Last year the Schools Fund provided a $12,264 Strategic Impact Grant for Be a Scientist, a new pilot program bringing UC Berkeley faculty and graduate and post-doc science students into all 7th grade classrooms at King Middle School. These scientists guided students through the process of designing, conducting, and presenting a scientific investigation of students’ choosing. The program piloted at King but will be scaled to Longfellow and Willard this year and next, with additional support from the Schools Fund and the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund.
During the 2014-15 school year, 64 grad and post-doc students from a wide range of scientific disciplines at UC Berkeley participated in Be a Scientist. Over 320 7th grade students benefited from the program, receiving individualized scientific instruction for 6-8 weeks during either the Fall or Spring semesters. Every student successfully developed a testable scientific question and conducted an investigation, collecting data and presenting their findings in both a written and an oral report.
Be a Scientist also allowed students to interact with diverse, enthusiastic STEM role models and develop a greater understanding of the range of scientific and engineering fields. Teachers at King engaged with scientists as thought partners in helping students develop critical thinking, problem solving, and communication, as well as understand the process of science and particular scientific content of personal interest to them.
The Schools Fund is thrilled to support a program that engages ALL students in STEM education and partners with the world-class institution, UC Berkeley, in our own backyard. Not only does Be a Scientist expand students’ understanding of and passion for science, but it gives students a model of a successful educational pathway. We look forward to watching Be a Scientist’s continued success in the 2015-16 school year!