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learn / 2015

TheLab: LA’s Place for Scientific Exploration

TheLab: LA’s Place for Scientific Exploration

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by TheLab, Inc

We are looking to acquire additional scientific and safety equipment with the goals of expanding our youth scientist program, community classes, and workshops. We will design classes most suitable to the needs and capabilities of our community.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Gabriel Valley
  • City of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

TheLab has a three part proposal.

  1. We need to increase our research and safety equipment. TheLab will offer more workbench spaces to accommodate more members and classes with a larger number of participants. We will install more equipment to make the lab more functional and safer. Our goal is an open laboratory space with multiple workbenches and a common area for group events and presentations.

  2. TheLab is actively involved in mentoring youth scientists. Cory Tobin has volunteered countless hours personally mentoring students. His success is undeniable. All of his students have won science fairs at their schools, won awards at the LA County Science Fairs, and won awards at the California State Science Fairs. One of his students was selected to be a participant in the Broadcom Masters and had the opportunity to meet President Obama to honor his successes. Two of his students participated in the iGEM competition impressing graduate and post graduate level scientists with their presentation and knowledge. The successes of these youth scientists are amazing and will propel these students into incredible opportunities.

TheLab needs to expand to have a permanent program for student scientists. Without more resources this will not be possible. TheLab will provide the opportunity for students in the LA area to have a safe and resourceful laboratory where they can learn from other students and experienced scientists to conduct professional research experiments.

  1. TheLab will offer classes on topics ranging from sophisticated research such as CRISPR to beginner level topics such as tree grafting. We will accept suggestions to create classes to meet the needs of our community. We believe that these classes are our best way to engage with the community. Many of our classes require no prerequisite knowledge allowing beginners to become familiar with laboratory equipment and proper research and safety protocol. With these skills they can advance to independent research or meet with other members to form research teams.

In order to accomplish parts 2 and 3 of our proposal we are asking for your help to fund part 1.

Biotechnology is expanding at an incredible rate. We are experiencing a wave of new DIY biologists that are doing research comparable to that of professionals. Our community is excited to learn how the world works and be part of the science of the future. With your help we will be able to expand TheLab and open our doors to all of LA.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

TheLab will evaluate our progress by keeping detailed records of our participants in each of our programs.

  1. For the youth program we will track how many students are involved. The students’ success in the program will be evaluated by our experienced members and the students’ placements at the local and state science fairs. When possible we will assist students in publishing their research in professional peer reviewed scientific journals.

  2. For our classes we will track participation and provide surveys after each class for our students to give feedback. We will use the participation numbers and the surveys to determine the classes that are working best and which need to be revamped.

  3. We will also have routine meetings with our members to discuss their individual research work and get updates on their progress. From this we will know how we can assist our members, possibly through acquiring necessary equipment or teaching classes on skills needed to continue their research.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Network/relationship support