Giving Back: BASIS

By Kirsten Mickelwait

Lindsey Young (MCB) teaches Oakland kindergartners
about the body’s defenses against infection.
Photo courtesy of Community Resources for Science.

Every MCB student and faculty member has experienced that light-bulb moment, when they were first inspired to love science. Today, many more East Bay public school children are having those moments, thanks to the Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) program. BASIS volunteers bring engaging, one-hour lessons directly into K-6 classrooms, involving students in hands-on investigations and engineering challenges.

These are scientists, engineers, and other STEM professionals — including MCB graduate students and postdocs — who have been specially trained as science role models. “Of our 500+ volunteers, about 450 are from UC Berkeley and 30 of those are from MCB,” says Program Manager Traci Grzymala. “They’re inspiring students to think critically and engage in scientific practices while motivating local teachers to include more science into their curricula. UC Berkeley scientists are the perfect role models to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers — we couldn’t do this without them.” About 75 percent of the 135+ schools assisted by the program are Title 1 schools in under-served communities.

“Children are naturally curious and very observant, but they don’t imagine themselves as future scientists, in part because they have never seen relatable examples,” says volunteer Lindsey Young, an MCB PhD student in the Hurley lab. “Bringing hands-on lessons to their classrooms shows them that science is accessible and puts real scientists in front of them.”

Want to join BASIS as a scientist role model? For more information, email Traci Grzymala.

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