Mobile Science Laboratory
What is it?
The Salk Mobile Science Lab is a free program that travels all over San Diego County bringing biotechnology to middle school students. It is a three-day curriculum where students look at mutated fruit flies, isolate DNA, and run gels.
What makes this program so special is that we bring volunteers from the science community into the classroom. This allows young students a chance to interact with and ask questions of the real people who are actually doing or supporting the science they would otherwise just read about in their textbooks.
How can I help?
A) Be a helper for the hands-on stuff — guide the kids thru the activities. We have usually less than 50 minutes per class to teach the content and do the activity so we have to move pretty fast and having small groups of kids working with a volunteer is much quicker and more effective than 1 teacher trying to work with 36 kids at once.
B) MOST IMPORTANT — we need you to be you — a representative of how cool science can be, and that it is something that people can be excited and passionate about. Because these kids don’t get to do much hands-on stuff (especially in today’s school budget crisis), “science” to them means boring textbooks and they think scientists all look like Einstein.
How much time does it take?
One morning only! We go out about every other week or so during the school year. The program is 3 days but we only need volunteers to help out with the day 2 and day 3 activities and generally each volunteer comes for one or the other of those days. The program is mornings only. We do start early, but we will finish no later than 12:30 pm so you can get back to your lab. All we ask is that you come out at least once during the year.
Do I need special training?
No! — we’re working with middle schools so the activities are pretty simple. Even people with no science experience or background have successfully served as volunteers with us — enthusiasm is the only real requirement. We do have you come about 15-20 minutes early the first time you volunteer on a particular day (day 2 and 3 activities are different) to show you what to do and we have training videos about the activities available as well.
How do I sign up?
Click HERE for the volunteer information form. A week or so before each school visit we send out a notice asking for volunteers — we let you know where the school is, what days we need helpers, and usually an estimated time frame. If the request fits your schedule just email back and as soon as we have a full team for that school we’ll send you the details — exact directions, carpool info, etc.
Please volunteer to impact science education!