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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #16-72
October 10, 2016
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0819

California Schools Chief Tom Torlakson to
Kick Off State's Biggest Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Math (STEM) Symposium

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today kicked off California's largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education symposium.

Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach, welcomed more than 3,000 teachers, parents, students, researchers, entrepreneurs and others to the two-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“STEM education is a key pathway to success in 21st century careers and college, especially in the high-tech, international economy,” Torlakson said. “We want all of our students to get excited about STEM learning, dream big, and reach for the stars.”

The third annual event showcases the importance of STEM education. Speakers highlighted California’s Next Generation Science Standards, a revolutionary update in teaching California’s 6.2 million public school students about science.

Symposium speakers include Sir Ken Robinson, whose presentations about creativity and innovation at the prestigious TED Conferences have more than 300 million Web views. Also speaking will be Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit working to close the gender gap in technology.

“We will share these promising practices so all California educators can learn more about research-supported ways to integrate and enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education,” Torlakson said.

The nonprofit Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation helps organize the annual symposium.

Torlakson appointed a 55-member STEM Task Force, which in 2014 issued a blueprint for encouraging, promoting, expanding and improving STEM education. Recommendations included organizing the annual symposium.

Main themes at the symposium include increasing the number of women and girls in STEM middle and high school classes and encouraging more of those students to seek STEM degrees in college, especially underrepresented minorities.

Participation by women and girls lags behind men in several STEM fields, particularly computer science. There were nearly 90,000 computer science jobs open in the United States this year, but California had only 3,500 college students graduate with a computer science degree. Only 15 percent of those graduates were women.

For additional information, please visit the Symposium Web page External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, March 27, 2020
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