Facilities combine math classrooms into new physics lab


Lexi Guo

Students enjoy the new physics classroom, which was designed over the summer.

Emma Chang, Staff Writer

When junior Dalia Khera entered her physics class for the first time, she was surprised to be in a room double the size of her chemistry classroom last year.

This summer, the facilities crew removed a wall to combine two math rooms into a physics classroom.

“Most St. John’s classrooms are pretty small,” Khera said. “But I enjoy having ample space to do class labs and move around.”

In 2012, classrooms S104 and S105 were combined to create a multipurpose commons room with a collapsible divider separating the areas.

According to physics teacher Erol Turk, S104/105 was mainly used for study halls and faculty meetings.

In 2015, the divider was replaced with a wall, and the multipurpose room was converted back into two classrooms. 

Before construction could begin, teachers had to clear both classrooms so workers could have a clean slate. Physics teacher Ryan DePuit helped design the new physics room, which features extra storage space and ceiling power outlets. 

“Facilities turned my idea into reality,” DePuit said. “They installed everything we needed to make the classrooms into a functioning lab.”

The construction process consisted of removing the carpet flooring to install tile and reconfiguring the electrical wiring for both old rooms in order to get outlets along the top of the built-in storage. Then, plumbing for the sink was added.

Math and computer science teacher Austin Garvin uses the new classroom in Mewbourne. (Lexi Guo)

Last year there were many labs and projects conducted in a relatively small space, but now the extra square footage allows students to perform experiments while allowing Khera and her 16 classmates to maintain social distance. 

Turk, who uses a wheelchair, prefers the new layout, especially the desk arrangement, which makes it easier for Turk to navigate the room. 

The new entrance to the classroom is located underneath a stairwell in the Science Building. 

Turk says he “feels like Harry Potter” entering a room hidden by the stairs.

Math teacher Paul McGee moved to room Q113 after S105 became a part of the physics classroom. Although his new classroom is not too different, McGee appreciates the generous white board space.

“Three of the four walls are just board,” McGee said. “When we’re doing math problems and want to get people up working on questions, the big board area is so great.” 

In addition to the new physics classroom, a new math classroom was constructed in Mewbourne. The room replaced the math department office, but to compensate for that loss, a smaller math office was built to the side of that classroom.

According to the teachers, the new classrooms provide enhanced learning opportunities.

 “It’s a really nice, workable space,” Turk said. “I apologize to anybody else who’s jealous that they didn’t get it.”