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Copywrite 2001-2004, California Science Center
 
 
Media Contact:

Shannon Johnson or Susan Cox
(213) 241-6766 – for LAUSD

Shell Amega or Paula Wagner
(213) 744-7446 – for California Science Center

   
August 26, 2004
CONSTRUCTION COMPLETED ON SCIENCE CENTER SCHOOL
New K-5 Elementary School Opens September 9, Curriculum Will Focus on Science and Math
 

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the California Science Center, in a unique partnership that combines science, math and technology with core academic standards, today celebrated the completion of the Science Center School, a new K-5 elementary school and the latest crown jewel in Exposition Park and South Los Angeles.

Los Angeles School Board President José Huizar, School Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Superintendent of Schools Roy Romer, California Science Center President Jeffrey N. Rudolph, Senator Kevin Murray, Assemblymember Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks, Local District 7 Superintendent Sylvia Rousseau, Principal of Morphosis Architects Thom Mayne and other guests gathered with excited parents, students and community leaders to unveil the highly-anticipated affiliated charter school.

The campus, located at the corner of Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street, is scheduled to open on September 9, the first day of school for single-track (traditional) LAUSD schools.

“We are very excited about the opportunities that the Science Center School will provide,” said LAUSD School Superintendent Roy Romer. “This school will give these children a head start with their learning by providing them with in-depth work in science education at an early age. This magnificent school, and this partnership with the California Science Center, would not have been possible without the support of so many people over the years. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Jeffrey N. Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center, and Dr. Karen Symm Gallagher, Dean of the Rossier School of Education at USC, for their commitment and dedication to this school.”

With an enrollment of approximately 700 students, the Science Center School’s curriculum will focus on science, math and the use of technology, and integrate language arts, social studies, fine arts and physical education into its instruction. The school draws the majority of its students from the surrounding neighborhood and will offer them a culturally relevant, one-of-a-kind learning experience.

“The Science Center School is designed to serve as a model for improving science learning through the integration of science content and museum-style learning with traditional school curriculum,” said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, President & CEO, California Science Center.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the California Science Center are committed to providing instruction to students at their youngest stages of learning to close the achievement gap and instill a lifelong love for learning. The partnership further seeks, by the year 2010, to have the Science Center School serve as a national model in elementary education through the innovative use of science, mathematics and technology as the foundation for a rigorous and exciting multidisciplinary learning experience for K-5th grade students.

The school, which sits on five acres, shares space with Amgen Center for Science Learning in the newly named Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning & Innovation (formerly the Armory).

The school features 28 classrooms, a library-media center, food service, cafeteria, science labs, six research centers and administration offices. In addition, students have access to three playgrounds, scientific lab tools, computers and other state-of-the-art equipment.

The Wallis Annenberg Building’s new atrium-- known as the “Big Lab” -- consists of experimental platforms designed to generate creative science learning experiences through hands-on activities . Libraries, labs, meeting rooms and classrooms line the atrium’s perimeter. From the north end, space is provided for multipurpose rooms and the bamboo garden, explained Thom Mayne of Morphosis, architect for the Science Center School.

“A pair of bridges lead across a garden lunchroom and into the new school building. Classrooms in the school are grouped in clusters of four with each cluster sharing a common room to provide an open and flexible teaching environment. Completing the project is a large playground, which is sheltered in the angle between the old and new buildings and is accessible from each,” Maynes added.

The school’s close proximity to other museums in Exposition Park and the University of Southern California (USC) serves as an additional enhancement to students’ learning.
In developing an enriched and integrated curriculum for the Science Center School, staff from the Los Angeles Unified School District and the California Science Center utilized the professional expertise of the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the unique features included in the school curriculum are:

  • to put science at the center of the curriculum
  • to provide subject-specific professional development in all subjects, understanding that deeper content knowledge uncovers more and deeper opportunities for integration; plan the subject-specific professional development with science integration in mind.
  • to build the capacity of the staff by sending individuals and small teams each summer to a variety of professional development experiences aligned with the goals of the school. Use this experience to align each grade with one or more museums for extended study.
  • to organize instruction around the concepts and topics in the science curriculum to naturally “coordinate” and strategically integrate.

The completed construction and scheduled opening of the Science Center School is the culmination of more than a decade of planning and collaboration between the LAUSD, the California Science Center, educators, elected officials and community leaders.

The Science Center School, located in one of the city’s most densely populated areas, is a source of pride for area residents and the newest educational and cultural landmark to inhabit South Los Angeles.

The two-semester school will relieve overcrowding at six local elementary schools. Those schools are Fifty-second Street School, Menlo Avenue School, Normandie Avenue School, Norwood Street School, Vermont Avenue School and Weemes School.

Following a nationwide search, educator Connie Smith was named principal of the Science Center School in 2003. She will lead a teaching staff that includes credentialed educators who possess a well-rounded academic background with significant hands-on experience in math, science and technology instruction.

The new Science Center School is part of the LAUSD’s new school construction program aimed at building 243 projects to reduce overcrowding through the District by 2012. Of the 243 projects planned, 12 schools, 22 expansions, 12 early education centers and one environmental equity projects have been completed. Another 99 sites are currently under construction.
The Science Center School and Amgen Center for Science Learning are a result of a California Science Center master plan that calls for an integrated approach to science learning—one that includes a world-class science center, a neighborhood elementary school and an education resource center, all in one location—the California Science Center.

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