Volunteer Opportunities


Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Volunteer Opportunities - SciChats@Salk


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What is it?
SciChats@Salk is a video-chat-based science outreach program that pairs a group of students with a volunteer scientist for lunch-hour chats about what it’s like to be a scientist. SciChats@Salk give students a clearer picture of how science progresses, encourage them to imagine a future for themselves as scientists, and illustrate the contributions that science makes to society. Rather than teaching content, SciChats@Salk embraces students’ curiosity by letting their questions dictate the discussion, and emphasizes both the process of science and the people behind the science.

Who are the students?
The SciChats@Salk program is open to all K-14 educators with a majority of sessions requested by middle and high school science teachers. Most classrooms are in local schools but through connections with Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom project, the students could potentially be from anywhere in the world!

How much time does it take?
The SciChats@Salk interaction ranges from 35-50 minutes. The first 15-20 minutes of this time will be devoted to the scientist, who will give a brief presentation about their research. Illustrations, media, movies, or “how-to” videos are all great ideas for engaging the students. The remaining time will be devoted to students’ questions. Before presenting, each scientist will fill out a short profile. This will help the students to get to know the presenter a little bit before talking to them, and will give the students just enough details to brainstorm some questions. While creating your profile and your initial presentation may take you some set up time (EO is happy to help adapt slides and we have guides to help!), once you’re set up, the SciChats@Salk itself takes less than an hour! You can then use your same profile and presentation to interact with students in different classrooms at different schools.

When does it happen?
Educators contact Salk Education Outreach to request a SciChats session and provide a selection of dates and times. A bulk of the SciChats sessions are requested during the school year (September-June) and take place during school hours (8am-4pm PST). Scientists that are interested in participating in the SciChats program are notified by email of upcoming requests. Once a scientist has signed up, Education Outreach coordinates the logistics for the chat.

How do I sign up?
Click HERE for the volunteer information form.

Please volunteer to impact science education!