There are currently five CSW sites in the CSW Network:
- Mission Science Workshop, San Francisco
- Discovery Centers, Oakland
- Community Science Workshops, Fresno
- Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, Watsonville
- Greenfield Community Science Workshop, Greenfield
These CSW sites are independent non-profit or public sector entities, and are supported by the Network through fundraising assistance, staff trainings, curriculum compilation, and public representation, among other services. In addition to the five core sites, there are several affiliated sites, as well as other CSWs nationwide.
CSWs are community resources devoted to providing local youth with opportunities to engage in their own projects and to pursue their own curiosity. Filled with science, technology and art, these workshops offer young people alternatives to gangs, drugs, violence and boredom in neighborhoods where there are few other positive alternatives. CSWs provide a space for exploration with tools, workbenches and a variety of self-directed projects, as well as group programs for students to tinker with exhibits and ideas and learn about science in an informal atmosphere. These high-quality inquiry-based science education opportunities provide youth with the materials, resources, and coaching to develop a variety of skills, reinforce their natural curiosity, and instill an excitement for learning, science and technology.
The CSW Network Board of Directors has identified four defining characteristics that an informal science provider must have in order to qualify as a CSW for participation in the Network. These defining characteristics are listed below.
- Strive to have a significant and lasting impact in the community through the promotion of meaningful, quality education and authentic hands-on discovery and learning. This community impact may be manifested among children, families, teachers, schools, school districts or other relevant groups.
- Maintain a permanent physical space located in an under-served community. This space is richly layered with exhibits and projects that stimulate observation with all the senses, as well as providing tools, materials, and a workspace to foster both discovery and creation.
- Incorporate an open-ended element to their programming. At some point, students are engaged in activities of their own choosing, and without a pre-determined model of successful completion.
- Open their workshop space to the public on a drop-in basis for some part of the programming. Members of the public are free to come and go, and to choose their level of engagement. This can happen after school, on the weekend, or during the summer.
For more information on the CSW mission and history, please see the About page.