Working Towards a Brighter Future
We are an education non-profit spun out of Stanford University who seek to make inquiry-based science and top notch mentoring available to Bay Area Students from backgrounds underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM).
Why We Mentor
High-quality elementary school science education develops critical thinking skills, improves literacy outcomes, builds student confidence and interest in STEM subjects, and improves STEM performance and engagement in secondary school and beyond. Early experiences with science and engineering shape student perceptions of STEM subjects and their accessibility. Research suggests that students form an entrenched positive or negative opinion of science as early as ten years old. Further, most people who become scientists or engineers initially become interested in these subjects sometime "between grades K through 6."
Despite the clear impact of early scientific education on student development, educational attainment, and future STEM prospects, data from the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) shows that the majority of American fourth-graders have less than three hours of science instruction per week and 20% receive less than two hours per week. In 2007, 80% percent of Bay Area K–5 multiple-subject teachers assigned to teach science reported spending an hour or less weekly on science, and 16% reported spending no time on science. Schools struggling to meet the No Child Left Behind reading and math performance standards were more likely to spend no time on science. The state has since adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), emphasizing inquiry-based, integrative, and hands-on science. However, implementation has been uneven, and the 2019 California Science Test results reveal that fewer than one-third of students met or exceeded NGSS standards and that there are large performance gaps. Science education programs must diligently work to reach students in communities with a history of underrepresentation in STEM fields. Connecting STEM activities to prior knowledge and students' future pursuits promotes ongoing interest in the ideas presented. the concepts presented. Notably, seeing the relevance of science skills and knowledge across settings (e.g., in school, home, and the local community) promotes sustained learning and interest in science.
Essential to these efforts are supportive mentoring relationships with skilled adults, who, through regular meetings with the student, can come to know students' strengths, interests, and background. Promoting equitable access to such science opportunities would provide tangible benefits to elementary schoolers in the Bay Area and across the country.
What we do
We train undergraduate and graduate STEM students on the best practices of facilitating inquiry-based learning, listening to and building upon students' pre-existing knowledge, and being culturally responsive mentors. Mentors meet with representatives from partner organizations to understand the students’ educational ecosystem.
After an initial interest meeting with their student, each mentor develops a personalized science kit for their mentee. Each kit is reviewed and tested by Discovering Science Together leadership, and vetted by our STEM curriculum consultant. We deliver materials to students, through existing partner organization distribution infrastructure, or by mail. Student recruitment is organized by staff volunteers at the participating institution, and matching with mentors by our program.