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Due Thursday, January 19th at midnight!

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VSVS At a Glance


Who Are We?

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

Our goals include 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 and to stimulate an interest in teaching as a profession.

What’s Our Mission?

Partners a team of 3-4 volunteers with a 5th – 8th grade classroom teacher in Metro Nashville schools. (Teachers stay in the classroom)

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

Lessons are both enjoyable and informative.

  • Designed to fit the grade’s curriculum.
  • Are FUN and easy for the volunteers to teach.
  • Lesson materials are portable (fit into 1 box) and SAFE.
  • A manual with lesson plan is provided for every volunteer.

Over 100 kits/lessons available. Lessons 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, VSVS also:


  • Provide volunteers and lessons for after-school science enrichment in science clubs.
  • Teach 10-minute lessons to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital patients in their rooms, as well as in Teach 10-15 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.
  • Work with the Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth.
  • Provide lessons and materials for other Vanderbilt student groups. (Alternative Spring and Winter Break teams, SWE, MANNA, Dance Marathon activities, VanderbuddiesPlayday, and Best Buddies)
  • Provide VSVS kits to teachers who do not have VSVS teams.
  • VINSE and GAANN graduate students fulfill service requirements through participation in VSVS.
  • Train teachers from surrounding rural counties and provide VSVS/VINSE kits for their use.


Dickson and Robertson County Schools

VSVS is proud to annouce the creation of a pilot program being implemented in grades 6-8 at Coopertown Middle Schol and White House Heritage Schools in Robertson County and at Charlotte Middle School, Dickson County Middle School and William James Middle School in Dickson County. Science teachers will use VSVS kits in their classrooms during the 2012-2013 school year, and data will be collected to determine if the kits increase student achievement and interest in science. The teachers visited the VSVS Lab to pick up the kits and be trained on using the kits with their students.

This program is made possible by a partnership between VSVS, Robertson and Dickson County Schools, TN-SCORE (Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education), and VINSE ( the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering). For more information, please visit the VSVS and Robertson County Partnership Journal.

VSVS at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (VSVS-VCH)

VSVS-VCH teaches hands-on science lessons to young patients at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Lesson topics include magnetism, ultraviolet light, chromatography, and polymers. The program features three teaching models: bedside lessons, an open classroom, and VSVS at the Clinic. In bedside lessons, volunteers are one-on-one with children for an interactive and personalized experience. For the open classroom, 2-5 patients visit the VCH School Room and learn science lessons in a comfortable, social environment. It is VSVS-VCH’s mission to distract children from the hospital environment while also inspiring them with science and enriching their primary education.

The Story of Us – from 1994 to today

VSVS was co-founded in 1994 by Dr. Melvin Joesten, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, and Michael Schooling, a medical student.

Since then, VSVS has reached over 71,000 children in 1,350 Metro Nashville school classrooms.

2011-12 marks the 6th consecutive year VSVS had more than 600 volunteers.

Currently reaches about 3,600 children per semester.

“Most notable” user:

Steve Spangler used our Magic Sand kit at a teacher workshop in Colorado.


nihVSVS 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.