For these high school students, science is a magical subject
By Emily Sorensen
A group of students from Westview High School in Rancho Penasquitos have started a nonprofit organization in the hopes of making science magical for young students.
Sixteen Westview High School students, all sophomores and juniors, are part of Catalyst 4 Success, which performs magic shows for eager elementary school students and gives in-classroom demonstrations. Their goal is to encourage students’ interest in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.
Catalyst 4 Success is only a little over a month old, but has already performed science magic shows for over 3,000 students at five elementary schools in the Poway Unified, San Diego Unified and Chula Vista school districts. Founder and CEO Jason Ge, a junior at Westview High School, said that the group’s goal is to perform for 20,000 students within a year.
The son of scientists, Ge credits his parents’ enthusiasm encouraging him to pursue science with inspiring him to form Catalyst 4 Success with his schoolmates. “My parents are very supportive of what we’re doing,” said Ge, who was recently named one of the top four chemistry students in the country, and won a silver medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad. “They tried for many years to get me into science, and it worked.”
Ge and his 15 fellow science enthusiasts use simple scientific demonstrations, framed as a magic show, to get the kids interested in science. To reinforce that interest once the excitement of the assembly wears off, Catalyst 4 Success conducts follow-up classroom demonstrations, using safe chemicals, paper chromatography, and safe acids and bases. “[The demos are] things they can do at home,” said Ge.
Despite all the members being students at Westview High School, Ge said their organization has nothing to do with school or school credit. Being a nonprofit organization, once they become a 501(c)(3) organization (their status is pending), they will be open to receive grants and funding. Currently, Catalyst 4 Success is working with material donations from schools, and funding from some of the members’ parents, but they hope to begin fundraising soon.
Running a nonprofit organization as a high school junior is time-consuming. Ge said that he spends four to five hours a day outside of school working on Catalyst 4 Success. “All the members are really dedicated,” said Ge.
Ge said he hopes the group can return to schools in the future for more presentations and classroom experiments, and possibly even expand their repertoire of “magic.”
“We [currently] do chemistry because I have a good background in chemistry,” said Ge, “but we would like to expand to other sciences in the future, like physics.”
For more information on Catalyst 4 Success, visit www.catalyst4success.org.
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