December 08, 2020

Student Spotlight: How the TGR Learning Lab impacted my discovery and path to engineering

When she walked through the doors of the TGR Learning Lab (TGRLL) as a fifth grader, Amelie Jimenez knew she had found the perfect space to explore all her interests. Now a 17-year-old junior at Los Angeles Unified School District’s Bell High School in Bell, Ca, Amelie can’t imagine her educational journey without the support of the staff, teachers and classes that have shaped and guided her education journey. With plans of studying engineering one day, Amelie reflects on her favorite in-person and virtual classes, the lessons she’s learned from COVID-19 and why every student should participate in TGR Learning Lab programs.

TGR Learning Lab student Amelie Jimenez smiles with gratitude for the support and programs offered by TGR Foundation and the flagship TGR Learning Lab.

TGR Foundation: What are five words that best describe you?

Amelie Jimenez: I am confident, hard-working, open-minded, courageous and adventurous.


TGRF:  When did you start attending classes at the TGR Learning Lab?

AJ: When I was in 5th grade my class was taken to the Learning Lab for a week. I was given the opportunity to explore the Forensic Science class, and I absolutely loved it. From that moment on I decided that I would attend classes at the TGR Learning Lab once I was eligible in 7th grade.


TGRF:  Thinking back to life before COVID-19, what have been some of your favorite in-person ​TGR Learning Lab classes and why have you enjoyed them?

AJ: Some of my favorite in-person classes were Universal Science, Forensic Science and Mechanical Engineering. I learned new science skills by making my own ice cream, and by analyzing fingerprints, I gained a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a forensic investigator. Also, in the mechanical engineering class I discovered how difficult it is to build a city because of factors that can affect the environment and people.


TGRF:  Which virtual classes did you take with us this summer and fall?

AJ: During the summer I took three virtual classes – Space Science, Photography and Healthy Habits at Home. This fall I took Space Science again and Mind Craft the Science of the Mind.

Amelie works on a participates in virtual TGR Learning Lab courses during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.

TGRF:  Which class(es) did you enjoy the most? What did you like about the class(es)?

AJ: I really enjoyed the Space Science class because there were many small projects I could work on at home and it was fun creating them. For example, I created a version of a small rocket, my own planetarium by exploring different constellations and I was even able to take a look at spectronomy just by using a phone flashlight, a sheet of paper and a container filled with water. What I enjoyed about all my classes was to still be able to put together projects at home and also use skills I learned and apply it to school.


TGRF: Share something interesting or new you learned from any of our summer classes.

AJ: Something new I learned from the Photography class over the summer was that a series of pictures can create a simple story. Also, each angle can represent a different meaning in your photo whether it’s sadness, happiness or other feelings.


TGRF:  Even though the classes were virtual, were the classes interactive and engaging?

AJ: All the classes were very interactive and engaging. My favorite part of all my classes was getting to create mini projects at home like a paper rocket (Space Science), creating a story with pictures (Photography) and using Goosechase to answer questions and submit pictures to try and accumulate as many points as I could.


TGRF:  How have you been adjusting to school and life during COVID-19?

AJ: COVID-19 has changed all our lives, but personally I have been getting used to it. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was unsure of how everything was going to turn out regarding the end of my sophomore year in high school and the beginning of my junior year. I was really excited at the end of my sophomore year because it was going great, but sadly because of COVID-19 my school had to cancel all events and move to online learning. The beginning of this school year then came along and I was a bit more prepared for what to expect. I believe the school was too, therefore making it easier for me and others to learn. Although everything is going well online, I would rather be at school learning and socializing with classmates, friends and teachers. My life has also changed throughout this pandemic. Usually, I would be traveling with my family or hanging out with friends, but now with everyone social distancing, wearing masks and managing travel limitations, it does get a bit hard to avoid going out if it’s not necessary. If I have learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is to adapt to a new routine and realize what your priorities are along with having some rest in your life.


TGRF:  Why do you like being a TGR Learning Lab student?

AJ: I love being a TGR Learning Lab student because the Learning Lab throughout the years has helped me in so many ways. Because of the Learning Lab, I was able to attend a summer camp at UC Santa Barbara for a month with a scholarship and go to Disneyland to learn about STEM careers and experience the Star Wars Rise of Resistance ride before it opened to the public. Now as a junior in high school the TGR Learning Lab has helped me look at different colleges and prepare for my future. I love this program along with everything and everyone who is involved!

Amile connects with other students participating in virtual TGR Learning Lab classes during COVID-19 school closures after completing a hands-on project guided by her instructor.

TGRF: Is there a particular Learning Lab teacher that has inspired or mentored you?

AJ: Everyone at the TGR Learning Lab has always helped me throughout the years. I have been grateful to learn from all of them, but there was a particular teacher, Mrs. Dennard, that I have always felt comfortable with. She was my first teacher at the Learning Lab. After taking several more classes with her, I would continue to talk to Mrs. Dennard and ask any questions I had regarding the program, homework and my plans for the current or next school year.


TGRF:  Have any of our Learning Lab classes (this summer/fall or even any time prior) helped introduce you to new careers?

AJ: Yes, going to the Learning Lab has helped me explore different careers such as forensic science, an engineering, a marine biology and many more!


TGRF: What is your dream job?

AJ: My dream job is to become someone that can assist the community in many ways. I have decided to become an engineer to help come up with solutions to all sorts of problems. I know that becoming an engineer will be tough but it will not be impossible for me.


TGRF: Would you recommend the virtual TGR Learning Lab classes to other students? If so, why?

AJ: I would recommend the virtual classes from the TGR Learning Lab because although we aren’t at the facility working with other students and staff, we still get to take advantage of the opportunities the Learning Lab is providing. Everyone online helps you out with any schoolwork, gives you information on colleges and is there for you even if you just want to talk. I have been coming to this program for about five years now, and all I can say is that they are great and you should join the TGR Learning Lab!


Redefining what it means to be a champion.

TGR Learning Lab courses are supported by The Boeing Company, Bank of America, Clyde W. and Joan A. Hampton Foundation, Western Digital Foundation, Anaheim Community Foundation, Pacific Life Foundation and Beckman Coulter. For more information click here or visit