(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

“We will be the ONLY High School in the LA Archdiocese school to offer a single-gender academic component within a Co-Educational learning environment.”

Dr. Hoepner, Former Principal


Balancing The Odds

By the year 2020, there will be 1 million U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs unable to be filled by the American workforce. In elementary school, boys and girls achieve equally in math. By high school, a gender difference emerges. In college, females and minorities drop out of STEM majors at twice the rate of other students.

To encourage all students to pursue STEM majors and careers, St. Bernard High School, a Catholic, Co-educational institution in Playa del Rey, CA, created a single-gender STEM program.  This is the story of girls in STEM at St. Bernard High School.

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. We focus on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively. STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning.


Single-Gender STEM Program

153 freshmen and sophomores at St. Bernard High School take math and science courses in an all-girl or all-boy setting.

Started in 2014, our Single-Gender STEM Program is the only one of its kind within a Catholic co-educational school setting in Los Angeles. All other classes at St. Bernard are co-ed, providing “the best of both worlds,” and a well-rounded high school experience for our students.

A Pipeline to the Workforce

The goal of our program is to create a pipeline of women and minority students who are:

  • inspired to select a STEM major in college
  • academically prepared to persist in that major until graduation
  • eager to enter a STEM-related career field
  • gain flexible skills to excel in 21st century jobs that do not even exist yet.

Building the Future

Currently, the Single-Gender STEM Program at St. Bernard offers:

  • Single-Gender Math and Science classes. Experienced faculty members facilitate a positive learning environment for 153 students on the 9th and 10th grade levels.
  • Robotics Team. In our inaugural year, the 15-member FIRST FTC Robotics Team earned 13th place out of 26 teams in their first competition ever.
  • STEM Speaker Series. Speakers so far have included: Heal the Bay, Air Force, The Aerospace Corporation, California Science Center, and more.
  • Aerospace STEM Summit. In this annual event, thirty St. Bernard students are nominated to mentor seventy 8th-grade students to complete a science project, under the guidance of employees from The Aerospace Corporation.

o 2015 Project: Balsawood Bridge Building.
o 2014 Project: Converting sound waves to light waves. Playing music via a laser beam!

  • Coding Camp. This summer, 25 students will enroll in our “Bernard Bytes” week-long computer coding camp using Scratch, Code academy, and App Inventor. Facilitated by Gloria Kimbwala of Square, Inc.

o Read more about Gloria Kimbwala:

  • iPads in STEM classrooms. A technology grant this year means that our STEM classrooms will be fully stocked with iPads for curricular use by students.
  • Chilton Fellowship Program. A cohort of 4 students are mentored by General Kevin Chilton and Maj. General Catherine Chilton through a yearly leadership retreat and ongoing communication.

General Kevin Chilton attended St. Bernard High School from 1968 to 1972. While here, he excelled in his math and science classes, and dreamed of being a pilot for United Airlines, partly inspired by watching planes land and take off from our vantage point right here on campus. General Chilton has served in a variety of positions in his 35 year long career in the US Air Force, however, one of his most exciting deployments was outer space! General Chilton was assigned to NASA as an astronaut candidate in1987 and became an astronaut in 1988. A veteran of three space flights during 11 years at NASA, he was the pilot for the maiden voyage of the shuttle Endeavour. He piloted Endeavour a second time, and then commanded a crew of six aboard the Atlantis for the third docking mission to the Russian space station Mir.

Seeking Partners in our Local Community

St. Bernard High School is seeking partnerships with corporations in our local community, with the goal of providing even more opportunities to our students, such as internships and increased curricular offerings.


Our program is based on research that shows:

  • Boys and girls build confidence differently in the areas of science and math.
  • Women and minority students drop out of college STEM majors at a much higher rate than their white, male counterparts



4 Goals for SINGLE-GENDER STEM Program at St. Bernard:

    • Stimulate interest by constantly challenging girls and boys uniquely through researched based teaching practices.
    • Foster confidence and self-esteem in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics areas through care and collaboration, and activity and competition.
    • Offer real world co-ed opportunities through mentors and local internships (Boeing, Raytheon, YouTube, Northrop Grumman, and Google are just some of our neighbors!)
    • Encourage more women, men and minority students to continue STEM in college and beyond and improve America’s ability to compete in the global economy.



We aim to create a pipeline for well-prepared and confident STEM majors from high school to college.