Carl Wieman and others including Chancellor Yang at a STEM lecture

Chancellor Henry Yang, Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, Professor Susannah Scott, Dean Pierre Wiltzius, Professor Julie Bianchini, and Dean Rod Alferness at Wieman's Noyce Lecture in 2013

Kindergarten students at The REEF touch tanks

Kindergarten students exploring The REEF touch tanks.

kids in nature

CCBER KIDS IN NATURE - Place-based activities and lessons to engage your students in exploring the natural world:  Coal Oil Point Reserve.

Office of Education Partnership: mesa project

Office of Education Partnerhisp MESA Program- Mathematics Engineering Science Achivement - Capturing curiosity, cultivating potential and collectively working towards college and career readiness.


Summer Sessions - Introduce students to the best minds among the UCSB community and their groundbreaking research during GRIT talks.

UCSB STEM Outreach Programs Offered

UC Santa Barbara is home to over 40 STEM Education and Outreach Programs serving K-14, parents, and teachers with many different types of experience.

Please browse our programs using the filters below.

The Amgen Biotech Experience is an innovative science education program that provides teacher professional development, teaching materials, and research-grade equipment and supplies to secondary schools. The program features a hands-on molecular biology curriculum that introduces students to the excitement of scientific discovery.  

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The "Build a Buckyball" workshop is based on a molecular model kit of the Carbon-60 molecule (the Buckminsterfullerene). Students, ranging from elementary to middle school, are given a brief PowerPoint introduction focused on Materials science and the scale of the nanometer, different forms of carbon and the relationship between molecular structure and material properties. As part of the workshop, students build their own six-inch Buckyball models with instruction by UCSB graduate student volunteers. The workshop is flexible enough to adapt to different environments including summer programs, school year classrooms, after-school programs and special events.

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The California Alliance for Minority Participation provides resources and opportunities to under-represented students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The program is sponsored by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation at the National Science Foundation, and is part of the statewide CAMP program. The Summer Research Program provides a 10-week intensive research experience for CAMP eligible students interested in a career in science, engineering, technology or mathematics. CAMP participants work in a UCSB laboratory with a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher mentor. Mentors provide one-on-one training and support for the research project. In addition to research, the interns also participate in weekly group meetings to develop oral presentation skills, attend special seminars and present their results at an end-of-summer poster session. Students also present their research at the statewide CAMP symposium the year after completing their internship. Funding is also available for CAMP eligible UCSB students to participate in academic year research, travel to professional meetings, and graduate school application support.

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CCBER offers an internship program for undergraduate students. Students and volunteers learn restoration site design, implementation and maintenance techniques, native plant horticulture, plant and animal identification skills, and ecological monitoring protocols. CCBER also offers other specialized internships in Curation, Research, and Archival Studies.

If you would like to learn more about the opportunties available in our Chemistry Outreach Program, please send an email to Dr. Petra van Koppen at: or Dr. Darby Feldwinn at

Our Fifth Grade Chemistry Outreach Program is a partnership between local elementary students and teachers and UCSB students and faculty. To improve educational opportunities for K-12 students, we have developed a program that brings fifth grade students to the chemistry lab at UCSB every Thursday morning to participate in hands-on standards-based physical science activities. The program is designed to nourish their natural curiosity in science and to stimulate an interest in pursuing a higher education in science. In addition, UCSB students are given the opportunity to share their love of science with elementary students and to consider a career path as a science educator.

  • Enable students from diverse backgrounds to work with UCSB students who are also from diverse backgrounds
  • Spark new interests in sciences and fuel current interests
  • Show students the relevance of chemistry
  • Engage students, parents and teachers in exciting hands-on activities
  • Enable volunteers to share their enthusiasm for science with young students
  • Inspire students to pursue a higher education in science
  • Show elementary school students the excitement of working in a college setting
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The Cooperative International Science and Engineering Internships program, sponsored by the Materials Research Laboratory and the International Center for Materials Research, sends US science and engineering undergraduates to international partner institutions for a 10-week summer research experience. Internships are available at research centers in Gothenburg, Sweden; Eindhoven-Netherlands; Dublin-Ireland; Oxford-England; Shanghai-China and Saarbruecken-Germany.

We developed lesson plans that target specific concepts in the fifth grade physical sciences curriculum, and provide teachers with take-home materials and follow-up support in their classrooms from our UCSB Chemistry and Materials students. The modules generally consist of a series of hands-on experiments for students to try out themselves under the supervision of the teacher. The purpose of these kits is to give teachers the confidence to incorporate new, student initiated, exploratory activities into their curriculum, which support and/or go beyond required school standards. 

Center for Science and Engineering Partnership California NanoSystems Institute at UC Santa Barbara • University of California, Santa Barbara Copyright © 2002-09 The Regents of the University of California, All Rights Reserved. UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara CA 93106-6105 • Terms of Use

Family Science in the Community will continue with a program for underrepresented students and their families to gain familiarity with the practice of science, its importance in education, and its promise of exciting career options. Biannually, Family Ultimate Science Exploration (FUSE) nights, will be offered at Santa Barbara Unified School District junior high schools, and Carpinteria Middle School. In addition, a limited number of 8th grade classroom field trips to UCSB will be offered to schools outside our community.  

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The INSET program brings science and engineering community college undergraduates to the UC Santa Barbara campus for an 8-week summer research experience. Interns gain first-hand experience in scientific investigation in a dynamic, collaborative research environment. They are matched individually with UCSB faculty and graduate student lab mentors who provide training and support. Interns attend weekly meetings, special seminars, and have the opportunity to develop their presentation skills throughout the summer.

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Five different hands-on activities inspire inquiry into Materials Science related topics and emphasize the fascinating nature of science. This program is available for elementary school science nights. Students and parents explore the world of materials presented by MRL graduate students while learning about present and future applications of the materials.

While many programs are designed to offer educational experiences for several hours or for one day, the KIN program provides each classroom with a total of twelve educational activities offered with our partners, the Marine Science Institute’s REEF program, Coal Oil Point Reserve, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Arroyo Hondo Preserve. The fifth grade students work closely with the KIN staff and UCSB students enrolled in EEMB189/ES191 in an outdoor setting and gain firsthand experience with the concepts they learn in class for an in-depth and sustained educational experience. KIN curriculum emphasizes hands-on, placed based activities in outdoor environments  and also includes classroom visits where UCSB students mentor and assist with the fifth grade student work and activities in the established native plant gardens on the elementary school campuses.

During the yearlong program, we estimate that each KIN student experiences approximately 100 hours of small group education. KIN has a significant impact on the students’ understanding, involvement in, and awareness of environmental issues through engaging and challenging activities and positive interactions with scientists, graduate and undergraduate students both in class and in the field. KIN students spend a significant amount of time on the UCSB campus, which helps to demystify the university and provides the students with opportunities to learn about programs and the campus environment. Each 5th grade student receives a Kids in Nature Science Notebook and Nature Journal, which contains additional information and activities to accompany each fieldtrip.

Student examines with microscope

LiMPETS is an environmental monitoring and education program for students, educators, and volunteer groups designed to provide firsthand experience with the scientific process. Through collaborations with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, O2C facilitates Rocky Intertidal and Sandy Beach Monitoring at UCSB's Campus Point. Through research-based monitoring and standardized protocols, students develop their problem solving skills, gain experience using tools and methods employed by field scientist, and learn to anyalyze data.

undergraduate female teaches kids on the beach

The Marine Science Institute offers professional development for educators, focused on environmental science literacy, learning progressions and student thinking in three areas: terrestrial and marine biodiversity, carbon cycling and global climate change, and water systems and constraints.

Observing specimens near the coast

Developed in collaboration with the local and regional Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Girl Scouts of America (GSA), this program consists of specifically aligned marine science content that supports BSA/GSA Oceanography Merit Badge fulfillment.

MESA participants

MESA is a system-wide, inter-segmental outreach and retention program started in 1970, and governed by an Intersegmental Steering Committee (UC, Cal States, Ca Community Colleges, Independent colleges, and Ca Dept. of Education).  MESA’s purpose is to prepare and motivate educationally disadvantaged students, especially those from groups with low rates of participation in college, including first-generation college bound and/or low-income students. The goal is to prepare and motivate students for college degrees and to enter professions requiring degrees in engineering and other mathematics-based scientific fields.

Currently, the UCSB MESA Schools Program Center serves approximately 800 middle and high schools students from 16 schools in 7 districts within Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, primarily in the Oxnard region and Santa Paula. Program activities are specifically designed to encourage students’ scientific inquiry and curiosity, problem solving skills, teamwork and leadership, and knowledge and pursuit of the requisite educational preparation so students attain baccalaureate degrees and careers in STEM. 

Kids and parents looking at sea urchins

Coupled with specially designed science content and our mobile touch tank, the Mobile REEF Unit allows us to literally bring Oceans to classrooms! Current options include:

  • Family Science Nights
  • Science Class Visits
  • Public Outreach Events (Festivals, Fund Raisers, etc)
INQUIRIES ABOUT THIS PROGRAM? PLEASE CONTACT Frank Kinnaman.  An Education Project at the Materials Research Laboratory Sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Secondary school teachers participate in laboratory research, under the mentorship of graduate, post-doctoral and faculty researchers. During their second summer in the program, teachers work collaboratively to translate their research experiences into curriculum resources. All of the curriculum projects are archived on our website in a database.

The goal of the UCSB Physics Circus team is to introduce and discuss a collection of fundamental concepts in physics using accessible language, familiar experiences, domonstration experiments, and audience participation. We present a series of demonstrations that elucidate concepts cover linear and angular momentum, electricity and magnetism, sound and waves, air pressure, and changes of phase. Our presentation lasts approximately one hour or we can present our content at Science Night type events with ease. Our content is primarily gauged at K-8 audiences.

Offered at the Physics Department

More than 300 UCSB students volunteer for 30 to 60 hours at K-12 schools throughout Santa Barbara. They assist the teacher with all aspects of instruction, working with individuals, groups, and even teaching lessons when appropriate. Students are placed in the following programs:

  • Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment
  • California Technology Assistance Project
  • PAL Tech
  • Science Math Initiative

Serves Pre K – 12 students in Goleta Union, Santa Barbara, Hope and Carpinteria School Districts

docent shows sea urchin at touch tanks

This program suports 5-10 students year-round, grades 8-12, with the opportunity to work alongside UCSB undergraduates at the REEF to learn more about careers in marine and aquarium science, and college life and academics. This program has provided a number of participants with the opportunity to work in reseach labs, as well. For students, this program con fufill community service hours.

RISE provides funding for undergraduate science and engineering research internships. The Summer Research Program provides a 10-week intensive research experience for undergraduates from colleges and universities across the country. RISE interns work in a UCSB laboratory with a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher mentor. Mentors provide one-on-one training and support for the research project. In addition to research, the interns also participate in weekly group meetings to develop oral presentation skills, attend special seminars and present their results at an end-of-summer poster session. RISE funding is also available for UCSB students to participate in research during the academic year.

The SACNAS Outreach Program at UCSB is an annual event held in the Spring that is dedicated to high school students of all grade levels. We aim to give high school students exposure to the college atmosphere by connecting them with undergraduate mentors in the field of their interest. It is a 2 day event in which the students stay the night in the freshmen dorms and experience eating in the dining commons. The program includes STEM workshops, facility tours, presentations on financial aid and admissions, as well as information about summer programs available to high school students.

The SBC LTER is a research program organized around kelp forest and watershed ecology, and is the inspiration behind much of the O2C education content. They support research experience for teachers (Research Experience for Teachers, RET) and undergraduate students (Research Experience for Undergraduates, REU) in SBC LTER labs. SBC also serves as a cross-site education research partner in collaboration with the KBS, SGS and BES Schoolyard LTER programs to examine environmental science literacy in middle and high school students and teachers.

STEEM is a scholarship program for Mathematics community college transfer students at UCSB. STEEM provides financial support and opportunities to actively engage in the Mathematics community through early preparation that addresses the academic skills, social networking, and career exploration needed for success in Mathematics.

The School for Scientific Thought (SST) provides high school students in grades 9-12 with a unique opportunity to take STEM courses at UCSB. These Saturday science and engineering courses are offered in Fall and Winter Quarters and run for a series of 5-Saturdays between 10 am-12:15 pm. The enrichment courses are designed by graduate students in STEM research specifically for high school students and are free of charge.

SMI is a program to recruit and mentor pre-service secondary science and mathematics teachers. The program includes coursework and placement in local classrooms. Students are placed in the following schools: Adams, Brandon, Carpinteria Family, Cesar Chavez, Cleveland, El Camino, Ellwood, Foothill, Franklin, Harding, Hollister, Isla Vista, Kellogg, La Patera, McKinley, Monroe, Monte Vista, Peabody, Roosevelt, Summerland, and Washington. Students are also placed at the following high schools: Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara.

Mentor and student collecting samples at Campus Point

This Science of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) program is organized around a theme of temperate marine ecology. Similar to the SBC LTER Schoolyard, this thematic approach developed through PISCO utilizes the science, conservation  and policy of marine protected areas to inform an integrated program for K-12 students, K-12 teachers, undergraduate and graduate students.

ScienceLine is an internet-based question and answer service that connects MRL researchers with K-12 schools. Students and teachers submit questions online and receive a response from one or more UCSB scientists within a week. All the questions and responses are entered into a searchable online archive, which itself is a curriculum supplement for science teachers. The ScienceLine program has evolved to include MRL Multimedia Highlights, which includes video interviews, answers and presentations, and YouTube-style videos on topics in Materials Science.

SciTrek is dedicated to allowing 2nd - 5th grade students to experience the scientific process first hand. SciTrek seeks to partner with local schools to present inquiry based modules that not only emphasize the process of science but also specific grade level standards.

Each module allows students to design and carry out an experiment. Providing students with the opportunity to not only learn scientific facts but also experience the scientific method allows students to understand how scientists use evidence based explanations to explain the world around them.

In addition to providing programming for 2nd - 5th grade students, SciTrek strives to demonstrate the importance of inquiry based lesson in science curriculum to teachers, practicing teachers, and teachers in training.

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) acts as a hub for support and networking for SIMS students throughout their tenure at UCSB, beginning in their first Fall Quarter, when SIMS students meet regularly with peer advisors, program faculty, and staff. This interaction encourages them to use campus resources, participate in peer networks, and to begin research activity sustained through graduation. To nurture enthusiasm for research and interaction with faculty, the SIMS coordinator facilitates lab placements and funding for research opportunities for select freshmen and sophomore students during the academic year. Student researchers receive critical support from the “Practice of Science”, a two quarter course sponsored by the California NanoSystems Institute which provides an overview of the scientific process and helps students develop independent research projects, scientific presentations, and creative thinking needed for success in research science. A quarterly series, “Discussions with Faculty”, continues to engage these UCSB students with the larger scientific community and connects them with research scientists in casual settings. They pose questions about faculty expectations, about the science/engineering life, and managing graduate school and postdoctoral opportunities. The SIMS experience promotes the knowledge, skills, and social networking necessary for students to become competitive candidates for the workforce and graduate school.

Middle and High school students learn about alternative energy and UCSB research in photovoltaics. As part of the workshop, students build and race small solar cars with instruction by UCSB graduate student volunteers. The workshop is flexible enough to adapt to different environments including summer programs, school year classrooms, after-school programs and special events.

The South Coast Science Project, a site of the California Science Project, has been providing professional development for teachers since 1990. Located at UC Santa Barbara, and serving teachers in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, we provide a variety of programs to assist teachers in the delivery of the content of the Science Standards to their students.

Our key program is the annual Summer Standards Institute. A one week, 40-hour program, the Institute addresses the upper elementary standards in one of the three areas of Earth, Life or Physical Science standards each summer. Professional development continues during the year in the form of the reunion days funded by The Center for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks (NSF). We address content knowledge, pedagogical approaches, and explore hands-on investigations that are easily carried out in the classroom.

Goals of SCSP:

  1. Increase Science Content Knowledge
  2. Integrate Scientific Practices into Lessons
  3. Build Science Literacy
  4. Build Teacher Leaders

The SIMS program was established to engage and challenge high achieving incoming UCSB freshmen that have traditionally been underrepresented in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. All SIMS students engage in activities and training to promote the development of effective academic skills, especially in their critical first year. To prepare for their academic courses, SIMS students take an intense individualized introduction to university Calculus, Chemistry or Physics, and Technical Writing the summer prior to matriculation at UCSB. Based on their interests, students work in small research groups with graduate student mentors. The mentors orient SIMS students to research culture and community at UCSB, as well to the process of scientific inquiry by providing authentic hands-on experiences that build skills, confidence, and curiosity. Social events take place daily linking participants with undergraduate program assistants, program staff, and UCSB faculty with whom they will work. Informal late evening discussions are hosted by the onsite Faculty-in-residence. The summer program culminates with finals, papers, and a 15 minute technical oral presentation on their research projects given in front of 100+ faculty, researchers, parents, and staff. SIMS students are monitored and provided encouragement and support to engage in campus networks and research activities through graduation. SIMS participants are well connected to campus resources. They perform well academically, participate in undergraduate research, education abroad, internships, and hold leadership positions in campus organizations.

Over 500 elementary through high school students visit the Sedgwick Reserve's "Outdoor Classroom" each year. Educators can either schedule classess on the reserve that utilize their own instruction, based on specific grade level and curriculum interest, or they can utilize our partner in education, Nature Track, to design field trips that promote outdoor exploration to connect science concepts introduced in class and textbook curriculum with living examples they can see, touch and experience in the environment.

Offered at the UC Natural Reserve System
Young girl and boy holding baby shark

The REEF is an interactive aquarium facility located at UCSB’s Campus Point, which is the centerpiece of MSI’s O2C Program. Using the Next Generation Science Standards, UCSB undergraduate interns introduce P-20 students to diversity in the Santa Barbara Channel, hands-on exploration of our local marine ecosystem, and UCSB research in habitats throughout the world. The REEF is also available to after school programs and is open to the general public during Open Door hours on Fridays and Saturdays, and supports an ever-growing number of on-campus classes and labs. 

Field trips for K-12 students are offered at: Coal Oil Point Reserve, Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, Santa Cruz Island Reserve, Sedgwick Reserve, and the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve.  In addition, Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve has developed a Teacher’s Guide containing activities to facilitate student investigations of the natural resources in the marsh. At the Sedgwick Reserve, the trips are lead by specially trained volunteers and teachers indicate curricular topics to be emphasized. School trips for fifth graders to the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve have lessons that are integrated into the California State Science Curriculum. Santa Cruz Islands hosts field trips for middle and high school students who stay at the reserve facilities for two to four nights.

Offered at the UC Natural Reserve System

CMI offers year-round professional development to support STEM-related endeavors in Southern California schools. Our workshops are grounded in the principles of Inquiry Based Learning (IBL), and emphasize sense-making through authentic experiences in mathematics. All CMI projects and grade-level workshops align with current State Mathematic Standards and support teachers in understanding the rich and complex nature of mathematical development. The Center’s projects create a full range of support for young learners through differentiated curriculum, instruction, and assessments. The center has funding to partially support professional development for teachers and seeks cost-sharing arrangements with local districts whenever possible.

CMI offers workshops for in-service K-12 teachers that include on-site in-class support from workshop facilitators. We have organized summer workshops and have partnered with local school districts for academic year workshops since 2006.  We have also developed K-6 resources to help in-service teachers bring Common Core-aligned state adopted curriculum into their classrooms. For more information on our workshops or to ask about bringing a workshop to your school, contact Monica Mendoza.

The UCSB Mathematics Project is one of the nineteen sites of the California Mathematics Project that is one of the California Subject Matter Projects. It provides professional development programs for K-12 mathematics educators in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Our Mission is to enhance teachers' content knowledge and instructional strategies in accordance with the California State Board of Education-adopted Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. We believe that all teachers and their students can be competent mathematical thinkers who persevere in problem solving, construct arguments and model with mathematics.