About Us








Just some of the over 280 amazing volunteers who make SciTrek possible!

Read more from Co-Founder, Dr. Norbert Reich, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry

Mission Statement

SciTrek exists to promote the synergies between science inquiry, language arts, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We work towards providing on-site resources for students, practicing teachers, and teachers in training to cover required grade level performance expecations and experience the processes that form the basis of all evidence based approaches to understanding our world.

Our focus is showing how reading and writing benefit when embedded in an inquiry-based science setting. This process involves initial observations, generation of questions, design of experiments to address the question, execution of experiments which students design themselves, data collection, analysis of data and its presentation to peers.

We strive to make it easy for school principals and classroom teachers to adopt the SciTrek learning modules (multi-session classes over 2-4 week periods) by providing resources and teaming SciTrek instructors (UCSB undergraduates) with the classroom teacher. All provided at no cost to the school.

Our work is guided by a belief that the scientific method creates a blend of curiosity and critical thinking that is an essential element in achieving curriculum goals. Our unwavering commitment to our community and advancing knowledge/skills of teachers and students is matched by a belief that learning about science should be fun and enjoyable, with life-long benefits of dealing with increasing complex societal issues.

Target Groups

SciTrek's mission is formed around three main target groups: 2nd-12th grade students, school teachers and teachers-in-training, and UCSB undergraduate and graduate students. By developing science modules that engage students in experiments of their own design, our program meets the needs of each group. Our current program is focused on grades 2-12, with the goal of making the program available  to all interested students and teachers.

2nd-12th Grade Students:
We hold the belief that science can be fun and informative at the same time, whether students are in or out of the classroom. With the help of volunteer college students, students are given the tools and resources to create, design, execute, record, and present their own experiments. This gives the students the opportunity to act like scientists and understand how they and scientist use data in order to generate evidence based explanations which help society understand the world around them. All materials are free to students and teachers.

2nd-12th Grade Teachers:
The SciTrek program works with teachers with diverse interests and abilities regarding science education. Our goal is to enable all teachers who seek to enhance their students' understanding of how science works. Teachers are initially encouraged to observe our modules and work with a small group of their students. In subsequent modules, they progress towards helping lead the modules, and eventually running the modules themselves, with SciTrek providing all materials and UCSB volunteers. We cover required California Science Content Standards for specific grades.

UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) undergraduate and graduate students:
Surprisingly, even undergraduates often lack any real exposure to the process of science. Thus a direct benefit to UCSB volunteers is engagement in guiding active inquiry by others. UCSB student volunteers are trained to work with 2nd-8th students to encourage the open-ended, student centered approach we feel is essential. Volunteers typically participate in one or more 2-6 week modules per academic year. Undergraduates can earn credit for their efforts in helping students experience these modules. This is an excellent opportunity for UCSB students to acquire education and leadership skills.

Annual SciTrek Lecture

Every year SciTrek enlists an esteemed member of the science education community to host a lecture on the UCSB campus for students, faculty, local teachers, and community members. The past lectures have been presented by:

2012: Bruce Alberts
2013: Sean Carroll
2014: Brian Reiser
2015: Susan Singer
2016: Paul Relis with suppoprt from the Community Environmental Council
2017: Bassam Shakhashiri
2018: Marcia Linn
2019: Mark Windschitl
2021: Robert Brewer
2022: Penny Noyce
2023: Francis Su

Team SciTrek

Team SciTrek is a dedicated group of undergraduate volunteers who help to lead, design, and test SciTrek modules.  If you are interested in joining the team, please email chem-scitrekmanager@ucsb.edu for more information.

2020-2021 was a year that presented many challenges but also provided the opportunity to test innovative new ideas. Members of Team SciTrek applied for and recieved four Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Grants from the University of California. Team members used the money from these grants to help purchase supplies and adapt our modules to a virtual format so that local elementary and middle school students could still experience hands-on science! Check out their URCA projects below:

2020-2021 URCA Projects

SciTrek Improves Leadership Skills and Aspects of College Experience in UCSB Student Volunteers - Frank Makhlouf and Hailey Clemens

Online SciTrek Inquiry is as Effective as In-Person - Grace Mellor, Ruben Berumen, and Jon Bindi

7th Grade Girls Show Improvement in Critical Thinking After SciTrek - Afton Gustafson, Hailey Clemens, Caleb Kim

Can SciTrek Expand the Borders of Critical Thought? - Collin Lejano and Rafael Solorazano

Team Members

Letizia Timoni Freshman
Eesha Panchal Junior
Emma Tonney Sophmore
Haaris Mobin Sophmore
Eli Briones-Colman Sophomore
Rachel Lee Senior
Lekha Reddy Sophomore
Megan Li Freshman
Andy Xu Junior
Melina Magno Freshman
Bryan Su Junior
Amber Wang Junior
Emily Nguyen Junior
Meghna Chandrasekar Junior

Past Team Members: Where Are They Now?

Afton Gustafson, 2021 - Attending NYU for her Ph.D. in Chemistry

Frank Makhlouf, 2021 - EMT

Matt Betashour, 2021 - Pursuing a career in UX research

Bronte Bolanos, 2020 - Science Teacher in Spain

Sabrina Biedermann, 2020 - Clinical Research Coordinator at Stanford University

Kevin Braza, 2020 - High School Teacher

Clarice Douille, 2019 - Medical student at Creighton University

Cory Fitzsimmons, 2019 - High School Chemistry Teacher

Sammi Fowler, 2019 - Customer Success at Komodo Health 

Nairi Rostomian, 2018 - Medical student