Programs & Services
At the heart of CRS’s work is an understanding that teachers are individuals, with differing levels of professional experience and varied needs. Our suite of programs and services is carefully developed to offer an array of customized support that weaves a powerful web of connections and resources, ensuring teachers can give more kids more opportunities to learn about our world through science.
Through lesson plans, volunteer scientists, and science resources for teachers, CRS brings high-quality science experiences to my students. CRS enriches my classroom, strengthens my content knowledge, and renews my enthusiasm for science!
It began in 1997 with teachers asking for help finding the information and resources they needed in order to plan a lesson, field trip, or for their own professional growth. From there, our unique, comprehensive suite of services has grown to include information services, personalized support, connections to scientists and engineers through our volunteer program, events, professional development workshops and more. We build long term relationships with the teacher, schools, and scientists in our network, and the result is more opportunities for more students to make meaning, investigate, solve problems, , discover, and be inspired!
Teachers turn to CRS for clear, timely information, carefully curated to save them time and focus in on their specific needs. We've compiled a thorough compendium of science resources, and our website serves as an easy reference source for information about everything from lab materials and lesson plans to websites for kids and teachers, from information about changing science standards to places to go for out-of-classroom learning experience, and much more. The information is available online for teachers to search and access anytime.
CRS provides teachers with a unique benefit: personalized, individual planning support. Teachers can reach out to CRS anytime via our website, email, fax, or phone call, and we'll promptly deliver a customized report to a teacher’s email inbox, and provide any follow-up support needed. A new third grade teacher searching for weather related websites for kids, a kindergarten teacher searching for an in-class presentation about butterfly habitats, and an experienced 5th grade teacher looking for a summer professional development workshop about marine biology – CRS will find and send each one just the information they need.
Every month, CRS sends teachers a monthly email bulletin, e-NewsBlast, with the latest information about upcoming museum exhibits, field trip deadlines, new grant opportunities, and more. And, three times a year CRS compiles and mails (as well as posts online) a comprehensive resource guide covering a range of programs, workshops, grant opportunities, and other resources. We make sure teachers have at their fingertips information about the wealth of science resources, what’s new, and where they can turn for information or experiences they need.
And, to keep things fun, CRS also hosts two “field trips for teachers” each school year in partnership with local science institutions. Teachers have a chance to network and share ideas, to receive free books and other resources, and to get up-close and personal visits to a variety of excellent science organizations. Recent events have been held at the Exploratorium, Marine Science Institute, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, Chabot Space and Science Museum, the Oakland Zoo, and more! We thank our wonderful science partners for making these free experiences possible for teachers.
Teachers early on told CRS “We need ‘ologists’ – not talking heads, but people who would come and DO science with our students.” Likewise, many scientists and engineers are eager to share their passion for STEM learning, but need training and logistical support in order to be successful volunteers in schools. In response, CRS has developed one of the largest in-class scientist and engineer volunteer programs in the country. Each year we work with hundreds of scientists and engineers, preparing them to present successful, engaging, inquiry-based science lessons that are linked to appropriate education standards. Thousands of kids get to experience hands-on learning to gain a deeper understanding of scientific concepts and practices. And, our diverse and enthusiastic STEM professionals serve as role models – inspiring students to consider themselves as future scientists! Students see that scientists can be women and people of various backgrounds. Students hear first-hand about how the things they are learning in school relate to the “real world”. And, most of all, students see that science and engineering are cool!
Key to the success of the BASIS (Bay Area Scientists in Schools) program is the careful preparation CRS provides for our volunteers, and the flexible scheduling model which allows scientists and engineers to designate specific dates and times during the year when they are available. Our volunteers include graduate students and post-docs from UC Berkeley, and employees from many locally based science and engineering companies. Generally, BASIS volunteers work together in teams – it’s more fun, and it provides students with more role models and more individual attention!
We're the "go to" source for schools seeking scientist connections!
In addition to the popular BASIS program, CRS recruits and trains science and engineering professionals for a range of other outreach efforts. Our Be a Scientist program provides mentors who guide middle school students through the multi-week process of designing, conducting, and communicating results of their own independent science investigations. We also field requests from teachers looking for scientists and engineers to serve as science fair judges, provide demonstrations at Family Science festivals, and other school-based events. Some of our scientist volunteers help present workshops for teachers to deepen their engagement with and understanding of the scientific process or specific science content. And, volunteers have fun sharing science in public places like farmers markets, street fairs, and more.
Designed to motivate and recognize excellence in elementary science teaching, the CRS Science Super Star Challenge program sets forth a series of best practices (including hands-on science investigations and engineering challenges, connecting science with language arts and math, participating in professional development, and participating in a field trip or similar learning experience). Teachers document their successes, and those teachers who meet the challenge receive recognition and prizes including microscopes, books, field trips, assemblies, and more. We reach out to publishers and other partners to ensure that every child in every successful teachers' classroom will also receive a science-themed book of their very own.
“This has been the single most influential program in bringing new and exciting science instruction to my classroom and school. Thank you so very much!” -- Science Super Star honoree, 2015
CRS has become my lifeline to the people and organizations that promote hands-on science teaching and learning in elementary school. It keeps me learning and connected. Many thanks!"
--4th/5th Grade Teacher, West Contra Costa Unified School District
In order to address identified gaps between available resources and teacher needs, CRS works with a range of science-related organizations in the community. Our goal is to build strong partnerships between schools and the wealth of science resources in our community.
One way we do this work is through our Advisory Council, which brings together thought leaders from many different areas of academia, school districts and classrooms, museums, funders, and others, to discuss and find ways to address challenges and opportunities for improving science learning experiences for teachers and students.
For our science education partner organizations, CRS provides an effective means to reach East Bay teachers with information about new programs. We also consult with partner organizations in developing new resources and aligning exhibits and programs with new science standards.
For our school and district partners, CRS provides customized professional development and connections to resources which can address their specific and changing needs.