Angelica Gunderson is inspiring a new generation of young scientists in Southern California. Gunderson is a lead teacher at Norwalk’s Los Alisos STEM Magnet Middle School for Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a three-year science program that covers coding, robotics, green architecture and more. She incorporates technology effortlessly into her classroom and is an expert in supporting English learners. Because of its extensive PLTW offerings, Los Alisos was recognized by the California League of Schools as a “School to Watch” in 2020. Gunderson also leads the school’s Femineer and Snap the Gap programs, both focused on closing the gender gap in STEM careers. Everything Gunderson does at Los Alisos has a direct impact on students’ current and future academic success. She was one of the forces behind Los Alisos’ adoption of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), an equity-focused college readiness program that has delivered remarkable results at the school. Students come back from colleges like Stanford University and Cal Poly to tell Gunderson that her passion inspired them to major in engineering, be the first in their families to earn college degrees, with some even becoming educators themselves.
In addition to her middle schoolers, Gunderson teaches pre-service and in-service science educators as a professor at California State University Long Beach (CSULB), her alma mater. She models research-based approaches to teaching science and always thinks about learning through the eyes of the children she teaches at La Mirada. This reminds her adult students that kids can execute complex tasks and understand complicated ideas. Gunderson served as lead teacher at CSULB’s Young Scientists Camp and attended Exploratorium’s Institute for Inquiry. She has led professional development for the district and presented at the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) on integrating Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and STEM instructional strategies for English learners.
At Los Alisos, Gunderson sits on the site leadership and NGSS committees. She mentors new science teachers and leads NGSS training. The pandemic threw a wrench into Gunderson’s highly collaborative Project Lead the Way video production class. Determined, she helped students produce, edit and distribute their weekly newscast, even as they all worked from home instead of her fully-equipped classroom.
Gunderson earned a bachelor’s in liberal studies in 2004 and a master’s in science education in 2012 from CSULB.
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