New Partnership Brings Hands-on Science to San Leandro and San Lorenzo

May 3, 2023

Have you ever designed and built your own miniature roller coaster using recycled materials? How about experimenting with hydraulics? Young scientists in the San Leandro area are enjoying these and other hands-on science activities thanks to a new partnership between The Lawrence and the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Leandro (BGCSL). The partnership will bring engaging workshops, science festivals, and more to BGCSL locations across the San Leandro area.

BGCSL first approached The Lawrence in the summer of 2022 to participate in several events they planned for that fall. The Lawrence On-The-Go delivered hands-on science activities at BGCSL’s first annual Night of Exploration to welcome the community back to their newly-renovated clubhouse, as well as their Rock the Block family fun event to kick off the 2022-2023 school year. Following the success of those events, a dialogue began on what more the two organizations could do together.

“Our goal in all of our activities is to catalyze learning, but from the act of ‘doing’ rather than just reading about something,” said Pat Marino, Director of Resource Development at BGCSL. “The Lawrence programs at the Night of Exploration and the Rock the Block community festival brought science in all its forms to an interactive environment. It was spectacular!”

Like The Lawrence, BGCSL believes today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and problem solvers. The organization has served San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and the Bay Area since its founding in 1946. BGCSL works to inspire youth and help them achieve their full potential in a safe, positive, and engaging environment. By providing hands-on learning activities to students at the organization’s 20 school sites and the clubhouse, this partnership meets the goals of both organizations to support the San Leandro community and reach those traditionally underrepresented in science. 

As part of the partnership, The Lawrence On-The-Go team will deliver a series of four hands-on science workshops to after school programs at several of BGCSL’s school site clubs. Students will design, build, and test in captivating engineering activities. They will explore wheels and ramps in Motion Commotion, investigate levers and mechanical connections in Linkages, and discover water-powered machines in Hydraulics. The workshop series will wrap up, covering every kid’s favorite topic: Slime! The workshops are currently underway at three of BGCSL’s locations, with more workshops planned in the fall at other school sites.

“The Lawrence On-The-Go works hard to make fun, engaging, educational experiences accessible to communities with different backgrounds and familiarity with science,” said Ime Edokpayi, Associate Director of Community Engagement at The Lawrence. “It was really great hearing the kids getting excited and talking about how cool the workshop was after our first program.”

The Lawrence On-The-Go also recently brought one of our science festivals to BGCSL’s main clubhouse. The clubhouse was transformed into a mobile exhibit hall, with activity stations exploring the engineering and design of bridges, roller coasters, and other structures. Additional festival programs at the clubhouse are planned for this summer!

“For many of our youth, an excursion to The Lawrence may not ever occur since their parent/guardian may not have the time, transportation, or resources for anything extra in their family’s life,” said Marino. “Giving our youth the exposure to the richness and depth of what The Lawrence has to offer is a real gift. The partnership gives the gift of knowledge and the exposure to a world-class science organization in their own backyards, and the families were grateful.”

In addition to providing programs for students, The Lawrence will help train BGCSL staff to engage their students in science learning. BGCSL staff will get their hands dirty with experiments and activities they can bring back to their students at school site clubs across the area. They will learn educational techniques and practices honed by The Lawrence’s expert educators to help their students get the most out of their afterschool programs.

These recent workshops, festivals, and professional learning experiences are only the beginning, with more activities planned at BGCSL this summer and fall. The Lawrence also has plans to continue expanding its reach throughout the Bay Area through partnerships with organizations like BGCSL, public libraries, and more. So keep your eyes peeled for one of our Lawrence On-The-Go vans; it just might be coming your way!

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