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Arizona High School Students get up close with college research

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Courtesy Zoja Bazarnic | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona high school students interact with different research experiments at the Meet MCB! event at the University of Arizona Life Sciences building on Oct. 31. 

High school students and their teachers from across Arizona came together recently to experience the different research experiments being done in the Department of Molecular Biology.

The Meet MCB! event took place in the Life Sciences building on Oct. 31, where 180 students and teachers explored different opportunities within a STEM field of study.

Jennifer Cubeta, assistant program director in the departments' undergraduate biology research program, said it was good to see students excited to come out.

“I don’t think a lot of them had come on campus much before,” she said. “So when they came, we wanted to take them on some lab tours so they could see the different types of research that’s done in this department — and then we also mixed that up with some information sessions.”

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Students were able to meet with UA advisers, admissions and financial aid staff to receive information on how to get prepared for college.

The department also set up panels featuring undergraduates to talk about their college life experiences and the work they’re doing while in school.

“We had students that came and they said, ‘I want to go study cancer' or 'I want to go study ALS,’ and so they actually got to see those labs and see what that means to actually go and do that kind of research,” Cubeta said.

The program has received support from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate, which was “critical” to helping the department expand the event to reach more students this year and for the future.

“We had support for this particular program from ASUA because they also saw the benefit in encouraging students to come to college and see what college is like in general, and the University of Arizona in particular,” Cubeta said.

The attending students had been participating in various science experiments within their own high schools as part of the UA BIOTECH project. The project continues to provide high school teachers and students the opportunity to conduct different experiments in the classroom.

“The BIOTECH Project has been successful in raising students' interest and awareness of molecular genetics by partnering with teachers to engage their students in a hands-on approach to understanding biotechnology,” the project's website said.

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The project features three components: professional development for Arizona teachers, classroom visits by students and faculty for the creating of hands-on biotechnology activities, and providing proper material support so the high school students can operate the experiments properly, with the help of their teachers.

“One of our missions is to open the possibility of pursuing post-secondary education for our underrepresented population of students, preferably in a STEM field,” said BIOTECH project director Nadja Anderson in a press release.

Over 100 teachers across Arizona, and their thousands of students, have conducted independent activities with support from the project this year.

“We loved hearing more about their interest in biology and future plans and how the University of Arizona and MCB can help get them make those plans a reality," Bazarnic said.


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