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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

2Canyon Ridge STEAM Night Poster

Guest Author: Ester Skiera

Just like parents who are proud of their kids, Canyon Ridge is proud of its students and their achievement. To show their pride, the school presents STEAM Night at Canyon Ridge. The event is the school’s signature school wide (K-8) event. The event is all about the students and the work they’ve done in the school year. “It’s about the Science they do, the Technology they use, the Engingeering they participate in, the Arts that are integrated, and the Mathematics they incorporate into all of it,” says Jeremy St. Germain, Assistant Principal.

In its third school, the school is not lack of STEAM enthusiasts. The students are excited to show how all the aspects of STEAM can be incorporated into their daily lives today and in the future. “The best part of the event is the students who display their work and show off their hands-on experiments and technology experiences. The best information during the event comes directly from the students,” St. Germain explains.

The students in Canyon Ridge is lucky, the school is so committed to STEAM. For the purpose, the school also works with Arizona SciTech Festival. The collaboration allows Canyon Ridge to broaden its sources, and give the school more connections to make with STEM type programs, people, and resources that could further the education of the students.

“Arizona Science Center has come out and done family activities for our families during our event the past two years and we plan to have them this year. We also want to highlight all of the student work that will be on display and explained by the students,” St Germain adds.

School is the place to learn about things that matter in life, and STEAM is one of them. But getting the students’ interest in STEAM field could be a challenge. STEAM Night at Canyon Ridge is really a good way to make the students realize how STEAM is not just lessons taught in class rooms. After all, the students have a chance to show the work they have completed. How excited is for middle grade students to have their own grade Science Fair? And to get involved in family STEM activities presented by Arizona Science Center?

To make the event successful, visitors are very important. So, let’s plan on attending the event, to see and participate along with Canyon Ridge as they showcase of sites and projects presented by students. And let’s hope the school continues to carry on the event for many years to come.

STEAM Night @ Canyon Ridge School takes place on March 12, 2015 at Canyon Ridge School.

2single springsnail partic (3)

Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Celebrate the Arizona SciTech Festival at the Phoenix Zoo for Conservation Science Night, Friday, March 13, from 6 – 8 pm. This year’s Phoenix Zoo Conservation Science Night is focused on “Who is a Conservation Scientist?” The event is for all ages, and designed to feel what it’s like to be doing the work of a conservation scientist. Community Engagement Manager, Sarena Gill describes, “Attendees will participate in interactive activity stations that highlight the science and skills involved in conservation, engaging with various conservation scientists and learning about the local species on which the Phoenix Zoo Conservation focuses.”

Participants will learn about data collection and data modeling that’s done as part of the Phoenix Zoo’s own research work.  It may surprise some to know that the Zoo participates in both local and global conservation efforts. At the local level, they are working to maintain healthy and self-sustaining managed setting populations of multiple endangered species natively found throughout Arizona. Current work relates to the Black-footed ferret, the Chiricahua leopard frog, the Gila topminnow, the Narrow-headed gartersnake, the California floater, the Desert pupfish, the Mount Graham red squirrel and the Springsnail. On a global scale, their mission is to provide experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.

Gabby Hebert, director of education at the Phoenix Zoo explains, “This event is a collaboration between the Zoo’s Education and Conservation Science Departments. Actual scientists will be there, showing the research work they do in the lab and in the field. Kids learn scientists are real people, doing what they care about.”

So come on out to meet real conservation scientists and try your hand at conservation science activities, including:

  • Spotlight a black-footed ferret just like it’s done in the wild
  • Help collect behavioral data on Mount Graham red squirrels
  • Test your snail counting skills
  • Make a pledge for conservation
  • And much, much more!

(No live animals will be part of the activities – these are threatened and endangered species!)

The event is free, but space is limited. Advanced registration is required. Call 602-914-4333 to reserve your spot today!

2futureInnovatorsNight2014MichelleHigginsEd (3)

Guest Author:  Debbie Gubernick, science writer, Arizona SciTech; DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

It’s a simple premise with powerful results: engage K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research projects to enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF) is celebrating 60 years of providing students across Southern Arizona with the opportunity to experience first-hand the thrill and excitement of scientific research.

Over 1,800 research projects will be showcased at this year’s Cox Future Innovators Night, held at the Tucson Convention Center Exhibition Hall on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The projects, selected from 75,000 entries, represent the work of K-12 students from seven counties and 22 cities across Southern Arizona.

Cox Future Innovators Night, an Arizona SciTech Signature Event, celebrates the students’ work with an evening of hands-on science and engineering demonstrations, raffles, and a treasure hunt. The research projects will be on display in the exhibition hall, along with exhibitor booths and a submarine.

In addition, the Dune Sea Garrison will appear in costume as Star Wars characters. Michelle Higgins, SARSEF’s Director of Development, noted that an interest in science fiction can influence later career choices:

Talking about future innovators, there are so many engineers that were inspired by Star Trek and … Star Wars. That’s huge, that’s part of the legacy of STEM.

Admission to Cox Future Innovators Night is free and Cox Communications, a proud supporter of STEM learning in Arizona, is delighted to provide free parking at the TCC for the event.

SARSEF and Cox want everyone to experience the exciting possibilities that STEM learning presents to our state. So parents, bring your children. STEM employers, get a peek at your future workforce. Community members, see the science that Southern Arizona’s children are exploring in their classes. Be ready to create comets. Mix potions. Touch live animals. Generate electricity. And have a smile ready for your Storm trooper photo op. Discover how SARSEF is building and preparing Arizona’s next generation of STEM researchers.


Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

The party’s not over when the sun goes down!  At STEAMtastic and Star Party, that only means the event migrates from the building to the parking lot. The reason is, the Phoenix Astronomical Society and the PVCC Astronomy Faculty have high-powered telescopes out to view the night skies, and both of the towns, Cave Creek and Carefree have dark sky ordinances for excellent stargazing at the Black Mountain campus. And, visitors are welcome to observe. How awesome is that?

But wait, what’s the event about? STEAMtastic is an event designed to promote science in everyday life, centered in the Cave Creek/Carefree area. The community event brings Paradise Valley Community College at Black Mountain together with Cave Creek Unified School District and many local businesses together to provide hands-on experiments showcasing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

“Our event is different in that it is just outright awesome! All of the activities are hands-on and run by college and K-12 students and faculty, and businesses in our community. We have a glow-in-the-dark room, life-sized angry birds and molecular gastronomy, which means there are things to eat. The event is not only for kids. We have a 21-and-older room where adults can learn to brew beer, and see how to kick-up your party with color changing drinks and mixology tips,” explains Loretta Mondragon, site manager – PVCC at Black Mountain.

For school-age kids, the event is also as special. It gives them clarity of how STEAM works as an integral part of everyday life. “All kids have played the game Angry Birds, but they might not realize the physic and math needed to advance to the next level. STEAM activities can help young students understand how fun science and math can be,” Mondragon says.

In its third year, the STEAMtastic and Star Party understands how to capture the audience’s interests. “The event is not a traditional science fair, a ‘look don’t touch’ event. All of the activities are designed for hands-on and participation. The event also doesn’t leave you trying to remember how to do an activity once you’ve left; at the event you receive the secret pass on how to create the activities at home,” she says. Of course, all for the reason so visitors participate and enjoy the event. “We hope families, friends, and community come out to enjoy the afternoon through the eyes of science,” she adds.

So take your adult self to see the event, and bring the kids with you. You get to brew beer and taste the foods, the kids have a chance to participate in numbers of activities. And if you feel like going on with the party, the Star Party waits for you to present you another fun experience of STEAM. Besides, who doesn’t love stargazing?

STEAMtastic and Star Party takes place in Black Mountain Campus on March 12, 2015 from 4:00pm to 7:pm (activities and demos) and 7:00pm to 10:00pm (Star Party)


Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer Arizona SciTech

It’s full STEAM ahead at Casa Grande Union High School District for their fourth annual SciTech Festival!

The CGUHSD SciTech festival is focused on engagement, with a “maker section” spanning submissions from students throughout the day and culminating in a single work. Activity stations will be positioned throughout various hands-on areas, with student leadership and participation on full display!

Outside guest partnerships will help students connect their high school learning and choices, their options at Arizona colleges and universities and their employability in high-tech and high-touch industry throughout the state. Organizers have selected partners with amazing insights for students, sharing not just what they do, but how students can find a pathway to learn and achieve.

The CGUHSD SciTech Festival takes place Friday, March 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Union High School 2730 N. Trekell Road in Casa Grande.

CGUHSD has been a part of the Arizona SciTech Festival since its inception and hosted the first Pinal County School SciTech event. The festival will help students connect to STEAM across multiple disciplines. CGUHSD students are excited to share what they have learned and to provide experiential opportunities to others. With the Maker movement, CGUHSD will experiment with a collaborative between students focused in the arts and sciences.

Organizers hope that participants will cement their own understanding through presentations and speaking with other students and guests, in a spirit of mutual learning. Attendees will develop new interests, ideas and pathways for STEAM in Casa Grande, in Pinal County, and across Arizona!

CGUHSD wants stakeholders to know that STEAM is an undertaking that improves the foundation of Arizona’s society and economy. This festival showcases how STEAM learning connects and empowers Arizona students in the competitive contemporary economy.


Guest Writer: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Lone Mountain Elementary, an A+ school located in Cave Creek, Arizona celebrates its fourth annual math and science night. They are known for their awesome, “stem”sational teachers, but during this special event, young prodigies will step into their teachers’ shoes to show off their knowledge and skills with exciting STEM happenings going on right here in the great State of Arizona! These under-age teachers are reeved up and ready to shine!

This creative “teacher-student” staff will introduce new math and science concepts while presenting problems for attendees to solve.  Because they are creative educators, they will be encouraging, but will not “solve” the problems for their visitors.  Different stations will be set up throughout the school so attendees will enjoy a one-on-one experience with each qualified, young educator.

Lone Mountain Elementary cave creek (3)Last year participants found out how you could to step on six dozen eggs at once and not break one!  This year there is something to new to do with eggs that is just as “eggs”citing! Make a hypothesis about things you never even considered.  Learn fun ways to collect, record and present data.  You will think, explore, sort, color, cut, and PLAY!

This is guaranteed to be a fun evening for the whole family.  No experience is required for participants and the final result will be a great learning experience for all!

The excitement will be happening from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2015 at Lone Mountain Elementary School located at 5250 E. Montgomery Rd. in Cave Creek, Arizona.

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Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, writer, Arizona SciTech Festival 

The Musical Instrument Museum will soon be humming with performers and instruments from around the world at String Break!

Attendees of all ages can enjoy music, instruments and culture while examining the ways the science of sound influences instrument design and music performance.

Family Days at MIM:String Break with a Side of Science will offer three chances each day to see a special demonstration of the giant Octobasse, as well as two family-friendly STEM tours each day in the science of sound will play out on a variety of stringed instruments. Have fun with rare instruments, musical crafts, local musicians and science-based activities—all with the theme of “string.”

From 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. each day, ASU graduate students will demonstrate the newest equipment and experiments in electronic sound and music!

MIM hosts the third annual String Break from March 21-22 (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily) at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix.

Visithttp://mim.org/exhibits/all-events/ for the schedule of events each day.

All activities are included with paid museum admission and free for Circle of Friends donors, except admission to the special exhibition Beyond the Beat: Drums of the World (additional $7). 

Meet special guests from Fender Guitar Company and Roberto-Venn Luthiery School.
Listen to music from:

  • The Jam Pak Blues ’n’ Grass Neighborhood Band
  • Phoenix Conservatory of Music
  • Romen Buffalo and the Loyal Order Bluegrass Band
  • Rancho Solano Preparatory School’s String Ensemble

Touch instruments at the “Petting Zoo” (hosted by Jam Pak).
Make a simple stringed instrument and design a paper guitar.
Take a silly family picture at the MIM Photo Booth.
Hear a sweet story with the Story Time Band.
Explore stringed instruments on a Family Tour.
Experiment with technology and the science of sound.
Play a ukulele at the Instrument Spotlight.

2Heard Elementary School

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

It must be a relief for parents of Heard Elementary students who care about STEaM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) that the school has afterschool STEaM clubs. The clubs are for students in grades 4-8 and they meet once a week afterschool. “We have teamed up with IBM and they are supporting the clubs with volunteers from their company to help guide the students during their club time,” says Anthony Pietrangeli, principal of Heard Elementary.

Running STEaM clubs at school is a great idea. But what’s the best way to show off the students’ achievements in the clubs? By having a STEaM Showcase! Heard Elementary STEaM showcase is about having the students showcase their STEaM skills and talents that they developed during their afterschool club time, alongside of business leaders in the fields of STEaM careers.

“The efforts of the club meetings will be showcased with booth presentations at the SciTech Festival event. Along with the student showcase presentations, the event will also include business/professionals in the area of STEaM. All will have showcase presentations available for the participants to view and interact with,” Pietrangeli explains.

The event offers an opportunity for school-aged kids along with community to see the STEAM connections that exist across multiple arenas. For example: the students see the biology with the presentation from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, they watch the engineering with the Lego robotics exhibits, and they connect the arts by observing IBM brings technology, face painters, and balloon artists. “The event brings a layer of fun to the STEaM focus,” says Pietrangeli.

In its second year, Heard Elementary STEaM Showcase is back with more activities. In addition to the student showcase presentations, the business partners from STEaM industries also display interactive presentations. The student clubs also share performances, from the Dance Club, Guitar Club, Chorus Club, DJ Club, Band and Orchestra Club. A student art show is on display with the student artists present.

But what makes the showcase really special and a guarantee of fun for the visitors? The students’ presentations are being delivered alongside of IBM (and other STEaM career professionals) hand-on activities for the participants to interact with. In this event, students and professional are completely blended. “It becomes complicated to identify who the students are and who the professional presenters are,” Pietrangeli says.

So why don’t we see what they offer, participate, and have fun. That way we support them as well as we can encourage our kids to witness their achievement. Hopefully that inspires our kids to make their own achievement in STEaM areas too.

Heard Elementary STEaM Showcase takes place on March 13, 2015 at the Heard Elementary School.


Guest Author: Michael Mackowski 

SpaceUp Phoenix is a space exploration “un-conference” that is an element of the Arizona Science and Technology Festival. This all-day event is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2015 on the campus of Mesa Community College (MCC). SpaceUp Phoenix is being co-sponsored by the local chapters of the National Space Society, the Moon Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and MCC. The event will be held in the Physical Sciences Building (near the Planetarium on Dobson Road), beginning at 9:00 am and will run until 5:00 pm. Registration is $5 and covers materials and light refreshments.

This will be a “meet-up” type of event where all attendees are invited to give a demo, present a talk, or participate in a panel or roundtable. No real expertise is needed, as participants can simply pose a question to start a discussion. There will be no detailed agenda in advance, as presenters fill out a program schedule spontaneously at the event using sticky notes on a schedule grid. Think of it as a “pot luck” conference where everyone brings something to share. It will be an informal, fun, environment and everyone interested in space exploration is encouraged to attend.

Dr. Jim Bell, Planetary Scientist from ASU will be the keynote speaker at 9:15 am. We have invited other engineers and scientists from local companies and universities to participate, so there will space science and technology expertise in attendance to interact with in a way unlike any other conference you have attended. Attendees don’t have to stay for the entire day as it will be very informal.

On-line registration is now available at the SpaceUp Phoenix website and we encourage people to sign up in advance so the organizers can plan accordingly.

For more information contact Michael Mackowski at info@SpaceUpPhx.org or see:




By: Debbie Gubernick, writer, Arizona SciTech, DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

For four years, Arizona SciTech has been in the forefront of encouraging innovation and collaboration across the state. By linking Arizona’s business, education, nonprofit, and governmental agencies, the statewide Arizona SciTech Festival now encompasses over 800 events throughout the Grand Canyon State.

This year, it was time to expand that vision of linking communities and testing technological boundaries. The Arizona SciTech kickoff press conference was unlike any previous one. In an outstanding display of technological knowhow, over 140 STEM supporters gathered at nine locations across Arizona on February 11, 2015 for the first-ever Arizona SciTech virtual press conference.

There were many hurdles to overcome to present the event, from securing access to equipment to finding potential remote hosting locations. This was where the University of Arizona’s Arizona Telemedicine Program proved invaluable.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) has provided comprehensive telemedicine services to every corner of the state for almost twenty years. Pete Yonsetto, ATP’s Video Conferencing Administrator, explained why ATP was a perfect fit for the proposed virtual press conference:

Our program has lots of experience with the technology to bring remote sites in via video.  We have the expertise and infrastructure hardware to have multiple virtual events happening simultaneously.  We do not dictate how end users utilize our resources, but facilitate the events for them.  Our organization was perfect for the SciTech event in that we have a nice facility in T-Health for presenters and we have the equipment to bring in many remote endpoints. The collaboration and technology that was presented on the 11th was a good example in how you can bring communities together via video. 

Once ATP was brought onboard as a collaborator, locations for the video conference’s remote sites were established. ATP staff had to visit each location to test and verify that the equipment would function correctly. Chris Martin, Assistant Director of ATP’s T-Health Institute described why preparation is essential:

There were a few things that helped make this a successful and smooth virtual press conference, but the most important was testing beforehand.  We had to do a lot of testing before the actual event took place.  Pete Yonsetto and I had to test each site that was interested in being part of the conference.  We wanted to make sure their video systems were able to communicate with our video systems.  Doing this beforehand is critically important to the quality of the videoconference. This limited the number of technical issues that we would have to deal with on the day of the event.

ATP’s T-Health Institute in Phoenix served as the press conference’s hub, seamlessly connecting to eight remote sites in Scottsdale, Tucson, Clarkdale, Safford, Mesa, Avondale, Chandler, Tempe, and Buckeye. In keeping with Arizona SciTech’s goal of uniting business, education, community leaders, and government to support STEM throughout Arizona, speakers included key Arizona SciTech foundational business and industry partners, college administrators, a student, seven mayors, and city officials from four cities. Seats at the remote sites were filled to capacity by community STEM supporters. In fact, the Tucson location at ATP’s headquarters required a second room to handle the overflow crowd—in all, twenty-four Tucsonans packed two rooms.

It was especially exciting to have the enthusiastic support of Arizona’s mayors. As ATP’s Associate Director of Facilities Janet Major commented:

Mayors are the folks who are part of the solution for places that have no bandwidth.  There is still a lot of disparity – and often it takes bandwidth to support STEM learning.  All of AZ should be “equal” but it’s not, in terms of telecommunications.

One of the mayors who noticed both the press conference’s collaborative use of videoconferencing and the implications of that technology was Tucson’s Mayor Jonathan Rothschild:

I was impressed with the use of technology, coordinated statewide, to get the message out to so many different venues. This speaks to what the State possesses, and our potential.

From the collaboration of partners across the state to the demonstration of what technological innovation can mean to Arizona, the Arizona ScTech press conference was an impressive event. As Al Magg, of MaggCommPlus expressed it:

Heck, this is a STEM program in itself…we used technology for technology’s sake…which I loved. Sometimes folks are afraid to try to new things…and Dave [Drennon, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Arizona Commerce Authority] and Jeremy [Babendure, Executive Director at Arizona SciTech] were fearless.

Below is a complete list of the mayors and speakers participating in the press conference:

  • Jeremy Babendure, Executive Director at Arizona SciTech
  • Diane Joens, Mayor of Cottonwood
  • Phoenix—Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix
  • Jonathan Rothshild, Mayor of Tucson
  • John Giles, Mayor of Mesa
  • Jim Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale
  • Kenn Weise, Mayor of Avondale
  • Georgia Lord, Mayor of Goodyear
  • Christian Price, Mayor of Maricopa
  • Brian Sherman, Senior Vice President at Arizona Commerce Authority
  • Victor Gonzalez, Economic Development Manager at Town of Sahuarita
  • James Perry, Dean of Yavapai College
  • Ryan Rapier, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Mt Graham Regional Medical Center
  • Phil McBride, Dean of Instruction at Eastern Arizona College
  • Sean Wenham, Community Development Manager at Freeport McMoRan Inc.
  • Bob Witwer, Vice President at Honeywell Aerospace
  • RJ Muller, Community Relations Manager at Cox Communications
  • Maria Castro, National Coordinating Committee at United We DREAM
  • Rick Heumann, Council Member, City of Chandler
  • Robin Arredondo-Savage, Council Member, City of Tempe,
  • Jennifer Rogers, Public Information Officer & Marketing and Communications Manager at City of Buckeye
  • Sari Custer, Director of Educational Events & Integration at Arizona Science Center

Watch the Arizona SciTech virtual press conference online at https://streaming.biocom.arizona.edu/event/?id=25705&play=1&format=hd