Education Consortium of Central Los Angeles / Project LESS
In March of 2013, we began lending lab equipment to the science teacher at YouthBuild Charter School in Pacoima.
In March of 2013, we constructed a physics demonstration device and donated it to a physics teacher at University High School in Los Angeles.
In February of 2013, we successfully arranged for a college chemistry major to volunteer as a teaching assistant and tutor in a local Los Angeles high school chemistry classroom (Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology, LAUSD). The following month, we made this arrangement more permanent by establishing a formal partnership between that high school and EPIC (Educational Participation In Communities) of the California State University Los Angeles, whereby college students may earn academic credit for volunteer work at the high school.
In February of 2013, we brought liquid nitrogen to four Los Angeles middle and high schools for use in demonstrations by teachers. We also provided the teachers with appropriate safety gear when necessary.
In January and February of 2013, we acquired valuable lab equipment donations from Dr. Vivian Medina of Baxter Bioscience.
In January of 2013, we acquired valuable lab equipment donations from Luz Rivas of Iridescent Learning.
In January of 2013 and in December of 2012, we planned and ran hands-on science activities sessions at the Zimmer Children's Museum.
In October of 2012, we acquired valuable lab equipment donations from Pasadena City College.
In August of 2012, we became a non-profit project under the 501(c)3 auspices of the Education Consortium of Central Los Angeles, directed by Jacqueline Hamilton.
In May of 2012, we lent our first piece of lab equipment to a public school physics teacher in Los Angeles (James Rice of Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology)
In October of 2011, we opened as a private, profit-seeking business.
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1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
My idea is to create a team of science teacher support specialists who will visit up to fifteen teachers per week in Los Angeles middle and elementary schools, including the three high school science teachers whom we already serve. We would support their students’ acquisition of grade-level math and science skills and knowledge by offering three services:
(1) creation of tutoring programs,
(2) delivery of teacher-driven technical support and professional development, and
(3) facilitation of project-based and other types of labor-intensive innovative learning activities. Experience and material resources for these three services already exist on our team.
My indicator is Education.
On a completely volunteer basis, running on personal donations from me, we have been serving a few Los Angeles science teachers with lab equipment loans for about a year. Feedback from teachers, administrators, and project advisors has indicated that lab equipment is not the biggest problem in Los Angeles inner-city science education. Instead, we need to address deficits in basic skills and scientific background knowledge for younger students before they hit high school. Formal research studies confirm that the basic academic skill levels of inner-city students diverge from the skill levels of their richer counterparts by the sixth grade, as reviewed by this scholarly article from an education research agency: http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/529 . Journalism in Los Angeles confirms the need for more science education at elementary schools too, as proclaimed in this Los Angeles Times article: http://articles.latimes.com/2006/nov/20/opinion/ed-science20 . The three services that I am proposing for funding here would directly address these problems. These are not new ideas.
1) Basic skills tutoring programs already exist at a few Los Angeles schools, and we have set one up ourselves at a high school; our inner-city students either need more of these or need to be connected to these.
2) High-quality professional development sessions for science teachers are made available by agencies such as CalTeach at UCLA and JPL at NASA, but none of these programs provide teachers with customized technical help to meet each teacher’s specific needs and goals in their respective classrooms with their own students.
3) Many L.A. schoolteachers already implement new ways to get more of their students to learn science, such as project-based learning and problem-based learning, but these inspiring incidences of active learning can be increased and spread to other teachers too, if expert help, teacher support and equipment were to be more readily available.
These activities will impact education in Los Angeles by improving the skills and interests of students, especially the minority students, flowing into our inner-city Los Angeles high schools. There, our high school teachers will encounter more confidence and better skills in their students, along with better college and career prospects. Inner-city high school science and math teachers will be able to teach at higher levels, with greater rigor. The resultant increases in self-efficacy of both high school students and their teachers will be evident in higher graduation rates and higher rates of interest in scientific careers. Ultimately, we will see more of our students going to college and more of our students landing stimulating and well-paid jobs in L.A. associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The Learning Equipment Supply Service is currently staffed by volunteers, including me, in our spare time. The skills that we practice in our sustaining day jobs directly relate to the services that I am proposing here; for example, I’m an experienced lab technician at a fancy private school where I serve and support eight science teachers with their technical needs, and I have also been a middle school science teacher, a high school chemistry teacher, and an adjunct college chemistry instructor. With the LA 2050 grant, we can bring our already-polished skills into the public school arena, to produce a better L.A. for 2050.