Scientists Bring Hands-On Fun to Class

By Nolan Feeney and Kevin Eisenmann on August 01, 2012

When seventh-grade teacher Andrew Tuomey received a letter from UCSF's Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) saying scientists would come lead experiments in his classroom, he wasn't sure what to expect. But six years later, he is a convert.

"Students see that learning isn't just sitting and hearing a teacher talk," said Tuomey, a math and science teacher at Edison Charter Academy.

SEP's classroom-based partnerships, active in 90 percent of San Francisco's public and charter schools, connect UCSF researchers and graduate students with all grade levels to together explore biology and chemistry in depth. In programs such as Bio&ChemTeach, middle and high school students dissect squids and explore bacteria. But these lessons aren't one-off events – they continue throughout the year to build lasting relationships between UCSF and students and their teachers.

"Growing up, I had the same resources. Students would come to my schools and teach us science," said Andrew Shie, a second-year PhD candidate in biochemistry and molecular biology at UCSF. "When I learned about SEP, I knew for sure I wanted to participate."