STEM Volunteer Program

Program Description

In 2004, the Senior Scientists and Engineers (SSE) organization 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 Metro area.  It is based on RE-SEED and TOPS, volunteer efforts launched in the 1990s.  The Program began in 2004 in Montgomery County, Maryland and has expanded to schools in Virginia (Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties and the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church), in the District of Columbia, and in Prince George's County, Maryland. Almost 200 volunteers are participating in school year 2016-2017.  The majority of volunteers are retired, but the number of those still working is growing.  

Fundamentals of Volunteering 

  • Assist K-12 STEM teachers in the classroom throughout the school year
  • Commit to attending their schools for a few hours one day per week, if retired, or a few hours every two to three weeks if still working 
  • Attend a one-day training session in early September which includes a review of the Volunteer Handbook, presentations by current volunteers, and information from school district staff
  • Are assigned based on individual preferences, teacher requests, and commuting distances.

Once assigned to a classroom, a volunteer may:

  • Work with individual or teams of students to encourage questions about STEM topics
  • Offer insights on an aspect of a specific STEM field
  • Relate STEM to real world experiences
  • Be a resource for the teacher and students
  • Help teachers with science fairs
  • Develop activities jointly with teachers
  • Explore opportunities for field trips and other programs designed to enhance the learning experience
  • Advise students during lab experiments, scientific investigations, and STEM projects
  • Complement the teacher's presentations and add a practical perspective if needed
  • Work with teachers to enhance/improve course content
  • Make presentations based on your expertise when appropriate
  • Help teachers design experimental challenges to demonstrate scientific and engineering principles for the students