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New science building at BCC

Student volunteer Heather Norton ignites a methane gas bubble with a candle during a chemistry demonstration at the open house for the new science building at Bellevue Community College. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Student volunteer Heather Norton ignites a methane gas bubble with a candle during a chemistry demonstration at the open house for the new science building at Bellevue Community College.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

Sparks were flying and beakers bubbling over as Bellevue Community College opened its new $34-million science building with tours and lab demonstrations on March 11.

Visitors participated in chemistry experiments, learned how to make biodiesel and watched the physics club shoot a ping-pong ball through an aluminum soda can as part of the day’s festivities.

BCC now has 11 instructional buildings on its 96-acre campus in southeast Bellevue.

The newest facility, a three-story, 64,000-square-foot complex dubbed the “S Building,” is home to the life sciences and chemistry programs. Classes in chemistry, biology, microbiology, oceanography and marine biology will take place there.

Not everyone at the school is equally thrilled about how things have panned out with the new complex.

“It’s cool to have the building, but not so cool how physics got none of the room,” said Jessie Ryan, president of the school’s physics club.

BCC chose to move its life sciences and chemistry programs into the new facility because more people need their curriculums, said school spokesman Bob Adams.

“We couldn’t put all of the science division over there, but by moving these classes into the new building, we leave space behind [in the older one] for other classes,” he said. “It’s a beautiful new space. I’m sure we all wish we were in there.”

The S Building earned silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, known as LEED.

“Green” features of the complex include sustainable construction materials, energy-efficient exterior lighting and landscaping that promotes water conservation.

“The building is great,” said BCC student Heather Norton. “[It demonstrates] all of the innovative ways to conserve energy and to be environmentally-friendly — it’s really great. The facilities are beautiful, top-notch.

“I’m going to have to see if I can find some more science credits to take now.”

BCC’s science department now includes 730 classes that can lead to transferable associate’s degrees in life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Those courses draw around 20,000 enrollments.

BCC’s science department is also conducting DNA research on a bacterium suspected of causing root disease in wheat and barley crops.

The project is rare considering the school’s status as a two-year college.

BCC is backing state legislation that would make the school a hybrid institution, offering two-year and four-year degrees.

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