Mission to Mars Middle School Songwriting Winners to Record Songs at UA

Rebecca Ruiz-McGill
Oct. 12, 2007

The winners of the Mission to Mars Songwriting Contest, held by The University of Arizona's Tucson GEAR UP Project, will be recording their songs on the campus this month.

One hundred Tucson eighth-graders submitted original compositions about Mars, hoping to be selected to be included on the project's "Mission to Mars" compact disc.

“The idea behind the Mars songwriting contest was to fuel the students' imagination and get them excited about the UA being the first public university to lead a mission to Mars,” said Elizabeth Arnot-Hopffer, associate director of GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

Music for the CD comes from music recording software that was mixed by GEAR UP college coach Victor Mercado who is familiar with basic recording techniques.

The project aims to significantly increase the number of underrepresented students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and partners with the UA, Pima Community College, Tucson Unified School District and the Sunnyside Unified School District.

The students who entered the contest came from Apollo Middle School, Challenger Middle School, Chaparral Middle School, Hohokam Middle School, Lauffer Middle School, Roskruge Bilingual Middle Magnet School, Safford Magnet Middle School, Sierra Middle School, Valencia Middle School and Utterback Magnet Middle School. All of the students, and their schools, are part of GEAR UP's six-year college readiness program.

In addition to getting the chance to record their compositions, the 14 winning students and one member of each of their families will travel with GEAR UP staff and UA faculty and graduate students to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, the weekend of Oct. 26-28 to visit the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, known as CEDO.

Activities for the trip include tide pool explorations, a visit to Estero Morua Excursion to teach students about the diversity of organisms that use estuary habitats, a visit to an oyster farm, writers workshops and a Mars Extravaganza with readings, song performances and a slide show.

The finished "Mission to Mars" CD will be presented to the students and their family member during the extravaganza.

The winning songwriters are:

Esgardo Robles, Jr. (Apollo)

Viviana Arvizu (Challenger)

Alex Skinner (Challenger)

Jesus Villegas (Challenger)

Jiselle Vides (Challenger)

Michael Rivera (Challenger)

Wesley Lee (Chaparral)

Itzayana Leyva (Hohokam)

Britney Smith (Lauffer)

Nicolas Dominguez (Roskruge)

Bailey Gray (Safford)

Lesly Corella (Sierra)

Keyerah Bates (Valencia)

Clarissa Carrasco (Utterback)


Resources for the media

Elizabeth Arnot-Hopffer

Associate Director

GEAR UP Project