In order to attempt to improve public science education at the local level, we have initiated an ”Elementary School Partnership” program within the BioCircuits Institute at UCSD. The pilot school for the program has been Ocean Knoll Elementary in Encinitas, California. Ocean Knoll serves 452 students in grades K–6. They are designated a Title 1 school based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and/or whose parents have less than a high school education. As the program proceeds, we have expanded to Lafayette Elementary School in the Clairemont area of the San Diego Unified School District. Lafayette school was designed and built for general education students and the District’s DHH program, meeting the needs of its very diverse population.
Each graduate student is responsible for a different grade level, and teaches in the same classroom each week, giving one-on-one attention to students and directing classroom experiments. Coordinators and students plan experiments based on the science curriculum for the week, and graduate students supplement classroom materials with scientific equipment brought from their respective lab.