Most students in the sciences tend to divide their lives between lab work, eating, and sleeping. But the UC Berkeley undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs who volunteer with the Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) program have also found the time to take their love of science outside the laboratory and into local elementary schools. For over a decade, the BASIS program has been one of many services offered to elementary school teachers by the Berkeley non-profit organization Community Resources for Science (CRS). CRS serves teachers in 92 public schools throughout the Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville Unified School Districts, helping them find resources to incorporate more science into the school day. Last fall, the Lawrence Hall of Science released a report in which a shocking 40% of elementary school teachers in California reported that their students receive 60 minutes or less of science instruction per week. Currently, BASIS has over 350 scientist volunteers from research institutions and biotechnology companies across the East Bay. Over three-quarters of those volunteers come from the 21 different science programs at UC Berkeley. Each volunteer meets individually with CRS staff to develop a one-hour lesson personalized to their research interests and tailored to a particular grade level in accordance with the California State Science Standards. As the program has grown, teachers respond each year with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Teachers and students valued the content, vocabulary, hands-on activities, opportunity to share ideas and ask questions, and chance to learn about individual scientists’ backgrounds and work in science. Moreover, as a direct result of CRS support services, 95% of teachers indicated they felt more informed about science resources and about three-quarters of the teachers indicated they increased the amount of science taught, and learned where to access (science) information. Kristine Fowler, a third grade teacher in Berkeley commented, “These classroom visits are exceptional. The only improvement is to offer more of them!” Volunteers have also found the experience enriches their lives. As one volunteer, a PhD student named Kimberly Sogi, put it, “It’s easy to get your head buried in research. Going into classrooms and seeing the excitement of the kids really puts a new perspective on my work, and that’s really exciting.”
For more information go to the CRS website.