Education / 2013
Learning Equipment Supply Service
Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Education Consortium of Central Los Angeles / Project LESS
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.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
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.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Jacqueline Hamilton, Executive Director Education Consortium of Central Los Angeles ECCLA acts as fiscal sponsor for the project; ECCLA works with roughly 55 schools in central L.A.
James Rice Chemistry & physics teacher Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology High School
Ruth Chung Librarian, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Teacher, Burbank Unified School District
Christopher Arellano Representative, United Teachers Los Angeles
Schetema Stevens M.S. Chemistry, California Institute of Technology Graduate Student Researcher in chemical education at University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Neyda Muyuz, Student, LA Trade Tech College Ilse Valerio and Ding Huang, Students, Pasadena City College
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
We will measure success by using before-and-after teacher surveys, student surveys, and anonymous student grade averages. I have budgeted for an independent consultant to evaluate our work, in order to maximize the impartiality and validity of our evaluation.
Tentatively, I think the following metrics would be appropriate. I have adapted these from the United States Navy’s STEM-2-Stern educational outreach program’s evaulation metrics document, located online at: http://www.stem2stern.org/uploaded_images/Proposed%20Minimum%20STEM%20Education%20Program%20Metrics_v6.pdf
Metric #1 Project reach
Expectations are: 1500 students, 15 teachers, 1350 Black/Hispanic, 750 female.
- Number of teacher participants who maintain participation for 4.5 or more months
- Number of student participants who maintain participation for 4.5 or more months
- Number of female student participants who maintain participation for 4.5 or more months
- Number of Black + Hispanic student participants who maintain participation for 4.5 or more months
Metric # 2 Funding
- Does new funding for the following year materialize from elsewhere, based on successful initial work funded by this Goldhirsh LA-2050 grant?
Metric # 3 Student participant performance
- Student progress in science as reported by participating teachers
- Student progress in basic skills as reported by participating teachers
- STAR basic skills test score improvements in participating classrooms, compared to previous years' classes' scores
- STAR science test scores in participating 5th and 8th grade classrooms, compared to previous years' classes' scores
Metric # 4 STEM career interest
- Number of participating students with expressed/demonstrated interest in pursuing STEM careers, via pre-project and post-project surveys
Metric # 5 Teacher impact
- Self-reported teacher confidence in teaching science, via pre-project and post-project surveys
- Number of project-based or other multi-modality, innovative learning activities completed in class due to this project's assistance
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
My project will support higher achievement in science in Los Angeles schools, and will contribute to the pipeline of scientists and engineers needed to replace the aging workforce in L.A.’s considerable technology and bioscience industries. As many as 50% of the current workforce in those industries locally will become eligible to retire within the next five years. A larger, more diverse pool of qualified engineers and others will benefit L.A. significantly over the long term.
Further, increased familiarity and comfort with science at the middle and high school level will increase the number and quality of local applicants to college and technical programs. A better, more diverse, larger applicant pool will benefit technical employers in Los Angeles such as Baxter Healthcare, Google, Grifols, SpaceX, others whose hiring needs are expected to increase in coming years.
In addition to this economic benefit to the area, my project may
create a better understanding of scientific issues among the general public, including voters. Such a voting public will have a better understanding of how to evaluate what is presented in the media about science issues relating to public policy, such as energy generation, pollution, climate change, and many other issues.
My project empowers future, voting Angelenos by helping them to acquire the background knowledge that they will need to form well-reasoned opinions on local issues of electoral interest.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In 2050, science education in Los Angeles will be a model for the nation in the frequency and quality of hands-on activities at even the poorest of public schools. Graduation rates will have seen significant, sustained increase at the many schools served by my project. For a couple of decades up to 2050, state and community college science programs in Los Angeles will have been seeing larger numbers of high-caliber students entering with focused interests in science, and this trend will have encouraged these higher-ed schools to increase the quality of their own science programs. Students served by my project will raise the bar when it comes to science education.
By 2050, my project will have evolved to provide services to schools to ensure that their own equipment is always inventoried, in good repair, and ready to use. The project will also have expanded to serve teachers in other disciplines such as mathematics, in addition to science. State and school officials across the nation are developing a new set of curricular standards (“Common Core State Standards”) which encourage hands-on activities in several different subjects. The adoption of Common Core will have increased the need for support services like LESS, which will have evolved into better support for teachers learning to use project-based and other innovative hands-on activities.
In 2050, my idea’s project will be continuing under someone else’s leadership (I’m 38 years old right now), and different funding sources will have been identified. By that time, the project will have been an independent non-profit organization for a few decades. Some schools or maybe even LAUSD will have chosen to support the project as well.