Senior Scientists and Engineers: STEM Volunteer Program

Program Description

In 2004, the Senior Scientists and Engineers (SSE) and AAAS formed the AAAS/SSE STEM Volunteer Program to support K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, foster STEM literacy and motivate students to pursue STEM careers.  

The Program recruits volunteers from the science, engineering, and medical communities in the Washington DC Metro area.  It is based on RE-SEED and TOPS, volunteer efforts launched in the mid-1990s.

AAAS/SSE STEM volunteers:

  • Are matched with a local teacher based on mutual needs and interests
  • Visit the classroom on average one day each week during the school year
  • Provide assistance in the classroom as determined by you and the teacher

Once in the classroom, volunteers can:

  • Encourage students to ask questions about STEM topics
  • Relate science to a student’s daily life
  • Assist teachers with science fairs
  • Plan engaging field trips with teachers
  • Offer insights on a specific field of science
  • Complement teacher's lessons with personal perspective
  • Advise students during lab experiments and scientific investigations
  • Work with teachers to enhance course content or design special lessons

Teachers and volunteers describe their experiences:

"The volunteers have been instrumental in encouraging students to think about their future as scientists.  Their generosity is greatly appreciated.”

"There was an air of excitement and intellectual interest that even my reluctant learners responded well to. Having another perspective on making science relevant has the students' attention and they got a lot out of it. (Yes, it was FUN!)"

"The students (at first) viewed me as a real, living scientist who knew all. They have learned from me that one of the beauties of science is that it is a constant learning experience and that we, as scientists, surely don’t know everything!"

"I went to school…and had a blast! … I explained Mendel, his job, and how science begins with observations. In Mendel's case, how did pea plants with purple flowers produce offspring with white flowers? As in, 'WOW! How did THAT happen?'"

"Dealing with students and with the teacher is…rewarding as they truly appreciate my presence and effort.  I was asked to talk during Career Day and many of the students have stopped me in the school hall to talk to me."

News Coverage

AAAS News Article (view online, AAAS News Archives)
AAAS News Article (view PDF)
Video about Volunteering – Overview
Video about Volunteering in Elementary Schools
Video about Volunteering in Secondary Schools