Headwaters Science Institute


“Students were fully engaged in the scientific process with inquiry, questions, claims, evidence and reasoning. But they were also practicing and refining some other overall general skills like teamwork, presentation skills, observation and inference and decision-making. I had some students who had yet to show much interest in science or school so far this year, but with the autonomy in this project they showed a real interest in school!” - Jan 7th grade science teacher

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience

All Students

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

In today’s world, in which science jobs are being created faster than most other careers, it is important to engage students in the skills these jobs will require. Our programs consist of 50 percent low-income students and 40 percent minority students. Without Headwaters, those students may not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue an inquiry-based, intensive approach to learning science. Seventy-seven percent of students say they learn something in our program that they would not have learned in their traditional classroom.

We aim to serve these populations by doing several things. We are committed to raising funds to provide totally free and/or reduced cost programs for the students that need our programs most. We also utilize high-level science educators and community partners who are capable of providing excellent science education that fosters curiosity in the natural world and in the sciences. The confidence our programs inspires gives these students more opportunities for a future career in the sciences.

By obtaining grant funding, utilizing the generous help of individuals, and partnering with key community organizations, schools, and educators, we are able to make programs possible which educate these underserved populations. Ninety percent of our funding goes directly to our science programs, with just 10 re-invested in fundraising efforts and staffing. Headwaters educates over 4,000 students per year, and works with more than 20 schools and over 30 teachers.


Program Overview

Headwaters Science Institute aims to foster curiosity through science by creating hands-on, inquiry-based science programs in schools and through overnight trips. During our programs students learn to ask questions and use the scientific process to answer their own questions. We believe that this experience will nurture their curiosity and gain critical science skills.

Our programs are centered on student curiosity because that is what motivates young people to learn. We teach them to capture their curiosity so they can develop a passion for learning throughout their lives. Research shows that curious kids grow into successful adults. We are building a generation of successful, curious, engaged students who are prepared for the future.

How To Get Involved

In order to reach more students, we always are looking for new funding opportunities. We like to partner with local businesses and individuals to help support programs in their communities. It allows us to move into new locations.

We also are always in need to volunteers. We are looking for volunteers to help our scientists during programs as well as new board members. For information on our most current opportunities see our volunteer page: https://headwatersscienceinstitute.org/volunteer/

Funders and Partners

For a complete list of partners see the partners page on our website: https://headwatersscienceinstitute.org/partners/


Megan Seifert, PhD

Executive Director


(530) 426-3063

Visit 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.