CSSI Honored by STEM Award Nomination

UC San Diego’s CREATE STEM Success Initiative, nominated for a 2018 Athena Pinnacle Award, supports innovative K-20 STEM opportunities to learn. As just one of hundreds of examples, students from University City High School in San Diego Unified School District (above) benefited from a CSSI-led grant linking local researchers to high school science teachers and students.

The CREATE STEM Success Initiative team was pleased to be nominated this year for an Athena Pinnacle Award alongside some of San Diego’s top organizations supporting women in STEM.

The annual awards ceremony is hosted by Athena, a regional professional association of 500-plus members dedicated to advancing women in STEM through executive leadership initiatives, educational and mentoring programs and targeted networking.

This year’s Pinnacle Awards Gala celebrated 20 years of honoring exemplary leaders and organizations that promote women in STEM fields. More than 600 guests attended the May 3 evening ceremony at the Hyatt La Jolla to honor 75 nominees who work in life sciences, technology, education and service areas. The CREATE STEM Success Initiative (CSSI) at UC San Diego was nominated for an award in the organization category along with AbacusNext, Alta Environment, Career Sparks, Intuit, Oracle, Point Loma Nazarene University, Sony and ViaSat. Intuit received the Pinnacle Award in this category for its work to support and develop women in STEM.

Dr. Alec Barron, teacher on special assignment with the Escondido Union High School District, and Athena Pinnacle Award nominee Dr. Francie Barron, Nanomedical Diagnostics (left), with CSSI Research and Evaluation Co-coordinators Drs. Larry McClure and Monica Sweet, at the 2018 Athena Pinnacle Awards Gala.

The CSSI is a collective effort linking UC San Diego faculty, staff and students and the San Diego education community to support K-20 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the region. CSSI efforts, which are designed to shore up the local pipeline toward STEM skills, degrees and careers, are supported by faculty and staff at UC San Diego’s Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE). Drs. Monica Sweet and Larry McClure, CSSI research and evaluation co-coordinators, attended the awards ceremony on behalf of the CSSI team.

“We’re honored that the CSSI’s broad range of innovative efforts in K-20 STEM education were recognized with an Athena Pinnacle Award nomination,” Sweet said. “Each program housed within CREATE, including the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, centers around equity efforts in local schools, districts and communities. Our focus is always to support and promote leadership development of educators and underrepresented and low-income students across many of our STEM equity projects. It was inspiring to meet and learn about others in our community who also foster women in STEM, and to learn more about how we can connect to further this work here on campus and beyond.”

A short list of CSSI projects that support women in leadership roles from campus, community and local school districts include:

  • Creating, Scaling and Sustaining NGSS-Aligned, ONR-Informed Research in High School Science,” a half-million-dollar grant awarded by the Office of Naval Research to CREATE. The grant facilitated transfer of local science research findings from San Diego researchers at SIO, SPAWAR and the National Marine Mammal Foundation to area high school science classrooms and involved a research component to determine how this could best be accomplished. Led by a team of women principal investigators, the grant linked 80 high school science teachers (41 women) with 16 researchers (9 women) to create 18 research-derived science lessons that could be used for years to come.
  • In 2015, CREATE helped the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and UC San Diego faculty to secure a nearly $1M NSF STEM-C grant (CS-CaVE) from the National Science Foundation. The grant funds the design, support, and sustainability of district-based teacher professional development supporting teachers in teaching the new Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles course, and studies, in real time, how districts can scale up and sustain CS courses in low-income, underserved schools. Over the course of the grant to date, the number of AP CSP courses and additional CS courses has more than doubled in our partner districts—and, as importantly, more and more women are becoming involved. More than half of grant-trained teachers were women, and there are increasing numbers of young women enrolling in CS classes and completing them.
  • CSSI staff and researchers are collaborating with UC San Diego colleagues in the Department of Reproductive Medicine to both implement and study a new secondary-school teacher professional development component of the Reproductive Oncofertility Science Academy (ROSA) summer program. Last summer, four local middle school teachers (all women) learned alongside 20 high school girls in last summer’s academy and then developed an NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) lesson on reproductive science. CSSI staff and researchers helped design the program’s teacher professional development module and provided research and evaluation services to help campus faculty discern best practices for implementing these types of learning programs.
  • Mathematics, the “Achilles Heel” of college preparation efforts, is the focus of the San Diego Math Network (SDMN), funded by a $1.9 million grant in 2015 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant, led by principal investigators and CREATE leaders Drs. Mica Pollock and Susan Yonezawa, focuses on designing and executing dozens of “learning events” for area K-12 school teachers (often mostly women). Notable learning events have included a daylong symposium in August to address the high school to college transition in mathematics and a one-day workshop in March 2018 on promoting a growth mindset in early mathematics learners.

Contact us to find out how to connect with UC San Diego’s CREATE STEM Success Initiative.