Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Meet the Coalition: CalGirlS and Bay Area Science Festival

We are excited to be involved with two fantastic science after school events this week in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Tomorrow, November 1, we will be at the CalGirlS Kick-Off Conference in Berkeley, CA.  CalGirlS stands for the California Girls in STEM, and is the California state affiliate of the National Girls Collaborative Project.  

The Kick-Off is the launch of the statewide initiative to increase girls' involvement in STEM.  We are expecting over 100 program managers, guidance counselors, business partners, technical professionals K-12 teachers, parents and representatives from professional organizations and higher education.

Then on Saturday, November 3, we will be at AT&T Park in San Francisco for the Bay Area Science Festival Discovery Day.  This event is from 11-4 and is free to the public!  We expect 20,000 kids, parents, teachers and other folks who love science at the ballpark on Saturday.

We're thrilled to bring with us several of our local science after school partners: 4-H, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, 826 Valencia, the Alameda County Office of Education, and the brand new California Girls in STEM Collaborative (CalGirlS).  

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, we hope to see you at one of these events!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing honors women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.  The program offers both national and local affiliate competitions.  National winnder receive $500, a laptop and a trip to the March 9, 2013 awards gala.

Since 2007, NCWIT has inducted more than 1300 young women into the Aspirations in Computing Talent Pipeline program and honored more than 50 teachers with the NCWIT Educator Award.  One past award recipient stated,

"Because of this award, I am more self-confident; I'm reminded that I can actually succeed in technology-related fields."

Visit the website to read more from past student and educator award recipients.

Applications are open now through October 31.  Apply at

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coalition Director Carol Tang honored at CA STEM Summit!

We are thrilled to announce that Coalition Director Carol Tang was chosen amongst twelve leading women in STEM to be honored today at the California STEM Summit in San Diego!  Carol was recognized for her work in 'Ensuring all California students have access to high-quality STEM in Out-of-School time'.

Here is the official press release from the California STEM Learning Network:


Business, Education, and Nonprofit Women Leaders Honored at California STEM Summit for Achievements in Bolstering STEM Education and Job Creation Across California 

San Diego, CA – October 16, 2012 – Twelve women from across California will be honored today as “Leading Women in STEM” at an awards luncheon taking place at the 2012 California STEM Summit at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in San Diego.  The Leading Women in STEM awards recognize their achievements in advancing innovative and effective STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education initiatives across the state and serving as exemplary role models for California women and girls. 

The California STEM Summit is a statewide leadership convening of business, government, education, nonprofit and philanthropic luminaries to spark change in STEM education and workforce development and launch new STEM education initiatives. The Summit is convened by the nonprofit California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), which works to bring systemic change to how STEM is taught and learned in California in order to prepare the nation’s most STEM-capable graduates. 

Recognizing the dramatic need for increasing the number of women in STEM fields – only 25% of STEM jobs in the U.S. are held by women – CSLNet is highlighting accomplished women STEM leaders and supporting initiatives across California to bolster STEM education for female students, noting that women with STEM jobs earn 33% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. 

“The California STEM Learning Network is proud to honor these highly accomplished education, industry, non-profit and civic leaders for their innovative and successful efforts to create world-class STEM education across California,” said Chris Roe, California STEM Learning Network CEO. “Their leadership will ensure that our next generation of leaders is truly reflective of the great diversity and talent that we have in our state.”

The Leading Women in STEM honorees are:
Dr. Joan Bissell, Teacher Education and Public School Programs, California State University Chancellor’s Office
Sandra Birmingham, STEM Pipeline Outreach Director, California State University, Channel Islands
Rachel Bondi, Chief of Mobile Innovation, Creative Artists Agency
Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (CA-11)
Dr. Pamela Clute, Assistant Vice Chancellor Educational and Community Engagement, University of California, Riverside
Judy D’Amico, Senior Director of Engagement, Project Lead the Way
Dawn Garrett, SAS Operations Director, Raytheon
Dr. Susan Hackwood, Executive Director, California Council on Science and Technology
Dr. Linda Katehi, Chancellor, UC Davis
Dr. Helen Quinn, Professor Emerita, Stanford University
Dr. Carol Tang, Director, Coalition for Science After School
Nancy Taylor, San Diego County Office of Education/San Diego Science Alliance

Honorees are being awarded for their leadership in advancing critical areas of STEM education including adoption of Next Generation Science Standards, strengthening STEM teacher pathways, advocating for strengthened public-private partnerships and alignment of resources, and ensuring all California students have access to high-quality STEM in out-of-school time.

More about the STEM Summit is at

The California STEM Summit 2012

The California STEM Summit 2012 brings together leaders in STEM fields from education, business and industry, policy, research, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies to create new partnerships that bring full-scale change to STEM education and workforce development. These changes will set in motion a new learning model that ensures all students have access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities beginning in pre-kindergarten through college and university. For more information

About the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet)
The California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) is working to bring systemic change to how STEM is taught and learned in the state in order to prepare the nation’s most STEM-capable graduates. Established as a non-profit in 2010, CSLNet brings together stakeholders from K-12, higher education, business and industry, governmental agencies, community-based organizations, and philanthropies. Through this cross-sector collaboration, CSLNet fosters innovation and helps to scale and sustain effective STEM teaching and learning in and out of school time for all students. Learn more at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Can there be too much technology in museums?

Today I read an interesting article on about how videos, mobile apps and other technologies are a "waste of time" in artifact museums.  The authors described a recent visit to Discovery Times Square in Manhattan to see an exhibit called "Spy: The Secret World of Espionage."  Rather than having a titillating experience with cool, declassified CIA gadgets, the authors emerged feeling assaulted by too much technology.

They went on to cite the work of Dirk vom Lehn and Christian Heath, who found that museum visitors are often 'seduced' by technology, and sometimes wind up focusing on screened presentations rather than the actual artifacts on display.

I found this critical look on technology in museums both refreshing and timely, as the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference begins this week.  Although the article focuses on artifact museums it made me wonder, could there be such a thing as too much technology in our science museums, too?

Luckily, the Coalition for Science After School is headquartered at the Lawrence Hall of Science, so with this question in mind I went upstairs to take a look at one of our new exhibits.  Nano is a collection of experiences and exhibits created in part by the NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network, and it was designed to expose people to the teeny, tiny world of nanotechnology.  I wondered how the exhibit would approach explaining things too small to see.  Would I be overwhelmed with a bank of scanning electron microscopes, or videos simulating zooming in closer and closer to an atom?

I was pleased to find that the exhibit, while it does include a video, is for the most part truly a hands-on experience.  Visitors manipulate and explore objects to observe and compare results.  The questions that arise during these experiences are further explored in the video.  I watched a young visitor and her grandmother explore ferrofluid with magnets for several minutes, delighted by the unexpected behavior of the tiny iron particles in water.  I can imagine that after having a hands-on experience with ferrofluid that watching a video about it would be much more meaningful!

My favorite part of Nano was another incredibly simple, low-tech piece:

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by too much technology in a science museum?