Welcome to the Community Science Workshop Network (CSW Network). The CSW Network is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to serve as a powerful advocate and resource for Community Science Workshops, providing opportunities for youth to tinker, make, and explore their world through science in under-served communities across California.
The community-based science workshop model was established in 1991 in the Mission district of San Francisco, when an electronics technician and community organizer opened up his garage for neighborhood kids to tinker, make projects, and explore his collection of “interesting junk”: fossils, bones, rocks, live snakes, oscilloscopes, hobby motors, soldering irons, scrap wood and power tools. Since then, the CSW model has expanded across California and nationwide (see History for a detailed account). The CSW Network currently supports five core member CSW sites (see Sites for more information):
- Mission Science Workshop
- Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop
- Fresno Community Science
- Greenfield Community Science Workshop
- Sanger SAM Academy Community Science Workshop
The CSW Network fulfills a need for an ongoing funded support infrastructure dedicated to sustaining and replicating the CSW model of education. While individual sites provide thousands of young people in marginalized communities (120,000 visits in California in 2011) with access to inquiry-based informal science education, they can’t, on their own, maintain the statewide activities so critical to long-term success for all: shared staff development, opportunities for Site Directors to meet and plan programs together, joint fundraising, public advocacy for the CSWs, and research on the impact of these programs on youth.
In 2014, the CSW Network is prioritizing four goals at the request of the CSW Sites:
- Increase Professional Development Opportunities for CSW Educators
- Document Learning and Evaluate Success of CSW Programs
- Facilitate Fundraising and Marketing
- Craft Vision and Strategy for the CSW Sites and Statewide Organization