From City Hall to Science Workshop

How do you turn an old City Hall building into a lively and energetic science workshop for kids and families?

“Basically, you need two things, tables and electrical outlets,” said José Sanchez, the Coordinator of Greenfield Community Science Workshop (Greenfield CSW).

With these two necessities, José and his team got to work in 2011 transforming the previous Greenfield City Hall building into a Community Science Workshop. The current City Hall is down the street, and the old building was sitting unused – a perfect opportunity. The team brushed fresh silver paint on the floors of the former City Council Chambers, laid out a collection of bones and rocks, set up a microscope, an oscilloscope, some wood, tools, and nails, and quickly a safe learning space for the community began to emerge. Since then, José and his team have continued to create an engaging space for students to investigate and experiment. Their goal was to offer a “safe and peaceful place that stimulated and inspired the minds of Greenfield students,” said José.

The workshop is within walking distance from two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and hundreds of students’ homes. The central location of Greenfield CSW is fitting, as the community support of this workshop has been impressively strong. “Despite the politics, everyone in Greenfield, residents and elected officials alike, understand the importance of investing in our youth through creation of an environment that nurtures their curiosity and creativity,” said José.

With the City Council, the local library, local schools, and parents behind them, the Greenfield CSW has hit the ground running and has opened up youth’s eyes to the possibilities of science while giving them a place to hang out and connect after school. Greenfield CSW serves as both a field trip destination and a drop-in program for youth, ensuring the opportunities they provide are accessible to all students. The CSW is also beginning to offer after-school programs at local middle schools.

The Packard Foundation sees organizations like the Greenfield CSW as vital to our communities. By offering enriching science education to families and a fun and secure place for students to go after school, Greenfield CSW greatly advances the learning opportunity and experience for Greenfield youth.

The Greenfield CSW is one part of a larger CSW Network which has six workshops in Northern California. “As part of the CSW Network, we believe that every town needs and could benefit from a Science Workshop,” said José. If Greenfield’s rapid success and constant community support is any indication, we imagine most towns would be thrilled to have a CSW move into the neighborhood.