Over the past few months, 72 La Cumbre Junior High students have been working diligently on unique science projects they have been building, with direct guidance from UCSB mentors in a group called The Gaucho Experiment. Their projects range from levitating cars to mutating bacteria, and best of all, they are entirely middle-school student initiated. The Gaucho Experiment pairs college mentors with middle school students during weekly visits, with the intention of making an open, creative environment where 7th and 8th grade students can discover and pursue a genuine interest in the sciences.
The students begin by discussing topics that interest them, which can be anything from soccer, to Netflix, to whether or not plants could grow on the moon. After finding a topic of interest, they request a “grant” from The Gaucho Experiment, which entirely funds every science project from research materials to their final poster boards. The students’ projects end up flourishing into fascinating, and more importantly, unique projects that stem from the students’ interests! One project, involving the mutation of glow-in-the-dark bacteria using ultra-violet rays is being used as a pilot to potentially teach to college biology students at UCSB labs.
Soon, we get to show off these students’ amazing accomplishments at the science fair at UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion on May 25th, from 12-3PM. Everyone is welcome to join, with plenty of food, UCSB faculty judges, and various science booths to learn from. Lastly, the entire project wouldn’t be possible if not due to the generosity of community members, including Dylan Peterson, a La Cumbre alumnus who now manages UCSB’s bacteriology labs, or Danny (another La Cumbre Alumnus!), Darin and Sierra of Jump on the School Bus. Please stop by and check out these students’ hard work – everyone is welcome!