City Heights celebrates construction of new science education center

Posted: Tuesday, June 7th 2016

Celebrating the Ocean Discovery Lab

Superintendent Cindy Marten and Board Vice President Richard Barrera joined hundreds of City Heights residents and other dignitaries at a community “Construction Party” last Saturday to celebrate the construction of the new Living Lab, an education science center in City Heights. The Living Lab is a joint venture between San Diego Unified School District and Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI) of San Diego. The lab will be an educational facility where students are able explore different fields of science, as well as define their college and career aspirations.

This project aligns with the Board of Education’s and Superintendent Cindy Marten’s Vision 2020 goal to develop schools as neighborhood learning centers. Vision 2020 seeks to re-establish a strong bond between communities and their neighborhood schools, and achieve quality schools in every neighborhood.

The June 4 celebration was held at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School Joint-use Park. It featured guided tours around the construction site, interactive and informational booths where participants could discover more about science, how to protect the planet, and careers in science and conservation. For instance, participants could visit “Interacting with Dr. Zoolittle from the San Diego Zoo,” “Learning about pollinators in our canyons from San Diego Canyonlands,” “Learning how biologists identify animals from aerial photographers with, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” and “Ask an Architect” at which guests could speak to Rob Quigley, the architect that designed the Living Lab.

The event also included program with guest speakers Superintendent Marten and Trustee Barrera, ODI Board Member Claudia Rodriguez (emcee), Ocean Discovery Institute Executive Director/Founder Shara Fisler, City Council President Pro Tem Marti Emerald, County Supervisor Greg Cox and U.S. Congressman Scott Peters.

San Diego Unified School District and Ocean Discovery Institute have a joint-venture agreement to construct and run the “Living Lab” facility that will be used to provide educational programs in outdoor science and environmental conservation. Upon completion in spring 2017, the nearly $13 million facility will provide significant educational opportunities to more than 10,000 youth per year who attend the 14 district public schools in the City Heights area. The 12,000-square-foot, two-story building is being constructed adjacent to Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School. It will include two laboratories, administrative space, and approximately 35,000 square feet of outdoor features that will include nature play elements and a natural trail.

Ocean Discovery Institute is a unique nonprofit organization that offers hands-on science and conservation programs to students often faced with the hardships of living in a highly urbanized underserved community. Ocean Discovery provides rigorous educational, scientific research, and environmental stewardship experiences that build curiosity, science understanding and skills, and leadership in underserved young people from kid to career. These programs use ocean science to generate the spark that makes young people want to learn all principles of science, technology, engineering, math, and conservation.

For more information on Ocean Discovery Institute, visit For more details on the construction project, contact Cynthia Reed-Porter, San Diego Unified School District’s communications supervisor, at 619-546-3378 or

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