Professional Development  

The Sierra STEM Community Collaborative offers professional development & STEM Academy training as well as encourages teachers to visit area businesses to bring up-to-date industry information into the classroom. They visit employer sites for several hours to several days.

2014 Hands-on Math Teacher Workshops

To prepare teachers to meet the new Common Core mathematics requirements, the Sierra College Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Collaborative is offering a series of three workshops on how to use hands-on activities to engage students and facilitate critical thinking while implementing the Common Core standards of mathematical practice.

Implementing the Standards of Mathematical Practice will be offered on Fridays March 14, April 4 and May 9 from 4:30 to 7:30 at the Sierra College Roseville Gateway campus, 333 Sunrise Ave., Room 103 in Roseville, CA. There is no fee to attend. Registration is required and teachers will receive a stipend of $50 as compensation for attending each workshop. For information and to register, email valaine(at) or call Valaine Hoffmann at 530-305-6700.

Participants will learn real world STEM applications that integrate Common Core practices and content standards using relevant industry examples. See the Sierra College STEM Collaborative Standards of Mathematical Practice flyer here – Sierra STEM Hands on Math Common Core March May 2014 Workshops Flyer.

Hands-on Algebra 2013

In fall 2013, Sierra STEM will offer professional development in Hands-on Algebra that builds on the Tech-Explorer catapult project. Learn more about the Hands-on Algebra training.

This applied algebra unit helps students create connections between algebraic principles, concepts, and skills and real world applications in the fields of Science, Technology, and Engineering (STEM).  Through the use of mathematical practices connected to Common Core State Math Standards, students learn to demonstrate conceptual understanding of key algebraic concepts. The demonstrations, experiments, and projects in this unit assist students to apply math concepts and calculations through experiential learning to anchor their math knowledge.

The curriculum is designed for student exploration of quadratic functions through graphing, factoring, and transformation.  A culminating activity involves building and launching a projectile from a catapult, collecting data, and writing a corresponding function.  The curriculum challenges students to analyze and synthesize data in order to make predictions and test hypotheses.

ACTivATE Professional Development

The Sierra College Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Collaborative assembled over 40 employers, teachers, principals and superintendents from Placer and Nevada counties to announce the new ACTivATE project on Feb. 13, 2013. The Applied Critical Thinking for Advanced Technological Education (ACTivATE) professional development program will train instructors in assessing students’ critical thinking skills and provide support to faculty as they infuse more problem solving and other skills desired by employers into their curriculum. Read more at Sierra College Critical Thinking for STEM jobs 2.20.13

Core-Cards Teacher Professional Development

“Teach creativity while reinforcing essential math skills” will be offered March 14, 2013 at Colfax High School. Participants will gain a new tool to use in their classrooms, experience using it in a hands-on workshop and benefit from hearing what peers are doing to enhance math education. This program is offered by Sierra STEM in collaboration with Jonathan Schwartz, inventor of Core-Cards.

What teachers say about Sierra STEM professional development:

“The meeting was very interesting and informative. I am glad that I was able to take part and learn so much.”

“I saw how mechatronics systems have changed. Maintenance techs now focus more on mechanical problems rather than electronics alone. Techs also need good record keeping skills.”

 “I wanted to learn more about CNC manufacturing and see if what I am teaching is connected to industry or if I should change my curriculum. It was a useful experience; I gained great insight into today’s standards in industry. The experience will provide concrete examples of how Quality Control is as important as manufacturing and Math is the foundation to all manufacturing.”

 “I participated in the externship because I wanted to see firsthand how a CNC shop runs. I found out how important it is for a CNC operator to understand how to run a manual machine. Also I saw how critical it is for students to understand math and use to set up and run their machine. I gained insight on what students need to know to become employable.”

Sierra STEM Collaborative Educators Report on Professional Development Experiences

 In 2009 Sierra STEM Supported instructors in these professional development activities:

  • MasterCam summer teacher training program – Gig Harbor, Washington (Basics, Fundamentals, Multiaxis)
  • NCATC summer workshop
  • MTTA-CDTC summer conference at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Manufacturing Technology Teachers Association)
  • California Drafting Technology Consortium
  • Documentary Filmmaking at the Digital Media Academy, Stanford University
  • Makers Faire & CACT Faculty Forum at San Mateo Fairgrounds
  • RapidTech 5th Annual National Teacher Training Workshop at  Saddleback College


Teachers’ comments included:

  • MTTA-CDTC Summer Conference at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo: “This was a great opportunity to go to one of the leading science universities in the nation and see firsthand what is going on in research and industry. It is a great forum to get together with other teachers teaching applied technology and feed off of each other’s energy and creativity. Plus we got direct feedback from Cal Poly professors on what they are looking for from incoming high school and community college students. It was also very inspiring to be surrounded by the top teachers in CA. We were exposed to the latest software. Knowledge of SolidWorks is in high demand in the engineering and design world.”
  • I went to the Maker’s Faire and Cal Poly.  Both were valuable experiences.
  • “After going to the CNC software class on MasterCam, I now can fully use our CNC plasma cutter.  I went from knowing only the name MasterCam to understanding not only how I can use it in the classroom but also how it is used in the real world. I can apply what I learned in this class to all the CNC machines we have currently, and any that we might get in the future.  I feel confident that I can teach my students to use MasterCam at a level that will help them become employable in that field.”
  • “I can say for certain that my mind has been expanding!! I like the idea of working with the other teachers and the one on one with industry people to work thru road blocks. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am certain it will pay dividends for the program, High School, and Sierra STEM.”