San Diego

Science Brought to Life in New City Heights Student Center

The Living Lab will welcome over 10,000 students in the area

A 12,000-square-foot science education center opened in City Heights Sunday called the Living Lab.

The center is a partnership between the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and the Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI).

The Living Lab can be used by the thousands of City Heights students in the area during and after school, SDUSD said.

“Students will come here and see this facility, and they will know when they walk in the door that they can do science and they can be a scientist,” said ODI Executive Director Shara Fisler.

ODI will expand its programming from twice a year to more than twice a week, according to ODI’s website.

The lab is next to the 30-acre Manzanita Canyon, which provides students with real-life research opportunities, ODI said.

It’s also within walking distance for many students.

The Living Lab has two science labs, a Scientist in Residence studio that will host a variety of science and conservation leaders, and the David C. Copley Ocean Alcove that has wall-to-wall screens that can live stream the coastline just 10 miles away, according to ODI.

It also holds a kitchen, a Living Roof garden, and a Leadership Pathway that showcases the work of student graduates.

Inside the New Science Education Center in City Heights

The project cost around $17 million, $10 million of which came from the San Diego Unified School District's Proposition Z funding, ODI said.

Other funding came from private donors and city agencies, including the City of San Diego, the California State Parks, and the California Coastal Conservancy, according to ODI.

The center is tuition-free, SDUSD and ODI said in a joint statement.

The Living Lab was given a platinum certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Sunday to open the center to students, families, and community members for the first time.

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