CREST assistant offers series of free workshops at West Linn High School

Students interested in learning more about the school district’s science fair have a new resource that can help them decide on lines of inquiry, research their topics and present their projects.

This summer, Julia Betts is offering a series of free workshops designed to get kids thinking about science and gain a head start on February’s district CREST-Jane Goodall Science Symposium. The workshops are designed for students in ninth grade and FILE PHOTO - High school students can learn how to create better science fair projects at a series of workshops offered through CREST.

Betts, 27, is an environmental chemist currently earning a master’s degree in science education at Portland State University. She was hired by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District last year to help CREST Program Coordinator Amy Schaeur organize the science fair.

“She’s hard to keep up with,” Betts said of Schaeur. “I’m looking forward to having a second year with her, because there’s such a learning curve with the science fair. Now that I’ve seen the first year, I know the second round will be easier.”

Betts knows that most students find the science fair process easier the second time around, too, and the free workshops she’s designed are meant to bring students with experience together with first-timers.

“I’m definitely giving students the opportunity to discuss their ideas and work with their peers to ask, ‘What have you done? What was your experience last year?’ and get some input from students who did (the science fair) last year,” she said.

The first workshop, scheduled for July 30 from noon to 3 p.m., is designed to help kids decide on a science fair topic.

“I think one of the greatest challenges (for students) is understanding how to translate science into their own realm,” Betts said.

During the session, she will help students decide what they see in the world that interests them and start thinking about how to translate those interests into scientific inquiries.

The entire series is based primarily on feedback from kids, letting Betts know where they needed extra support to succeed in the science fair. Each session is designed as a stand-alone workshop, with the exception of the Aug. 6 and 7 sessions on conducting research.

“Whatever works out for them to attend will be valuable for them,” Betts said. “It’s my hope that all students, whether they’ve done a science fair project or not, will get a sense of what to expect from the process. It’s a lot of hard work, but they have an incredible support system from the district and from their peers.”

“The workshops will be a fantastic help for students looking to hit the ground running in the fall with their own scientific research projects,” Shaeur said. “Julia has an impressive range of science experience and made great connections with kids in our program last year — she really inspired them to take their work to the next level, and I’m excited she was available to lead these workshops this summer.”

The first two workshop sessions, scheduled for July 30 and 31, noon to 3 p.m., will guide each student to choose a topic and learn to manage time.

The next sessions, on Aug. 6 and 7 from 9 a.m. to noon, will show students how to dissect and translate scientific journal articles.

The workshop series will wrap up with sessions on Aug. 13 and 14, from 9 a.m. to noon, and will cover understanding and interpreting data as well as presenting to judges to meet their expectations.

All sessions will be held at West Linn High School.

The workshops are offered free of charge but pre-registration is recommended.

Contact Betts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register or to learn more.

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