June 2022 Newsletter

Category: Newsletter

This May, High School students in the EIS Science & Social Justice Forum hosted a successful community forum about COVID-19.

Students in the 2021-2022 Science & Social Justice Forum

EIS Executive Director Jim Stone is Retiring

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

It is with deeply mixed emotions that I share the news of my retirement with you. I will be stepping down from the position of Executive Director on June 30. I’ve been employed in the nonprofit sector for my entire career, and without question, this has been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. EIS is a unique and powerful resource for the local community and beyond, and I am grateful to the EIS Board for allowing me to be at the helm of this amazing organization.

I’m proud of what EIS has accomplished during the past five years. Evaluations of our programs demonstrate highly effective outcomes. We are reaching more students, especially students of color from the surrounding neighborhoods. Our signature initiative, Steps-2-STEM has grown from a fledgling pilot project that served a little over 350 students and three schools in 2017 to a robust program that now provides more than 23,500 hours of hands-on science to nearly 1,200 students from 11 Lincoln Cluster elementary schools each year. We have also strengthened this program by aligning the curriculum with Next Generation Science Standards.

    From L-R Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, Beto Vasquez and Jim Stone.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the EIS staff. Providing the resources and programs for the kids we serve has been remarkably difficult over the past 2 ½ years as the COVID-19 pandemic has raged through this community. The staff met the constant need to change, pivot, and adapt with grace and professionalism, whether it involved creating new ways to deliver program content or finding the funds to accomplish what needed to be done. Without their hard work and dedication, we literally would not be the stronger, more effective organization that we are today.

Social entrepreneur and activist Leila Janah said “Talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not.” We are making a difference in the lives of thousands of kids by providing opportunities they would not otherwise have a chance to experience. EIS is now in a position to be an even more powerful agent of change in the community. I move on with a grateful heart, feeling inspired by the history and achievements of EIS and honored to be part of its accomplishments.

With gratitude,
Jim Stone

Register for Summer Camp 2022!

Camp is free for SDUSD students entering grades 2-8 through Level Up. Start your registration at eisca.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/EIS-Summer-2022-Level-Up-Registration.pdf 

Email info@eisca.org for further information.


STEM Spotlight: Serina Khanna

In celebration of PRIDE month, we are happy to introduce you to Serina Khanna (pronouns: she/her/they/them) a student at UCSD majoring in Mathematics-Computer Science (2023). Serina, an Indian-American, identifies as Queer and is the President of oSTEM ( to empower LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEM to innovate traditional spaces through professional and personal development opportunities, a comprehensive resource network, and a community-centric culture of talent, leadership, and activism.

Serina attended a high school with STEM-focused criteria, though she was not originally interested in STEM. That changed in the 10th grade when she was introduced to computer science and her school encouraged her to pursue it further. Currently, Serina works as a Computer Science & Engineering tutor at UCSD, where she teaches strategies to first-time tutors. She has previously been a Software Engineer Intern at LinkedIn, and will be a Software Engineer Intern at Slack this summer.

1. Did you have an interest in STEM when you were younger? I honestly resisted being in STEM or exploring STEM fields when I was younger; I didn’t understand why people liked it. When I entered high school, I discovered that I actually really enjoyed math, which pushed me to pursue both AP Calculus AB and BC. My parents and my school also encouraged me to consider computer science when I was in 10th grade, and I found out that I really enjoyed coding and creating algorithms from there.

2. Was there a class or internship that inspired your career path? My computer science classes in high school really encouraged me to continue forward with computer science, simply because I really enjoyed it and I grasped the concepts easily. My teacher was actually a woman, and she personally encouraged me to keep exploring computer science and see what I liked in it. With her help, I attended a Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at Facebook just after 10th grade. I learned about the Internet, from firewalls to IP addresses, and also created my own project at the end. The community I felt when I attended Girls Who Code really encouraged me to keep pushing forward and continue striving in STEM.

3. What is something you love about computer science? I think I’ve always loved the creativity that comes with computer science and how you have the freedom to choose how you’ll solve a certain problem. I’ve always enjoyed how computers also operate on pure logic, so that when you produce code or a program, you always have some kind of result that’s logic based, but made with creativity.

4. How did you get involved with oSTEM? I actually joined oSTEM just when the pandemic first hit and I was looking for ways to get involved on campus. I noticed that they had opened up a web development committee, and I emailed the lead to get involved. From there, I met with the rest of the web development team over the summer to build the oSTEM website, which might not sound very fun at first, but my friendships with the rest of the committee made me really excited to join and help out. I expressed my interest in getting more involved, and also helped with our campaign, Queer the Vote, where we invited LGBTQIA+ San Diego politicians to speak on various issues. I joined oSTEM’s Junior Board (an internship-like position), and from there, I felt my passion for oSTEM grow.

The friendships I made, the community I felt, the passion I have for LGBTQIA+ students; all of it culminated with me wanting to become oSTEM’s President. Last year, I became a President of oSTEM, and I’m excited to share that I’ve been re-elected as President for the next school year.

5. What advice about pursuing higher education do you have for middle school and high school students?
I fully encourage you all to pursue higher education. I think what helped me most was continuously communicating with college students and asking them for advice; this advice really guided me in knowing what I wanted to do and motivated me to pursue a university degree.

Learn more about oSTEM at ostem.ucsd.edu.

Thanks to Las Patronas, EIS  

We are so grateful to Las Patronas for a grant to improve our large atriums. The mission of Las Patronas is providing financial assistance to nonprofit organizations in San Diego County that provide valuable community services in the areas of health, education, social services, and cultural arts, and to continuing our tradition of service to enhance the quality of life in our community.

Conserving energy use and reducing our carbon footprint is a priority to EIS. In our 15,000 sq. ft. learning center, are two glass atriums that cause heat levels to rise throughout the building. This increases our need for high air conditioner usage and high electric costs. The window film that has been applied to to the atriums will result in a reduction in solar heat gain, translating directly into reduced AC use and lower energy costs.

South atrium at EIS

In addition, window film offers significant UV ray protection, blocking up to 99 percent of harmful sunlight from entering the building. In the long term, these rays can cause damage to floors, furniture, and walls. The window film will allow EIS staff and students to enjoy natural light without harmful UV rays. The window film was applied by Wolfgang Window Film, a local San Diego company.

Volunteer with EIS

EIS seeks a volunteer to help us organize our online photo collection and transcribe surveys. The experience needed includes basic computer proficiency. This opportunity can be done virtually or at our STEM learning center. We expect this opportunity will take a total of 1-2 hours per week for the next 2-3 months.

Tasks are completed on a computer and include:

  • Labeling photos
  • Moving photos to correct folders
  • Cropping, adjusting, and standardizing format
  • Transcribe surveys from Excel sheets into a Word document

Additional volunteers opportunities may be available once this project is completed. If interested, please send your inquiry with the subject line “Computer/Admin Volunteer” to info@eisca.org

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Elementary Institute of Science
608 51st Street
San Diego, CA 92114