Founded in 2011 by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Science Action Club (SAC) is a nationwide program for middle school youth in out-of-school time, designed to transform environmental education at scale. Through games, projects, and hands-on citizen science, youth in SAC investigate nature, document their discoveries, connect with scientists, and design strategies to protect our planet. Educators receive professional development training on SAC kits, guidebooks, and best practices for teaching science in the informal learning environment.
In 2016-2017, Science Action Club engaged 15,000 youth and 1,600 educators through 750 clubs and 215 cities in 17 states across the country.
Science Action Club features three environmental science units that spark curiosity and wonder, build scientific skills, and help youth develop STEM identities. Each unit includes a guidebook with 12 fun activities that take youth outside to connect with nature and contribute to meaningful science research. Each activity is designed for a 60-90 minute club session and can be extended with bonus resources. Teaching kits include class sets of science tools and supplies, and educators participate in blended learning professional development, including an interactive online training, a face-to-face workshop, and digital access to the SAC Educator Portal.
Agencies who enroll in the project are required to fulfill the following expectations:
Recruit 15-20 youth in grades 5-8.
Identify 1-2 reliable staff to lead Science Action Club.
Ensure the program leader(s) and one additional staff person complete the online training and attend the training workshop.
Offer SAC during the current school year and implement all 12 activities.
Provide reliable internet access and at least one mobile device per club. Projectors and speakers are strongly recommended.
Submit citizen science data to professional researchers (internet access required).
Submit the program fee upon enrollment in the SAC program. Fee waivers are available.
Track youth attendance and contribute to program evaluation.
Science Action Club Curriculum Options
Bird Scouts explores feathers, flight, and the features that make birds unique. Using tools and technology, youth identify local species and investigate environmental changes that impact bird behavior. The checklists youth submit to eBird—a citizen science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology—help scientists track changes in bird distribution and abundance across the globe.
Bug Safari explores small creatures with big environmental impacts. On local field expeditions, youth search for bugs, collect specimens, and post photographs to iNaturalist—a citizen science project and online social network for nature research. Working with scientists and other students, youth identify arthropod species and document habitat conditions that influence our planet’s health.
Cloud Quest explores the impact of clouds on weather and climate. Using the GLOBE Observer citizen science platform, youth identify sky conditions and report their discoveries to NASA.