Lycoming College students studying physics and psychology are getting a more in-depth learning experience thanks to new instruments and updated laboratories that have been made possible through a grant from the George I. Alden Trust in Worcester, Mass.
The physics department has acquired instruments in the areas of mechanics, electromagnetism, modern physics and condensed matter, and thermodynamics. The psychology department now features a new biopsychology teaching lab and equipment for use in processing biological samples.
"Students are now able to learn through a more rigorous laboratory experience, not just through a professing experience in the classroom where they hear about it, do homework about it and read about it; they are actually able to do it," said Dr. David Fisher, professor of astronomy and physics. "That's one of the really grand things about these new instruments; and they also will allow us to conduct better laboratory demonstrations."
Dr. Rebecca Gilbertson, assistant professor of psychology, center, is shown with some Lycoming College students in the psychology laboratory.
Among the key acquisitions are a blackbody radiation system, which identifies the relationship between an object's temperature and the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation it emits, and a muon physics system, which measures properties of an esoteric elementary particle.
"We're purchasing items that are honest-to-goodness instruments rather than merely equipment, so although they may have particular names that imply particular uses, they're very multi-dimensional," Fisher said. "Now we can expand the range of what is available in the laboratory setting with some of these instruments. And that will allow us to have some wider latitude with student senior research thesis work as well."
According to Dr. Rebecca Gilbertson, assistant professor of psychology, Lycoming's newly renovated biopsychology laboratory gives students the ability to conduct behavioral neuroscience research, an opportunity not typically offered at most small private liberal arts colleges.
"The biopsychology laboratory suite is comprised of the rodent vivarium, animal behavioral testing laboratory and biopsychology teaching lab with recently purchased equipment including a centrifuge," Gilbertson said. "The biopsychology laboratory is the most recent addition to psychology laboratory facilities, which also include the capability for psychophysiology and electroencephalography [EEG] testing for human participants."