Perimeter Outreach builds Californian connections

Perimeter’s Educational Outreach team partners with the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and Environmental Research Advocates to bring science resources to LA teachers.

Los Angeles is a city more likely to conjure up visions of Hollywood stars than neutron stars. But physics and the arts are not as disparate as they may seem.
Philanthropist and activist Denise Avchen, who co-founded Environmental Research Advocates (ERA) with her husband Terry Avchen, a prominent environmental lawyer, was inspired to support science education after seeing budding artists fall on hard times without a backup plan.
“When you’re dealing with the arts, the impetus is creative. You’re absorbing the world around you. And I find that in physics,” said Avchen. 
Now, teachers in Los Angeles are boosting their ability to engage students with science and math thanks to a growing partnership between Perimeter Institute and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA. 
The collaboration was made possible thanks to the vision and support of ERA, a global non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing financing and recognition to environmentally sustainable projects.
After visiting Perimeter and seeing its resources in action at a local classroom, Avchen knew California teachers and their students could benefit immensely from them. “It’s such a great way to present the material,” she said.
When she got home, Avchen reached out to educational and community leaders across LA, including CNSI, which regularly hosts events for more than 400 teachers in the area. In 2016, Perimeter’s Educational Outreach team was invited to present a two-day pilot workshop for 50 teachers. The project was a resounding success and this year the workshop grew into a full-fledged conference.
In February, 43 educators from underfunded inner-city charter schools gathered at CNSI, staying overnight at the UCLA campus while they delved deeply into the process of science. Workshops, demonstrations, and activities spanned the full gamut of modern physics, from quantum mechanics to cosmology.
In addition to materials and supplies, teachers took home pedagogical strategies that they can use right away. “They loved the new deep science they learned. They could immediately take it back to their classrooms – that’s really empowering,” said Greg Dick, Perimeter’s Director of Educational Outreach.
“These great teachers, the ones who take their weekends and drive long distances to come to a weekend workshop, are fighting for their students. They want the kids to have better lives,” said Avchen. “That’s what I’m hoping our collaboration will do – give kids a chance. Perimeter does that all over the world.”
– Stephanie Keating
Perimeter Outreach join teachers from Los Angeles at the California NanoSystems Institute.



About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

For more information, contact:

Director of Communications & Media (On Leave)
519-569-7600 x4474

“When you’re dealing with the arts, the impetus is creative. You’re absorbing the world around you. And I find that in physics.”


Denise Avchen, ERA