high school students everywhere gain research skills in UCSB summer programs | School zone


High school students worked on research projects with University of Santa Barbara graduate students and faculty this summer in programs designed to help young learners jump-start their academic careers.

The six weeks Research Mentorship Program (RMP) and four weeks Science and Engineering Research Academy (SERA) guide students through research projects and present their results.

RMP students take two university-level courses in addition to doing research, and the courses teach students how to organize their findings, write, present and present their projects.

The amount of work students do is intensive and the results speak for themselves, says program director Dr. Lina Kim.

“We asked professors to go to the students and ask them, ‘What grade are you in? “When they find out they’re in high school, teachers are shocked at how much they’ve learned in six weeks,” Kim said.

Mary Qiu, a 16-year-old high school student from San Francisco who stayed on the UCSB campus during the RMP program, researched media preferences and political identification for her project.

Qiu said that although she had heard of RMP before, she got really interested in the program when Kim came to her high school to talk about it.

“It’s really hard for high school students to find research positions or to be exposed to research on their own, so it was a good way to connect you with mentors,” Qiu said.

RMP participants hear presentations on possible research projects in their first week and decide which ones they would be interested in working on.

Yet the final presentations were not entirely dictated by the graduate students.

“It was I who proposed that it be centered on political identification. There was actually a lot of room for my ideas in this project, ”Qiu said.

Qiu said the biggest lesson from the program was, “How difficult the research is. When you’ve never really been exposed to research, you get this vision of what it looks like, but when you actually do research that a graduate student would do over the course of a year in five weeks, you really feel. a sense of urgency.

Students in the program develop their camaraderie over time through organized social events, such as trips to Disneyland.

“I think the best part about this program was the people.” Qiu said. “My mentors and peers really helped me through this difficult process. “

RMP and SERA participants have the option of commuting from off campus or staying at the UCSB Santa Cruz Residence, which is just a short walk from the beach.

Qiu said she really enjoys living on campus.

“Santa Barbara is really nice. You are right by the beach and right next to IV so there is a really cool vibe, ”she said.

In 2016, SERA was established as a sister program to deal with the excess of qualified applicants for the RMP program, which receives hundreds of applications each year and only accepts 75.

SERA is also focused on research, but is accepting more students, with 96 participants this summer, and has a less intense admission process, Kim said. For the SERA program, students choose one of four research tracks and present their research results to a group of their peers.

– Intern Noozhawk Dhiraj Nallapaneni can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.


Paul N. Strickland

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