By Michelle Chen
On Sunday, June 23, 2013, 71 hopeful students from all over the world gathered in the Formal Lounge of the Santa Cruz Hall in the University of California, Santa Barbara for the orientation of the UCSB Research Mentorship Program. This program provided a rare opportunity for highly motivated high school students who are interested in conducting academic research. These students worked on projects spanning a wide variety of fields, from biology to history and from computer science to philosophy. Working with their research mentor in the lab, library, and on the field, the students had hands-on experience with necessary equipment and advanced technologies.
After a two-day symposium in which each of the mentors presented 5-minute talks about their projects, the students were given the project that they had received and met their mentor. Working hard for 4 weeks alongside their mentors, the students learned how to collect and analyze data, write a publication style research paper, and how to present research findings in a research symposium and poster session. Under the guidance of the RMP director, Dr. Lina Kim, and also with the advice and support of three TAs, Dan Nguyen, Kim Hartson, and Ross Meltzer, the participants built their project into a poster, a presentation, and a paper, all in the span of 5 weeks.
After much drafting and editing, the final products were ready to be seen. During the last week of the program, the students attended the symposium, a two-day event in which the participants gave 10-minute talks about their projects, based on the presentations that they had constructed. The second day was also the poster session, in which the students put up their posters for the public to see, talking to whoever was interested to listen about the project that they had been working on for the past 5 weeks.
Despite the fact that the program was intensely educational and slightly grueling, the students were also able to enjoy themselves and participate in entertainment. Ping-pong was an especially popular activity each day, with students playing just about every single evening. On Friday nights and Saturdays, the RMP students were able to go to exciting locations, including trampolines, Disneyland, Six Flags, Universal Studios, and much more.
At the end of the six weeks the students had enjoyed at the beautiful UCSB campus, all of the participants reluctantly realized that they had to leave the home they had for more than a month. Good friends had been made, and good memories would be cherished. When each of the students left, they knew that their time here at UCSB was unforgettable.