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New Film Inspires Youth to Find Passion in STEM Education and Discover Science-Based Career Opportunities

Unique partnership between life science industry, health and education leaders launch I Am A Scientist film for California high school students

Sacramento, Calif. (November 19, 2013) – To inspire youth about the benefits of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and elevate career opportunities in the life science industry, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the Department of Education, The California Endowment, California Biotechnology Foundation and Lybba today released the film I Am A Scientist. The film connects what learning STEM education can do for expanding career paths. 

According to the California STEM Learning Network, students in California continue to lag behind other states ranking 43rd in mathematics and science. This is despite California being home to two of the largest life sciences clusters in the world. As the life science industry grows in California, it will continue to need a diverse and educated workforce to fill available high-paying jobs and STEM education is the foundation that those workers will need.

“California has always led the way in science and technology—and our future as a leader depends on fostering an interest in these fields among our students,” said Superintendent Torlakson.  “The students in our classrooms today are tomorrow’s leaders, and our schools are helping give them the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to reach their potential.”

The film chronicles a day with students from L.A.’s Promise Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles at a biohackathon – inspired by traditional hackathons coined by computer programmers and software developers – offering a real-world hands-on science experiment. It provided a unique gateway for students to express their curiosity around STEM.  The whole day was captured on video by Wondros and serves as the main backdrop of the film.

“At the California Endowment, we know that health and academic achievement go hand in hand. This film gives students the opportunity to share how they’ve been inspired by STEM education and that’s the most effective way they can encourage their peers to consider the life science field as well.  That’s how healthy communities are built,” said B. Kathlyn Mead, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office of The California Endowment.  “We want to help students find their passion and to get a sense for what’s possible in the future.” 

The California Endowment is committed to making health happen in schools, as part of its statewide Health Happens Here campaign.  The campaign seeks to change the public’s thinking and the narrative that health doesn’t just happen in the doctor’s office, but health happens where we live, work, learn and play. As part of this partnership they will distribute the film to students and the community through its Building Healthy Communities program, its 10-year, $1 billion plan to create communities where prevention is a priority and is reflected in the physical environment and conditions of neighborhoods and schools. 

“There are thousands of jobs available in the life science industry and many students don’t know they exist or that STEM education will put them on the right direction,” said Patty Cooper, Executive Director of the California Biotechnology Foundation.  “This is a major issue as the life science industry grows and seeks a highly-skilled and diversified workforce.” 

The California Department of Education will help ensure the film gets to high schools throughout the state. 

“The biohackathon was a hands-on, immersive experience that yielded palpable energy and excitement from the students - I was inspired by their imagination and wonderment as they explored outside of their comfort zone,” said Jesse Dylan, founder of Wondros and Lybba. “These students are genuinely passionate about pursuing careers in science, medicine, research. As storytellers, we strive to capture that side of the story.”  

Marlena Jackson, founder of NexGeneGirls, an afterschool program that introduces girls from underrepresented communities to science and technology, has first-hand experience of how STEM and the life science industry has changed lives, including her own: “I see it every day with my girls. Many of them have simply never had exposure to science and now they do which means they have the roadmap needed to make better lives for themselves and their communities. We need to do more to help our youth realize that they can be a scientist, engineer or lab technician.” 
The film features Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of Public Instruction;  B. Kathlyn Mead, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The California Endowment; Patty Cooper, Executive Director of the California Biotechnology Foundation;  Stephanie Couch, Executive Director for the Institute of STEM education at CSU East Bay; Marlena Jackson, Founder of NexGeneGirls; Clay Bernard, life science industry; Elvia Hernandez, life science industry; Mr. Choi, teacher at L.A.’s Promise Manual Arts High School and his students. 

The full film can be viewed online here: 
•    The California Endowment: 
•    The California Department of Education: 
•    California Biotech Foundation: 


California Department of Education
California will provide a world-class education for all students, from early childhood to adulthood. The Department of Education serves our state by innovating and collaborating with educators, schools, parents, and community partners. Together, as a team, we prepare students to live, work, and thrive in a highly connected world. From more information, visit 
•    Contact: Giorgos Kazanis, (916) 319-0818, 

The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in the workplace, neighborhoods, schools and with prevention. For more information, visit
•    Contact: David Cherry, (323) 892-2080, 

The California Biotechnology Foundation
The California Biotechnology Foundation (CBF) is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization.  Through implementation of outreach and education programs, the mission of CBF is to inform and educate the public on new advances and discoveries within the states’ biotechnology community as well as to increase awareness of the life sciences industry in California among policymakers, opinion leaders and other stakeholders. For more information, visit
•    Contact: Justin Knighten, (916) 806-0391, 

Lybba is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit that helps people better care for themselves and one another.
We engage patients, physicians, and researchers in collaborations that create breakthrough solutions.
Everything we design—from mobile apps to portable medical records, from community events to educational strategies—transforms healthcare for good. For more information, visit
•    Contact: Stacy Dylan, (323) 951-0010,