Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District says:
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.”
1st Year Mentor Match Teacher, Biotech, AP Biology, Chemistry, NHS Advisor
“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.”
Student, Senior Yr.
“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.”
Student, Junior Yr.
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.”
Student, Sophomore Yr.
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.”
Student, Freshman Yr.
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.”
Anh Minh Ngo
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.”
Cindy Nguyen, Naomi Tran, and Crystal Mai
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.”
Cindy Huynh and Kristina Nguyen
“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!!”
Daniel Le and Tina Pham
Senior Yr. / Sophomore Yr.
A significant mission for the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair (OCSEF) Board is to support schools and districts in building a strong 21st century workforce in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.
With specific intent on building equity and access for all students, the OCSEF Board, in partnership and collaboration with UCI CalTeach Program and the Broadcom Foundation, has established the OCSEF-UCI CalTeach Mentor Match Program.
The underlying purpose of the Mentor Match Program is to address both a decrease in high school student participation and the limited diversity representation in science and engineering fair competition.
The OCSEF Mentor Match Program has a two-prong approach to building both high school and diversity representation at the annual Orange County Science and Engineering Fair.
- Science, technology, math and engineering university students in the UCI-CalTeach Program will be matched with middle and high school students at targeted schools in districts with a high underrepresented student population;
- Veteran Science Fair teachers will be matched with new Teacher Supervisors that serve as master teachers for the UCI student teachers enrolled in the CalTeach Program.
Participating schools/districts over the past two years of implementation are:
- Santa Ana USD
- Garden Grove USD
- Huntington Beach Union High School District
- Newport Mesa USD
COMPONENTS OF PROGRAM SUPPORT:
UCI-CalTeach Mentors (student teachers):
- are provided onsite school/class support during the fall and winter quarters of UCI, spanning a total of 16-18 weeks beginning in late September-early October (which is aligned with UCI-CalTeach’s program in the targeted schools).
- receive THREE 2.5 hr. trainings, along with electronic resources on research design, OCSEF rules, regulations, suggested strategies for good, positive mentoring of adolescents, along with addressing questions/issues that may arise.
- receive periodic emails and/or site visits from OCSEF Outreach Committee to afford troubleshooting opportunities and address any questions/issues that may arise
- receive a “baseline” honorarium at the end of the first quarter, an additional post-science fair honorarium based on the percentage of their student-mentees that register for OCSEF Science Fair, along with a transportation stipend.
- receive a Certificate of Participation and a Letter of Recommendation for their professional vitae as additional incentives.
Teacher Supervisors (master teachers):
- are provided a Veteran Science Fair Teacher or an OCSEF Board Member, who will help provide bi-monthly support (i.e. face-to-face, phone and email support and/or troubleshooting) throughout the project time frame.
- receive an honorarium for participation in the program, financial support for display boards, materials and equipment to support student research, in addition to a waiver for student project registration fees for the OCSEF Science Fair.
- receive THREE 2.5 hr. trainings and electronic resources on research design, OCSEF rules, regulations, in addition to ongoing support during the duration of the project. On-going training/guidance is provided with a Veteran Science Fair Teacher or OCSEF Board member.
Veteran Science Fair Teachers:
- receive orientation training from OCSEF Outreach Committee on ways to provide ongoing, consistent support to the Teacher Supervisor.
- Is provided with a minimum of bi-monthly support, OR as needed, (a minimum of two face-to-face, email and/or phone communications) with their assigned Teacher Supervisors.
- receive an honorarium for mentoring new teachers.
- have project registration fees waived for their students who enter the Science Fair.
- receive periodic emails from OCSEF Outreach Committee to address any questions/issues that may arise with new Teacher Supervisors.
Beginning small and focused with 4 schools and 39 students in Year 1, Mentor Match has grown to 6 schools and over 170 students this year. During the 2020 fall and winter quarters at UCI, over 10 CalTeach mentors learned the ins and outs of teaching science fair at cool locations like the Shipley Nature Center in Huntington Beach, the Discovery Cube OC and the Santa Ana Zoo. CalTeach mentors supported teachers from Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster and Newport Beach during school, afterschool and virtually.
"As a 2nd year mentor in the OCSEF Mentor Match program some people may ask why did I come back another year. I came back because the OCSEF program provided so many support systems including educating teachers/student teachers, a budget to buy materials and mostly important a community of educators and board members wanting to provide all students an equal chance to do science and communicate about science outside the classroom. The best surprise I had this year was when I reached out for help to get some feedback I was greeted with the offer of having the actual OCSEF board members come into my classroom to talk to each of my 60 plus students about their projects. I was shocked at the offer and dedication of the board members. They not only came once but multiple times and that was a big game changer for my students. My students have never completed a science fair project in their life and there was resistance but after seeing all the support provided them you could see and feel the mentality of the classroom change. The students began to see themselves as the expert in the classroom and rely less and less on the teacher."
UCI-CalTeach Program Coordinator:
Kris Houston, Academic Coordinator for UCI CalTeach