The Marciano Art Foundation (MAF) has turned a permanent space behind its third floor gallery into an innovation lab operated by GENESIS, a nonprofit company focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education, and accessible to students across LA County.
We saw the lab in action Wednesday as students from Los Angeles High School were working on ways to improve ordinary objects like recycle bins with the help of GENESIS instructors and state of the art equipment provided by MAF and GENESIS. The goal is to provide hands- on experiences that combine critical, design-based ways of thinking and project-based learning to give underserved students opportunities to apply their skills to real life and modern day 21st century challenges, explained GENESIS founder and executive director, Sheri Schlesinger.
“We focus on collaboration, said Schlesinger. “We simply don’t know what the jobs of the future will look like, but we know that this kind of experience is a gateway paradigm change in the way kids think, and it inspires more passion for STEAM learning and problem solving. We are thrilled to partner with The Marciano Art Foundation to establish a permanent lab inside the foundation’s iconic and unique space.”
Founded in 2013, GENESIS educates teachers and delivers programing to Title One schools. It also provides daily after-school programs at the new GENESIS Innovation Lab, housed at the Challengers Boys and Girls club in South Central Los Angeles. It also has a fully-equipped Mobile Innovation Lab that travels to school sites and community organizations. MAF is GENESIS’ first lab located in a museum, but the goal is to open in as many art museums as possible. While its funding supports efforts to reach the neediest schools, GENESIS wants to reach as many schools as possible that are interested in offering innovation lab spaces and curriculum, explained GENESIS program coordinator Daniella Simon.
MAF co-founder Maurice Marciano echoes, “We have always imagined the Marciano Art Foundation as more than just the display of art objects. With the GENESIS STEAM education lab, we are extending the idea of what an institution can be and how it can improve the community. I look forward to welcoming school children to the foundation to experience both the artworks on view and be afforded the extraordinary educational opportunities that GENESIS has pioneered.”
One team of students yesterday was working on creating a responsive recycle bin that could respond to a donation with a light, a sound or even information about what was dropped into the bin. A small team of students from LA High School were working with their art teacher Carrie Chliyeh discussing various options. The students are encouraged to brainstorm and then get to work using the tools in the lab, a laser printer, circuit boards, etc.
“This is wonderful for our students,” Joyce Kliefield, Executive Director Alice G. Harrison Memorial Trust for LA High School, “we just walked over!”
Workshops are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. So far about 100 students have been through the lab since the program started at MAF in March.