UA Department 'Adopts' Apollo Middle School for Pilot Program

Lori Harwood
March 15, 2004

This spring, the department of geography and regional development (GRD) at the University of Arizona implemented a new Adopt-a-School program with Apollo Middle School in the Tucson Sunnyside School District.

Sunnyside is located in the southern portion of Tucson and encompasses the San Xavier District on the neighboring Tohono O'odham Nation. The highly diverse district is 84 percent Hispanic. In this pilot program, which is being organized with the help of Barbara Martin, a sixth grade teacher at Apollo, graduate students in GRD give presentations throughout the semester on issues related to geography and water.

The idea for the program came this past fall after the geography department gave a presentation at Apollo and several other schools as part of Geography Awareness Week. The presentations, which were about different countries and their geographies, were so well received that Martin approached GRD about creating a year-long program.

The goal of the Adopt-a-School program is to expose students to the many facets of geography – human, physical, as well as different methods and techniques, such as remote sensing and GIS (geographic information systems). Water issues, both in Tucson and internationally, were chosen as the theme for the first semester.

At the end of the semester's Social Science Fair, sixth grade students at Apollo will present their own projects based on assignments related to the GRD presentations. GRD students and faculty will be in attendance for the April 19th event.

According to John Paul Jones, head of GRD, the Adopt-a-School program is "an exciting new dimension of public outreach for the department. What's especially gratifying is that the program has been organized by a network of socially-concerned graduate students."

Jones hopes that the program will increase geographic literacy among Apollo students and, ultimately, help diversify the fields of both geography and regional development as those students head for college.


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