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Acad Med. 1996 Sep;71(9):950-6.

A successful university-school-district partnership to help San Francisco's K-12 students learn about science and medicine.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143, USA.


The Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) is a program at the University of California, San Francisco, established in 1987 to support the San Francisco School District ("the District") in its efforts to improve science education in grades K-12. A large cadre of active biomedical scientists and health professionals and a core program staff provide support to 90-95% of the District's schools. The District's students are from a variety of racial and ethnic groups, including a large percentage from underrepresented minorities (URMs). The SEP program has numerous components, some designed to help teachers (e.g., a clinician or scientist forms an ongoing partnership with a teacher to enrich classroom instruction) and some involving direct work with students (e.g., a contest where teams of students design and present lessons on science or health to their peers; activities related specifically to the encouragement of URM students). The SEP's perspective has evolved from an emphasis on assisting individual teachers and students to one of supporting systemic change throughout the District (e.g., supporting full implementation of hands-on, inquiry-based science instruction throughout the District via professional development). During this evolution, the kinds of issues facing program staff have changed and a great deal has been learned about fostering successful partnership activities. For example, (1) having a coordinator is crucial to make such a program work well; (2) it is easier to find start-up funding than to find continuing funding for ongoing activities that are working; and (3) it is important to work with the volunteering scientists and the teachers to help them understand what each has to offer the partnership and to encourage explicit dialogue about roles and expectations. The author concludes with advice for starting a new partnership: think big but start small, and work toward a long-term association based on communication and trust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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