A formal groundbreaking ceremony took on a carnival-like atmosphere Thursday at Hartnell College. Under warm, blue skies and with a mammoth crane stretching skyward in the background, an estimated 300 people gathered to welcome the construction of the new science building at the main campus in Salinas. Before a slate of speakers addressed the crowd, students enrolled in STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) demonstrated some of their projects. Mini-robots maneuvered at one table while rocket launchers and can crushers did their thing. Math magicians wowed spectators with colorful games, brain teasers and origami. At yet another booth, balloons were dipped in liquid nitrogen for a cannon demonstration. Across the quad, caterers prepared a barbecue lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, cookies and drinks. The festivities signaled an end and a beginning for Hartnell. The science building construction concludes more than a decade of growth and expansion at the college. The job is the last major project financed by Measure H, a $131 million bond approved by voters in 2002. Upon completion, the science building will be a two-story, 56,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, including six lecture rooms, 10 laboratories and a new planetarium. Among the subjects to be taught are biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, geology, microbiology, field science, anatomy, engineering and astronomy. Other major projects completed with Measure H funding include the Central Avenue parking structure, PE field house and facility renovation, pool renovation, Alisal Campus Center for Advanced Technology, CALL Building (main campus), Learning Resource Center (formerly the library) and numerous upgrades of buildings and infrastructure. Dilbeck and Sons, a Salinas-based company, is the contractor. The project is scheduled to be completed in time for the spring semester 2016. Hartnell has an enrollment of more than 15,000 students who attend the main campus in Salinas, the Alisal campus in east Salinas, the King City Education Center and outreach learning centers throughout the Salinas Valley. article from www.thecalifornian.com