BioEYES taught me that anyone can be a scientist.

-- 7th Grader

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Teacher Development/Training
Hands on/Project-Based

Target Audience

All Students

Teachers/Educational Leaders


Salt Lake City


Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Promising link

Program Impact

BioEYES has reached more than 100,000 students and 1,500 teachers in the United States and Australia since 2002.


Program Overview

BioEYES is a K–12 science outreach program offered during in-school time that provides measurable results in teacher preparedness and students’ scientific literacy, practice and engagement. It engages students in an experiment-based curriculum in cell biology and animal development.

In a one-week, five-period biology unit, BioEYES students assume the role of “junior scientists.” Just like research scientists in a laboratory, students hypothesize and test ideas, ask questions, record findings, and think critically about the impact of scientific research on the community.

The hook for the program is the zebrafish, a model organism that’s easy to raise, maintain and transport to classrooms—and sophisticated microscopes to observe adult zebrafish and their offspring. Working in small groups, students set up fish tanks, choose mating pairs of zebrafish, follow embryo development and observe zebrafish behavior. They become very invested in the tiny fish they raise—and working with live animals captures their imagination.

Younger students study the organ functions common to humans and fish, the role of DNA and zebrafish habitat. Middle school students cross albino and wildtype zebrafish to answer questions about genetic inheritance. High school students learn more sophisticated aspects of genetics, including the Punnett square and more complicated genetic crosses. In all grades, students observe the beating heart of a zebrafish larva. For most, this is their first amazing glimpse of an actual heart pumping in real time. All students also are encouraged to see that science is open to them as a career path.

Through its three-year, co-teaching professional development model, BioEYES builds the competence, confidence and comfort level of teachers, who can become “Master Teachers” prepared to independently deliver the hands-on science curriculum. BioEYES projects are standards- aligned, evidence-based and student-centered.

How To Get Involved

For every $10,000 gift, BioEYES can serve 175 students with a weeklong life science unit and supplies, including zebrafish, sophisticated microscopes, a student journal and scientific tools, such as pipettes and Petri dishes. An additional $10,000 will pay for teacher professional development for 100 teachers for one year. A gift of $45,000 will pay the salary for one outreach educator who can deliver programs to approximately 25 schools.

BioEYES welcomes corporate volunteers in classrooms, on environmental field trips or at career information sessions at select locations. During the latter, employees would speak to students about their careers and education. Come have fun with our students!

Funders and Partners

For a complete list of funders and partners, visit the BioEyes sponsor page.


Valerie Butler

View website

Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.