Science Made Sensible

The University of Miami (UM) Science Made Sensible program (SMS) uses a multi-generational tiered-mentoring model to improve science education in some of the most under-resourced schools in Miami.


UM graduate students mentor UM undergraduates, who, in turn, mentor Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) students. The undergraduates serve in middle- and high school classrooms as “resident scientists,” working with their graduate student mentors and M-DCPS teachers to develop lesson plans that implement hands-on and inquiry-based learning activities. 


The program has four general goals:

  1. Advance the scientific curiosity and learning of middle- and high-school students by incorporating into the curriculum hands-on and inquiry-based activities.
  2. Improve communication and teaching skills of UM undergraduate students.
  3. Improve communication and mentoring skills of UM graduate students. 
  4. Enhance the professional development of M-DCPS teachers.

SMS works with 14 M-DCPS teachers, seven middle school teachers from three middle schools and seven high school teachers from three high schools. Each middle school is a feeder for one of the high schools.  Each academic year, we pair one UM undergraduates with each teacher. The undergraduates function as “resident scientists”, spending six hours per week in the classroom with the teachers and their students. They receive civic engagement credit from UM for the program. Six graduate students mentor the undergraduates at each school.