The Young Scientist Program was founded in 2014 by UC Davis graduate student, Briana Rocha-Gregg, after an elementary school teacher shared that she often felt overwhelmed and intimidated by science curriculum. Initially, Briana made monthly classroom visits where she performed interactive demos and experiments to reinforce the existing science curriculum. The goal of these visits was to make science fun and accessible for both the students and their teacher. Over time, the scope of these visits grew to include other classrooms and campuses in the San Joaquin Valley.
Today, the Young Scientist Program is supported by a numerous graduate student and faculty volunteers from across scientific disciplines. We believe that solving the most difficult scientific problems will require exceptional talent and diverse perspectives. Yet, the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in science means that much of our nation's talent goes unrecognized.
Our overall goals are to: 1) empower interested students to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields regardless of their background and 2) promote diversity in science by challenging stereotypes about what it means to be a scientist. Studies have shown that these stereotypes begin as early as second grade. This means that K-12 science outreach is important!
Our current focus is to enhance science education for students in the California San Joaquin Valley. Located approximately one hour from UC Davis, the San Joaquin Valley represents an underserved area with tremendous need. We define need as any school or community with a high proportion of English-learners, students qualifying for free or reduced lunches and/or students performing below proficient in math or science on standardized tests. Aside from K-12 students - the Young Scientist Program also provides leadership, teaching and communication training for our volunteers. In 2015, the Young Scientist was designated as a training opportunity by the director of the NIH-training grant in MCB at UC Davis.