December 29, 2006
EDCOUCH — Science is one of the most critical subjects Texas school administrators and teachers struggle with finding ways to boost students’ interests. But Tony Garza, principal of the Edcouch-Elsa school district’s Sixth Grade Campus, thinks he has found something to get his student’s attention: starting a club.
Garza, the Mile 17 North school’s principal since it opened four years ago, started its first Paleontology Club this year to help his students understand and get interested in the study of fossils and how they affect the Earth’s development.
The principal said it was important for the sixth-graders to get involved in something because it was a time of transition for them, from leaving elementary school to blossoming into middle school students. "I want to open up their eyes to different things," Garza said.
The club has nine students who said they all like science. The group began meeting twice a week in October and have so far glued wooden dinosaurs together and chiseled and hammered away at store-bought fossil replicas. "I think dinosaurs are cool," 12-year-old Kamicka Guerra said.
Members are using books, magazines and the Internet to create posters and write reports on dinosaurs. Garza said the finished posters would be placed in the school’s main hallway for other students to see. "It’s like history of the animals from prehistoric (times)," 11-year-old Jalisa Cuevas said. "They (dinosaurs) would look scary."
Eugene Salas, 11, said he became interested in the club because of dinosaur movies like Jurassic Park. He has the designation among his classmates as being the club’s Tyrannosaurus Rex expert. "Scientists still don’t know if they are cold blooded or warm blooded," Salas said.
One of the club’s goals is raising money to take a field trip to visit natural history museums in Austin. The group is gathering funds now selling ice cream after school. "They are hungry," Garza’s daughter, 11-year-old Kayla, said about her classmates.
The club’s students also stay busy in the school’s Student Council, Karate Club, band and mariachi. "But this club is better, of course," Salas said.