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.
- Color-Coded Building Parts - Trace building system and building skeleton.
- Exposed Elevator Shaft and Motor - Demonstrate hydraulic principles.
- "Corner Reflector" Mirrors - Show how bicycle pedal reflectors work.
- The "Duck in Kaleidoscope" - Demonstrates light reflection principles.
- Parabola Water Fountain Niche - Illustrates conic sections mathematics.
- Acoustical Bathrooms - Demonstrate low sound absorption chamber.
- Airlock Planetarium Entrance - Demonstrates high sound absorption chamber.
- Hollow Support "Listening Posts" - Creates echo chamber for studying resonance.
- Living Periodic Table - Displays physical samples of the elements in pure or compound form.
- Sodium Vapor, Incandescent and Mercury Vapor Lights - Produce light of different colors (spectral response).
- Solarium - Utilizes natural lighting and solar heating as energy savers.
- Musical Handrails - Produce musical and tonal sounds based on lengths of bars.
- Circular 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.
- United States Geological Survey Marker - Serves as a reference point for satellite maps and surveyors.
- Satellite Map of Aiken County - Demonstrates satellite imaging capabilities and geographical features.
- Digital Television Studio
- TV Studio Control Room
- Video 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.