The History of the Malcolm Price Laboratory School
The Malcolm Price Laboratory School was a beloved place with fond memories for many. Although it went through many name changes and officially closed in 2012, faculty, staff, students, and parents look back on its history and reminisce on the contributions it made to education, professional development, and the growth of teachers and students.
The Malcolm Price Laboratory School (PLS) began in 1883 and went through many transitions over the course of the 129 years it was open. Starting as the Model School, it soon became the Training School in 1893, then in 1944 it became the Campus School. Five years later in 1949, it once again changed its name to the Campus Laboratory School until finally settling on the name Malcolm Price Laboratory School (PLS) in honor of Iowa State Teachers College (ISTC, now UNI) President Malcolm Price for his role in supporting the new building and the faculty. Throughout the many years the PLS was open, the main purpose was the quality of education for the children attending and offering the best laboratory experiences for teachers in training. Through the many years of schooling, success, and various students and teachers coming in and out, the PLS finally closed its doors in 2012 (Lounsberry, Finkelstein, and Duea, “History Home”).
However, before the doors officially closed, a handful of PLS professors -- Bill Calhoun, Barbara Lounsberry, and Becky Hawbaker -- came together and agreed to use the Ross Nielsen Quasi-Endowment Fund to continue the PLS Foundation to preserve the school’s history and to fund reunions. After being approved, professors emeritus Jo Duea, Lynn Nielsen, and Judy Finkelstein were quickly recruited to join the team and the Price Lab History research project started (Duea). After working for many years and countless hours, through Lynn passing away to Robert Martin joining the team, the research team recently reached out to SC&UA for some help conducting research, particularly as in person research has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past couple months, I have been put to the task of finding information about various faculty, departments, and events for this team. This process has been incredibly eye-opening and even at times challenging. In SC&UA we have an overwhelmingly large volume of material, and it can be challenging to find the requested information and share it with interested patrons quickly. However, though it was challenging, the reward was equally as significant. I have found amazing materials which helped these patrons, as well as furthered my understanding of this facility. Some of my favorite materials I have found are below:
‘An Uncluttered View of Modern Mathematics’ an address by Dr. Ross A. Nielsen
In this address at the Iowa State Education Association Convention, Dr. Nielsen speaks on the lack of change in mathematics over the past hundreds of years and states that mathematics is a living, growing science and should be treated as such. Nielsen describes modern mathematics as a reorganization of the subject matter of school mathematics into a more logical, integrated sequence and urges teachers and professors to take this approach when teaching instead of the repetitive traditional mathematics that continue to be taught. He believes this will benefit the students and the teachers. He also believes that many teachers and professors need to re-learn and reflect on how they are teaching math.
Citation: “An address from Dr. Ross Nielsen at the Iowa State Education Association Convention,” undated, pages 1-3, in the Price Laboratory School Collection, Reports and Surveys 1941-1992 box 1, “An Uncluttered View of Modern Mathematics” folder, record Series 21/01/01, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa. Note: click on the image to see a high resolution pdf copy.
The Orava Project was a systemic school restructuring effort intended to bring democratic practices to basic school classrooms and education programs in institutions in Slovakia. These restructured schools would be a model for other institutions in Slovakia and allow them to flourish and grow as schools in the United States have ("UNI cooperates to ‘democratize’ Slovak education"). Glenn Nelson and Earl Ockenga, two mathematics professors, went to Slovakia for this trip in the 1996-1997 academic year. Before they went, they exchanged correspondence with each other, coordinators, and their family. This correspondence states that many teachers and students younger than sixth grade didn’t have calculators and recommends Nelson and Ockenga be mindful of these Slovakian views.
Joan Duea’s Positive Influence on Students
Joan Duea, a teacher at PLS from 1965 to 1988, helped with curriculum and policy development, committee work, leadership and much more throughout her time at PLS and beyond (Lounsberry, Finklestein, and Duea, “Faculty Profiles”). Through her extensive research and contributions to a better educational system, she received an Award of Excellence from the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1986. Joan and another teacher from Des Moines were the first recipients of this award (Li'l Paws). She went on to publish numerous articles in professional journals and was heavily involved in the national reform of mathematics and science teaching -- reaching Washington DC and New York City (Lounsberry, Finklestein, and Duea, “My Interview for PLS Job”). She reflects fondly on her experience at the Price Lab School and continues to work with a team of previous PLS faculty to preserve the legacy of the Malcolm Price Lab School. Through their research, the PLS History team continues to inspire many and archive the memories and materials of the PLS.
Due to the Price Lab History team’s dedication, this process of finding materials, digitizing a portion of the PLS archival collection, and diving into the history of the Price Lab School has offered me knowledge and insight I never thought possible. Their extensive research and their commitment to preserving the history is admirable and will be cherished for many years to come. Their ongoing collection of the history, memories shared by past students and teachers, and photographs can be found at http://www.pricelabhistory.org/. Online information about the PLS can also be researched with resources from SC&UA through IndexUNI and Scholarworks featuring yearbooks, newsletters, and photographs. Additionally, finding aids for many series within the PLS collection are online for browsing here. These are all great sources for researching the Malcolm Price Laboratory School! Of course, you can always contact the faculty and staff or make an appointment to visit SC&UA, located on the third floor of Rod Library, for further information about campus history and to see the Photograph Collection and other materials in person.
Contributed by Library Assistant, Katie Currier, March 2021.
Correspondence from Cobra Davison to Glenn Nelson and Earl Ockenga, Feb. 17, 1997, in the Jeannie L. Steele Papers, box 2, “Project team members and participants: 1996-1997 - Glenn Nelson, Earl Ockenga” folder, record Series 13/02/02/03 University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
Joan Duea, email to Katie Currier, February 22, 2021.
The Li'l Paws: Price School Laboratory Parent Newsletter, March 1986, Li'l Paws, box 34, 1986-1987, record Series 21/01/01 University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
Lounsberry, Barbara, Judy Finkelstein, and Joan Duea. “Faculty Profiles: Joan Duea.” History of Malcolm Price Laboratory School, last modified 2021. http://www.pricelabhistory.org/about-mpls/joan-duea
Lounsberry, Barbara, Judy Finkelstein, and Joan Duea. “History of Malcolm Price Laboratory” homepage. History of Malcolm Price Laboratory School, last modified 2021. http://www.pricelabhistory.org/
Lounsberry, Barbara, Judy Finkelstein, and Joan Duea. “My Interview for PLS Job." History of Malcolm Price Laboratory School, last modified 2021. http://www.pricelabhistory.org/docs/default-source/Joan-Meyers-Duea/my-i...
Nielsen, Ross A. “An address from Dr. Ross Nielsen at the Iowa State Education Association Convention,” undated, in the Price Laboratory School Collection, Reports and Surveys 1941-1992 box 1, “An Uncluttered View of Modern Mathematics” folder, record Series 21/01/01, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
“UNI cooperates to ‘democratize’ Slovak education,” spring 1995, in the Jeannie L. Steele Papers, box 2, Project team members and participants: 1996-1997 - Glenn Nelson, Earl Ockenga folder, record series 13/02/02/03,University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.