exhibits are a portrait of Dr. Patrick, a portrait of Mr.
Greenewalt along with a hummingbird pictorial display, the
Owens-Corning Scales, a South Carolina geodetic monument (benchmark),
color wheel, spectrum-viewing rectangular prism, South Carolina
topographic maps, SC/GA habitat mural, aerial photographs, living
periodic table, and a vivarium. Among the alternating exhibits are
interactive radioactivity displays, a human kaleidoscope, geodes,
petrified wood, and computer operated displays.
A natural woodlands environment, which stands on the grounds at the
rear of the building, and a variety of areas on the Savannah River
Site are used to study habitats. The Savannah River Site study areas
include a Carolina Bay, an old-growth forest, and a beaver pond.
Students and teachers who participate in the STEP Program visit
these unique environmental study sites.
Architecturally Integrated Features
- RPSEC Sundials - A horizontal and
an obelisk sundial are oriented in such a way that they are really
one large sundial. The plaza around the sundials has lines for
hours, lines for the summer and winter solstices, and a line for
the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
Building Parts - Trace building system and building
Elevator Shaft and Motor - Demonstrate hydraulic
Reflector" Mirrors - Show how bicycle pedal reflectors
- The "Duck in
Kaleidoscope" - Demonstrates light reflection principles.
Water Fountain Niche - Illustrates conic sections
Bathrooms - Demonstrate low sound absorption chamber.
Planetarium Entrance - Demonstrates high sound absorption
Support "Listening Posts" - Creates echo chamber for studying
Periodic Table - Displays physical samples of the elements in
pure or compound form.
Vapor, Incandescent and Mercury Vapor Lights - Produce light
of different colors (spectral response).
- Solarium - Utilizes natural lighting and solar heating as energy
Handrails - Produce musical and tonal sounds based on lengths
Planetarium Window - Creates a camera obscura, which is the
precursor of modern cameras. The camera obscura allows visitors to
the planetarium to experience a camera from the inside.
- DuPont Planetarium -
Houses a state-of-the-art Digistar II star field and graphic
effects projector. A number of other slide, video and special
effects projectors are orchestrated to deliver high quality
planetarium shows to local students and the general public.
States Geological Survey Marker - Serves as a reference point
for satellite maps and surveyors.
Map of Aiken County - Demonstrates satellite imaging
capabilities and geographical features.
Studio Control Room
and Audio Media Production Suite
- Exposed Local
Area Network and Telephone Closet - Displays ethernet network
hardware used in the Local Area Network (LAN) to connect the
computers to the rest of the campus and to the Internet. On the
right side wall, is the telephone headin, cross-connect field and
in-house phone wiring.
DId You Know?
that study wildlife at STEP, get close-up looks at taxidermied local
mammals such as bobcats, coyotes, otters, raccoons, muskrats and
skunks along with birds such as herons, hawks, owls, and ducks. Quantitative
and qualitative data is collected as students classify and identify
the wildlife using field guides. These young wildlife biologists
also have an opportunity to make a track of their own!