Cellular Construction Workshop

Overview

SEP’s high school programs are only open to students from SFUSD, SF charter schools, or College Track San Francisco

The Cellular Construction Workshop is a 10-day summer workshop for high school teachers and students.  This NSF-funded program, as part of the Center for Cellular Construction, engages students and teachers in design challenges as they learn together about the field of cellular engineering.

Have you heard of cellular engineering? Cellular engineering is a field of biology that uses cells to solve complex problems. It applies what we know about cells, including how they’re built, make decisions, and accomplish tasks, to develop new technology based on this knowledge. We need a new generation of scientists to help us tinker, build, and figure out how things work so that we can use cellular engineering to make the world a better place — that’s why we need you!

The Cellular Construction Workshop (CCW) is a paid 10-day long summer program where high school students and teachers work together to learn about the field of cellular engineering. Students and teachers collaborate in teams to conduct experiments to observe how cells work, use robots and coding to copy how cells make decisions, and try to solve a real-world problem using what they’ve learned about cells and coding. No coding or robotics knowledge is necessary!

Learn how students enhance teacher learning:

Hear about the CCW from previous participants:

Previous Workshops

Browse the workshop materials (lesson ideas, worksheets, and more) to bring cellular engineering into your classroom!

How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in our Cellular Construction Workshop (CCW)! 

The student application for Summer 2024 will open Monday, January 22nd. 

The teacher application for Summer 2024 will open on Monday, February 5th.

Need help with your application or want to learn more about CCW? We’re offering OPTIONAL help sessions where one of our team members can answer your questions about submitting your application, and an info session to share more details about the program. Click on the buttons below to sign up.

Students: You are required to submit at least one letter of recommendation from an adult who can share about your science interest. This could be an adult from school, work, an afterschool activity, etc. You will need to include the recommender’s name in your application and then you will need to send them the Recommender Form link. Also Give your recommender(s) the Guide for Recommenders which includes instructions. You can access these links below or by clicking the buttons below.

Recommender Form link: tfaforms.com/5100430

Guide for Recommenders: https://sep.ucsf.edu/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/CCW-Recommendation-Prompts-2024.pdf

Eligibility Requirements

Students:

  1. Current San Francisco Unified School District 10th or 11th grader
    Taken at least one biology class (recommended)
  2. Can commit to the full 10-day workshop. Program begins Friday, 6/14/24 and runs through Friday 6/28/24, 9am – 3pm, M-F daily (no class on Wednesday 6/19/24 in observance of the Juneteenth holiday).
  3. Individuals from backgrounds historically marginalized in the sciences
  4. Attend a SFUSD public school, SF public charter school or be part of SF College Track.

Teachers:

  1. Must be a STEM teacher
  2. Can commit to the full 10-day workshop
  3. Teach at a public school or public charter school in one of the school districts: San Francisco Unified School District, South San Francisco Unified School District, Jefferson Union High School District, Oakland Unified School District, Hayward Unified School District, or West Contra Costa Unified School District.

We aren’t necessarily looking for students who have the best grades or have accomplished the most. In fact, we don’t ask you for your grades or GPA as part of your application. The ideal candidate will show us:

  • Evidence of maturity and responsibility
  • Evidence of persistence through challenges
  • Science or Engineering interest
  • Motivation to participate in this program

See our FAQ tab for more details on eligibility.

2024 Application Process 

  • January 22: Student applications open 
  • February 5: Teacher applications open
  • February 8: Info session held online
  • February 25: Student applications due
  • March 4: Teacher applications due
  • March: CCW staff meets and decides which participants to accept 
  • April 2: Participants are notified of acceptance into program 
  • June 14: Program begins 

Expectations:

Expectations for all CCW participants (teachers and students):
  1. Participate in a paid 10-day workshop. Students will receive a $1000 stipend for completing the program, and teachers will receive a $1350 stipend for completing the CCW.
  2. Build a learning community with all CCW participants.
  3. Conduct biology and cellular engineering experiments with your student/teacher teams.
  4. Participate in coding modules and design challenges with your student/teacher teams.
  5. Create a final design challenge with your student/teacher teams that solves a real-world problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

The CCW is a unique program because it is open to both students and teachers. They will work together in teams throughout the workshop.

Students: Current 10th or 11th graders who go to high school in San Francisco Unified School District, a SF Charter school or who are part of SF College Track.

Teachers: Must teach a STEM subject at a public school or public charter school in one of the following school districts: San Francisco Unified School District, South San Francisco Unified School District, Jefferson Union High School District, Oakland Unified School District, Hayward Unified School District, or West Contra Costa Unified School District.

We encourage students from backgrounds considered historically marginalized in the sciences (individuals from racial/ethnic groups typically historically marginalized in the sciences, individuals with disabilities, first-generation college students, individuals who reside with families who are low income or otherwise considered disadvantaged, individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+) to apply. Further explanation and definitions are offered at the end of this FAQ section.

Student applications are due: Sunday, February 25, 2024. Teacher applications are due Monday, March 4, 2024.

The CCW program begins Friday, June 14th 2024 and runs through Friday, June 28th 2024, 9am – 3pm, M-F daily. There will be no workshop on Wednesday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth. The CCW takes place at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

Teachers will receive parking validation.

  1. Teachers: Completed electronic application form.
  2. Students: Completed electronic application form and letter of recommendation. Only one letter of recommendation is required, but you may submit up to two.

Students if you would like to see a sample application with types of questions we ask please click here (please note this not the application you turn in, you must use the online application form link).

Teacher and student applications will be submitted online.

Students: You will need select an adult that you have worked with at school, at work, in an afterschool activity etc. to submit a letter of recommendation online on your behalf.  You will need to include the recommender’s name in your application and then you will need to sent them this link (tfaforms.com/5100430) and invite them to submit a recommendation on your behalf.  Give your recommender(s) this document, which includes instructions for what to submit and how to submit it.

We read every application very carefully and use each component of the application to inform our decision. Through the application, tell us about why we should select you. We don’t use grades or academic achievement as an indicator of potential success in this program. Instead, we want to know that you have some interest in science or engineering and that this program could help make a difference in your life.

The ideal candidate will show us:

  • Evidence of maturity and responsibility
  • Evidence of persistence through challenges
  • Science or Engineering interest
  • Motivation to participate in this program

We accept 12-15 students and 4-5 teachers. We don’t conduct interviews.

We will notify students and teachers via email by April 2, 2024.

No, coding knowledge is not necessary. We do recommend that students have taken at least one biology class in high school.

As long as your other summer programs don’t interfere with the timing of the CCW, you can participate in other summer programs.

The Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) is committed to increasing equity in STEM. Specifically, we prioritize the acceptance of students from historically marginalized backgrounds in this field who are interested in Biology and Engineering and want to learn more about both.

At SEP, we prefer to use the term “historically marginalized” instead of “underrepresented,” but we use the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) definition of underrepresented to inform how we prioritize participants. As stated by the NIH, “In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, education, and research opportunities are not equally available to all”, and they identify individuals from the groups below as nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences.

  • Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander and the following Asian groups only: Filipino, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Bhutanese and Burmese 
  • Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. 
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
    • Were or currently are homeless
    • Were or currently are in the foster care system
    • Were/are eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years
    • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree
    • Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants
    • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child
    • Grew up in a U.S. rural area or a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas

In addition to the NIH definitions, SEP also includes individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ as historically marginalized. Access data and further explanations here.

Join Us in Building...

Learning | Partnerships | Belonging

Thank You for Supporting SEP

All of SEP’s programs are offered free-of-charge. To do this work, SEP must annually raise nearly $2 million. Every donation brings us closer to that goal and helps to make this important work possible.

Elementary School Programs

As part of UCSF, SEP is a 501(c)3 non-profit. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Please let us know if your company participates in a matching gift program so that we can extend the benefit of your generosity.