About the Center

The Science Learning Center (SLC) is a unique learning space located within the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. Guided by faculty from the Science Education Department, the SLC seeks to provide exceptional learning experiences for both local K-8 youth as well as the students of CSULB through exhibits and activities that encourage questioning and hands-on investigation.

Field Trips

We feature a number of hands-on activities that engage students in Science and Engineering Practices across a variety of Core Ideas. For example, students can practice their observation and questioning skills while exploring mealworms and beetles. Or students can focus on defining problems and designing solutions to build a tower with limited resources, much as an engineer might do. Students also have time to explore the different hands-on exhibits and unique science objects featured in the SLC.

Request a School Visit

kids turning a crank and generating an electric spark


The Science Learning Center has recently begun bringing science to the community by participating in a variety of afterschool and weekend events. These outreach programs bring living collections and hands-on science to local youth and families. We look to continue this effort with more science topics, even featuring the fascinating work of CSULB scientists and researchers.

Science Learning Center educators at an outreach event

Teaching Practice

CSULB students are critical to the success of the Science Learning Center. Students enrolled in Liberal Studies, Science, Science Education and Teaching Credential classes have opportunities to gain experience teaching science to kids and thinking about how to design hands-on science activities. The center also encourages science undergraduates and graduates to volunteer at the center as a way to practice 'talking science' to non-scientists.

teacher demonstrating a cyclone bottle

Virtual Exhibits

To broaden our reach to those who may be unable to visit us in-person, we have created virtual exhibits. Now you can explore science with us from the comfort of wherever you already are!

View Our Exhibits

Come Visit Us!

Want to see what we are all about? See all the ways to visit us!


The following is our story, from inception to today.

It Started with an Idea: Hands-On Science Learning

kids touching a plasma globe

With the San Francisco Science Exploratorium's ground breaking, interactive science displays by Frank Oppenhiemer as an example, CSULB Physics professors R.D. Ayers and J.V. Hutcherson approached the CSULB administration. In 1979, with the support of then CSULB president Stephen Horn, and college dean Roger Bauer, the CNSM Natural Sciences Museum opened in the basement of Peterson Hall 2 and featured, among other things, moon rocks from one of the Apollo trips and Henrietta, a 15' 8" Burmese python who was a star attraction until she retired in the late nineties. All of the displays were made to encourage touching, exploring, and questions.

And Continued with: Take It Out Into the Community

child holding a string telephone to their ear

In addition to opening the museum to the campus community, in 1980, the university supported a unique outreach program by donating to the museum a 27-foot mobile home that was converted into the CSULB Mobile Science Museum and took hands-on science learning out into the schools. For the past 36 years, the CSULB Mobile Science Museum supplemented local schools' science instruction and was a welcome addition at local community events. The MSM carried over 40 exhibits that invite hands-on inquiry from both children and adults in astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, zoology, and marine biology.

Improvements Continued and a New Name Emerged

In 1991, CNSM staff member and Science Shop technician, Jim McKibben, became the director of the museum. McKibben had a love for science learning and he was dedicated to creating hands-on exhibits that immersed the participants into doing science as opposed to observing it. In a move to have a name that fit the evolving scope of the museum, the CNSM Natural Science Museum became the Science Learning Center (SLC).

New Space Increased Interest

When the Hall of Science opened in 2011, the SLC moved to a large, spacious area just off the main foyer on the new first floor. In its new location, the SLC quickly became a featured stop on campus tours, a popular on-campus field trip for numerous summer camps, and was featured on the President's list of campus gems.

Reinvention and Looking to the Future

In September 2016, SLC director Jim McKibben retired from the University. The Science Education Department, then led by Professor Jim Kisiel and Department Chair Lisa Martin, recognized the need to keep this unique learning space and build upon the legacy developed by Mr. McKibben over the past 30+ years. With the support of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Science Education Department, and various partners within the University and local communities, we hope to continue use the Science Learning Center (and Science Outreach) to not only support science learning for students in our local community, but to provide opportunities for California State University, Long Beach students to develop teaching and communication skills by developing and leading educational programming at the Center.

As we look to create a sustainable model for keeping the Science Learning Center around for another 30 years, we also look for new and innovative ways to use this 'hands-on' learning space to support the learning and teaching efforts of the University and the Long Beach area.