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Yuma County

Woodard science students excel during pandemic

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - After a full year of not being in the classroom, two science students here at Woodard Junior High have successfully made it to the state science fair.

The challenge of not being in-person did not phase these kids.

Students Ethan Grew and Leilani Beltran worked day and night on their projects.

“I found out about this idea about erosion and how to stop it with different types of soils. So I used that as a project. I never knew I would make it all the way to this state,” Ethan said.

Both were attending meetings and spent time working on their own time throughout the fall and winter months.

“It's mind-blowing because I never knew that I was able to go. I felt like okay maybe it's just maybe third or second that's ok, but I never knew that I was actually going to go to state. Like I was mind blown I started literally crying in tears,” Leilani described.

Their teacher, Vicki Peterson, explains how the pandemic made teaching more complicated.

“Usually I take students that were working on the project one day in class, and it's a requirement, whereas these students decided that even though the situation was crazy and hard they were going to do this anyway on their own time," Mrs. Peterson said.

Before their competition at the state level, both students were preparing for the Yuma County Science Fair, which took place back in February.

The dedicated students advanced to compete in the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (ASEF) in Phoenix, even winning awards for their projects.

“This challenge has been very hard since I haven't been able to do it in-person for the most part. So, it was harder than I thought it would be because I wouldn't get as much help from the teacher than I would in person,” Ethan added.

The students even have plans brewing for the future.

“I'm not surprised that they would already have some ideas of things, other things that they noticed from the project that they did, or something else that you observed in the surroundings, yet they're very scientific thinkers,” Mrs. Peterson explained.

The Woodard principal says that this is an example of what can be achieved when amazing students and teachers collaborate.

Local News / Top Stories / Yuma Education
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Cody Lee

Cody Lee joined 13 On Your Side and KYMA News 11 in March 2020, but he’s no stranger to Arizona. He grew up in the Phoenix area and enjoys everything Arizona has to offer.

Prior to moving to Yuma, he served as a News Video Editor at Arizona’s Family 3TV / CBS 5 in Phoenix.

Lee spent most of his life watching the news and discovering a passion for tv news journalism. After college, Lee received an opportunity in Las Vegas, Nevada at KSNV News 3 and worked on longtime local morning news program “Wake Up with the Wagners” and the #1 rated weekend evening newscasts. He spent 3 years at KSNV, before moving on to a new experience in Sin City at KLAS 8 News Now.

Cody later moved to real estate marketing, until he returned back to his hometown of Phoenix.

Lee is excited to start this new journey, as a journalist, right here in Yuma and Imperial Valley. He starts his on-air duties in the midst of the devastating Coronavirus Pandemic.

When he is not reporting on the amazing people in his communities, you can catch him enjoying a hike or spending time exploring all the great things Yuma and the Valley are known for. He also enjoys relaxing at home, reading all the latest headlines – with his tabby cat, Oliver.

You can catch him on the air Wednesday thru Friday at 6pm and 10pm on CBS 13. On the weekends, at 5pm & 10pm on KYMA News 11 and 10pm on CBS 13.

Lee hopes to bring you factual and accurate reporting on stories that are impacting the people of our beautiful communities.

You can contact Cody at


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