This month we give you a taste of our Mentor Match Program by featuring testimonials and quotes from students and teachers of Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District.
The resources and guidance have been very helpful
“…I am grateful for the mentor match program. The resources and guidance have been very helpful to me/WHS getting the number of students involved with OCSEF. I would not have managed it without you and the team’s support. It was always a challenge to get students with my school’s socioeconomic background to “compete” with the “top” tier schools. But your support has helped me get them to understand that science is not a me vs them (the smarter kids) but a me getting better and that it is not just a teacher (who in their mind this is part of my job) but there are others out there supporting their efforts. I really do wish I can thank you and the team in person. But this email will have to suffice till then. Thanks a million.”
“Amid a plethora of school and responsibilities , I doubtfully joined OCSEF, suspecting no more than composing a minimal research report. Throughout my journey, I never expected to encounter such a rewarding gateway for my confidence and education. I am extremely grateful for the unforgettable experiences and unbreakable bonds I have created during my time in this competition. I highly recommend the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair to those who are willingly eager to invest their time and energy to such an astounding opportunity.”
“My overall experience with the Orange Country Science and Engineering Fair was very memorable. The amazing mentors from UCI and WHS has given me valuable experience that I can look back into in the future, working in labs with high tech equipment. I truly wish this organization will be still be available for WHS students, because we should take initiative into everything offered to us; learn new skills.”
One of my dearest and most treasured memories
“Participating in my first Orange County Science and Engineering Fair will forever be one of my dearest and most treasured memories. Not only did this event mark the beginning of my scientific journey/career but it also allowed me to expand on my realm of knowledge, and it helped me grow not only as a student but as a scientist, researcher, and fellow colleague. This experience was truly a journey full of obstacles and challenges from trying to figure out the exact ratio of calcium chloride to sodium alginate to modifying our procedure in order to embed copper oxide nanoparticles onto cotton fabric. Nevertheless, this experience was genuinely full of fun, joy, and laughter.”
I learned how to start an experiment
“I started my OCSEF experience with little knowledge about what I was entering, but it eventually became a demanding, yet thrilling project that became a significant part of my freshman year. I really learned how tough it is just to start an experiment from an idea, and the importance of carefully designing an effective experiment for promising results. I truly appreciate having the opportunity to participate, even though I could only experience the virtual fair, and I hope to be able to participate again in the future.”
I’ve never done anything like this before
“It was a great experience because I’ve never done anything like this before. I feel really accomplished that we finished despite it not ending up as we anticipated it to be. I’m happy that it all worked out in the end. It truly was one big learning process and I don’t regret this at all. It’s true that some things could’ve been done differently, but thanks to the mistakes we made, I was able to learn a lot. I appreciate the accomplishments as well as the bumps in the road. I got a better grasp of how important it is to be organized and to communicate clearly with your team. This was a really valuable experience and I feel like I’m more confident in taking on challenges similar to OCSEF now.”
Having a goal and deadline really motivated me
“At first our project started off slow but once we had an idea down we set to experimenting. After many hours we finally had a test that succeeded and we recorded the data. We continued running tests and then we transferred all the information we gained throughout the project into a presentation. Having a goal and deadline to work towards really motivated me to utilize my remaining time and work on my time management and organization skills.”
It taught us how to find a problem and solve it
“OCSEF was a really amazing experience and we were satisfied with how everything went despite the transition to an online submission and other subsequent events. It taught us how to find a problem and solve it logically using different solutions. We never would’ve been doing any of this without this opportunity. We learned how to be flexible and it was great working together with a friend on this project. It was very fulfilling seeing our progress as we advanced in each step of the process and were proud of what we’ve accomplished together. OCSEF is a spectacular opportunity for students to think outside the box and have this indescribable experience.”
Our mentors and peers were both incredibly helpful
“Initially deciding to participate in OCSEF, my partner and I had no idea of what we were going to do and we were overall inexperienced. As the project progressed, we were continuously modifying and building on our experimental procedure and knowledge. Our mentors and peers were both incredibly helpful in advising and inspiring our project while teaching us about materials and certain procedures. After completing the project, I was really proud of our hard work and the trials we accomplished and how much we learned and grew through the experience, which was really fun and exciting for me.”
“Everything was surreal at first at how fast things went with our project. The planning process was stressful at times which is inevitable, but possible.The processes of data collection and setup were tedious, but it provided a valuable experience that will begin the sculpting process of real research. Yes, there were things that were frustrating and difficult to work with, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter the distance. We enjoyed the times spent together processing and testing the data, as well as meeting with our mentors (who were so amazing and helpful). The fact that mentors were able to oversee and assist us in our work is something that will forever help us grow as individuals. nearing the end of the project, teamwork is crucial, especially when maintaining quality till the end. we made sure our point of our project was supported and presentable! overall, this was a very enjoyable and enriching experience!!”
The Mentor Match Programs, that takes place in collaboration with the UCI-CalTeach Program, benefits both students and teachers; high school students are matched with STEM university students in order to receive help and inspiration for their academic future in general and for their OCSEF project in particular. New Teacher Supervisors are matched with Veteran Science Fair teachers to get further education and experience.
The two-prong approach contributes to building both high school and diversity representation at the annual Orange County Science and Engineering Fair.
For more info on our Mentor Match program please visit the OCSEF-UCI CalTeach Mentor Match Program page.
Westminster High School, known for its diverse student population, is one of six comprehensive high schools in the Huntington Beach Union High School District. Founded in 1959, Westminster High maintains a British theme that parallels the City of Westminster design.