Castilleja School

In November 2011 The Edward E. Ford Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to Castilleja School, an all-girls 6-12 in California’s Silicon Valley, to support the school’s new Doug Bourn Idea Lab and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum.

With the number of women choosing STEM careers declining, Castilleja seeks a new model for education to engage girls in these key fields. Research presents compelling evidence that poor spatial skills are a factor in the gender disparity, and that cultivating these skills enhances women’s participation in STEM.

In September 2011 Castilleja opened the Doug Bourn Idea Lab, a high-tech workshop equipped with computers, software, and a wide range of tools for building, scientific modeling, experimentation, simulation, and design. The Lab provides a dedicated space for students and teachers to tinker, test, prototype, and build. It also serves as a nexus among disciplines, hosting interdisciplinary classes and integrating creativity, arts, and design-thinking while teaching traditional STEM concepts.

The grant is enabling Castilleja to develop a hands-on curriculum which fosters the passion, knowledge, and skills that will inspire girls to pursue STEM in college and beyond. Castilleja is creating the infrastructure for this new initiative by partnering with Stanford University’s Professor Paulo Blikstein and his Transformative Learning Technologies Lab. Through a series of interactive faculty workshops and in-depth mentoring supported by the grant, Castilleja is pioneering a curriculum which creates an intellectual environment in which girls can experiment and explore while cultivating skills that are critical for success in STEM.

Visit Castilleja Idea Lab or Castilleja Bourn Idea Lab for more information on the lab.

For more information about Castilleja School, please visit