About the Center
The SLC provides a space to not only support learning through first-hand interactions, but also serves as a lab to help develop future science educators as well as place to research the benefits and challenges of 'informal' learning experiences.
In September 2016, SLC director Jim McKibben retired from the University. The Science Education Department, led by Professor Jim Kisiel and Department Chair Lisa Martin, recognized the need to keep this unique learning space and build upon the legacy developed by Mr. McKibben over the past 30+ years. With the support of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Science Education Department, and various partners within the University and local communities, we hope to continue use the Science Learning Center (and Science Outreach) to not only support science learning for students in our local community, but to provide opportunities for California State University Long Beach students to develop teaching and communication skills by developing and leading educational programming at the Center.
As we look to create a sustainable model for keeping the Science Learning Center around for another 30 years, we also look for new and innovative ways to use this 'hands-on' learning space to support the learning and teaching efforts of the University and the Long Beach area. Stay tuned—there's more to come!
It Started with an Idea: Hands-On Science Learning
With the San Francisco Science Exploratorium's ground breaking, interactive science displays by Frank Oppenhiemer as an example, CSULB Physics professors R.D. Ayers and J.V. Hutcherson approached the CSULB administration. In 1979, with the support of then CSULB president Stephen Horn, and college dean Roger Bauer, the CNSM Natural Sciences Museum opened in the basement of Peterson Hall 2 and featured, among other things, moon rocks from one of the Apollo trips and Henrietta, a 15' 8" Burmese python who was a star attraction until she retired in the late nineties. All of the displays were made to encourage touching, exploring, and questions.
And Continued with Take It Out Into the Community
In addition to opening the museum to the campus community, in 1980, the university supported a unique outreach program by donating to the museum a 27-foot mobile home that was converted into the CSULB Mobile Science Museum and took hands-on science learning out into the schools. For the past 36 years, the CSULB Mobile Science Museum supplemented local schools' science instruction and was a welcome addition at local community events. The MSM carried over 40 exhibits that invite hands-on inquiry from both children and adults in astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, zoology, and marine biology.
Improvements Continued and a New Name Emerged
In 1991, CNSM staff member and Science Shop technician, Jim McKibben, became the director of the museum. McKibben had a love for science learning and he was dedicated to creating hands-on exhibits that immersed the participants into doing science as opposed to observing it. In a move to have a name that fit the evolving scope of the museum, the CNSM Natural Science Museum became the Science Learning Center (SLC).
New Space Increased Interest
When the Hall of Science opened in 2011, the SLC moved to a large, spacious area just off the main foyer on the new first floor. In its new location, the SLC quickly became a featured stop on campus tours, a popular on-campus field trip for numerous summer camps, and was featured on the President's list of campus gems.