Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science

Volunteer Attendance Form

Volunteers, please have a group member fill out this attendance form after every lesson your group teaches!



Spring 2024 applications are now open!

Individual Applications

Partner Applications

  • We are teaching Nashville Metro students in the classroom again this semester! Volunteer amd teacher applications will be open until 01/23/24
  • Partner applications are also open – be sure to have one partner fill out the Partner Application, and BOTH partners must also fill out the Individual Application



Who Are We?

VSVS At a Glance

VSVS is a service organization composed of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students who are committed to bringing inquiry-based, hands-on science lessons to elementary and middle school students.

Our goals are to provide Vanderbilt students with an opportunity to explain science to school children, to help college students recognize their responsibilities for community service and the importance of volunteer service in schools, to provide role models for school children, to stimulate an interest in teaching as a profession, and to help kids develop a passion for science.

About Us

 VSVS partners a team of 3-4 volunteers with a 5th – 8th grade classroom teacher from the Metro Nashville Public School System

Each team visits the same classroom 4 times per semester and teaches a different hands-on science lesson each week

Teachers stay in the classroom during lessons

Lessons are:

  • Designed to fit each grade’s curriculum
  • FUN and easy for the volunteers to teach
  • Enjoyable and informative!

Lesson materials are portable and SAFE

A manual with lesson plans is provided to every volunteer

Over 100 lessons have been written by VSVS over the years. The lessons taught in classrooms change each semester and are designed in accordance with the Science Curriculum Standards as set by the Tennessee Board of Education. Details of each lesson, including manuals and videos, can be found here

Robotics lessons are also offered at selected schools

What Else Do We Do?

In addition to our regular classroom visits, we also:

  • Provide volunteers and lessons for after-school science enrichment events in science clubs
  • Teach 10 minute lessons to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital patients in their rooms
  • Teach 10-15 minute mini lessons at science “festivals” and Metro parent/student science nights
  • Participate in Vanderbilt Fall service days and MLK service day
  • Judge science fair projects
  • Teach science lessons to Vanderbilt Next Steps students
  • Write letters of support for grant applications from research faculty
  • Provide lessons and materials for other Vanderbilt student groups, including Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth, Alternative Spring and Winter Break teams, Society of Women Engineers, MANNA, Dance Marathon, Next Steps at Vanderbilt University, The Ingram Scholars Program, and many more
  • Provide science kits to teachers who do not have VSVS teams
  • Train teachers from surrounding rural counties and provide VSVS kits for their use


VSVS / VINSE Rural Partnership
VSVS offers a STEM outreach program to rural counties for grades 6-8 sponsored by the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE). VSVS has developed middle-school lessons in accordance with the Tennessee Academic Standards for Science which have been used in Davidson County since 1994. Each hands-on science lesson includes background materials, a prepared presentation for teachers/students, all materials for the hands-on activity, and student worksheets that can be copied and modified. Participating teachers in each grade will be able to select up to 3 lessons for the fall and up to 3 lessons for the spring to teach in their classrooms. Teachers are required to attend a one-day training session at Vanderbilt in the fall to train on each of the lessons selected for their classroom. Since 2012, we have worked with 108 teachers in 7 counties (Bedford, Giles, Dickson, Lawrence, Macon, Robertson, and Rutherford) and have distributed supplies that have reached over 21,000 rural middle school students.

Teachers: if you are interested in participating, you can find the sign up form here

VSVS at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (VSVS at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt)

It is VSVS @ Monroe Carell’s mission to provide educational activities to children during their hospitalization while inspiring them with science and enriching their primary education. VSVS has been collaborating with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for ~15 years, starting with one day events, then adding experiments at the bedside, and now includes experiments in Seacrest Studio. In the bedside lesson model, volunteers are one-on-one with children for an interactive and personalized experience in their rooms. For the Seacrest Studio model, up to 6 patients may be present in the Studio with volunteers to participate in a science lesson. The lesson is also simultaneously broadcast across all patient rooms so that those not able to attend in person may follow along from their rooms.


VSVS won a 2011 National Institutes of Health K-12 LAB Challenge Award for the experiment “Protecting Skin from Ultraviolet Light,” written by Pat Tellinghuisen, Melvin Joesten, and Rachel Shevin