On Saturday, September 28th, 104 high school and community college bioscience educators and stakeholders from across the Bay Area and other parts of California attended the BABEC Fall Conference at Skyline College in San Bruno, sponsored by the California Community Colleges. Conference attendees came from San Mateo, Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Marin and Solano counties. Several attendees traveled from outside the Bay Area, including guests from San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Situated in the new Environmental Sciences building atop a bluff with a majestic view of the Pacific Ocean, one would think it would have been difficult to compete for the attendees’ attention. However, the conference delivered a full day of learning resources and solid take-aways while the view served as an anchor for like-minded STEM professionals to enjoy the moment, meet new colleagues and share new ideas and best practices with each other.
The BABEC team featured their updated bioscience curriculum and introduced their new initiatives for the 2019-20 school year, which includes a collaboration with Genentech, and an expansion project funded by the National Science Foundation. The Regional K12 Strong Workforce Program (K12 SWP) team provided an introduction to the initiative and K12 SWP grantees shared how they plan to use the funding to develop talent for a stronger workforce in the Bay Area.
Bioscience educators were also given a special presentation on how to easily align biotech lessons with NGSS by Kirk Brown, Director of STEM Programs at San Joaquin County Office of Education. Kirk also serves as the regional science-lead of the Curriculum and Instruction Subcommittee of the California County Superintendent’s Education Services Association.
In the BABEC tradition of creating a community for Bay Area bioscience educators (the “C” in BABEC), attendees were able to break out into regional groups to design collaborative pathways to biotech careers. With a strong mix of professionals representing colleges, high schools, administration, industry and nonprofits, the regional breakout groups formed cross-functional teams that focused on taking a diversified approach to building successful bioscience programs in California.
Evidently, the view of the Pacific Ocean was just a mere backdrop to what the attendees saw from one another’s perspectives. The conference brought awareness to the Bay Area’s burgeoning economy of biotech jobs while positioning educators as vital for building a competitive and strong workforce in the region.
As a strong community, attendees agreed that exposure to life science or STEM careers should start at an early age. Subsequently, educators need access to updated innovative curriculum and support in introducing students to biotech careers. Hence, BABEC looks forward to convening the bioscience community again to continue strategizing on how to support science teachers and inspire students for science careers.