I feel as if the students’ excitement has reinvigorated my passion in science. My experience at SEP has taught me the true meaning of science in that it’s all about discovery and not about making things work.
- UCSF scientist volunteer
The teachers and scientists first meet at a dinner orientation in January, during which they find out more about the program, learn strategies for creating successful scientist-teacher partner teams, and initiate planning with their team members. The team then meets to plan and teach the four lessons in the classroom between January and the end of April. The total time commitment for planning and teaching lessons is typically about 20 hours. SEP staff provide support, including feedback on lessons and help in finding lesson ideas and materials.
Kindergarten through 5th grade students (ages 5-11 years old) and their teachers participate in STAT. Public schools throughout San Francisco participate in the program, and scientists may be assigned to a team that teaches at a school in any San Francisco neighborhood. To learn more about San Francisco’s public schools, visit the SFUSD website. When creating partnership teams, SEP staff take into account volunteers’ schedules and the distance to the school site as well as whether any of the scientists on the team has a car.
Scientist volunteers receive a great amount of assistance in planning and teaching their lessons, and typically the team partnership is a friendly, supportive environment for scientists to improve their teaching skills. Lesson planning is a collaborative effort between the scientists and teachers, and scientists are encouraged to regard the teachers as mentors. The teachers have a wealth of expertise on curriculum content, age-appropriateness of lesson material and how to engage students. SEP staff provide support through suggestions and feedback on lesson structure and lesson ideas. Scientists can also take the Scientist Teaching Workshops - a workshop series that covers basic teaching theory and methods.
SEP hosts the Daly Ralston Resource Center, a lending library that houses more than 3,000 science materials that support science lessons. The Resource Center collection includes organs, models, microscopes and other equipment, and "kits"—essentially a lesson in a box—that can be used for lessons. In addition, SEP staff are available at the Resource Center to provide lesson coaching and ideas. SEP has also developed SEPLessons, both an electronic library of lesson plans developed by teachers and scientists in SEP’s partnership programs as well as a tool, designed specifically for partnership teams, to facilitate their planning together.