The Lewis Center for Educational Research began with the idea of building a facility where students of all grade levels could experience science first-hand. This unique 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides access to facilities, instruments, and educators in a variety of hands-on instructional programs for elementary, middle and high school children throughout our local communities and the nation.
Fitting with the philosophy of innovative education, in 1997, the Lewis Center opened the Academy for Academic Excellence (AAE) with 200 students. The AAE is an independent, direct-funded charter school, authorized by Apple Valley USD and is fully WASC-accredited. AAE now offers full-time programs for approximately 1,400 students in grades TK-12 in a small school atmosphere with a caring and highly qualified staff. AAE provides a rigorous, college-prep academic program balanced with many additional opportunities for STEM, visual and performing arts, and leadership at all grade levels. AAE graduation rates are consistently between 95-100% with 54% of students majoring in a STEM field, and 65% of students completing their a-g requirements necessary for direct acceptance to UC/CSU. The AAE’s Air Force Junior ROTC program is ranked within the top 5% of all units worldwide. As a Distinguished Unit with Merit, we are able to nominate students directly to each of the five military academies.
In 2008, the Lewis Center opened the Norton Science and Language Academy (NSLA) in San Bernardino with 200 students in grades K-2. NSLA now has 800 students in grades TK-8 and is planning to expand to high school. NSLA is a Dual Immersion Program that integrates language minority students (English Learners) and language majority students (English Speakers) in order to develop their bilingualism and biliteracy in English and Spanish. Following the 90/10 Model, English is used for a minimum of ten percent of the time beginning in Kindergarten, and the percentage increases annually until both English and Spanish are used equally. There are elective classes in Mandarin, Space Science and multiple STEM offerings. NSLA is currently developing a brand new TK-12 Campus that will feature a World Language and STEM-focused high school. The opening is currently projected for 2020.
In addition to operating two charter schools, the Lewis Center operates the GAVRT Radio Astronomy Program through a strong, 20-year partnership with NASA/JPL. Our GAVRT students locally, nationally and globally have contributed to a number of missions, including the LCROSS Mission to the moon and the Cassini Mission to Saturn. Through our Jupiter Quest campaign, NASA/JPL scientists have used GAVRT data taken of Jupiter to refine synchrotron radiation models which aided in the planning of the Juno mission currently orbiting Jupiter.
The Lewis Center also extends the classroom to the community and beyond with local science and social studies programs, which align with the State of California Board of Education Common Core standards. Programs are offered in Astronomy, Aviation/Aeronautics, Beginning Engineering, California Gold Rush, and Trails West. A foundational partnership exists with Apple Valley Unified School District through the collaboration at Apple Valley Center for Innovation.