September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

STEM Task Force

Posted: Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A volunteer group appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to explore the status of STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) education in curriculum, instructional practices, professional learning, etc.

On May 24, 2012, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla convened 55 volunteers to become members of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force.

Co-chaired by Herb Brunkhorst and Susan Hackwood, the STEM Task Force members will explore the status of STEM education in curriculum, instructional practices, professional learning, student testing, existing resources, and community and business partnership.

The STEM Task Force members will then assess the state’s future needs, as well as recommend a blueprint on how to improve teaching, learning, and equal access to STEM-related courses and careers for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The public may also contribute information–including resources and research–to the Task Force via the Brokers of Expertise Web site at


The STEM Task Force members will recommend a blueprint on how to improve teaching, learning, and equal access to STEM-related courses and careers for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The resultant blueprint will include career technical education, and newly developed national Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

The Task Force will organize its work to address five key areas—curriculum and instruction, resources and infrastructure, professional learning, testing and assessment, and community and business partnerships.

  1. Curriculum and Instructional Practices: Review the status of STEM education and recommend how to improve instructional practices and engage more students in STEM-related fields.
  2. Resources: Identify existing resources and recommend the development and dissemination of additional resources. These resources should assist schools develop STEM programs that are relevant and engaging to students.
  3. Professional Learning: Identify existing and recommend professional learning support that provides high quality professional learning opportunities to educators of STEM-related courses and disciplines.
  4. Student Testing/Assessment: Review, identify, and recommend state and local STEM-related testing and assessments that measure applied learning and real-world situations and what constitutes high-quality STEM programs and disciplines.
  5. Community and Business Partnerships: Identify, review, and recommend how community and business partnerships, including informal learning settings, can support and engage students in STEM education.
Members (bolded names = CSTA members as of June 1, 2012)
  • Herb Brunkhorst, CSU San Bernardino, Professor and Department Chair of Science, Math and Technology, Task Force Co-Chair
  • Susan Hackwood, California Council on Science and Technology, Executive Director, Task Force Co-Chair
  • Elizabeth Babcock, California Academy of Sciences, Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts Dean of Education
  • Arthur Beauchamp, UC Davis School of Education, Professor
  • Robert Becker, Downey Unified School District, Science Teacher
  • Susan Bonilla, California Assembly, Assemblywoman
  • Joan Buchanan, California Assembly, Assemblywoman
  • Aida Buelna, Esparto School District, Superintendent, Esparto SD
  • Lewis Chappelear, Los Angeles Unified School District, Teacher
  • Muhammed Chaudhry, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, President and CEO
  • Kevin Cuff, UC Berkeley/ Lawrence Hall of Science , Director, East Bay Academy for Young Scientists, Coordinator of Public Programs
  • Doug Dall, Glendale Unified School District, Principal
  • Gina Dalma, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Program ofOicer
  • Jeff Davis, California After School Network , Afterschool Network Coordinator
  • LaTonya Derbigny, Vallejo Unified School District, Director, School and Student Accountability
  • Kathi DiRanna, Wested/K-12 Alliance, Executive Director
  • Rowena Douglas, Exploratorium, Director of Educational Outreach
  • Zack Dowell, Los Rios Community College, Instructor
  • Jon Dueck, Fresno County Office of Education, Mathematics and Science Consultant
  • Richard Farnsworth, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Manager, Education Outreach
  • Karen Flammer, Sally Ride Science and Sally Ride Science Camp, President and CEO
  • Anna Gaiter, California Science Center, Los Angeles, Director of Professional Development
  • John Galisky, Lompoc Unified School District, Teacher
  • Linda Galliher, Bay Area Council, Vice President Public Policy
  • Emilio Garza, Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles, Assistant Principal
  • Susie Hakansson, California Mathematics Project, Executive Director
  • Christi Harter, San Mateo County Office of Education, STEM Center Director
  • Joe Head, SummerHill Homes, CEO
  • Arron Jiron, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Program Officer, STEM Projects
  • Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Office of Education, Superintendent
  • John Knezovich, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Director, University Outreach and Science Education
  • John Lamb, California National Guard, Starbase Youth Program, Sargent Major, Director
  • Kathlan Latimer, California Mathematics Council, President
  • Meri Maben, U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Honda’s Office, 15th Congressional District (Strong advocate for STEM)
  • Devon MacLeod, Galt Unified School District, Teacher
  • Robin Mencher, KQED, Director, STEM Resources
  • Suzanne Nakashima, Yuba City Unified School District, Teacher
  • Rick Pomeroy, California Science Teachers Association, President
  • Oscar Porter, Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA)/UCOP, Statewide Executive Director
  • Curren Price, California Senate, Senator
  • Bruce Roberts, California School Boards Association, Natomas USD Board Member
  • Christopher Roe, California STEM Learning Network, CEO
  • Jacqueline Rojas, Californians Together , Teacher
  • Patricia “Pat” Rucker, California State Board of Education, Member
  • Tim Sbranti, CDE Foundation, CDE Foundation Liaison
  • David Seidel, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Manager of Elementary and Secondary Education Programs
  • Maria Simani, California Science Project, Executive Director
  • Gerald Solomon, Samueli Foundation, Executive Director
  • Mark Sontag, Irvine Unified School District, Curriculum Coordinator
  • Leroy Tripett, Intel Corp, STEM Coordinator
  • Mark Walker, Applied Materials, Head of Philanthropy
  • Willie B. Williams, National Technical Association, Regional President
  • Alison Wiscombe, California State PTA, PTA Representative
  • Mark Wyland, California Senate, Senator
  • Tom Zazueta, Coakley Hagerty, CEO

Current California Department of Education STEM Information is available on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Web page.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.