by George Warren


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A $91 million science complex that was originally scheduled to open a decade ago is finally hosting its first lab classes at Sac State.

The Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex, named for the Swiss immigrant who donated $9 million toward its construction, is the new home for biology and chemistry students. They’re moving from Sequoia Hall, a building with labs so outdated that some students used hairdryers when the Bunsen burners wouldn’t work.

But the Tschannen Science Complex has a lot to offer non-CSUS students as well. A 120-seat planetarium is expected to host multiple elementary and high school groups each day. A fifth-floor observatory houses two fixed telescopes under a retractable roof and five outdoor pedestals for portable telescopes that will be open to the public during celestial events.

Swipe through pictures of the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex below

When the science complex was first budgeted a decade ago, the university purchased a traditional optical-mechanical projector for the planetarium. But then came the great recession and the projector was mothballed along with the rest of the project. By the time the university was ready to move forward with construction of the science complex, mechanical projectors were obsolete. The manufacturer offered Sac State a discount on a full 360-degree digital projection system.

At the main entrance, you’ll find a Foucault Pendulum— named for the French physicist who devised a way to visualize the Earth’s rotation. At the Earth’s poles, the pendulum will make a full 360-degree rotation in 24 hours. At Sacramento’s latitude, the full rotation takes about 39 hours. At the equator, the pendulum doesn’t rotate at all.

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Each of the five floors features decorate woodwork milled from 56 trees removed from the campus because they were growing too close to a PG&E gas line.

Outside the Tschannen Science Complex are outdoor teaching spaces with a concrete “blackboard” for days when it’s just too nice to be indoors.

Biology professor Rob Crawford believes the new science complex will attract the best students and faculty to Sac State.

“I challenge anybody to find a better facility in Northern California right now,” he said.

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