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Stanford-based science outreach program grows in its second year

Last year, Cooper Galvin saw a need that he could help meet. He was a graduate student in biophysics at Stanford, with access to top researchers and educational opportunities. Just a short drive away in east San Jose, dozens of high-school students — many from immigrant families — weren't able to pursue their interests in science due to a lack of resources at their school.

Working with a teacher at Andrew P. Hill High School, Galvin launched Future Advancers of Science and Technology, known as FAST. The program, now in its second year, links high-school students with graduate students and postdoctoral mentors. As Galvin explains in a recent Stanford News article:

 We came up with this plan of grad students going down there, meeting in small groups of high school students and dreaming up projects of their invention... Basically following their curiosities and figuring out how to make it real.

There are few opportunities that they have in their community for a space that they can go and think creatively.

The students' projects ranged from gene editing to the carbon dioxide absorption of plants, from investigating the strength of biomaterials like spider's silk to examining the effect of scents on the collective motion of ants. Attendance swelled this year, and 100 students -- up from 40 -- show up each Saturday morning. And the program has already made a difference in the students' lives, according to Galvin:

There’s a shift in the way that students are realizing how they can engage in science... They’re happy to talk about science with their friends, they’re happy to talk about the details, they’re happy to challenge each other to think about things in a more rigorous way.

Previously: On mentorship, and how to pay it forward, Stanford medical student co-authors guidebook for aspiring science students and "Invest in yourself": An open letter to first-year medical students
Photo by Cooper Galvin

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