Many students remain unaware of the Traveling Lab, also known as the Griffon Lab, as it became popularly known in the Chemistry and Biology Department.

The Traveling Lab was initially established on Missouri Western's campus 15 years ago, but following the COVID-19 pandemic, remodeling was done to the lab. With its new improvements, the lab is on the road teaching science, technology, engineering and math on the go.

According to Missouri Western's website, the van also serves as a mobile job center in several counties.

"These upgrades will allow the vehicle to be used in an academic role as well as a new Mobile Job Center for the rural communities within Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton and Dekalb counties."

When asked, Dr. Michael Ducey, the chair of the MWSU chemistry department, gave insight into the history and the future of the Griffon Lab.

"The traveling lab is a university resource that is available to go out and provide stem-related activities and instruction to organizations and schools throughout our region."

The Griffon Lab is also available to dual enrollment students of the University and allows students to use the resources of the lab to apply what they have learned in chemistry and biology.

The lab started as a computer lab that later progressed into a biotechnology lab. In 2019, it received an $82,000 Rural Development Grant from the Department of US Agriculture, allowing for the new improvements to become the Griffon Traveling Lab and job center.

When not a lab, it serves as the mobile job center, a resource for the community to offer job training and career services. With COVID-19, the traveling lab didn’t get to go out and serve its higher purpose due to the University being shut down.

The grant covers the gas as well as the drivers the department pays to take the lab from location to location.

“One of the things we tried to do with the remodeling of the vehicle is to reserve it for any of our STEM disciplines and even be more flexible with desk spaces and laboratory resources. I really feel as an institution, we need a second van,” Ducey explained.

The department would like to see the van get out on the road more than they have so far. After the grant, the Griffon Lab has been very successful on-campus, and it has helped many in the community as well with its assets of equipment and materials.

What does the future hold for the Griffon Lab? The department hopes to see the van go out and continue to help even more people than they already have and provide and pair more students and locals with new and improved resources.

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