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Science and Health Education Partnership

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Information for Volunteers

The UC San Francisco SEP leads a range of programs that partner volunteers from UCSF with SFUSD K-12 teachers and students. These programs include classroom-based partnerships, seminars and workshops, and internships for high school students.

Participating in SEP has given me a much better feel for what it is like to be a teacher and how long it can take to plan even a simple lesson. My scientist partner and I had no concept of classroom management until we started SEP. Also, specifically, through the teaching course that SEP offers, we learned some really essential concepts like how to call on students in an equitable/random way so that everyone participates, about planning lessons so that students have an aspect of choice in the experiments they do, and about THINK PAIR SHARE so that students are more confident sharing with the class. We used all three of these techniques in the classroom this year and it went over really well with the students.

- UCSF volunteer

Supporting all of this work are the Daly Ralston Resource Center, a lending library of materials to support hands-on science learning, and SEPLessons, an online database of lessons developed by SEP staff and participants.

Classroom-based Partnerships

The majority of SEP’s classroom-based partnerships require an approximately 20-hour commitment in the spring semester. Two to four UCSF volunteers are partnered with one to two SFUSD K-12 teachers. Teachers and UCSF volunteers meet at an Orientation in January, hosted by SEP. At the Orientation, SEP reviews the program’s expectations, shares tips for a successful partnership, and provides time for teams to schedule lessons and begin planning. Between January and April, each team co-plans and co-teaches a minimum of four lessons.

Teachers and volunteers are partnered on the basis of school site characteristics, volunteer backgrounds and language proficiencies, and scheduling constraints. Public schools throughout San Francisco participate in SEP’s programs, and you could be assigned to a school in any San Francisco neighborhood. We do take into account scheduling constraints and distance of the school site from your home/laboratory location as well as accessibility to public and private transportation during the “matching” process. To learn more about the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), visit their website.

Your teacher partners will be able to provide guidance about many aspects of teaching, such as the age-appropriateness and accessibility of the lessons, strategies to engage students, and classroom and materials management. After a lesson, teachers can provide constructive feedback and help facilitate reflection about the lesson. SEP can also support you in your lesson planning. First, SEP is home to the Daly Ralston Resource Center, a lending library of more than 3,000 materials that support hands-on health and science lessons. The Resource Center collections include organ specimens, human organ models, charts, books, videos and equipment, such as classroom sets of stopwatches and stethoscopes. Additionally, the Resource Center staff are skilled science educators who can help you design your lessons. Our online collection of science and health lessons, SEPLessons, provides detailed lesson plans developed by SEP partnership teams and a lesson plan template to guide your team in creating lessons.

UCSF graduate students, postdocs, SRAs, other staff scientists and faculty can participate in our elementary level programs, STAT or our middle and high school level program, Bio&ChemTeach. Students from the Schools of Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing, or Physical Therapy can participate in our HealthTeach program and medical students can participate in MedTeach and work with elementary teachers and their students.


Apply for Spring Programs!

  • Applications for the 2017-18 classroom partnership programs will be available this October. Please check back then for application details.

Teaching Workshops

We highly encourage UCSF volunteers to take our Teaching Workshops. These Workshops introduce you to science teaching and learning and cover topics such as strategies for communicating effectively with students from different backgrounds, planning inquiry-based investigative lessons, and assessing student understanding.

Mentor a High School Student in Your Lab

Each summer, SEP hosts 20 SFUSD rising seniors in UCSF research labs. Consider mentoring a high school student and making a significant different in the life of a young person. Learn more at High School Internship Program.