2021 STEM – Keynote Speaker

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Mr. Jose Hernandez M.S.

NASA engineer Jose Hernandez wanted to fly in space ever since he heard that the first Hispanic-American had been chosen to travel into space. “I was hoeing a row of sugar beets in a field near Stockton, Calif., and I heard on my transistor radio that Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps,” says Hernandez, who was a senior in high school at the time. “I was already interested in science and engineering,” Hernandez remembers, “but that was the moment I said, ‘I want to fly in space.’ And that’s something I’ve been striving for each day since then.” And now that hard work has paid off. He was selected to begin training as a mission specialist as part of the 2004 astronaut candidate class.

One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, Hernandez –who didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old — spent much of his childhood on what he calls “the California circuit,” traveling with his family from Mexico to southern California each March, then working northward to the Stockton area by November, picking strawberries and cucumbers at farms along the route. Then they would return to Mexico for Christmas, and start the cycle all over again come spring. “Some kids might think it would be fun to travel like that,” Hernandez laughs, “but we had to work. It wasn’t a vacation.”

After graduating high school in Stockton, Hernandez enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate program at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he continued his engineering studies. In 1987, he accepted a full-time job with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he had worked as a co-op in college.

While at Lawrence Livermore, Hernandez worked on signal and image processing applications in radar imaging, computed tomography, and acoustic imaging. Later in his career, Hernandez worked on developing quantitative x-ray film imaging analysis techniques for the x-ray laser program. Hernandez applied these techniques in the medical physics arena and co-developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. This system has proven useful for detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage than present film/screen mammography techniques. Hernandez has won recognition awards for his work on this project. He has also worked in the international arena where he represented Lawrence Livermore and the U.S. Department of Energy on Russian nuclear non-proliferation issues.

During the astronaut application process, Hernandez had to meet with a review board. That’s where he came face-to-face with his original inspiration: Franklin Chang-Diaz. “It was a strange place to find myself, being evaluated by the person who gave me the motivation to get there in the first place,” Hernandez says. “But I found that we actually had common experiences — a similar upbringing, the same language issues. That built up my confidence. Any barriers that existed, he had already hurdled them.” Hernandez smiles. “Now it’s my turn!”

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Diana Wehrell-Grabowski, Ph.D.
 
Diana has over 30 years experience in academia from being a full-time science teacher, Adjunct Professor, and owner of a science education consulting company. Diana conducts STEM, NGSS, MakerEd professional staff development, and Family STEM workshops for school districts, private schools, libraries and educational organizations throughout the world. She is an advocate for hands-on-minds-on inquiry-based teaching and learning, and transforming teaching and learning environments for 21st-century learners.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Doug Clements
 
Douglas H. Clements, Distinguished University Professor, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, and Executive Director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning at the University of Denver, has published over 166 refereed research studies, 27 books, 100 chapters, and 300 additional works, including the development of new mathematics curricula, teaching approaches, teacher training initiatives, and models of “scaling up” interventions. 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Sarama, Ph.D.

Dr. Sarama received her PhD from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.  She designed and programmed over 50 published computer programs, including her version of Logo and Logo-based software activities (Turtle Math™, which was awarded Technology & Learning Software of the Year award, 1995, in the category “Math”).  Dr. Sarama has taught secondary mathematics and computer science, gifted math at the middle school level, preschool and kindergarten mathematics enrichment classes, and mathematics methods and content courses for elementary to secondary teachers.  Her research interests include developing and evaluating research-based educational software and other technologies, using learning trajectories in standards, assessment, educational technology, curriculum and professional development, developing and evaluating research-based curricula, and asking successful curricula to scale using technologies Portfolio

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ahmed Muhammad
 
Rising senior at Oakland Tech and founder of Kits Cubed, an initiative hoping to engage and ignite every child’s scientific imagination. Their science kits are purposefully designed to require little to no internet or computer access, and are created to be both fun and affordable.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Andres Sebastian Bustamante, Ph.D.
 
Dr. Bustamante designs and implements play-based early childhood STEM interventions in places and spaces that children and families spend time (e.g., parks, school yards, grocery stores etc.). He maintains an intentional focus on translating rigorous science from the lab, into meaningful research in the classroom, and the community. Dr. Bustamante is also committed to sharing and interpreting early childhood research with a broader audience through blog posts for the Brookings InstitutionHuffington Post, BOLD Blog, and other media outlets.
 
 
 
 

The Vision

All children, regardless of their circumstance at birth, deserve a full and prosperous life.


The Mission

  • Support high-impact Head Start programs for children and adults by creating opportunities for collaboration, networking and information sharing.
  • Unite with state and national Head Start organizations to ensure regulatory and budget outcomes that support our work.
  • Champion the message that every child and family who succeeds makes their community a better place.
  • Provide resources to assist our members in compliance and professional development.

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