Prior to the recent Cloquet High School science room remodeling project, chemistry teacher Stephanie Marsh spent all 18 years of her career teaching chemistry experiments without a fume hood - a coveted amenity that limits exposure to toxic fumes.
Now, with a new fume hood installed during the $200,000 chemistry room renovation, Marsh said she has to get used to no longer having the same limitations on what experiments she can do.
"As chemistry teachers, we had these demonstrations we wanted to do in our heads, and we're like, "Well, I can't. I don't have a fume hood,'" Marsh said.
That hasn't been the case for Marsh since the project wrapped up before the school year started in September. Over the summer, crews dug up the entire floor for asbestos abatement and to install new gas and water plumbing for each lab station. Before, Marsh said she had to turn on one water faucet just to make the other ones run.
The layout of the classroom is different. Before, narrow lab tables lined two walls of the room with lecture desks in the middle. Now, the classroom has two distinct sections with lab stations in the back and lecture desks in the front.
"For me, it's about lab safety," Marsh said of the new layout. "I had to make sure things were corralled in an area and I had to keep a close eye on it. Now, I can put stuff in the back and say, 'Just don't go back there.'"
The classroom now has a lab space that's compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, so a student in a wheelchair could just as easily participate in a lab activity. The room previously didn't meet the state's requirement for space per students, Principal Steve Battaglia said.
Other updates to the nearly 50-year-old classroom included new cabinets, an additional door, new technology and education equipment, resilient flooring and electrical work.