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Helix Cup

Half of middle school students lose interest in science by eighth grade. We wanted to change that, so we created real-world, hands-on science challenges to help keep South San Francisco students engaged.

Helix Cup is an annual science competition designed to engage all eighth grade students from South San Francisco middle schools to help them develop problem-solving, teamwork and hands-on science skills.

With support from Genentech volunteers, students participate in a series of four challenges that might include building a centrifuge from a salad spinner or designing and testing a lightweight airdrop container. These challenges engage students in real-world, hands-on applications of science and help them to learn from failure, be resilient and persevere to solve problems.

During the course of one semester, students compete against other teams at their own schools and, eventually the top teams advance to challenge those from other South San Francisco middle schools. It all culminates in a day-long competition finale at Genentech’s campus. Watch our four-part documentary to learn more.

Our Results