TOPS of Santa Clara Valley

Teaching Opportunities  for  Partners  in Science


TOPS of Santa Clara Valley is a volunteer organization dedicated to the enhancement of science, engineering, technology and mathematics education at the K through 12 levels.

TOPS of Santa Clara Valley
A Volunteer Organization Dedicated to Science Education

TOPS is conducted under the auspices of the

IEEE Santa Clara Valley Life Members Affinity Group

Stephen Mori, Coordinator
Telephone: (805)  453-8893

Please direct comments and questions about this website to:
Joseph A. Castellano, Ph.D., Vice Coordinator
Telephone: (408) 679-1743


Numerous studies over the past 25 years have shown a decline in the number of U.S. college graduates seeking careers in science and engineering. Teaching Opportunities for Partners in Science (TOPS) of Santa Clara Valley is a program aimed at stimulating greater interest in science among students at the middle school level (grades 6, 7 and 8).  TOPS SCV was formed in 2012 as a not-for-profit, joint venture program of RESEED Silicon Valley, TOPS of San Joaquin County and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( IEEE) Santa Clara Valley Life Members Affinity Group. TOPS has numerous trained volunteers active in the San Francisco-San Jose area and welcomes stay-at-home parents and any other volunteers who have a background in science or engineering.

Volunteers typically receive 2 to 3 days of training before being matched with a teacher-partner  to work with students. The training is less focused on the pre-existing content knowledge of the retirees, but more on pedagogical questions and research on what we know about how children learn. In addition, selected volunteer retirees relate their experiences in the TOPS program. 

TOPS offers retired scientists and engineers the opportunity to use their technical knowledge and experience to support teachers and work with children.  Scientists in disciplines other than the physical sciences (e.g. in the life sciences, earth sciences, and astronomy) also use the TOPS model for involving qualified retirees in science education partnerships. Most of those who have been involved in the program value their experience as among the most meaningful in their lives.

Educators involved in systemic reform of science education also use TOPS as a model for valuable and often untapped resources (qualified retirees) to support teachers as they learn new ways to teach science that require scientific habits of mind and ways of thinking, as well as a deeper understanding of science content. 


“I feel that inviting Mr. C into my classroom has been a great success! My students enthusiastically anticipate Mr. C’s visit each week.  They prepare for the privilege to work with him: discussing their experimental data, honing skills in data analysis and graphing, and asking questions about his demonstrations. Student learning soars on the days when Mr. C works with my students because between the two of us, there is more one-on-one time for advanced and struggling learners alike.  As a direct result of the RESEED (now TOPS) program, state test scores rose from 85% to 95% Proficient and Advanced with only 2% Below Basic, and more students stop by to visit Mr. C and report that they are taking advanced science classes in high school.” - Mrs. Hope Oliver, Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California. 

“It’s a pleasure to present Helping Hands Awards to the wonderful volunteers from RESEED (now TOPS), Dr. Peter Mueller, Dr. David Biegelsen, Fred Dietrich, and Myron Cagan.  Thanks for your dedication, tireless enthusiasm, hard work and service to the betterment of students in Middle School Science at Selby Lane School.” - Carolyn Williams, Principal, Selby Lane School, Menlo Park, California.