We Are the City Spotlight on Mission Science Workshop

By the Mission Science Workshop Staff

Mission Science Workshop (MSW) provides hands-on science experiences that inspire children to become lifelong explorers, experimenters, builders, and creators. Our programs help children and their families gain confidence and grow academically while developing a genuine interest in the world around them. We see over 10,000 individual students from 50 different schools multiple times per year and during their whole K-12 academic life in our two San Francisco workshops located in the Mission and Excelsior. We provide school day field trips, after school programs, open and free community drop-in days and school site experiences.

During shelter-in-place we quickly shifted all programs to remote live science experiences via Zoom, delivered hundreds of science kits to our students, and also hosted remote community days for the whole family using common household items to use in science experiments. We have fully resumed our in-person programming since September of 2021, and it has been an absolute joy to welcome our students, teachers and community members back into our workshops. Our students have thanked us for “making science fun and magical,” as they learned from doing, building, and experimenting with their hands. We intentionally stay away from screens, and our teachers have expressed how kids “have been able to grasp complex concepts with our hands-on approach”.

We believe San Francisco is a wonderful place to grow up. We have a multicultural and rich community that is able to quickly adapt to changes and learn from one another. Our fantastic public library system, amazing parks, museums, wonderful and passionate educators and incredibly abundant community-based organizations make it a fantastic place for young minds to develop into global citizens and critical thinkers.

Our city can help children, youth, and families thrive by continuing to support the amazing network of community-based organizations like Mission Science Workshop, which provide so many services and enriching learning experiences for students, families and community members. By keeping our programs free or at a very reduced price, we are able to reach so many children and families, help them empower themselves, and ignite a passion for learning.

Mission Science Workshop just celebrated 30 years of serving San Francisco’s children and youth! Congratulations! What do you believe has contributed the most to the organization’s success, and what do you predict for Mission Science Workshop’s future?

Mission Science Workshop has kept true to its essence of “small is beautiful” like our founder Dan Sudran always said. By having small community science centers right where our students live and a small mobile team, we are able to adapt quickly and reach schools and communities that lack meaningful science learning opportunities. We always keep our high-need schools and students with less access to hands-on science experiences as our priority, and we bring them the magic of science in the way that works best for them. Everyone in our spaces learns that they are natural scientists, and that their questions, ideas and observations are valid and wonderful.

This year we’ve had more demand for our hands-on science programs than ever, and many of the communities in San Francisco that can’t get to our current workshops have asked us to bring our programs to them. One of our mobile programs is our “Whale on Wheels,” our real juvenile gray whale skeleton that students can take apart and put back together like a giant puzzle, and learn about comparative anatomy and conservation at the same time.

Students from Visitacion Valley Elementary and Carver Elementary in Bayview thanked us “for bringing the museum to them,” and could not believe that “they could touch and use a real whale skeleton like a puzzle.” Next year we need to reach more students and communities!

Dan Sudran, MSW’s beloved founder, passed away on June 13 in San Francisco. We will all miss his enthusiasm, child-like wonder, excitement, and wonderful sense of humor tremendously. With his life’s work, he made the lives of countless people much fuller, more meaningful and inspiring. Everyone at MSW will honor his life and impactful work by continuing his legacy of science education for all.

“If I had influence with the good fairy … I should ask that her gift to each child in the world would be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” — Rachel Carson and Dan Sudran



SF Department of Children, Youth & Their Families

Making San Francisco a great place to grow up, DCYF has led the City's investments in children, youth, TAY and their families since 1991. www.dcyf.org