Canyon Crest Academy students create free tutoring service

Tutoring sessions, which take place in the afternoon and evening throughout the week, are listed online.

A group of local high school students set up a free online tutoring program to help elementary and middle school students with chemistry, biology, math and related subjects.

“There are a lot of students out there who need help with chemistry, biology, whatnot,” said Andrew Gao, 16, a 10th grader at Canyon Crest Academy. “Their school districts haven’t really adjusted well to distance learning, so there’s extra help they need.”

With schools across the country closed indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, students and teachers have had to quickly adjust to classes held through videoconferencing software and other remote learning techniques.

Andrew and his classmates who launched the tutoring program are members of the Helyx Initiative, a student-led organization that promotes STEM among high school students. The Helyx Initiative has hundreds of members in more than 10 countries and hosts hackathons and other events to promote its mission.

One of their goals is to grow the number of students participating in the tutoring service, and they’ve been trying to get the word out through parent groups and social media.

“All the content is there,” Andrew said. “We have the tutors, we have the scheduling, we’re just looking for more students.”

Most of the nearly 100 students they’ve served so far with the tutoring program are from the San Diego area, but the service is open to students anywhere.

“Because of this lockdown, school has winded down a lot,” said Sid Udata, 16, also a 10th grader at Canyon Crest Academy. “We have a lot of time. So we thought maybe since we have this time and also a lot of younger students do too, why not create a tutoring service that can spread the message of bioinformatics for all.”

The tutors who lead the lessons include Andrew, Sid and other local Helyx Initiative members. A complete schedule of tutoring sessions is available on their website. The sessions take place during typical after-school hours in the late afternoon and evening, and are also recorded and posted to the Helyx Initiative’s YouTube channel.

“This is a new process for everybody, but I think we’re trying to make the best of the situation,” Sid said. “Since we already have all the time, we have the opportunity to educate other people who want it and need it.”

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