Science Alliance: Mentoring young minds

The Science Alliance fair held at Monte Vista this year had over 200 fifth grader participants.

They were supported by over 200 high school mentors, and a handful of teachers and parent volunteers. Projects were judged by 100 high school volunteers.

There were over 1300 pieces of pizza served. In order to coordinate such an event, a lot of cooperation and food were needed.

Science Alliance is a district-wide, student-run club that four high schools: Monte Vista, San Ramon, Dougherty Valley, and Cal High team up to mentor fifth graders in the district from the neighboring elementary schools.

Each year, the science fair is held at a different school. This year, Monte Vista hosted the fair.

“The science fair was a busy, yet wonderful experience,” current officer sophomore Ryan Teshima said. “I liked the different perspective being a part of the behind-the-scene work this year.”

A mentor and future officer of Science Alliance, junior Diya Jamwal, was very pleased with the fair experience.

“The science fair is a good opportunity for the community to come together through a high school organization,” Jamwal said. “Seeing fifth graders running around and expressing their knowledge is very rewarding.”

Each high school “mentor” has his or her own fifth grade “buddy” that he or she teaches from October until the science fair in April. These fifth graders learn the scientific method and how to perform a science experiment, complete with a formal lab report. The fair at the end of the process is an evaluation of what they learned throughout the six months.

Mrs. Patti Crothers, a former teacher at Monte Vista founded Science Alliance in 2004. From then, the club expanded to the four high schools in the district.

Mrs. Linda Bandrowski, a science teacher at Monte Vista and the current Science Alliance advisor of the MV branch has taken over Crothers’ position and has been running the club since.

“I love the experience of being able to be around students and spend  time more as an equal as well as advise them,” Bandrowski said. “SA students are extremely creative and enjoy sharing their science backgrounds with other students and with the fifth graders.”

The four high schools collaborate annually to plan and execute the event for the neighboring elementary schools that participate in the fair. Such an endeavor requires months of planning and teamwork.

Tentatively, the fair will be held at San Ramon next year. Traditionally, the schools rotate the fair location each year.

“Overall, I thought the science fair was great, the kids were enthused,” Bandrowski said. “That’s what science is about. The kids had a great learning experience and left with a love of science.”