Tzipor Ulman, PhD, is the founder and Executive Director of Science is Elementary. Tzipor has a passion for science education along with solid experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors. While a graduate student at Stanford, Tzipor co-taught an interdisciplinary course in “science for non-scientists.” While teaching, she realized that many students who had not already developed an interest in science were either lost or uninterested in the subject matter. Sadly for them, science had come too late. If those students had been exposed to science at a younger age, perhaps they would have maintained a lifelong interest in the field. Thus, the idea for SiE was born.

Tzipor grew SiE from a 2 classroom pilot to a program that serves 3000 monthly in the San Francisco Bay Area and Buffalo, NY.  Tzipor has also recruited and trained over 400 scientists and engineers to serve as classroom facilitators and mentors to low-income youth.

Before founding SiE, Tzipor worked with Fortune 500 and startup clients as a business strategy consultant at Helmer & Associates, consulting on matters ranging from technology spin-offs to corporate business opportunities. She has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations.

In college, Tzipor was a mentor/tutor and later a site coordinator for Project Step-Up, a mentoring and tutoring program in some of Cleveland’s toughest inner city schools. She was also a volunteer math and science tutor at Mountain View High School and a private tutor for public and private school students.

Tzipor is the proud mother of 2 boys in whom she has instilled a curiosity about the world and the way things work. She holds a PhD in physical chemistry from Stanford University and a BSc in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University.

Rebecca Haskell is SiE’s Associate Director. Prior to joining SiE, Rebecca was Founder and Education Design Consultant at Just Design Consulting. In this role, Rebecca worked with schools and education organizations to provide organizational design and strategy, personal and professional development opportunities, and leadership coaching. Rebecca spent her career in education serving as a Kindergarten teacher, instructional coach, curriculum designer, and Assistant Principal. She has volunteered, studied, and worked in education in cities across the U.S. and abroad. Rebecca refined her art of leadership in education through her experience in education, as well as in her study and research during her bachelor’s degree at Boston University’s School of Education and during her master’s degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She seeks to infuse social justice into her life, community, and work. She is a proud Bay Area native and auntie of 2 young kiddos. She currently lives in Oakland and enjoys working amidst the innovation and equity focus of education in the Bay. Rebecca is inspired to be on the SiE team because together we transforming the  elementary education system to better serve our students, teachers, and community members.

Rinat Goren is SiE’s Director of Curriculum. Rinat’s interest and involvement in science education began when her daughters were in elementary school. While their education was excellent in some areas, the science curriculum was lacking.  She researched science curricula at several schools and found that much of it was theoretical and segmented. Consequently, students had little or no understanding of science and were uninterested in it.

Rinat helped rebuild the science curriculum to focus on true understanding of basic science concepts. The new curriculum ties abstract ideas to concrete concepts and makes connections to everyday life using hands-on, experiential activities.

Rinat holds a BS in Physical Therapy from Tel Aviv University.

Chelsea Crawford co-chairs the development of the Professional Learning program for Science is Elementary. She is also an instructional coach for new teachers of all disciplines and provides district-wide professional development in the Fremont Union High School District. Chelsea taught middle and high school science for 16 years and specialized in designing and piloting curriculum for new courses.  She also served for many years as both a science department Mentor Teacher and California State University Northridge (CSUN) Master Teacher, training beginning science teachers. Throughout her career, she has worked as an educational consultant for institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Center for Science Education, the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the Charles M. Schulz Museum, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the National Park Service, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, UCLA, CSUN, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.  She is credentialed in both life and physical sciences and earned her M.A. in Education at CSUN and her B.S. in Psychobiology from UCLA.

Liat Baranoff is a curriculum developer for SiE. She came to be a science curriculum developer through a non-traditional path.  After working in the technology sector, she became an educator focused on the needs and talents of early adolescents.  For a decade, Liat taught in both public and private settings in New York City and the Bay Area.  While her undergraduate background at Brown University was largely in the social sciences, she found her passion in teaching science while pursuing her Masters in Teaching at Bank Street College of Education.  Since coming to California, she has become a “lifelong science learner,” acquiring the knowledge to teach all strands of science at the middle school level by utilizing an inquiry-based approach.  In addition, Liat has tutored and taught all other core subject areas.  As a teacher at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, Liat mentored beginning teachers in K-8 classrooms and has presented at several National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conferences.

Teaching Staff

Brooke Rankins became interested in science education while earning her masters degree in physics. She taught Freshman astronomy and physics but discovered a passion for bringing these topics to younger students when coordinating science field trips for local elementary schools. While working on her thesis with Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), she helped to develop a travelling museum exhibit. During this process, she recognized her passion for presenting contemporary science to the general public. Since then, she has developed curriculum for the University of Mississippi’s museum outreach program and served as NASA Space Science Student Ambassador in Mississippi. She volunteered with Science Is Elementary before joining the staff. She received her BA in Chemistry, as well as her BS and MS in Physics from the University of Mississippi.

Katie Settle began her teaching career at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, where she taught various levels in biology. There she was involved in College Pathways (a program that supports minority students), Small Learning Community (a transitional program for freshmen), and the school’s WASC accreditation process.  In 2011, she had a baby boy and took a leave to spend time with him.  She is thrilled to be a part of the SiE staff and is enjoying using her passions and skills with elementary school students.  When she is not teaching, Katie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, reading, and doing anything outdoors.

Katie earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of California San Diego and a Masters in Education and teaching credential from Stanford University.

Kate Kester has over 13 years experience teaching and directing preschools, including almost 8 years at the Stanford University campus. She has also taught hands- on lessons in science and video arts in various elementary schools. She loves teaching hands on lessons in which children can discover things on their own and is an active volunteer in her son’s public elementary school in Mountain View.

Kate received her BA in Social Sciences at San Jose State University, and has a Program Director Permit from the State of California.

Melinda Joffe. A credentialed elementary school teacher, Melinda worked for five years as a second grade classroom teacher at a private school in Los Gatos and as a first grade teacher in the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto.  Now she is an active volunteer in the public charter school that her three children attend.  Melinda has seen firsthand the differences between various schools in Santa Clara County, especially in the area of science education.  She is proud to work with the students who are served by SIE.

Melinda holds a BS in Human Development from UC Davis and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Dominican University.

Teela Pulliam earned her PhD in Particle Physics at UC Santa Cruz. She has conducted research and developed software at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Teela has always been interested in science outreach and working with children. She volunteered at a summer outreach program funded by Fermilab (Quarknet) that connects high-school students, science teachers and physicists to work together on research projects. In that capacity she supervised and trained students.

Teela has a son in elementary school and she is very excited to be involved with a program that provides excellent science education for young students.

Todd Valentine began his career in science education while working at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. There, he worked as a classroom assistant and substitute instructor for preschool and field trip programs while developing an inquiry-based approach to teaching. His work with Science is Elementary inspired him to further his education. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Education from Santa Clara University and plans to use it to continue teaching science to students of all ages. Todd loves teaching science to children because it is incredibly fun, and he hopes it will inspire an appreciation for science that will stay with his students for life.

Todd received his B.A. in Biological Anthropology at San Francisco State University.

Kirsten Jarfelt earned an M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. After years of research in both human and food related areas, she added a full teaching credential to her toolbox. She taught elementary and middle school mathematics and biology for five years. Her work with elementary school aged children involves a strong focus on using inquiry and creative tools to inspire, engage and challenge the student. Developing workshops for elementary school students is a passion for her.

Kirsten has 3 children. Her youngest son is a fifth grader and the older ones are in high school.


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