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Mobile lab ready for students at PEAKS Campus

The new Environmental Science Mobile Lab built by Lethbridge College for the Livingstone Range School Division being unveiled at PEAKS Campus on September 7. Nicholas L. M. Allen Photo

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Sept 13, 2023

Representatives from Lethbridge College and Livingstone Range School Division attended the unveiling at PEAKS Campus, LRSD’s place-based learning centre in the Crowsnest Pass.

A new mobile environmental science lab created in partnership with Lethbridge College and Livingstone Range School Division (LRSD) was launched on September 7. Representatives from both educational institutions attended the unveiling at PEAKS Campus, LRSD’s place-based learning centre in the Crowsnest Pass.

“This lab will be used by Grade 7 to 9 students all across our division in a variety of ecological spaces perfect for environmental science programming,” said Chad Kuzyk, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Innovation for LRSD, “Students will be able to conduct industry-standard studies in their local areas, collecting valuable data while earning credits toward high school graduation and post-secondary.”

Made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Alberta Education Dual Credit Enhancement Fund and built over the past 10 months, the 27-foot-long lab will deliver a “state-of-the-art” learning opportunity at the standards required for authentic research.

The field study lab will be a new component of the PEAKS Collegiate Campus experience. This newly funded collegiate school, in partnership with Lethbridge College and industry collaborators, will provide students with a pathway into post-secondary education and careers in environmental science. 

“This one-of-a-kind mobile classroom was designed by members of our School of Environmental Sciences to ensure its features and contents align with our course offerings and support delivery from the field,” said Dr. Terry Kowalchuk, Dean of the Centre for Technology, Environment and Design at Lethbridge College, “Countless hours of planning and work went into this custom project so it could be comfortable and self-sufficient for students year-round, and we are excited to see the learning experiences that will take place within it.”

Jonathan Friesen, the Logistics Manager for the Wildlife Analytics Lab at Lethbridge College, gave a tour of the mobile lab during the reveal on September 7. 

“It was a fun project. I never had the opportunity to do this before and these guys kind of let me just do what I wanted to do. They trusted me, which was really great and also a little bit scary at the same time,” said Friesen, “I’ve worked in labs at the college for 15 years as a technician, so I think I have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn’t work, especially if you’re the one setting equipment up, taking it down and doing the cleaning. You kind of have to know how a lab should flow.”

According to Friesen, the whole mobile lab is self-sufficient, with solar panels providing consistent power to all of the equipment inside, including the microscopes, lighting and television screens. 

“There’s more than enough jam in here to power everything. If you want to power more, you can plug a generator into it and away you go,” said Friesen.

Everything can be in transport mode or in lab mode, allowing quick movement from one area to the next. For the side of the mobile lab, Friesen talked about the design work to make the lab fit right at home in the Livingstone Range. 

“I got our design crew at the college to source a high-resolution photo of the Livingstone Range mountain range. They put this beautiful wrap together with the color transitions and it’s the same on both sides,” said Friesen. 

They are able to add more equipment if needed, with lots of space in the cabinets and there is also a mesh that can be used to store totes if required.

Outfitted with microscopes, nets, chest waders, binoculars, spotting scopes, sensors, storage tanks, safety kits, weather gear, water flow measuring software, a generator and a canopy, the four-season lab will allow student learning to be an experience while increasing the relevancy of the environmental science program of study.

“The partnership between Lethbridge College and LRSD will create unlimited potential for students interested in studying and pursuing careers in environmental science,” said Kuzyk, “The benefits will be felt in education and industry across southern Alberta and beyond.”

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