Like many start-ups in Silicon Valley, Schmahl Science Workshops (SSW) began in a garage in 1996. Today, SSW provides fun and engaging science workshops to 150 schools serving 32,000 Bay Area students each year that do not have the resources to include science as a regular part of their instructional program.
SSW has created & thoroughly documented over 600 original science lesson plans that meet Common Core/Next Generation Science Standards. The lesson plans are supported by contextual & inspirational essays that help SSW instructors weave in exciting background perspective with the fun of learning. The classroom program has an average of 30 hands-on workshops for each grade level. In preschool, 32 workshops are linked with 96 pieces of children’s literature. The literature provides background knowledge, vocabulary, & excitement for students as they learn foundational scientific concepts. The elementary program not only links science concepts to grade level standards, but also links workshops to language arts. Middle & high school workshops support science teachers by bringing in workshops at key times during each unit of science instruction & providing students with hands-on activities & experiments that are not otherwise readily available.
SSW currently has three key components, all related to developing a love of science in youngsters of all ages –pre-k through grade 12:
- Classroom & After School
- Homeschool & Camps
- Student Research Program (Fundamental & Advanced)
SSW has been locally & nationally recognized as a leader in science education. Our programs inspire & empower youth to become young scientists, pursuing & developing their interest in STEM fields through hands-on experiences that become opportunities for career advancement. In eighteen years, hundreds of young scientists working with SSW have received awards. Many have gone on to pursue college majors in STEM fields. Of the students we touch, even those that do not pursue science as a career, from their SSW experience they take away valuable skills in critical thinking, collaboration & problem solving as well as a lifelong appreciation for science.
Our students provide the most compelling perspective on the success of what we do:
I just wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t have had such an amazing experience with my gastric cancer project (& subsequent City of Hope experience, given that my previous project helped me secure that position) if it hadn’t been for your support. And, if I hadn’t had both experiences, I doubt I would’ve made it into my dream school! (Literally, I had two dreams about getting into Brown) – Advanced Science Research Student Alumni
I can’t thank you enough for your amazing classes & very inspiring & engaging teachers. I really appreciate the magic that you create. I have never seen my 6 year old Brian so excited about anything. After the last class this Monday, he could not stop talking about everything he learned, & he was so incredibly excited about the bug he made. He never had a particular interest in bugs before this, so it’s not like it was simply his existing interest. Now Mondays are his favorite day of the week because that is the day he has science! He used to live for the weekends when he didn’t have to go to school, but now he says, “I can’t wait for the weekend to end so I can go to science.” – School Parent
In 2000, fifteen SSW students developed a working prototype of NASA’s RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) Telescope.
At the invitation of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, they presented at the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division Conference in Lake Tahoe in June 2000. Their abstract and presentation was published in the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (Vol. 32, No. 2, 2.122).
How cool is that? To learn more about the project, please go to these links:
An Optical Demonstration Project For The HESSI Rotating Modulation Collimator
RHESSI Demonstration Telescope Hard X-ray Images
Hard X-ray Images