STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We focus on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in the ways that students learn most effectively. STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning.
Single-Gender STEM Program
St. Bernard High School is the only co-educational high school in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to offer single-gender math and science courses. Freshmen and sophomores at St. Bernard High School take math and science courses in all-girl and all-boy settings. Started in 2014, our Single-Gender STEM Program is the only one of its kind within a Catholic co-educational school setting in Los Angeles. All other classes at St. Bernard are co-ed, providing “the best of both worlds,” and a well-rounded high school experience for our students. Our program is based on research that shows that boys and girls build confidence differently in the areas of science and math, and that women and minority students drop out of college STEM majors at a much higher rate than their Caucasian, male counterparts.
Balancing The Odds
By the year 2020, there will be 1 million U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs unable to be filled by the American workforce. In elementary school, boys and girls achieve equally in math. By high school, a gender difference emerges. In college, females and minorities drop out of STEM majors at twice the rate of other students.
To encourage all students to pursue STEM majors and careers, St. Bernard High School, a Catholic, Co-educational institution in Playa del Rey, CA, created a single-gender STEM program. This is the story of girls in STEM at St. Bernard High School.
Goals of STEM at SBHS
Through our STEM program, we strive to inspire our students to:
- DISCOVER their Passion
- We stimulate interest in STEM by constantly challenging girls and boys uniquely through research based teaching practices.
- GROW in Confidence
- We foster confidence and self-esteem in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics areas through care and collaboration, as well as through activity and competition.
- ENGAGE in Real-world Opportunities
- We offer real world co-ed opportunities through mentoring programs and partnerships with local STEM organizations. (Aerospace, Boeing, Raytheon, YouTube, Northrop Grumman, and Google are just some of our neighbors!)
- LEAD into their Career
- We work to prepare more women, men, and minority students to successfully pursue STEM majors in college and beyond in order to improve America’s ability to compete in the global economy.
STEM Program Features
- Single-Gender Math and Science classes for 9th and 10th grade students
- Engineering and Robotics Team
- Our Engineering and Robotics Team has a designated robotics studio, where they can run tests and practice engineering challenges.
- In our inaugural year, the 15-member FIRST FTC Robotics Team earned 13th place out of 26 teams in their first competition ever. Since then, the Robotics Team has continued to excel in competitions, and has even won awards for Coding and Organization.
- Aerospace STEM Summit
- In this annual event, 30-40 St. Bernard High School students are nominated to mentor 80 middle school students as they complete an engineering challenge. The students design and test their projects under the guidance of employees from The Aerospace Corporation.
- Projects have included balsa wood bridge building, and converting sound waves to light waves to play music via a laser beam.
- STEM Speaker Series
- Speakers so far have included: Heal the Bay, Air Force, The Aerospace Corporation, California Science Center, Ernst and Young Cybersecurity, and more.
- Field trips to STEM events, local businesses, and natural spaces
- Students have had the opportunity to tour both The Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman. This year, a group of students attended and participated in a Creative Coding Festival at UCLA. Students have also toured the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant in El Segundo, and have visited local beaches and tide pools to study marine ecosystems.
- Coding Camp
- iPads in STEM classrooms
- A recent technology grant has allowed us to fully stock our STEM classrooms with iPads for curricular use by students.
- 9th and 10th grade students participate in a 1-to-1 iPad program.
- Marine Biology Lab with 8 saltwater aquariums
- Chilton Fellowship Program
- A cohort of 4 students are mentored by General Kevin Chilton and Maj. General Catherine Chilton through a yearly leadership retreat and ongoing communication.
- General Kevin Chilton attended St. Bernard High School from 1968 to 1972. While here, he excelled in his math and science classes, and dreamed of being a pilot for United Airlines, partly inspired by watching planes land and take off from our vantage point right here on campus. General Chilton has served in a variety of positions in his 35 year long career in the US Air Force, however, one of his most exciting deployments was outer space! General Chilton was assigned to NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1987 and became an astronaut in 1988. A veteran of three space flights during 11 years at NASA, he was the pilot for the maiden voyage of the shuttle Endeavour. He piloted Endeavour a second time, and then commanded a crew of six aboard the Atlantis for the third docking mission to the Russian space station.
Building the Future
St. Bernard High School is continuously seeking partnerships with corporations in our local community, with the goal of providing even more opportunities to our students, such as internships and increased curricular offerings.
We aim to create a pipeline for well-prepared and confident STEM majors from high school to college.