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Feb 12, 2013 9:01 AM

TUSD students receive college credit at low cost

TUCSON- Bent over a microscope, in a bioscience lab at Tucson High School, is where you'll most likely find Junior Sorrel Fivecoat these days.

"I've learned about osmosis and enzymes and right now we've been working with bacteria," Fivecoat says.

Even though she is just a junior, she is already taking college level science classes. "It's pretty stressful, you have to keep up with a lot," Fivecoat says.

But the hard work will pay off. A year long course earns Fivecoat three credits at The University of Arizona. The credits can be transferred to another school, if Fivecoat chooses not to enroll at the U of A.

It's sort of like taking one AP class, except you don't have to take the AP exam to earn the college credit. "This is helping me discover what field I'd like to go into and it's giving me opportunities that I would have never had before," Fivecoat says.

Normally it would cost about $2,000 to earn three college credits. Students are only paying $475. "In the long run it's going to save me so much money," Fivecoat says.

The goal is to get more students interested in STEM programs at the university level. "I think in terms of employment it's a very promising field," says Bioscience Teacher Margaret Wilch. "It can be applied to medicine, or it can be applied to entrepreneurial drug development."

The bioscience lab at Tucson High School is filled with high-tech equipment, much like what you would see at a U of A lab. "The students get to experience authentic science," Wilch says. "They get excited and they realize that it's not just out of the text book."

Even though Sorrel isn't sure if a career in science is for her, this gives her a chance to experiment and earn college credit at the same time.

Right now the bioscience college level classes are being offered to TUSD students at Tucson High School and Pueblo Magnet High School, but TUSD hopes to bring the classes to more high schools in the future.

"We need to give them the opportunity to leave here knowing what career path they'd like to take so they can be better prepare," says Charles McCollum, TUSD's Interim Director of Career and Technical Education.

The bioscience program is currently one of about 50 programs in TUSD's Career and Technical Education. About 200 students are enrolled in the bioscience program.

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