Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011-04-26 "UC Berkeley to test outreach science center in South Vallejo" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
A new center focused on science education, outreach and resources will take up residence in South Vallejo, with an opening scheduled for next week.
University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science has chosen Vallejo as the beneficiary of a two-year study on expanding the museum's youth and family science programming to small satellite sites.
Working to create an early buy-in from the community, Lawrence Hall outreach coordinators have made presentations with various groups, including the Vallejo school district and, on Monday night, the Vallejo Youth Commission.
Youth commissioners quizzed Veronica Urdaneta, Lawrence Hall's external affairs coordinator, on jobs available at the center and how long the center expects to stay in Vallejo. They were told that those under 21 may have internship and volunteering opportunities available to them.
Though grant funding from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will last only two years, fundraising efforts to sustain the center will begin immediately, an organization representative said before the meeting.
The science center will be housed as a tenant at South Vallejo's Norman C. King Community Center at Sonoma Boulevard and Magazine Street.
It initially will be open Thursdays through Saturdays. A grand full opening is scheduled for June 18.
"This is very exciting for Vallejo," Youth Commission Chairman Ruscal Cayangyang said after a presentation at City Hall.
Cayangyan noted that the new venture would simultaneously fulfill two commission goals -- economic development and youth activities.
Vallejo was chosen as one of two Bay Area locations, including a site in Sonoma County, under-served by the existing Lawrence Hall of Science outreach, the organization's director of community and visitor programs Gretchen Walker said by phone Monday.
Hazel Wilson, member of the Vallejo City Unified School District board, said outside Monday's Commission meeting that the center will serve not only youth, but school district staff, parents and the community as a whole.
"We think this will be a wonderful opportunity," Wilson said.
The proposed "mini center" will focus on making science education accessible and engaging for the community, according to a report by Lawrence Hall staff.
Some services the center expects to provide include:
* Formal after school programs and workshops and informal drop-in hours for children ages 5-14 and their families
* Science- and engineering-themed birthday parties
* School and community group workshops, at the center and schools, for grades kindergarten through eighth
* Professional development workshops for educators
* Instructional resource and material loans to educators
Lawrence Hall of Science is hiring staff members for the Vallejo site, as advertised on its website, [www.lawrencehallofscience.org].
Board directors of the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, which manages the community center to house the satellite program, approved the site use in recent weeks. A lease agreement is pending, Walker said.

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