CyberGirlz Find Friends at Facebook

Photo: David Schmitz

SJSU CyberGirlz program participants at Facebook (photos by David Schmitz).

Thirty-eight middle school girls from San Jose State University’s CyberGirlz program took part in a unique experience this summer that may ultimately be a life changing experience for them. They went to cybersecurity camp at Facebook. For months, students from SJSU’s Jay Pinson STEM Education program taught the girls basic coding and cybersecurity skills in after-school programs made possible through funding from Symantec, Intel, AT&T and Facebook.

At Facebook, the girls advanced those skills and learned more about malware, firewalls and cyber-ethics. They also heard from Facebook’s chief security officer, and a panel of female employees who shared their personal career stories and advice on getting into the cybersecurity field.


Facebook gave each girl a new laptop computer to make sure they continue to hone their cyber sleuthing skills.

Facebook, along with the Jay Pinson STEM Education program and several non-profit groups  are working together to get young girls interested in STEM fields, especially computer science.

They hope to pique their interest early on since some researchers believe girls loose interest in STEM subjects around 12 or 13 years of age. Facebook hopes to keep the interest going. They gave each girl a new laptop computer to make sure they continue to hone their cyber sleuthing skills.

The Jay Pinson STEM Education program is also gearing up for a new year of providing classroom instruction to elementary and middle school students in the San Jose area.

“We feel there’s a need to provide a safe space for girls to explore their curiosity and skills in cybersecurity, so in ten years we see a workforce that resembles our community with at least 50 percent men and 50 percent women participating,” said Virginia Lehmkuhl-Dakhwe, director of the Jay Pinson STEM Education program.

teachers working with models that will aid in computer designs

Teachers Enlist in Intro to Engineering Design Bootcamp

teachers working with models that will aid in computer designs

At SJSU this summer, high school teachers learn about computer-aided design software and best practices for engaging their students in a hands-on, project-based curriculum.

By Emily Allen, Associate Dean, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering

This month, 20 high school teachers from Northern California schools are on campus for their Introduction to Engineering Design “bootcamp,” a two-week intensive training workshop for our Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum. Project Lead the Way is an important foundation for SJSU’s Engineering Pathways to Success program. The public-private initiative seeks to engage Bay Area middle and high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and empower them to succeed in college engineering programs and engineering careers. More than 2,000 students in 23 Bay Area schools currently participate in the program, with another 20 schools coming on board this fall.  The teachers reside in Campus Village housing and spend eight hours a day in the engineering building learning computer-aided design software and best practices for engaging their students in a hands-on, project-based curriculum. Participants include math, science, and career/tech ed teachers; among them are a few who entered the teaching profession after obtaining engineering degrees.

photo of Susan Santone and incoming SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi

Nationally Acclaimed Educator Headlines Sustainability Conference

photo of Susan Santone and incoming SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi

Susan Santone and incoming SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi. Photo by Michelle Terris.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Especially in Silicon Valley, we all know we need to produce more scientists and engineers to lead the way in developing a sustainable way of life. The question is – how? Susan Santone might have the answer.

The driving force behind Michigan-based Creative Change Educational Solutions headlined the “Educating for Sustainability” conference May 3 at SJSU.

The conference was extremely well received, with over 50 participants including educators from as far away as the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The genius of Santone’s approach is it is comprehensive (did you know women in rural Africa spend more than 25 percent of their day carrying water?) while being effective.

Santone’s goal is to affect positive change while increasing student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math, known in academic circles as STEM education.

Santone found the Silicon Valley crowd “acutely aware of the needs and issues surroundings sustainability and STEM education … because of the location and the historic role of STEM in the region.”

“At the same time,” she continued, “the event echoed common themes I’ve found everywhere, from rural Minnesota to urban New York: People have a deep concern about our shared future and the type of world we will leave our children.”

The SJSU Connection

The event was funded in part by Chevron and hosted by the Bay Area Earth Science Institute, within the College of Science. BAESI provides professional development opportunities for teachers in grades 4-12.

BAESI Co-Director Ellen Metzger met Santone while searching for new materials for her master’s in science education students.

Incoming SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi opened the conference by emphasizing no other region of the world is better positioned to lead the move from oil to alternative fuels than Silicon Valley.

Qayoumi noted the transition will take a huge amount of innovation and entrepreneurialism from a wide range of college-educated professionals, just the sort of people produced by SJSU.

In her opening marks, SJSU Sustainability Director Katherine Cushing shared the story of a San Francisco teacher and SJSU alumna who incorporated sustainability into her math class curriculum.

So for example, instead of solving polynomial equations in the abstract, students used such work as a tool to arrive at solutions for real world environmental issues.

“This approach really can work toward improving student achievement,” said Cushing, noting the students’ test scores improved.

Sharing Ideas

On that positive note, participants literally rolled up their sleeves and got to work on group projects that demonstrate the classroom curriculum developed by Santone.

Afterwards, Bellarmine College Preparatory Science Department Chair Patrick Adams found much to contemplate while returning to work.

“As I was riding my bike back to Bellarmine after the conference, I was struck by how incredibly important opportunities like attending this conference and meeting with a broad cross-section of the community are for educators and planners,” Adams said. “We all spend lots of time working on our own projects and we all have very busy lives but this time to share our ideas and struggles is critical to our collaboration and growth.

“The second ‘big idea’ that I took with me was the inclusion of the creative arts in the STEM model. Thinking about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math without including the ‘A’ for Arts would fail to recognize the absolute need for creativity, imagination and expression that will be required in order to teach for sustainability and move our entire global community toward a truly sustainable future. “

Group shot of SJSU officials accepting $550,000 check.

Science and Math Teacher Training Program Receives $550,000 Gift

Group shot of SJSU officials accepting $550,000 check.

Dana C. Ditmore presents monetary gift to the Center for STEM Education.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

SJSU’s premiere science and math K-12 teacher training program has received a big boost.

A local group that originally came together to raise funds for two science fairs held in San Jose provided $550,000 in residuals to the Center for STEM Education, including the Jay Pinson Program.

“Jay always said the teacher made the difference when it comes to preparing students for college,” said Dana C. Ditmore, International Science & Engineeering Fair (ISEF) Association board president for events held in 2001 and 2010.

STEM, an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, is common on college campuses nationwide. But it takes on special significance in association with our region and campus.

Pinson, a dean emeritus of engineering, elevated SJSU’s national stature by raising millions to modernize the building housing his college. Even in retirement, he poured his energy into projects readying Silicon Valley youth for work in the tech sector.

Pinson made seeking support from tech executives like Ditmore a top priority. In return, SJSU earned Ditmore’s trust. At a recent checking signing ceremony, he lauded the STEM Center  as a three-college initiative led by the College of Science, with the colleges of education and engineering.

“What I see is a very collaborative environment at this university,” Ditmore said. “This is admirable, and not an easy thing to do, and it’s one of the reasons why we feel we are doing the right thing by leaving the residual to the university. We know it’s in good hands.”

The funding will be used in part to support pre-service teachers pursuing single-subject credentials in math or science, and to provide current teachers with professional development. Keep in mind these are the very same teachers who build the pipeline feeding students to science fairs, SJSU and the entire tech industry.

This is a point not lost on Gerry Selter, provost and vice president for academic affairs. He recalled ISEF, Pinson and the program now bearing his name share a long history. SJSU was the host university for two fairs, supplying all sorts of support from venues to judges, and Pinson was among the first college deans nationwide to offer scholarships to science fair standouts.

“It more than pleases me that those early efforts have created a new model of collaboration,” Selter said. “This is a clear sign that interdisciplinary partnerships coupled with public support from our community, individuals and alumni can bring change. This is what SJSU is all about.”