Dr. Penprase was an early member of the Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) initiative from NSF, that was designed to help reform science education. As part of that effort, he was a member of the F21 faculty network since 1995, and participated in four of the PKAL leadership institutes in Colorado. He was within the first class of the Leadership Institute as a junior faculty member in 1997, and then returned three times as a mentor in 2008, 2009, and 2010. After the work helping develop the PKAL Leadership Insitute, Dr. Penprase co-founded the PKAL Southern California network, known affectionately as “SoCal PKAL.” With co-founded Christine Broussard, Dr. Penprase organized the first of the SoCal PKAL regional STEM education conferences, which was held at Pomona College on January 21, 2012. Since that first meeting the Southern California regional Project Kaleidoscope has continued to meet regularly. The current website for this group is located here:

Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) Background material (from the SoCal PKAL web site):

“Our goal must be to collaborate with each other. Our tasks are too great and our time is too short for any other approach.” 
This call to action from the 1st PKAL National Colloquium (1991) was issued by George E. Brown, then Chair of the House Science Committee, United States House of Representatives.

The PKAL Experience

Since its founding in 1989, Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) has been one of the leading advocates in the United States for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With an extensive network of over 7,000 faculty members and administrators at over 1,000 colleges, universities and organizations, PKAL has developed far-reaching influence in shaping undergraduate STEM learning environments that attract and retain undergraduate students.

PKAL accomplishes its work by engaging campus faculty and leaders in funded projects, national and regional meetings, community-building activities, leadership development programs, and publications that are focused on advancing what works in STEM education.

Information on PKAL’s ongoing initiatives and resources are available on the PKAL National website at

The PKAL Regional Networks:

Over the past several years, the work of PKAL has been enriched and extended through collaborative efforts in regional networks of STEM faculty and campus leaders. Cultivated by a grant from the National Science Foundation, PKAL currently has five regional networks around the country, one being The Southern California Regional Network (SoCAL).

Networks are critical to success and the participants in these networks learn from a social networking process that is aimed at the mutual development and adaptation of “what works” strategies to transform STEM learning environments into the kinds of active, student-centered experiences we know work best for all students. What we are learning validates research on dissemination: how ideas evolve, emerge and are enhanced when like-minded colleagues pursue a common vision. This research also speaks directly to the impact of “near-peers” on influencing and persuading others to explore, adapt and assess approaches having demonstrable impact on strengthening STEM learning at all levels. The range and diversity of networks and collaborations now making a difference at the undergraduate level is remarkable; dissolving boundaries of discipline, geography, spheres of responsibility and career stage as they work to transform the undergraduate STEM learning environment in this country.

The Southern California region has a number of unique challenges, and by pooling our expertise and resources in venues such as the SoCal PKAL network, we can better respond to these challenges, and become more aware of what works, and new opportunities. Join Us!


Leave a Reply