The Bruin Experiment: Teaching Kids the Fun in Science

The Bruin Experiment is an organization on campus whose goal is to inspire scientific curiosity in underserved youth around LA. Those involved mentor a diverse group of middle schoolers, encouraging them to ask questions about their own lives by using the scientific method and conducting science experiments. These young students learn that science is fun and exciting, while also discovering the attainable goal of going to college and pursuing higher education. We had the opportunity to learn more about this club from three of its board members. Nathali Roizman is a senior neuroscience major with an anthropology minor who serves as the Co-Director of Science Fair and Recruitment. Katie McCombs is a sophomore, psychology major and disability studies minor, serving as the Co-Director of Science Fair and Recruitment. Lastly, Kayla Frank is a third year biochemistry major and Vice President of TBE. Read below to learn more about The Bruin Experiment and why science is fun!

Her Campus: What is your favorite part about being involved in this organization?

Nathali Roizman: We make science fun! As a science major, it is easy to get bogged down and discouraged in hard, competitive science classes at UCLA. Seeing the kids learn something new or get excited about their projects reminds me why I love science. 

Katie McCombs: One of my favorite parts of being involved in TBE is the community within the club and the people I have met through it.

Kayla Frank: My favorite part of being in this organization is seeing how it has progressed through the years, and how this has changed the impact we can have on our community. When I joined we had 2 schools, about 50 total students, and 25 mentors. Now, we have 3 schools, over 100 students, and 60 mentors. We have a new curriculum that is extremely interactive and creates a collaborative environment among students and mentors. Students are challenging themselves to have even more complicated, higher quality projects than in the past. I am excited to see how this club continues to grow in the future. 

HC: What advice do you have for the children participating in the program?

NR: Stay curious! Don’t just accept information that you receive for what it is, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are still so many questions out there to be answered! 

KM: I tell kids in the program to ask a question that truly interests them, rather than getting caught up in the set idea of what science is. Rather than trying to make their project sound the most scientific and the most intelligent, they should ask a question about anything and then see how science plays a role.

KF: Have an open mind! If a student wants to do a project that they can find the answer to on google, we encourage them to think beyond their original question to something more creative. The students who embrace this challenge and understand that the fun part of science is discovering something unknown are the ones who benefit the most from our program. 

HC: What’s your favorite memory through this experience?

NR: As the faculty liaison last year, I had the opportunity to recruit UCLA professors to get them to judge the science fair. It was awesome to see how excited the judges were looking at the kids’ projects, and how special the kids felt presenting their projects to them. 

KM: My favorite memory is the self-confidence that developed in one of my mentees last year.  At the start of the program he was extremely stressed about choosing his project. Over the course of creating and working on his project he doubted himself; however, by the time he was presenting his project he was self-assured and confident.  His growth was really great to see!

KF: The science fair is definitely my favorite part of The Bruin Experiment! Last year I was the science fair coordinator, so seeing the science fair run successfully was particularly rewarding. My favorite part is talking to each student and being able to see their passion for the project they did. Asking simple questions like “why did you choose this project?” or “what did you learn from your experiment?” can lead to a ten minute conversation about why the student is so excited about his or her project. There are over one hundred students, each and every one having something unique to be excited about!

The Bruin Experiment works all year to put on the science fair and it’s finally here! Check out the Facebook event and get excited to see kids excited about science! Thank you to the members of TBE for sharing with us

Photos Courtesy of TheBruinExperiment, Nathali Roizman, Katie McCombs, Kayla Frank