Iridescent and the U.S. Office of Naval Research Launch Innovative Science Center for Los Angeles Students and Their Parents

Families will use interactive and hands-on tools to invent and engineer alongside local science and technology experts

Oct 16, 2010, 09:00 ET from Iridescent

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Los Angeles-area non-profit Iridescent and the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) today launched Iridescent Science Studio, a new science learning and discovery community center in Downtown Los Angeles for students and their parents.  The studio will be a place to imagine, invent and engineer alongside local science and technology professionals using interactive and hands-on learning activities.  The studio kicked off with a daylong public street Science Festival of creative educational activities, contests and demonstrations for families led by engineers from Ocean Institute, Seaperch Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command–Good Vibrations and AeroVironment, among others.

Also launched today by Iridescent is an Urban School Needs Map (usnmap.org), which is a database prototype designed in collaboration with information visualization research groups Density Design and Factual to enable education providers to become more data-driven and cost-effective when making decisions, and empower parents by providing them real-time information on local school characteristics and performance.  The map draws from existing Los Angeles data such as income, crime, number of computers, years of experience of teachers, student-teacher ratio, school Academic Performance Index (API) and school type (e.g., charter, regular public), and gathered survey data measuring teacher and parent commitment.  The map was originally designed to identify future Iridescent school partners.

"This is a very exciting time for us as we open our science studio doors and expand our program to expose underserved students to rigorous instruction, and give parents the tools they need to ask questions and participate in their child's education," said Iridescent Founder and CEO Tara Chklovski.  "Our partners, such as ONR, have allowed Iridescent to scale up to meet the needs of a greater number of students and families who can benefit from engaging science content and interaction with such powerful community mentors."

Iridescent is an innovative science education nonprofit organization that empowers engineers and scientists in the field to share their expertise and passion with children through exciting inquiry-based programs, while inviting parents to learn alongside their children.  The Iridescent Science Studio is located at 553 W. 23rd Street in Los Angeles.  Over the last four years, Iridescent has trained more than 300 engineers reaching more than 4,800 underserved children and parents in Los Angeles, San Francisco and, more recently, New York.

The Street Science Festival program included a ribbon cutting and speaking program by local community leaders, an Engineering KidZ Design Challenge, a "How to choose the right school for your child" presentation using the Urban School Needs Map and Engineering KidZ Design Challenge Award Ceremony.

"Iridescent is meeting a vital national and local community need with its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs," said Dr. Michael Kassner, Director of Research, Office of Naval Research.  "ONR is proud to partner with Iridescent on this important project, both in Los Angeles and New York, as we continue to prepare students for future opportunities in STEM learning and careers, which are vital in our knowledge-based economy."

For more information, visit www.iridescentlearning.org.  Stay informed through Iridescent's blog and Facebook group.

About Iridescent

Iridescent's mission is to foster curiosity and inspire self-confidence in young people with limited access—unlocking doors to their future and preparing them to help solve the world's most pressing issues.  To do so, its programs use a three-pronged strategy of teaching about cutting edge science, using powerful mentors and enlisting strong parental involvement.

About Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage.  Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners.  ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE Iridescent



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