The Californian

Club mentors young students

Cherry Tam, Staff Writer

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Cal High’s Science Alliance club allows students to guide young kids in making science fair projects and cultivating a love for science.

The club is available at all four district high schools, providing club members with the opportunity to help a fifth grader with his or her project for a science fair. 

In the beginning of the year, each student gets assigned a fifth grade buddy to work with, and they become a pair for the rest of the year. 

Every month, the buddies meet their high school helpers after school in the Cal library from 3:30 to 5 p.m. At the meetings, club members, or mentors, help them through every step of their science fair project, which includes helping them figure out an idea on what to do for their project. 

In addition to working on their project, students eat snacks, bond, and play a game. 

Throughout the meetings, the buddies are taught how to create a wonderful science project with write up, along with the knowledge about the field that they choose to work with through their background research. 

Mentors have the power to help the kids fall in love with science, whether it’s chemistry, biology or physics. Watching children develop and expand their knowledge is a truly heartwarming experience for many mentors. 

“I wanted to be a part of something that is not only helping high school students practice their skills as scientists but also encouraging children especially young girls to continue pursuing a career in the STEM field,” said junior Turvi Sharma, the Science Alliance club treasurer.

Other club officer positions include president, vice president, secretary, webmaster, event coordinator, head of communications, and mentor trainer.

All the officers work well together due to their shared passion for science.

Senior co-presidents Nellie Chen and Zach Pinto are responsible for keeping Cal’s club running smoothly and maintaining good relations with the other high school clubs.  

Their duties include mentor-buddy pairing, mentor vetting, administrative duties, organizing mentor trainings, buddy-mentor meetings, and the annual science fair.

“It’s a lot of behind the scenes jobs that many people don’t see on the forefront of Science Alliance,” said Chen. 

Although, there will be some obstacles throughout the project, due to the fact that fifth graders still have a lot to learn, club officers and advisers put in a lot of work to guide and help the students in Science Alliance throughout the process. 

Emails between mentors and buddies are required at least twice a month to ensure that progress is being made. Many students deal with the issue of procrastination, and elementary school kids are no different. 

“My buddy and I had some difficulty planning out when to do the experiment as well as splitting up the work in order for both of us to be able to equally grasp the concept of the experiment as well as the results,” said sophomore mentor Merna Rayes. “ But everything came together in the end.”

The science fair, usually held at the end of April, is where all the projects from the whole district are showcased and judged. The judges consist of only student volunteers, from clubs such as Interact or CSF. Awards are divided into categories separated by the field of science for the projects. 

During the science fair, mentors are only required to stay for one hour in the very beginning to help their buddy set up. 

They leave around 10 a.m., along with the parents, and the buddies spend the rest of the science fair with the club officers from each school. 

Their schedule for the rest of the day includes splitting up into element and judging groups, snacks, lunch, lunchtime activities, and then displaying their projects to the public.

This year, the science fair was held on April 22 at Monte Vista High School. Every fifth grader either got first, second, or third place, but some children earned special awards as well.

“I love the science fair and getting to see all their hard work when they’re standing there showing you how proud they are of their project,” said senior Taylor Hammill, Science Alliance’s event coordinator.

The rewarding experience of seeing the radiant smiles of satisfied parents and excited kids makes all of the hard work worth it for the student mentors.

 The visible impact members make on a child’s life and education is what keeps the club thriving each year.

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Club mentors young students