Cultivating Young Scientists
Students have been paired with eighth-graders to create projects for a science fair that will grant the winner a $1,000 scholarship to the UA.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications
Oct. 9, 2007

Cassandra Anderson had just met her mentee, Isabella Gonzalez-Potter, and witihin minutes, the two were already talking about school and science.

They had been paired through a new Associated Students of The University of Arizona program targeting underprivileged eighth-graders.

For the next four weeks, Gonzalez-Potter will team up with other students and work with Anderson to come up with an interesting science project.

“I thought this would be interesting and that it would also be a valuable experience,” says Anderson, a chemistry and science education junior.

After meeting Anderson for the first time and learning more about the project, Gonzalez-Potter said she was “excited” to get started.

The program will culminate with a science fair on Nov. 2 at the Student Union, which will be free and open to the public.

“We’re at a thrilling university for science,” says ASUA president Tommy Bruce. “This is something the students will always remember, and it’s an opportunity for us to not keep the science to ourselves.”

The first-time meeting at the Student Union Memorial Center on Saturday afternoon was a first for many of the 15 mentors, who will be working with nearly 40 youth participants.

For the next month, each group will work together to develop science projects that will be judged by UA faculty. The fair’s winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, which will be tucked away until that student is ready to attend the UA.

“We hope that they’ll have more self-confidence and that they won’t be scared in asking questions,” says Connie Chau, a third-year pre-physiology and pre-pharmacy major. “Hopefully they’ll also be more interested in pursuing a science education.”

The brainpower behind the program is Niel Curley, ASUA’s community development director.

Curley said the purpose of the project is to engage eighth-graders and to “cultivate their love for science." He added: “We want students to realize college is within their reach and that they can come here.”

Those who met Saturday got a chance to talk about their scientific interests and ideas for a project and, during future meetings, the UA students will teach the eighth-graders about proper lab techniques and give other pointers.

“There are so many opportunities to get involved in research that I want to give the experience back,” says John Chapman, who is studying biochemistry. “It’s a fun opportunity.”

Extra info


ASUA Science Fair


Student Union Memorial Center, Rincon Room


Nov. 2

The public is invited to view the projects from noon to 2 p.m.