Programs For UCSF Volunteers

SEP offers several opportunities for UCSF volunteers to connect with K-12 teachers, K-12 students, and the public.

Classroom Partnerships

In SEP’s classroom partnerships, UCSF volunteers partner with SFUSD teachers to 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 partnerships is that they are not single-visit “guest lectures,” rather through these programs, SFUSD students benefit from sustained contact with UCSF volunteers. SEP supports each team by providing support with lesson planning and offering hands-on science materials and kits from our Daly Ralston Resource Center.

Overview of CPP timeline

Elementary School Programs

SEP matches UCSF volunteers with SFUSD teachers to plan and co-teach a series of lessons in kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms. Professional students from Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing and Physical Therapy Schools tend to support lessons on human body or health. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and faculty generally support hands-on biological, physical, and/or earth science lessons.

STEM Storytime Readers

During this one-time interaction, UCSF volunteers read a selected STEM picture book to a classroom of elementary students, lead a short demo or activity related to the book, and host a brief Q&A with the students. Selections of grade-level appropriate STEM picture books are made by SEP. These offerings do not require planning between teachers and scientists other than scheduling.

Middle and High School Programs

SEP matches 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 three lessons.

Summer Volunteering Opportunities

Mentor a High School Student

Spend 8 weeks during the summer mentoring  a high school student as they  complete an authentic biomedical research project in your lab. Support them in learning research methodology, invite them into your UCSF community, and offer guidance about college-going. SEP recruits and selects interns, leads weekly meetings with students focused on science communication and college going, completes all required UCSF paperwork, and provides stipends for mentors and interns. Learn more about the High School Intern Program. Contact Lakisha Witzel ( for more info.

Career and Research Talks to High School Students

All three of SEP’s programs for high school students (High School Intern Program, Teen Wellness Connection, and Cellular Construction Workshop) include opportunities for UCSF scientists and health professionals to share about their careers and research. If you are interested in supporting these programs, please email

Professional Development

Teaching Workshops

The Teaching Workshops provide an introduction to inquiry-based science teaching, classroom and materials management, equitable teaching strategies, cognitive development, and lesson planning– all through hands-on, interactive science activities.

The workshops are open to anyone from UCSF who is interested in working with SEP and its various programs supporting K-12 science education.

The Teaching Workshop series seeks to provide UCSF volunteers with teaching strategies that will enable them to:

  • Create inquiry-based science lessons that are age-appropriate
  • Engage students in science learning, especially students from historically marginalized/underrepresented backgrounds
  • Build their knowledge of classroom management techniques
  • Connect with and inspire students by introducing themselves and their research

If you would like to learn more, please email Rachel Harris at

Mentoring Workshops

For mentors in SEP’s High School Intern Program, SEP offers a Mentoring Workshop Series. The Workshops address topics that are key to successful mentoring including designing short-term research projects, mentor roles, and strategies for supporting students’ research, writing, and presentation skills.

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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.