Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)




STEM Cafe website. Check back frequently for updates to the calendar.


STEM Plan for the Board Subcommittee


STEM Certificate Information


STEM Category Descriptions



Summer 2105 Update
Buck Institute
Andrea Robles is a senior that just completed a 7 week internship at the Buck Institute on the Research on Aging. She is the first student from Piner to be accepted and she worked hard on her research project that used yeast to study if ibuprofen will regulate cell processes such as endocytosis that affects toxin uptake and ultimately cellular life span. She worked directly with Chong He as her mentor sponsored by the Glenn Foundation Research training program in the lab of Buck Institute's primary investigator Brian Kennedy, who studies the pathways that might control aging in organisms that range from yeast to mice.


Andrea has been involved in the Future Health Professional (HOSA) chapter at Piner High for all 4 years of high school and this year will take on a leadership position and participate in the statewide conference in Anaheim. Andrea is known for her perseverance and dedication to her assignments, willing to work hard until she herself has complete understanding. These attributes served her well at the Buck this summer, as she was surrounded by a chosen population of teens from the Bay area that participated in the Buck Summer Scholars program. She remarked that at times she didn't feel like she understood all that was happening on a molecular biology level as she has yet to take AP Biology, but that made her work harder and ask more questions and that's her signature effort.


Parents, teachers and scientists attended a poster session where Andrea was on the spot to explain her research which required patience as many of us were not completely familiar with such detailed research. In her own words, this quote wraps up her experience. "I was most surprised at how an over the counter drug had the ability to extend the replicative lifestyle of living organisms such as in yeast cells. This finding caused me to wonder if other common household drugs have the potential to extend and enhance longevity in organisms and possibly in humans."



Buck Institute Press Release - Summer 2015 Summer Activities with Piner High School



Judy Barcelon at CDC


Judy Barcelon, Science teacher and STEM coordinator for Piner High school spent a week at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia. She returned as an alumni to the Science Ambassador (SA)program which she first was selected for in 2010 with 7 other teachers- nationwide- to create lesson plans on the topic of Public Health.

This year the program focused on using the topic of Epidemiology ( simply put, the study of how disease spreads and can be controlled) and increasing awareness of the many career opportunities as Public Health Professionals. The week was full of incredible interactions with CDC officials, Epidemiology Intelligence Service (EIS) trainers and a cast of 30 other selected teachers from across the nation as we explored best practices for bringing Public Health into the classroom. “Epidemiology is an ideal curricular focal point “ states Barcelon, “as it provides content that integrates math, science, history and english with a skill based ,fascinating and high interest course of study.”

Highlights of the week were being part of the EIS training program at Emory College where SA listened to the two lead epidemiologists ( Dr. Jaffe, Dr. Curran) that worked on the first cases of HIV tell their side of the story while showing the Hollywood portrayal of movie/book , “The Band Played On”. In addition we sat with EIS students for a preview of “ In the shadow of Ebola” and participated in a case study on Ovarian Cancer and the use of Birth control pills, had a simple training in the Epi7 app used to prepare and analyze field studies to pinpoint origins of disease outbreak as well as presentations on Public Health topics such as Radon levels in our homes and schools and career opportunities that span from public health ethics and economics to veterinary medicine and marketing. The week was filled with content, collaboration and creativity as teams of teachers developed lesson plans for publication on the CDC Science Ambassador website (next year) and will join the hundreds of other plans after given final approval.

One of the great benefits of being selected for a program like this is the connections you make with other teachers across the U.S. but also the sense of passion and commitment you see from the CDC professionals that work with the team to create such a program. Barcelon has big ideas as she returns motivated to further integrate public health and epidemiology into the Piner High STEM program, and states “ we have just the right programs at Piner to do it- we have our Geospatial program to provide for mapping skills, Health Science & biotechnology students for the research on disease and an active HOSA chapter to bring projects to the community and not to mention a staff that values collaboration on campus especially with History and English teachers. On the calendar already is Public Health week and although not scheduled she invites anyone that wants to plan or participate to contact her at Judy Barcelon, Piner High School teacher and STEM Coordinator pictured on site at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia where she spent a week with Public Health officials as a Science Ambassador Alumni.


CAMEOS (Coastal Atmospheric and Marine Environmental Observational Studies is a National Science Foundation project monitored by UC Davis). In the Piner Science Department, two teachers, Mr. Mantoani and Mrs. Barcelon have been designated CAMEOS teachers which brings a UC Davis graduate student into our biology classrooms as a mentor and facilitator to students to develop their scientific inquiry skills. For the CAMEOS Fellow, their objective is to understand the need for communication skills and what better test subjects than high school students!


The first semester lays the foundation with guided inquiry projects such as preference tests of pillbugs and exploring the bolus (vomit package) of an albatross. Students graphed their findings which documented over 35% of albatross ingestion is man-made plastic! We took two field trips to experience first hand the tools of a field ecologist - one to the Redwood forest. The other trip was to the diverse ecosystems of the California coast. We returned to process and analyze the data on such projects as animal distribution in a tide pool, the effect of chemical signals on predation of starfish and how root length of a plant varies as the slope of a sand dune changes. The students progressed by designing their own research ideas and we have guided them to the point they are ready to present at the Bodega Bay Marine Lab symposium May 1st.


Mrs. Barcelon: "As a teacher, I was hesitant to share the floor and not sure how students would respond to such a task. Our student, Megan Mayo, was amazing in how she moved all of us out of our comfort zones. The activities were engaging, students were thinking outside of the box and willing to do background research to find answers and every Thursday was a day we all got to be learners together. It became obvious to me that this type of project based learning is where students will drop their attitudes, roll up their sleeves and go beyond their own perceived learning ability. The biggest hurdle for me was to actually allow students to design their own projects. That meant going up to 10 directions during our lab time and I certainly felt unprepared for that. Megan helped me to see the necessity of such endeavors and truth be told...that any time, expense or stress was a small investment once we witnessed student excitement and curiosity flourish in the classroom.



Megan Mayo, U.C. Davis Graduate Student and CAMEOS fellow, works with Piner High students using transects to determine dandelion distribution. "A full education requires that students do more than memorize facts, receive good grades on tests, and turn in homework assignments on time. The most powerful education comes from trial and error, and from thinking creatively and critically about a problem. In the classroom, students should be learning to interact with their peers, to communicate complex ideas, and to collaborate and rely upon each other to see that goals are completed. This year, I believe that the students at Piner High school did just that. Over the course of a year, they worked effectively as teams and moved through a project from its inception to completion, with some students even pursuing publication in peer-reviewed journals, a feat that many college graduates do not undertake. From a hands-on, open inquiry approach, these students now have a deeper understanding of the scientific method, an understanding that was fostered by an "it's your project" attitude and earned through hard work on the part of the students."