||Guilbert Hentschke, dean of the USC School of Education, anticipates that education students and faculty will benefit from the Science Center School and the Science Education Resource Center, both planned for a new structure that will replace the old Armory building.
The K-5 school, expected to be completed in the year 2000, will offer a math- and science-focused curriculum. It will be an academy rather than a magnet, which means it will be open to children living within a four-mile radius, explains Ted Alexander, LAUSD assistant superintendent for student integration options.
USC education students, especially those interested in careers in science education, will gain teaching and curriculum development experience at the school.
A father and son investigate microscopic organisms in the Virus and Cell room.
As magnificent as the science center building is, the real benefit is much less visible the actual science education programming plans, which
include working with teachers and school kids on developing science literacy, Hentschke says.
With the Science Center School and the Science Education Resource Center, were seeing a deepening commitment to science education.
The new school for K-5 children will complement the LAUSD/USC Math, Science and Tech-nology Magnet School, a high school connected to the 32nd Street/USC Magnet Center. Together, Hentschke says, the two will create a science-focused professional practice environment for USC students in science education.
Ann Muscat, whose 12-year association with USC includes researching oil sites off the California coast in 1976-78, earning her doctorate in biological sciences in 1983 and then serving as director of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island from 1984 to 1988 (she is still on the diving control board at the Wrigley Institute), expects partnerships with the USC academic community and neighborhood programs to continue to grow. In addition to the Science Center School, collaborations include working with USC faculty as advisors on science center exhibits and teacher-training programs.
For example, when Dave Combs, curator for the World of Life exhibit hall, was in the midst of overseeing the construction of Tess the 50-foot human model that is its centerpiece he found he needed a reality check.
Combs called Judy A. Garner, an associate professor of cell and neurobiology at the School of Medicine. Garner was a member of the team of USC scientists who along with faculty from UCLA, Caltech, Cal State Los Angeles and Occidental College helped plan and check the accuracy of exhibits in the new museum.
Combs wanted Garner to check Tess muscles, which are exposed on one arm and leg.
Animal faces (and some human ones) peer out of the dark during a slide show in the Discovery Room.
Judys field is anatomy, and we wanted Tess to be as anatomically correct as possible, he says. They had worked on the models accuracy via faxes and e-mail, but Combs wanted Garner to view the model in person, at the factory in Valencia where Tess was being built.
The muscles are so complex that I drove Judy out there, he says. We strode around giant arm and leg muscles while Judy made suggestions of where the muscles and other body parts could be more accurate. She was incredibly helpful.
Garner describes Tess as pretty close to the real thing. Her giant body is sculpted from foam blocks. The muscles were modeled on illustrations photocopied from anatomy textbooks. However, a complication arose because anatomy textbooks show the right arm and leg, while the model makers had randomly chosen to display the muscles in Tess left arm and leg.
We had to Xerox photos from the books, then make transparencies from them and copy the reverse side, Garner explains.
The Science Center also worked with faculty and students in the School of Architecture to create computer renderings of the exhibits while they were in the design stages. The Science Center curators liked the renderings and asked two students, Calvin Kam and Tommy Chan, to create a computer model that forms the basis of an exhibit called The Making of a Museum. Located in the Creative World, it is a fly through of a 3-D, interactive rendering of the Science Center building that allows you to click on certain spots and learn more about how the museum works through links to informative videos.
Ann Muscat sees partnerships with the neighborhood USC Family of Five Schools and other area schools as a central focus of the museum.
A mother and daughter share the joy of learning.
Were now looking at formal after-school programs with the local public schools, she says. Some of the existing programs include bringing schoolchildren over for tours and special programs, and training high school students to serve as volunteer guides for the exhibits or assist with educational programs.
The science center is also getting neighborhood moms into the act through the Our Place Parent Academy.
The local mothers work as paid staff and volunteers in the Discovery Rooms, special spaces in each exhibition hall geared for 4- to 7-year-old children. These Latina and African American moms received training in storytelling, hands-on science activities and puppet theater, Muscat says.
Because of its free admission policy and proximity, the California Science Center, along with the other new amenities at Exposition Park, represents an important new resource for the neighboring community. But it is just as much for all of Los Angeles and Southern California.
This place is about life-long learning, Muscat says. Some of the kids who come through this door will get turned onto science in a way they might not otherwise. Through summer workshops or repeated visits, our science center turns on a light bulb. Its saying there is something in the world of science that you can understand, that you want to understand, and that you can enjoy with your family.