Launching the first Iridescent Science Studio, Los Angeles

It all started with a bus in May 2009! Paul Yarin and I were talking about having a mobile science bus that would go to parks, open up from the side, set out chairs and show cool science movies to people and then invite them to tinker and make cool things. Then we decided that was too small…

My dream was to have a beautiful space that would invite everyone to come and tinker, offer awesome tools and equipment to people so that they could design and build what they wanted, to have a library (of course) and finally a place to drink tea and coffee and to just hang-out. Paul decided that we were a good thing to support and very generously offered to fund the new dream space. There was no time to waste and so began the search for the ideal space! Our summer intern Melinda Forest interviewed nearby community organizations serving youth. The goal was to learn about their challenges in recruiting and working with children and families from the community over the long term. Click here to learn more about what we learned!
The ideal space had to be close to our university partner USC (within the thick red line) and to our current (yellow star) and potential (blue circle) partner schools in South LA.

We started scouring the Craigslist ads, saw a few places, went quite far with two options and then decided to ask for help! Drake Coker (a long-time friend and Iridescent supporter) put us in touch with a rock star broker Paige Coker Heiman who in turn set us up with Marin Rutherford (a local broker). Marin went around with us and found us this space. 750 sq ft. Cute, within our budget – but sooo small!
We went around the building and saw this space
1750 sq ft.Completely out of our budget and so perfect! Drake also put me in touch with an awesome team of designers and architects – Peter Gargagliano, Vanessa Hooper and David DiGiacomo. They inspired me to go talk to the landlord and to pitch for Iridescent to take the dream space. I did! This was my first big pitch and it worked!!! So much for the Aladdin Factor 🙂
I signed the lease in March 2010 and then we were off and running!

I wanted to start using the space as soon as possible so that we could quickly respond to our needs and design a beautiful but practical space. We started by renting tables and chairs until we found good-looking, sturdy, reasonably-priced chairs and tables. The chinese lanterns did a lot to make the space look nicer! Thank you Vanessa and Benjii!

First piece of color! We printed photographs from our sessions (taken by Heather D’ Augustine).

First Engineers as Teachers (Spring 2010 cohort) class at the Studio

Fall 2010 Engineers as Teachers cohort!
First Family Science Sessions at the Studio (from Synergy)

Setting up the cafe tables

And set!

Stocking the library

Library today 🙂
No need for rental furniture anymore!

First Summer Engineering students.

Setting up THE BIG TV (our first big purchase!).

In use!

Setting up the projector

“How Things Work” Mural (then) by Ioana Urma

“How Things Work” Mural (now).

Gathering our tools and toys (must remember to get insurance 😉
The Iridescent Wind Tunnel – 60 hours of labor and much love from Sinchai Tsao and Darryl Hwang

Vision for the Iridescent Science Studio
  • Conduct super-cool science weekend workshops (like “Taking Things Apart”)
  • Provide sophisticated equipment and tools to children so that they can design and build whatever they want. We will be accepting proposals for project ideas soon. The top 10 winning proposals will get $200 each for the project, access to equipment and one-on-one engineer mentorship for a semester.
  • Screen science films 🙂 Yes.. nerdy, but fun 🙂
  • Offer Summer Engineering programs to children
  • Conduct Family Science Sessions in the evenings
  • Conduct engineer training sessions
  • School Appreciation Dinners, Engineer-teacher meetups 🙂
  • Team hang out spot 🙂
Ready for the launch! Dream come true!

The Address: 553 W 23rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Thank you Paul for believing in us!