The majority of SEP’s programs are classroom-based partnerships: UCSF volunteers partners with SFUSD teachers co-plan and co-teach a series of science and/or health lessons in the classroom. The UCSF 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. An important feature of SEP’s classroom-based partnerships is that they are not single-visit “guest lectures”, rather through these programs, SFUSD students benefit from sustained contact with UCSF volunteers.


Classroom partnerships bring UCSF scientist volunteers into SFUSD classrooms.  A UCSF “scientist” can be a graduate student, health professional student (med student, dental student, pharmacy student), postdoc, faculty, or staff.  Teacher/scientist teams partner to co-teach hands-on science lessons to K-12 students.  SEP supports each team by providing lesson support, materials and kits (available from the Daly Ralston Resource Center), and optional pedagogy training for scientists.

Typical Teacher/Scientist Teams

Elementary School: 2 teachers/2 scientists

Middle/High School: 1 teacher/2 scientists

You can request a friend/colleague as a partner when you apply. You can also opt to work in a smaller group (i.e. 1 teacher/1 scientist, or 1 teacher/ 2 scientists). Let us know your preferences in you application.


The total time commitment for planning and teaching lessons is typically about 20 hours.  Teams plan their meeting and lesson times based on what works for everyone’s schedule.


Applications Open – UCSF volunteers and SFUSD teachers submit their applications to the program.


Team Orientation – Participants will learn about the program and meet the rest of their Teacher/Scientist team


Lesson Planning Meeting – At this meeting, a coordinator will suggest lessons, guide lesson planning, and help teams find lesson materials.

Classroom Observation – Scientists will visit their teacher’s classroom to introduce themselves, start to get to know the students, and observe classroom norms and procedures.

February/June (last day of school)

Four Hands-on Science Lessons – These four lessons (typically 45 mins to 1 hr) are scheduled at a time that best fits everyone’s schedule. Teams can schedule one lesson per week, once every two weeks, or any combination that suits the team. SEP staff tries to partner teachers and scientist with similar schedule restrictions to make planning easier.

Teams with two teachers would repeat lessons in both teachers’ classrooms.


End-of-Program Survey – At the end of the program, we ask each participant to fill out a survey to provide SEP with feedback and data to report to our funders.

Elementary School Programs

Health Teach/Med Teach partners professional students from Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and Physical Therapy with SFUSD teachers to plan and co-teach a series of hands-on human body and health lessons in kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms

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

Scientist-Teacher Action Teams (STAT) partners UCSF volunteers (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and faculty) with SFUSD teachers to plan and co-teach a series of investigative science lessons around biological, physical, and/or earth science topics in kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms.
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

Middle and High School Programs

Bio & Chem Teach partners UCSF volunteers (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and faculty) with SFUSD teachers to plan and co-teach a series of investigative science lessons around biological, physical, and/or earth science topics.  Generally, one teacher partners with two to three UCSF volunteers to teach a minimum of four lessons in the spring semester.

I had never taken part in a real lab before, like that, and I had never dreamed I would learn so much while having so much fun…I felt like a scientist!…I walked out of the classroom with a piece of my DNA in a tube, and anyone who saw it was interested in learning how I got it and all the details.
- SFUSD student

After School Programs

STEM After School is a collaboration between SEP and Techbridge Girls to support STEM learning for K-8 students from SFUSD during afterschool hours (3-6pm).  After school providers and UCSF scientist volunteers collaborate to teach 4 one-hour lessons together during the spring semester.  Typical teams consist of two UCSF volunteers and one after-school provider.

This experience was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I have ever had, and I realize this is not only because of what I learned, but because of the realization that this was truly valuable to the children. Inside the classroom, I learned how to better interact with children; how to teach them in a way that is fun, stimulating, and makes them feel like real scientists.
- UCSF Volunteer


Our application for the 2019-20 Classroom Partnership Program is now closed. We will begin recruiting for next year’s program in the fall of 2020.

Request an application to our classroom partnership program at the link below: