K-12 Outreach


Boys and Girls Club Partnership

Discovery Cube


Sonora’s Super Scientists

Boys and Girls Club Partnership – Advancing Informal Science Education

The CaSTL outreach team was awarded a National Science Foundation supplement to create a new program and partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana (BGC). Given that many of the local schools lack regular science instruction, CaSTL created this partnership to provide new opportunities to engage BGC participants in science learning in the afterschool environment. The CaSTL outreach team, in collaboration with the California Science Project of Irvine (CSPI), created hands-on science experiments to teach Boys and Girls Club participants. Lessons are focused on chemistry and physics concepts, such as: forces, gravity, magnetism, and light. CaSTL and CSPI began implementing the lessons in November 2012 with the initial first phase of the program run through August 2013. Now in its seventh year, the program provides students the opportunity to engage in hands-on, quality, inquiry based science lessons.

The partnership and collaboration with the BGC is an example of an outreach program that helps advance science education with underserved students. Ninety percent of BGC participants identify as Hispanic/Latino and 93% qualify for free and reduced lunch, a poverty indicator. Given the demographic nature of the program participants and the lack of science they are currently receiving (based on student and teacher feedback to the program evaluator), BGC of Santa Ana was a natural partner who willingly agreed to collaborate with CaSTL. The transformative nature of this program will be if the students gain a greater interest in science and can envision themselves as being scientists at the conclusion of our program.


Discovery Cube (formerly the Discovery Science Center)

Since 2009, CaSTL has partnered with the Discovery Science Center (DC) to increase students’ exposure to chemistry and science. CaSTL employs UC Irvine undergraduate students to support outreach efforts at the DC. The students host daily tabletop demonstrations that highlight relevant chemistry and science information to K-12 students. These tabletop presentations provide hands-on learning opportunities and exposure to CaSTL-related science as well as train undergraduate students to teach science.

About the DC

The Discovery Cube is located in Santa Ana, CA, approximately fifteen minutes away from the UCI campus. Each year, the DSC welcomes over 450,000 guests, of which, nearly half include children and families who are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young minds, assisting teachers and increasing public understanding of science, math and technology through interactive exhibits and programs. Many of the DC’s education programs align with California Science Content Standards and are intended to help K-12 students perform better in school and on state science tests required in the 5th and 7th grades.


The California State Summer School for Math & Science (COSMOS) mission is to motivate the most creative minds of the new generation of prospective scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will become leaders for California, the nation, and the world. This is achieved by running topical clusters for high school students on UC campuses that give students a "college experience." UC Irvine offers eight clusters, with CaSTL faculty and graduate students designing and instructing "The World of Molecules: The Heart of Chemistry," a cluster which gives students a deep understanding of atoms and molecules through an exciting learning experience that features hands-on experimentation. COSMOS remains an effective partnership and successful high-school recruitment tool to engage talented students in summer research.



Sonora’s Super Scientists

Created and led by a CaSTL undergraduate student, Sonora’s Super Scientists (S-Cubed Labs), is a lunchtime science program held two days a week at Sonora Elementary.   The goal of the program is to introduce 5th grade students to high-level science concepts while emphasizing hands-on, project-based learning.  Currently, the students are participating in two major projects to explore science concepts, including: transmitting sound via laser light, and designing and building a working optical microscope.

S-Cubed Labs provides a simulation of a real laboratory, which creates a unique atmosphere, differentiating this program from the rest of the school curriculum. The lab setting helps the students to develop a sense of pride and value in their research.  Each child has a real lab coat, and projects are supported through funding and donations from local science companies, allowing the students to work with real laboratory equipment.   In the program students are treated as employees and they work on technology and research that is relevant to current modern science.

Link to Previous S-Cubed Labs Program


Acknowledgement of Collaborators and Donors