June 2024 Newsletter

Category: Newsletter

Upcoming Event: Celebrate 60 Years with EIS!

EIS is excited to celebrate 60 years of serving local students with hands-on learning, field trips, career exploration, and school partnerships. More information about our celebration is coming soon! Make sure you receive an invitation. Contact Annie Petersen to get on our mailing list. Phone: 619-263-2302 or Email: Apetersen@eisca.org


Alumni Story: Kyra Randall – From Student to Teacher

Kyra Randall had a special relationship with EIS, as her father Ben Holman was one of the first champions of EIS and great friends with founder Tom Watts. She attended EIS from the beginning when it was a small science club, along with her brother Alwin, and participated in programs until she graduated high school.

Alumni: Kyra Randall (left) and Jill Watts (right) 2024


She remembers the grassroots effort of Tom and community members to create an immersive multi-layered learning environment from scratch. In the white house, the bathtub was turned into a tide pool, a beehive was installed inside near the front windows, where bees freely flew in and out, and a food pantry was renovated into a snake habitat for Rosa, the beloved boa constrictor who lived at EIS. One room became a library while another was designated for electronics where students learned how to build radios. One small house became a school that taught thousands of students over the years.

Field trips included seeing the San Diego Supercomputer at UCSD, searching for fossils in the nearby hills or on field trips to Balboa Park, and grunion hunting during high tide at the coast. A favorite memory is stargazing at the Palomar Observatory – one that she wishes was more accessible to kids today. Another memory is of Doris Watts bringing lab coats for students to wear so they could feel like scientists in a lab. “I would love to have one of those lab coats now.” expressed Kyra. Doris also brought extra food for kids who didn’t have lunch.

Some of Kyra’s earliest memories were also on the more adventurous side, such as joining other children in repelling down the hillside to Market Street, which would be nearly impossible today.

She eventually returned to EIS as an instructor setting up the original photography lab – teaching the development of photographs in the dark room. She left her mark on EIS in many ways including painting birds on the library wall in the white house and serving on the board of directors.

Kyra credits her experiences at EIS as life-changing. The experience gave her the curiosity and confidence to problem solve throughout her life, from repairing her dryer to building an 8ft. shed in her backyard. EIS also instilled in her a love of nature and an appreciation for even the smallest of insects. When a bug is in her house she prefers to relocate it outside than to step on it or swat it.

Jill Watts (left) and Kyra Randall (right) 1960’s.


She joyfully remembers Tom and his love of teaching and creating opportunities that introduced students to a variety of STEM subjects. He also had a prankster side, one time slipping Rosa into Kyra’s jacket to watch the snake wiggle out through her sleeve – while she was wearing it. “It was a magical and amazing place. I wish every child could experience EIS.” shared Kyra.

She went on to teach the Summer Scholars program at UCSD and took students on field trips, including grunion hunting. In her early days of teaching, she would reach out to Tom to brainstorm lesson plans. Eventually, she moved into Development at UCSD. Today, she continues to work as a fundraiser in Houston, TX. When the new learning center opened in 2004, she remembers talking to someone about how the small community feel that existed in the white house remained – just on a grander scheme.

We are so grateful for alumni taking time to share their experience at EIS. Thank you Kyra!

Voting Ends June 30th!

Time is running out to vote for EIS through the Target Circle program! 

We’re asking our supporters to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission of inspiring a love of science and creating opportunity for diverse children and youth. Find out more about Target Circle here: www.target.com/circle

Don’t forget, as you earn more votes, you can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support! We encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!


Recap: 20th Anniversary of the EIS Learning Center

On May 22nd, alumni, current and former staff and board members, and long time supporters joined us to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the “new” EIS building.  Prior to 2004, EIS was taught in a white house that we rented from the city for $1. As EIS grew and served more students, it was time for a more spacious venue. Not wanting to leave our community, we raised funds to build our 15,000 sq.-ft. learning center that has been our home for 20 years! This was done with the help of hundreds of people in our community including Joe and Vi Jacobs, Valerie Jacobs Hapke and Norm Hapke (aka the Jacobs family) and Water and Lola Green. The students also helped raise funds for the new building. Everybody pitched in to create what became the “Miracle on 51st Street”.

We couldn’t be more thankful to our community for ensuring that students in southeastern San Diego had access to high quality STEM learning.

View more photos of the luncheon on our social media!




This year is also our 60th anniversary of serving the community! We started as an afterschool science club serving a handful of students, and now we provide hands-on learning to over 2,500 students annually.

If you would like to celebrate with a gift to EIS, you can become a monthly donor or make a one time gift on our website at eisca.org. For larger gifts, please contact Annie Petersen at apeteresen@eisca.org or give her a call at 619-263-2302.


Join the Mathemagicians Homework Club at EIS on Saturdays (excluding holidays) from 12:00-1:00 pm at EIS. Spots are limited – please RSVP!

If you would like to participate, email info@mathemagiciansclub.com. Include your email, your child’s grade, and math concepts they are working on (or share an attachment of their homework). Mentors will offer help, more practice problems or worksheets. This includes SAT math help as well. They will monitor this email daily so you don’t have to wait until Saturday to ask for help.

Mathemagicians is a volunteer led program at EIS to support local youth.





Have you participated in programs or volunteered at the Elementary Institute of Science?
Whether you’re still in high school, college, working or retired, we want to know what you’ve been up to and if you have thoughts about any impact EIS had on your life or career. Please send an email to our Development Assistant, Leah Oviedo at loviedo@eisca.org.

EIS alumni are invited to join our official group to reconnect and stay updated on future reunions. Facebook.com/groups/AlumniConnectEIS

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Use the form below to contact EIS staff, and we will respond as quickly as possible!

Elementary Institute of Science
608 51st Street
San Diego, CA 92114