Bay Pines STEM Center slated to open Spring 2017

Construction is on schedule for St. Petersburg College's new Bay Pines STEM Center, a hands-on science learning complex located adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County. The $4.7 million facility opened in 2017 and provides research opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Last year, SPC received $2.5 million from Florida Legislature Public Education Capital Outlay funds for the project.

The campus is located at 4723 Bay Pines Terrace in St. Petersburg.

State-of-the-art laboratories

The building has two state-of-the-art labs with high definition equipment for projecting microscopic images and other graphics. The largest lab can accommodate 24 students, and one lab that will be set up to handle small group research projects. The smaller lab will accommodate three different groups simultaneously but has the capability to handle more groups dependent upon scheduling.

SPC students enrolled in any marine-or-environmental-themed course will have access to all of the lab equipment in the learning center. That equipment includes microscopes, incubators, refrigerators, measuring and calibration equipment, and autoclaves with other items to be added as needed for new projects at the site.

The center's auditorium/multipurpose room will seat 80 to 90 people or can be divided into two separate groups of 40-45 people each. It will have an associated catering kitchen to support events involving meals. It will also be ideal for college or community groups to use for meetings.

Wireless sensors monitor local environment

An environmental learning lab also is being built within the building. This project will involve the placement of wireless sensors throughout the property that will measure a variety of physiological characteristics such as plants at the property and the water conditions during a hurricane.

The sensors will be designed by our engineering tech students and deployed by the tech students in combination with our biology, environmental, marine biology, microbiology and chemistry students. The data will be live and on the web available for anyone to use in their teaching activities.

Community collaboration

This facility is a center that will welcome community groups focused on improving our environment. SPC plans to collaborate with Pinellas County Schools during this project. The purpose of the partnership is to serve as a professional development resource for county and area private schools' science faculty. The learning center will also serve as a site for local middle and high school science fairs.