Science Education Partnership


Partnering Scientists and Educators

The Science Education Partnership (SEP) exemplifies a true partnership between scientists and educators. Since 1991, SEP has paired research scientists with over 580 secondary school science teachers in Washington state. We believe that teachers and scientists both play a crucial role in promoting a greater understanding of biomedical research in our community and have much to offer one another. Through workshops and a summer professional development program , teachers learn molecular biology techniques and participate in laboratory research. SEP also helps mentor scientists refine their teaching skills and enhance their ability to communicate science to the broader community.

Read SEP's Statement of Commitment to Equity and Justice.

Read Fred Hutch's Statement of Solidarity with the AAPI Community

Teachers looking at a test tube together

Teacher Professional Development

SEP is available to all secondary science teachers in Washington state who are interested in learning more about molecular biology and want to bring the latest life sciences research into the classroom.

Teachers working at a bench together

Scientific Mentoring

Scientists from Fred Hutch and other nearby research institutes are eligible to serve as mentors, including graduate students, post-docs, technicians and other scientific staff.
Register to become an SEP mentor!

Photo of Students and teachers wworking together

Curriculum and Lessons

Our free, open-source lessons and units are geared towards high school biotech and biology teachers and focus on giving students opportunities to explore biotechnology and the social dimensions of research science.

Science education needs your support more than ever.

About the SEP Program

Each spring, mentor scientists from Fred Hutch and partner research sites select teachers from the applicant pool to participate. Teachers and mentor scientists collaborate to design a research experience tailored to the teacher’s interests. The diversity of research projects over the past several years has included such topics as protein structure, DNA sequencing, yeast genetics, fruit fly development, and oncogenes. After participating and completing the Summer Session, teachers have access to SEP's Kit Loan Program, including complete lesson plans and all the biotechnology equipment, reagents and supplies needed to turn their classrooms into labs. Technical and scientific support is also readily available from program staff and scientists at the Hutch.

This arrangement often leads to partnerships that extend beyond the summer session, including classroom visits by scientists during the school year. These partnerships often help dispel some of the stereotypes commonly held concerning scientists and teachers.

To get updates on our programs and teaching resources, sign up for our mailing list.

SEP 30th Anniversary Video and Program Overview Video 

SEP 30th Anniversary Video

Video Credit: Caren Brinkema

Program Overview Video

Video Credit: Caren Brinkema

Upcoming SEP Events

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Jan 21
Jan 21

SEP's Schoool Year Workshop: Invasive Mussel Project

9 a.m. - 2 p.m. PST
Join us for a School Year Workshop on a recently re-vamped lab, the Invasive Mussel Project! This PCR lab centers around species identification between the native and invasive species of mussel found in the Puget Sound. Students can collect their own samples or use teacher provided samples to extract and amplify DNA to identify the species of mussel each sample. Co-taught by SEP teacher Sam Garson from Friday Harbor High School.
Feb 10
Feb 10

SEP School Year Workshop: mRNA Vaccines

This is a multi-day event, please click for details
Join us for our School Year Workshop on our new mRNA Vaccines lessons that are part of the mRNA Vaccines & COVID-19 Testing lesson sequence. The workshop will be held over two days, a virtual session during the evening of February 10th and an in-person session on February 11th (times TBD).
Host SEP
March 10
March 10

SEP School Year Workshop: Race, Racism, and Genetics

This is a multi-day event, please click for details
Join us for our spring School Year Workshop on our Race, Racism, and Genetics lesson sequence.
Location In Person
Host Science Education Partnership

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Recent SEP Papers and Publications

Osuga, H., Foster, J., Chowning, J.T. (2022). How can DNA help exonerate those wrongly convicted? Flipping a traditional DNA crime lab to center issues of social justice. The Science Teacher, 89(6), 20-28. 

Chowning, J. T. (2022). Science teachers in research labs: Expanding conceptions of social dialogic dimensions of scientific argumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. doi: 

Lalish KM, Stromholt S, Curtis N, Chowning JT. (2021). Explorers Virtual Internship: Fostering Rightful Presence and Sense of Belonging in an Online High School Internship Program. J STEM Outreach. 2021;4(2). doi: 10.15695/jstem/v4i2.07. Epub 2021 Jul 19. PubMed PMID: 34485852; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8415770.

Chowning, J. T., Wu, R., Brinkema, C., Crocker, W. D., Bass, K., & Lazerte, D. (2019). A NEW Twist on DNA Extraction: Collaborative argumentation and student protocol design. The Science Teacher, 86(6), 20-27. PMC6656384

Wu, R., Brinkema, C., Peterson, M., Waltzer, A., Chowning, J. T. (2018). STEAM Connections: Painting with Bacteria. The American Biology Teacher. 80(4), 297-299. doi:

Other Programs

Thank You to Our Funders

In addition to the support from Fred Hutch, SEP’s work is made possible in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Frontiers in Cancer Research (R25 GM129842), a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and Pathways to Cancer Research (R25CA221770), a Youth Enjoy Science Award (YES/CURE), from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Science Education Partnership Award logo, red letters spell out SEPA
Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences logo. Multiple hands holding one teal umbrella.

Additional donors and supporters help ensure the continued vitality of SEP, allowing science teachers to bring new science techniques and practices to their students. Together, we are cultivating the next generation of cancer researchers and are ensuring a broader understanding of, and support for, scientific research


Recent Sponsors

Our recent efforts were generously funded in part by:

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe 
Dean Witter Foundation
Inspirus Credit Union
The Trudy Stack Endowment
The STRAWS Foundation
ZymoGenetics/Bristol Myers Squibb

Kit Loan Program Supporters

We acknowledge donations of materials to support our Kit Loan Program from:

Fischer Scientific
New England/Biolabs

Recent Science Education Partnership News

More SEP News
Fauci visits Fred Hutch, discusses pandemics, vaccines and scientific misinformation NIAID director’s determined spirit recognized with honorary Hutch Award August 10, 2022
Lessons from the lab have a long reach Science Education Partnership teachers pay it forward — to their students and beyond October 20, 2021
Life lessons in genetics, race and social justice Science Education Partnership’s free, open-source curriculum units help high schoolers separate bias from biology September 20, 2021
Last Modified, October 06, 2022