Genesis began in 2013 when founder Sheri Schlesinger, a successful Los Angeles business woman and dedicated philanthropist, witnessed first hand the lack of technological preparedness among her children and their contemporaries when they transitioned into college.
“ ...it was then that I realized the world had changed, that traditional education had left my children out of the creative and innovative thinking required in the 21st century, that they simply didn't speak the language being taught in a robust STEM education. That's when we were moved to create Genesis, a new beginning…first in our high schools, then in our community. Every child's future counts. We hope to provide access, creativity and engagement for as many children as we can possibly reach. ”Sheri Schlesinger, Genesis Founder
The pilot project
In response, Sheri drew together a group of teachers, educators and STEM consultants to launch a two-year pilot, creating a STEM Innovation Lab for middle and high school students in a private school setting. The pilot phase was focused on honing best practices and the GENESIS development team learned a critical lesson – that success for students requires a complete paradigm change.
In the past, STEM subjects were considered only relevant to future scientists and engineers. Today, educators know that being fluent in STEM concepts is critical for all our children. The GENESIS development team saw that many students were uncomfortable with STEM subjects and often avoided the topics. GENESIS created new ways to reach out and engage all kids directly in a personalized, empowering, and creative learning environment.
For GENESIS, the STEM program quickly became the STEAM program – in line with the latest educational thinking.
As an art collector and Trustee of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, Sheri encouraged the GENESIS team to add the element of Art and the influence of contemporary artist to the mix, providing many new entry points for children to engage for the first time in STEAM learning.
“ In education, it’s widely accepted that STEM learning prepares kids with the future careers. But because 65% of students will hold careers that don’t exist yet, it’s important that students also learn how to think creatively and collaboratively to solve unforeseeable problems. This is why a recent focus on STEAM (adding creative, arts-based learning to STEM) has arisen. ”National Science Foundation
Taking GENESIS to Underserved Communities
As the next step, the Brotman GENESIS Mobile Innovation Lab was created. This 36 foot trailer is completely outfitted for 20 students to work on projects with the latest in equipment, technology and software – 3D printers, the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality System, multi-media production equipment, robotics, maker tools, and computers with design software.
In 2015, the GENESIS Mobile Lab began spreading STEAM learning across high-need communities in Los Angeles by offering dynamic and interactive “pop-up“ workshops in collaboration with schools, after-school programs like LA’s BEST, and community organizations.
Out of this, a partnership was developed with the Challengers Boys & Girls Club and in December 2016 we opened the GENESIS @ Challengers Innovation Lab to serve over 600 children in a high need area in of South Central Los Angeles.