Volunteers Needed for Middle School Science Education


            Project RE-SEED (Retirees Enhancing Science Education through Experiments and Demonstrations) is a program to enhance the teaching of earth, life & physical science at the middle school level (grades 6 through 8). To maintain and expand RE-SEED at more schools in the San Francisco Bay Area volunteers who are willing to apply their knowledge and experience in fostering understanding and appreciation for science and engineering are very much needed.


            At a minimum, the program influences basic understanding of science. Ideally, it helps to prepare middle school students for careers in science, engineering, and technology.  Those of us who have been involved in the program value the experience among the most meaningful in our lives.


            The program began in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000 with the training of retired engineers from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE]. It has continued with scientists and engineers from a number of professional organizations. Volunteers help in various ways in the classroom. Some have developed curriculum relevant experiments for hands on experience by the students. Others work to apply and improve curriculum experiments and demonstrations cooperatively with the teacher. All deal with students’ questions and often provide some with one-on-one help to keep up with the pace of the class. The goals are to spark the interest of students in science, to support the teachers, to enhance curriculum and textbook content understanding, and more often than not to prep and clean up labs. It’s fun!


            Teachers say RE-SEED volunteers are an invaluable resource because we provide realistic contexts for the proscribed school curriculum and model what scientists do and how they think. Teachers also appreciate the extra pair of skilled hands and highly schooled minds.


            Some volunteers work in pairs while others work solely with the teacher. The volunteering commitments are quite flexible and range from innovative demonstrations once per month to daily participation on laboratory experiments carried out with the students. There are also math-tutoring opportunities. Most retirees spend eight to ten hours per week at school while others devote additional hours each week toward building equipment, searching the Internet for interesting teaching aids, and otherwise preparing for their time in school. Volunteers find their work in the classrooms intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding.


            RE-SEED in the San Francisco Bay Area is operating with Partnership for Student Success in Science (PS3), a nine school district consortium in partnership with San Jose State University and Synopsys. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and is entering its fifth year. PS3 elected to include the RE-SEED program as part of the NSF project because it supports project goals:


1.   Raise the overall science achievement in all PS3 schools.

2.   Improve the capacity of teachers to deliver high quality science instruction.

3.   Help teachers achieve improved instruction and student success.


A broader vision statement and more detail can be found on the website:



The volunteers are trained by the Northeastern University RE-SEED director, Christos Zahopoulos, along with his partner Larry McGrail (www.stem.neu.edu). Middle school science teachers within the PS3 nine districts may request a volunteer. The project thoughtfully places volunteers to create a good match in areas such as grade level, subject matter, driving distance, volunteer interest and teacher needs.


            The ultimate benefactors of RE-SEED are students. It has been documented that the project’s mature, well-trained scientists and engineers are helping guide students to learn science concepts and facts as well as the scientific habits of mind and ways of thinking. Also, real world relationships become clearer to the students because of the deep appreciation for the importance of science that the volunteers have acquired over their professional careers.


Contact Peter K. Mueller, Ph.D., RE-SEED Coordinator, TropoChem, 3801 Magnolia Drive, Palo Alto CA 94306-3232, e-mail:pklausm@mac.com; telephone: (650) 856-1255; cell: (650) 303-6893 to obtain more information about this rewarding program, and to volunteer.  For letters from volunteers already in the program see  The Almaden Resident article dated August 3, 2007; 'Retired chemist brings his love of science to local students with 'RE-SEED' program.