Photo credit: Williams & Associates Architecture/Spearfish, S.D.

Artist's renderings of the new Jonas Science facility which will be a branch of the Sanford Science Education Center.

As a result of a $2.5 M gift from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D, and The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, S.D., will partner in a $4.5 million project to convert an existing science building on the BHSU campus into a facility to focus on best practices in the teaching and learning of science. The new BHSU facility will be a branch of the Sanford Science Education Center where faculty will conduct research on teaching and learning, support the preparation of current and future science teachers, develop and test educational materials and develop courses featuring underground research at the Sanford Lab.

The project will bring together faculty, staff, and students from departments and disciplines across BHSU, including the Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education, and will link them with education and outreach staff, scientists, and engineers at Sanford Lab and with K-12 teachers from across the region.  Designed to demonstrate best practices in the teaching and learning of science, the Center will develop, test, and showcase model programs for preparing and inspiring the next generation of scientists, science educators, and scientifically literate citizens.

By combining the assets of the Sanford Underground Research Facility and BHSU, a new paradigm for teaching science will be realized. This paradigm will draw on the captivating scientific research of Sanford Lab, increase public engagement with science, and transform the full cycle of science teaching from kindergarten through college, including the preparation of future teachers and the support of current ones.  This facility will provide the opportunity for BHSU, in partnership with Sanford Lab, to become a national leader in science education.

The Sanford Lab has been created in the former Homestake Gold Mine, which closed in 2002.  Experiments supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy are currently being conducted 4,850 feet underground. The potential exists for the lab to become the world’s deepest underground research facility at 7,400 feet as increasingly sensitive experiments are developed.

The Sanford Science Education Center at BHSU will be linked to the underground lab by videoconferencing units and will include displays for students, faculty, and visitors to the campus. “The remodeling project will bring together all parties to create innovative educational possibilities as we seek to transform the way science is taught and learned,” said BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp.