Imagine an elementary school with all of the resources a teacher or parent could ever want. It’s located near world-class museums, a major university and a state-of-the-art teacher professional development center. The school features an integrated curriculum emphasizing science, mathematics and the use of technology. Its teachers are fully credentialed with a demonstrated ability to make science and math engaging and accessible to their students. And it’s not a magnet school but rather a neighborhood school for underserved groups of children and their parents. While such a school seems like a dream, it is a dream that has become reality in South Los Angeles, the result of more than a decade of collaborative work between the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Science Center School
For the California Science Center, the building of the Science Center School represented a crucial step in its 25-year master plan. Part of the Science Center complex, the construction included a new building to house most of the school’s classrooms and the renovation of the Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation. The new building houses 18 classrooms and 6 science labs, while the Wallis Annenberg Building contains 8 additional classrooms, administrative offices, a multi-purpose room and the school library. In addition, the Wallis Annenberg Building includes over 80,000 square feet for the Science Center’s Education division. This means that the Science Center School is directly adjacent to cutting edge facilities that house many of the Science Center’s programs including Big Lab Field Trips, Hands-On Science Camp and Teacher Professional Development programs built around the Next Generation Science Standards. School opened for the first day of classes on September 9, 2004, and currently enrolls approximately 650 students.
In addition to a science lab for each grade level, the Science Center School features 1-to-1 devices for all students, a Science Center Education staff liaison for each grade level, a Resource Specialist Program for Special Education students, itinerant arts teachers and a Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program. Students are given the option at enrollment to enter the Dual Language Program. Students receive both English and Spanish instruction using the 50-50 model, spending half their instructional minutes learning grade level content in English and the other half learning grade level content in Spanish.