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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcat School students given science awards

    President Robert Shelton poses with sixth- and seventh-graders who attend Wildcat School.
    President Robert Shelton poses with sixth- and seventh-graders who attend Wildcat School.

    A UA-affiliated charter school held an open house Saturday, and President Robert Shelton and deans from the colleges of science and education handed out awards for the school’s science fair.

    Students at Wildcat School, the first charter school in Arizona affiliated with a university, received mentoring from 14 UA students throughout the semester who provided encouragement and guidance for the students competing in the science fair.

    Martha Nunez, a biochemistry lab tech and UA graduate, mentored the science fair’s first-place team, Danielle Alvarez and Raven Morillo.

    Alvarez and Morillo started by listing what their interests were, then decided to do something with fire. Nunez helped the group brainstorm ideas, and they chose to perform a flame test for the fair.

    The students tested a number of known substances to see what color the flame turned when they combusted. Nunez gave them three unknown substances, some of which were mixed compounds, and she said the students guessed all of them correctly.

    The mentors initially worked Wednesdays or Fridays, but Nunez said they started coming both days to work more with the students.

    Melissa Martinez, co-president of Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, said they came up with the idea to sponsor a science fair last semester. Along with the advancement group, people from the chemistry club were also involved, Martinez said.

    Get involved: Become a mentor at Wildcat school
    Contact Melissa Martinez at
    and 403-7578, or Bill Rosenberg, director of Wildcat School, at 294-5474.

    Visit for more information.

    Martinez said she mentored three different groups and loved the experience.

    “”We learned just as much from them as they did from us,”” she said.

    The students also got to see different sides of science by taking field trips to the UA and doing experiments like making ice cream out of liquid nitrogen.

    “”The goal is to get them excited about science and expose them to things we see in college,”” Martinez said.

    The colleges of science and education have a large role in helping the school succeed through Ron Marx, dean of the College of Education, who is also the president of the school board for Wildcat School, and Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science, also a school board member.

    Sara Chavarria, director of education outreach for the College of Education, said the college’s goal is to improve education for the students at Wildcat School, especially in the sciences.

    “”We are trying to help students achieve their potential for success through any career, but particularly science because of its growing role in society,”” Chavarria said.

    The mentors bring college to the students in a non-threatening manner, and UA students are the perfect vehicle for encouraging kids at Wildcat School to attend college, Chavarria said.

    “”They so wholeheartedly believe in these kids, and they need that belief,”” Chavarria said.

    The idea for Wildcat School was first introduced by Bill Estes, a Tucson real estate businessman, who thought it was important to get a school going in a predominantly minority neighborhood, said Bill Rosenberg, director of Wildcat School.

    The science and math connection with the UA and the mentor program are integral to helping students succeed and prepare them for college, he said.

    “”Kids with mentors tend to do better, and they get the mentality they can get it done,”” Rosenberg said. “”They can see people like themselves that are interested in the same things.””

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