STEM Opportunities for SFUSD K-12 Classrooms

SEP hopes to be back in SFUSD classrooms during the 2021-2022 school year, with in-person partnerships.  Please check back in the Fall of 2021 to find out more about how to apply for classroom-based partnerships and how to volunteer.

SEP offered two types of virtual STEM programming

for K-12 classrooms during the spring of 2021.

Virtual Classroom Partnership Program

Virtual classroom-based partnerships brought together UCSF volunteers and SFUSD teachers for a series of three virtual visits. UCSF’s scientist volunteers are a diverse group, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and students in the professional schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and nursing.


One-Visit Virtual Offerings

*New * one-visit virtual opportunities. These offerings matched K-12 teachers and students with a one-time interaction with UCSF volunteers, who worked with SEP staff to create age-appropriate programming for students. 


One-Visit Virtual Offerings

 K-12 teachers and their students were matched with UCSF volunteers for a one-time interaction.  UCSF volunteers worked with SEP staff to create age-appropriate programming for students. These offerings require a minimal time commitment, outside of the virtual visit, between teachers and UCSF volunteers for scheduling.

STEM Storytime (grades K-5): 30 minute  session

UCSF volunteers read a selected STEM picture book to a classroom of students, led a short demo or activity related to the book, and then hosted a brief Q&A with the students. Selections of grade-level appropriate STEM picture books were made by SEP.

Lab Tour and Q&A Session (grades 6-12): 30-45 minute session

UCSF volunteers gave a tour of their lab or facility, with age appropriate explanations and possible demos of lab techniques or equipment used in the lab.  The tour was either pre-recorded or live. After the tour, the volunteers engaged students in a Q&A session about the work they do in the lab, their career path, etc.

Career Talk (grades 6-12): 30-45 minute session

UCSF volunteers gave a brief interactive talk about their background, academic  path and current research/studies. SEP staff  worked with UCSF volunteers to prepare their presentation, aiming to ensure that the language and scientific concepts were accessible to 6-8th grade students and that the relevancy of their work is brought to the foreground. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session with the students.


Virtual Partnership Program

A series of 3 virtual classroom visits:  30 – 45 minutes each

K-12 teachers and their students were matched with a team of two UCSF volunteers for three virtual visits over the course of the spring semester. The series of visits was designed for students to get to know UCSF volunteers (biomedical graduate students or medical/pharmacy/dental students), what they do, and why and how they got into their profession. Each session was interactive with time for students to ask questions.

Participating in SEP is the one of the highlights of my school year. Collaborating with the UCSF scientists is an invaluable experience. Their knowledge, passion for science and research and availability of resources are the biggest reasons I participate in SEP. SEP is such a wonderful program for the teachers and students within SFUSD. I truly value this program and am very proud that I can share my experiences with my school.

– SFUSD teacher

How it worked:

Visit #1: Meet the UCSF Volunteers!
UCSF volunteers share about themselves, their backgrounds, their personal and professional interests, and their paths into science or medicine.

Visit #2: Learn about the work of UCSF volunteers!
UCSF volunteers will offer students a glimpse into what they do at UCSF day to day, sharing about their studies and/or research and why they are passionate about what they do. This may include a virtual lab tour and and other facilities on the UCSF campus.

Visit #3: Let’s do some science together!
UCSF volunteers will lead a science or health demonstration or activity that students can do at home using either readily available or no additional materials. The activity will either be related to the scientists’ area of research or be a fun, age-appropriate activity.

Time Commitment: 

  • 1-hour virtual planning meeting between teacher and scientists in February. Teachers share about the interests and knowledge & skills of their students and, as a team, decide on a hands-on activity to do in visit #3.
  • UCSF volunteers matched with middle and high school classrooms may be asked to give each lesson twice (to different class periods)

As a future pharmacist, I am glad I had the chance to work with such a diverse group of children and learn how to present information in a way that is easily understood by everyone.

– UCSF Pharmacy Student