Just some of the over 280 amazing volunteers who make SciTrek possible!
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.
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
Congratulations to Afton Gustafason, recipient of the 2020 Edison STEM Research Scholarship! This competitive scholarship will help to support her research interests as well as graduate school application fees. We are all so proud of you, Afton!
Interested in seeing what goes in to the making of a module? Reach out to our team of undergraduates whose ideas and initiative make SciTrek possible!