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?
SciChats@Salk is aimed at 4th and 5th grade elementary students (although we also have opportunities for more in-depth ‘Chats with high school classes). 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 is about 30 minutes. The first 15 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 following 15 minutes will be devoted to the students’ questions.
Before presenting, each scientist will fill out a short profile. This will help the students to get to know you a little bit before talking to you, and will give the students just enough details about you for them to think up some questions.
While creating your profile and your initial presentation may take you some set up time (we have templates and guides to help though!), once you’re set up, the SciChats@Salk itself only takes about 30 minutes! You can then use your same profile and presentation to interact with students in different classrooms at different schools. We ask that you do 3-4 SciChats@Salk sessions (can be same presentation!) in an academic year.

When does it happen?
Schools contact Salk Education Outreach to request SciChats@Salk and provide a selection of dates and times. Interested scientists can then view the SciChats@Salk Request Calendar to see what fits with their schedules. Education Outreach then coordinates the connection.

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

Please volunteer to impact science education!