AIMS Hall opens new era of mathematics, science education to Fresno Pacific University
With a 41-foot pendulum counting to the future, a new era in mathematics and science officially arrived at Fresno Pacific University.
More than 200 students, faculty, staff, guests and news media packed the lobby and second-floor balcony of AIMS Hall of Mathematics and Science for dedication ceremonies October 11. The two-story, 20,097 square-foot building opened in August and includes laboratories for biology, physics, chemistry and research as well as classrooms, a library and faculty offices.
Those gathered surrounded the physical and philosophical heart of the facility: a Foucault Pendulum, one of only four in California and the lone example in the San Joaquin Valley. A 235-pound polished brass ball swings from the second-story ceiling to just above the foyer floor and knocks down a circle of pegs, proving the rotation of the earth, demonstrating the tie between mathematics and science and symbolizing the integration of knowledge and spirit.
“The pendulum is a harmonious integration of interrelationship of mathematics and science,” said Arthur Wiebe, former FPU president and co-founder of the Activities Integrating Mathematics and Science (AIMS) Education Foundation, which provided the lead gift for the $9 million project.
“As in the pendulum, all of God’s creation speaks of the interrelatedness of science and mathematics,” Wiebe said. “As knowledge increases, the known linkages among scientific disciplines and concepts multiply. It is conceivable that in the end, all of science and mathematics may well be interrelated and integrated parts of a single whole.”
Advancing this integration is the mission of AIMS, one of only two existing major projects of its kind in the United States and Great Britain. AIMS was created by Wiebe and the late Larry Ecklund in 1981 as an outgrowth of the FPU math/science program. Incorporated as an independent entity in 1986, AIMS retains strong ties to the university. The foundation’s commitment to the building is part of a five-year, $10 million investment in FPU, including student scholarships and endowed faculty chairs.
Today one dozen AIMS research fellows with a combined two and a half centuries of teaching experience develop math/science activities for thousands of students in grades kindergarten through nine. “This year alone, 10 new titles are scheduled for publication,” Wiebe said. In addition, the national staff development program trains 17,000 teachers per year to use the foundation’s materials.
AIMS Hall embodies the essence of AIMS as the design intentionally brings together people as well as disciplines. Offices, for example, are in one area of the building so faculty and students can easily get together.
“As students enter AIMS Hall laboratories, they come face to face with God’s majestic, complex and intricate creation as they dissect a specimen, calculate the exponential-like reproductive rate of paramecia or observe a predictable chemical reaction. May no student ever pass through these halls without perceiving the silent messages that issue from God’s handiwork,” Wiebe said.
Kaylene Chlopek, a junior majoring in natural science and pre-health, spoke for students. “AIMS Hall is one more way to create a space for math and science students in the FPU community.”
D. Merrill Ewert, FPU president, thanked everyone—including faculty and staff, alumni, foundations and companies—whose donations made the building possible. “Gifts like these are more than money,” he said. “You have given hope, a vision and a chance to dream.”