The third-floor classroom features round tables with outlets in the center, projector screens and chalkboards on three walls and improved acoustics. There are also movable podiums from which students can work on portable wipe boards and project the boards to a larger screen.
The classroom is being used for Physics 114 laboratory studios and Math 110 and 130 as of Jan. 12. These renovations were done to create a more interactive learning environment.
Winta Daniel, a freshman in Math 130, said the new classroom better accommodates the demands of the course.
“It’s a better fit,” Daniel said. “The other was really cramped, so this has more space and more collaboration. It’s also easier for the teacher to walk around and get to everyone.”
The renovation came in on budget and was paid for mostly by the provost and UNC Information Technology Services, said Chris Clemens, chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Sophomore D’atra Davis has her physics studio in the new room and said it has positively changed the class dynamic.
“It’s more comforting of an environment, so it’s easier to do your work,” Davis said. “There’s just more space, comfortable chairs, better lighting.”
The physics course, along with other introductory courses, had been redesigned, and the room allows for the interactive learning that was part of the curriculum changes, Clemens said.
“It’s a lot of group work,” Davis said. “In the new room, you have closer proximity to your group, so it makes it more consistent and easier to work together.”
The Department of Mathematics will follow suit in adapting its introductory courses, said Rich McLaughlin, chairman of the department.
“Math is planning on doing some course redesign, so this space really gives us the opportunity to do new things,” McLaughlin said.
The departments are looking to replicate this project on the second floor of Phillips. A wall between two classrooms would be knocked down to create another smaller but similarly designed classroom, but there is no money for it yet, Clemens said.
The room used to serve as a library stack space with bookshelves from floor to ceiling, McLaughlin said. The collection was moved to Wilson Library five years ago.
“You practically had to duck to get in there,” Clemens said.
McLaughlin said in a previous interview the basement space of Phillips Hall will be renovated for the creation of biomedical engineering laboratories.
This project is expected to be completed by spring 2016.
Students agree the classroom is not only an effective use of dead space but is a warm addition to the building.
“I think it’s a good vibe for Phillips because it’s like a death chamber in there,” Davis said. “It definitely makes you more motivated to work.”