At Carpinteria High School, Department Chair Mandi de Witte offers students a chance to hone their lab skills and dive deep into the experience needed to be successful in a STEM career – and 13 students benefit from this program.
de Witte, who teaches AP biology, specialty biology, and environmental science and often shows his students’ skills and projects to @mrsdewittebio on Instagram, said the program allows internships to learn “the skills first-hand skills needed to be successful in a lab for future job opportunities and college courses.
â(The students provide) invaluable help to our busy science teachers so that they can provide as many hands-on experiences as possible for our students,â said de Witte.
The program is available to CHS juniors and seniors, who must first apply. The 13 students enrolled in the program each work in different capacities, said de Witte. Some have helped prepare chemical reagents for chemical labs, remove chemicals, clean and store lab equipment, and set up lab stations, among other activities. Most importantly, all must be “responsible, organized, independent, and of course have a love for science” to be part of the program, she said.
Two, including Daisy Martinez and Lizbeth Dominguez, have set aside a specific time in their school days to work on big projects with de Witte.
Praising their work, de Witte said the couple learned firsthand how to organize, store and find MSDSs for all of the 254 CHS chemicals the students work with – which took seven weeks.
“(This) would not have been possible without them,” de Witte stressed.
Senior Martinez said she first heard about the program through her teacher’s Instagram account and was “quite interested”.
“I want to get into biotechnology, and I think working closely with a science teacher (…) is what I wanted to do,” she said, qualifying laboratory skills and her others. interesting work in STEM fields.
âI really liked it so far – it goes in the right direction of what I want to do in the future,â she added.
Beyond cataloging classroom chemicals, Martinez said she is helping set up labs and prep, and wants to continue the program next semester.
âI feel like the internship helps you somehow get to know the science better,â she said. âIt helps you lay the foundations for what you want to do (â¦) It’s a positive environment, which promotes learning for someone interested in the medical field. “
Senior Dominguez also praised the program, noting that she discovered the program while following environmental science with de Witte during her first year.
âAt the end of the year, (de Witte) brought up the internship program for the following year,â Dominguez said. “His environmental classes really interested me in science, and I knew I really wanted to specialize in (a science-related field) in college.”
Its main roles, beyond the organization of the safety data sheet project, include the organization of scientific laboratories. She will continue the program next semester.
After graduating from the CHS, she hopes to study microbiology at university and eventually seek work in a water treatment plant.
â(I want to) watch the water and make sure it’s safe to drink and usable in people’s homes,â she said.
Next, students will focus on repairing the school’s microscopes and creating a digital inventory of the equipment, said de Witte.