Beginning with a 10-gallon aquarium, elementary school teacher Tom Watts began a club that would grow to impact thousands of students throughout the years.
Aspirational Roots & Inspirational Growth
In 1964, as the Civil Rights Act, Space Race, and Great Society brought promise of a brighter future, Tom Watts started a science club in his Kennedy Elementary School classroom to ensure his students would have the opportunity to be part of that brighter future.
The club surged to 70 members by 1967. Watts expanded the program to an abandoned house that the City of San Diego agreed to rent for one dollar. Within five years, the National Science Foundation recognized EIS as one of two programs in the U.S. and one of five in the world focusing on hands-on science for youth.
A Beacon of Community Progress
Since day one, parents, teachers, and countless others have worked to support EIS’s students and mission. The Salk Institute, Rosenberg Foundation and Scripps Institute of Oceanography became EIS’s first organizational partners between 1968 and 1969. Since then, supporting organizations and businesses have been integral to EIS’s success.
In 2004, passionate EIS students and alumni rallied community support to raise $6 million to construct a new 15,000-square foot facility. The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, the Kresge Foundation and other anonymous donors committed challenge grants that helped galvanize support from dozens of other local, state and national institutions.
In its five-decade history, EIS has served thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to thrive in careers in medicine, engineering, computing, and more. We continue to inspire more students each year to love science, become critical thinkers, and develop a “STEM Identity.”
What’s Going On at EIS
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