Founder of the Elementary Institute of Science


Tom Watts: Founder of the Elementary Institute of Science

1964 in America was a time of tremendous social transformation. It was the year the U.S. Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act.  President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty and called for Americans to form the Great Society. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. It was also a time of rapid scientific advancement. The American public was riveted by the Space Race. The World’s Fair showcased fantastic possibilities such as underwater cities for the future. Giant main frame computers offered a glimpse into the coming information age. The Elementary Institute of Science was born against this exciting backdrop of events.

Mr. Tom Watts, an elementary school teacher in Southeast San Diego, saw the bright potential in his students.  He knew that with the right educational enrichment and support his students could participate in emerging STEM occupations and a growing economy. The promise of the future, the heart of the community and the momentum of the Civil Rights movement coalesced. Mr. Watts started a modest afterschool club in 1964. The club was embraced by the children and supported by the community and grew to become one of the first and finest afterschool STEM education programs in the U.S. EIS is proud that our foundation was built on the ideals and the hope of the Civil Rights movement. We honor our founder, Tom Watts, and the many community members that worked alongside him to make our community a better place through access to education. EIS is their legacy.

“The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes shut and a visionary has their eyes open.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” Speech of 1963.