By Michelle Xu

A science project. A science fair. A research experience.

Many students from four under-resourced middle schools got the opportunity to present their science projects on Wednesday, Feb. 22 as part of a ten-week science training program hosted by nonprofits Orange County Science and THINK Together.

“The purpose of the program is to give underserved students in our community a chance to experience the scientific method and explore science through a more hands-on manner outside the classroom,” says president of OC Science Sherry Xu. “Since they are middle schoolers, they are at the perfect age to start participating in the science fair, so OC Science created a special curriculum that encompasses all parts of a science fair project. We hope that introducing these kinds of science projects to students will encourage them to continue pursuing their interests in science in the future.”

The ten-week science fair training program targeted four middle schools: Columbus Tustin Middle School, Currie Middle School, Utt Middle School and Portola Middle School. OC Science members visited the schools every Wednesday and mentored the students on science research.

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OC Science volunteers teach the basics of research to students at Currie Middle School

Through the program, the students learned about conducting research from formulating a hypothesis to analyzing the results. Finally, after ten weeks of hard work, the students at all four schools were ready to present their findings.

“In my project, I wanted to find how much salt I should put into water to make an egg float,” says Columbus Tustin Middle School participant Oscar Reyes.

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The students at Portola Middle School set up their project display boards

The THINK Together science fair was hosted at all four middle schools. Each science fair started off with a project set-up. The students proudly displayed their boards and the materials they used to carry out their experiment. Then, each student gave a presentation on their project. The volunteers then went around to ask each student some questions on their projects, and then the students were free to enjoy the refreshments.

The event concluded as the students were presented with certificates of completion. The THINK Together program was an experience of a lifetime, not just for students, but for OC Science volunteers as well.

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Students at Columbus Tustin Middle School proudly display their certificates as they stand next to their projects

“Seeing the smile on the kids’ faces when they finally get the hang of something or when they finish something they worked very hard on is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever experienced,” says Director of Problem Writing for OC Science Jeff Guo. “Being able to see that and feel warm inside time and time again is what makes THINK Together amazing.”