Volunteer FAQ

How does this program work?

Science is Elementary (SiE) visits each classroom once a month from September to May. Each visit (session) is a stand-alone unit created by SiE and facilitated by a group of 3 or 4 volunteers and an SiE staff person.

What kind of time commitment is required?

Two hours monthly, from September to May (the academic year).

When are the sessions?

During the school day, beginning around 8am, 10am, or noon.

Do I need to commit to the entire year?

Yes. Your commitment allows relationships to develop between you and the students. We are aware that volunteers may not be able to come to all the sessions, and we provide substitutes when needed.

When volunteers cannot commit to an entire year, they can sign up to be substitutes instead. We call our substitutes on an as-needed basis.

What school will I be assigned to?

This year we are working in 5 schools in the Mountain View-Whisman school district and 3 in the Santa Clara Unified district.

If you have a strong preference for a district, please let us know and we will do our best to honor it.

When will you let me know what my assignment is?

Placements will be done in late August and you will be notified via email.

What am I expected to do?
  • Attend one of our volunteer trainings.
  • Read the lesson plan in advance.
  • Arrive at the school at the specified time.
  • Participate in a brief (15 minute) overview before the classroom session begins.
  • Interact with the kids in a positive way while guiding them through the experiments.
  • Encourage questioning.
  • Facilitate your station while being flexible. Things don’t always go exactly as planned when working with children.
  • Provide feedback after the session. This helps us continually improve our program.
Who are the volunteers?

Volunteers are engineers, scientists, healthcare professionals, and graduate students in the sciences and engineering. All share a passion for science and a willingness to work with elementary school-aged children.

What do I need to do to prepare for the session?

Review the lesson plan before the session. This lesson plan includes an overview, a detailed description of the experiments, explanations of the science phenomena to be observed, and potential questions to ask the students. Additional information will be provided as needed.

What is the classroom format?

Each session lasts about two hours, beginning with an introduction of the concepts to be covered. The students then split into groups and rotate through the stations, each staffed by a volunteer. At the end of the rotations, everyone regroups and an SiE staff person recaps the session.

What curriculum do you use?

SiE develops its own curriculum, which is inquiry based and hands-on. For more information visit our curriculum page.

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