Partnerships: Industry/Education Success Stories

Partnerships:Industry/Education Success Stories

San DiegoScience Alliance Expands Science Education ThroughoutCounty

Ourchildren are 25% of our population and 100% of our future. We allagree that providing the best possible education and network ofresources is imperative for their success. Hence, the San DiegoScience Alliance (SDSA) was formed in July 1994 when a small group ofpeople interested in enhancing science education decided to gettogether to determine what science-related programs were availablefor teachers in San Diego. Through networking efforts, theall-volunteer group grew to include representatives from high-techcompanies, the biomedical community, higher education, museums,science professional societies and informal educators throughout thecounty.

Certainly this was a bigtask for the small group. However, with great determination,enthusiasm, commitment, corporate support and the vision to build abridge between the education and business communities, their effortshave paid off handsomely.

SDSA developed a ResourceCatalog, now in its fourth edition, to alert teachers to a diversearray of science-related education programs in San Diego County, suchas field trips, classroom speakers, science fairs, job shadowing andhands-on activity kits. Participating organizations are profiled,highlighting their best-known products or services, Internet Websites and internship opportunities. The Catalog is provided free ofcharge to educators countywide.

In addition, a newsletterdisseminates information and fosters communication among teachers,scientists and other community organizations interested in supportingscience literacy.

An Internet Web site( been dramatically redesigned, with over 120 hyperlinks tobusinesses and public schools. Educators, students, and industryleaders alike can log on to the SDSA Web site and search the onlineversion of the Resource Catalog, read the latest newsletter and findthe most up-to-date information on upcoming seminars, workshops ornetworking meetings.

Each year, a PartnershipAwards breakfast is held to recognize outstanding contributions madeby businesses, individuals, teachers and administrators, toward theimprovement of science education. SDSA also provides judges forstudent science competitions, such as the Secondary Science Olympiad,Inventors' Showcase and the Greater San Diego Science and EngineeringFair.

The San Diego ScienceAlliance, now more than 100 member organizations strong, was recentlygranted nonprofit 501(c)(3) status and is governed by a 24-memberBoard of Directors. More than 90% of its funding comes from monetaryand in-kind contributions; additionally, SDSA has been awardedseveral grants from philanthropic foundations.

Through networking efforts, the all-volunteer group grew to include representatives from high-tech companies, the biomedical community, higher education, museums, science professional societies and informal educators.

Other select programs thatSDSA sponsors or participates in include:

  • High-Tech Fair. Several thousand students attended the first annual Educational Technology Fair, a countywide event co-sponsored by SDSA in collaboration with the San Diego County Office of Education and all five San Diego County congressional representatives. Students interacted with more than 50 of San Diego's high-tech businesses to gain hands-on experience with scientists and science careers. This high-profile event put science education in the spotlight, and plans for next year's Fair are already underway.
  • Teachers' HotlineTo San Diego Scientists. The Teachers' Hotline was created to tap the wealth of human resources from science and high-tech businesses to help high school teachers make science concepts and careers come alive for their students. Any teacher with access to e-mail can simply send a question in any of 18 science content categories to the Teachers' Hotline, and it is routed to a local scientist who has volunteered his or her expertise to answer questions in that particular category. Originally conceived as an e-mail-based program, the Teachers' Hotline will be transitioning to Web-based technology on the SDSA Internet site in the near future.
  • Pisces Project. Partnerships to Involve the Scientific Community in Elementary Schools (PISCES) targets elementary science instruction and provides curriculum to schools throughout the county. The highlights of this program include teachers and scientists actively working together to design and implement curriculum that makes sense. SDSA, the San Diego County Office of Education and San Diego State University are helping to provide the critical link among these groups. Support from the American Physical Society has also been instrumental.
  • "Science In San Diego" SEMINARS. Periodically, SDSA offers a series of weekly seminars for local educators at a wide cross-section of companies in San Diego's science and technology community. Evaluations of the seminars revealed that participating teachers would apply in the classroom what they'd learned at the sites, and that they felt the information would increase their effectiveness as teachers. Participants also submitted excellent suggestions for improving both the content and relevance of the seminars.

In four short years, theimpact of the San Diego Science Alliance has surpassed even the hopesof its founders. Membership in the organization has growndramatically, as more and more educators are introduced to SDSAthrough the host of professional development activities it sponsors.Using the enhanced Web site as a springboard, SDSA members will soonbe able to form their own interactive science education communities,taking professional development into their own hands. This is trulyan industry/ education success story: a small group of peopleleveraging a vision, with the determination to join forces andsupport science literacy in local schools and creating aclearinghouse of science education resources to make scienceinstruction relevant and meaningful. Our children &emdash; the futureleaders of our communities, our country and our world &emdash; arethe ultimate beneficiaries.

Ellie Glaser develops QUALCOMM'S strategic involvement in thecommunity, including the development of educational programs. Shecurrently serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committeesof the San Diego Science Alliance as Communications Chair, and playsan instrumental advisory role for other community organizations aswell. Glaser holds Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees inElementary Education from Boston University.

E-mail: [email protected]

Tracy Landauer is aneditor and research professional for WestEd, a nonprofit educationalresearch and development agency that provides technical assistanceand strategic planning to the San Diego Science Alliance underfederal contract. She is Editor of the Science Alliance ResourceCatalog, a frequent contributor to the Alliance's newsletter,recording secretary to the Alliance's newsletter and Board ofDirectors, and manager of their various databases. Landauer alsoconducts research in education policy issues, coordinates andconducts substance abuse surveys at county schools and provideseditorial support for a variety of other WestEd projects. She is agraduate of Stanford University.

E-mail: [email protected]

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.