Bringing science to underserved children

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Underserved school children with a passion for science and technology will compete in science fair at UCLA Ackerman Union this weekend.

The science fair is being organized by The Bruin Experiment, a club started by UCLA undergraduates to help children persue their interests in science.

UCLA Lecturer Dr. Heather Tienson agreed to serve as a judge after learning about club and the science fair. “I was so impressed when I heard about the great club that my former Chem 153A students (fourth-year neuroscience students Daniel Haiem and Katie Mowris) had started.” Dr. Tienson said. “It is such a wonderful opportunity for the kids and I’m excited to see the great science that they’re doing”.

Excerpt from The Daily Bruin


(by Meghan Hodges)

The Bruin Experiment fosters passion for science at underserved schools

Twelve-year-old William Trimble listed off coding languages that he learned himself as other students tested their experiments around the classroom. Some were rubbing balloons on their heads to test for electricity and others were building solar ovens to make s’mores.

“And now I want to learn how to code in Python,” Trimble said with a grin.

The Bruin Experiment, a club started last year by fourth-year neuroscience students Daniel Haiem and Katie Mowris, aims to help children like Trimble from underserved communities pursue their technological and scientific interests. UCLA students in the club travel once a week to the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, a middle school that is about 8 miles away, where they work with one class of sixth- to eighth-grade students to devise and conduct science fair experiments for a science fair in spring.

Members of The Bruin Experiment club worked with middle school students to devise 
science experiments during a recent school visit. (Meghan Hodges/Daily Bruin) Haiem and Mowris started the club because they remembered how they often lacked understanding when conducting science fair projects as middle school students.

“As a kid, I literally repeated my science fair project, which was dehydrating fruit, every year. I dreaded it,” Haiem said. “Then suddenly at UCLA, I had this explosion of love for science, and we thought we could make this happen earlier for these kids.”

The science fair, also organized by the club, will be held April 5 in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom, where students will be able to present their experiments to judges, including their own science teacher Ken Mukai and UCLA biochemistry [lecturer] Heather Tienson. The judges will declare three winners out of the 32 students.

Although participation in the science fair isn’t mandatory, all 32 students in the class decided to participate and conduct experiments, Haiem said. The students’ projects range from studying relationships between radiation and bacteria to the effect video games have on adrenaline.

“Some of the things they’re doing are things I didn’t even think about until I came (to UCLA),” Mowris said. “These kids are interested in coding and blood pressure, psychology and depth perception. The kids are so much more intelligent than I think I was at that age.”

Read complete article here.