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Arizona Experience Store

Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

Submitted By: Joe Kullman, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University

A high-spirited group of more than 500 young students brought an exciting atmosphere. Anticipation and intensity were evident at the recent Arizona FIRST LEGO League (AZ FLL) state championship tournament.

Sixty-two teams of students ages 8 to 14 gathered at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. The robotics competition was designed to spark their interest and boost their basic skills. It involved science, technology, engineering and math.

It was the largest AZ FLL event ever. The event continued fast-paced growth for the education outreach program. The program has been managed for the past seven years by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Record-breaking year

Some teams that took top awards at a series of regional competitions. This led them to earn their way to the state tournament. They were among a record 335 teams to participate in AZ FLL activities in the past year. That’s four times the number of teams involved in 2008.

There were 176 school teams. This included 11 Girl Scouts troops teams and six neighborhood teams It also included five formed through the Si Se Puede (“Yes, It’s Possible”) Foundation. Also, there were nine teams of home-schooled students, and 17 others consisting of family members and friends. This totaled more than 2,000 Arizona students in all.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organization founded by renowned inventor Dean Kamen. FIRST develops programs to motivate students to choose opportunities in STEM fields. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To learn more about this event, click here.

2Midwestern University Logo

Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

The Brains Have It!”  If pondering the subject of how the human brain governs human behavior intrigues you, then come see some of Arizona’s top high school students compete in a Bee that focuses on the subject of neuroscience.  Midwestern University will host their 17th Annual Brain Bee on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at 5 p.m. in Cholla Hall, located at 19555 N. 59th Avenue, in Glendale, Arizona.  The Brain Bee is presented in partnership with the BHHS Legacy Foundation.

Piquing young people’s interest in science is always an exciting endeavor, but seeing interest from kids on a topic as complex as human neuroscience is another thing altogether!  Each year Midwestern welcomes enthusiastic students who thrive on pondering and questioning this very subject. Last year there were 190 registrations!

Midwestern University faculty and students serve as judges, question readers, timers, and scorekeepers for the Brain Bee, using the book Brain Facts, published by the Society for Neuroscience, as the source text. Questions run the gamut from identifying physical features of the brain itself, to naming brain disorders and diseases, and even surgical and medical practices that modify neural behaviors.

The Arizona Regional Brain Bee fits readily into the “Science” component of STEM education; but the immersion of engineering, technology, and math are also intertwined with the world of medicine.  Some of Arizona’s best and brightest high school students come together for this event to each year to be challenged about their knowledge and understanding  of the human organism, which reaches far beyond the simple and basic facts of physiology.  Last year three of the top Brain Bee finishers, in order, were Jaeyoung Kang and Vijeeth Guggilla from BASIS Chandler, and Anisha Ariff from BASIS Peoria.

One of the most exciting parts of the Arizona Regional Brain Bee is that the winner represents Arizona in the National Brain Bee Competition in Maryland.  This student will further qualify for a scholarship towards tuition at Midwestern University, should they decide to pursue healthcare as a career. Midwestern is excited to spark student interest in medicine and healthcare, offering programs in: pharmacy; health sciences; dentistry, optometry; veterinary; and osteopathic medicine.

The event promises to “bee” inspiring, as well as, educational for all! For more information, go to:  http://www.midwestern.edu or call 623.572.3215.

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

What’s the secret to the Sahuarita STEMtacular that people are anxious to see it come back for year two? Let’s see. The Sahuarita STEMtacular is an Arizona SciTech Signature Event organized by the Town of Sahuarita. The community-wide celebration includes Family Day at the Titan Missile Museum and ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center, the Science Passport Experience, and the SciTech Night Out at Sahuarita Lake Park and Rancho Sahuarita Clubhouse. It also features a demonstration of EMILY (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard), just to mention a few.

“Family and kids will be able to explore Sahuarita attractions and learn the importance of STEM education through interactive displays by local businesses,” says Debbi Al-Houssni, management analyst for Sahuarita Arizona. The Town of Sahuarita doesn’t work alone. They establish the Sahuarita STEMtacular with the support of the Sahuarita Unified School District and Rancho Sahuarita. And there are increases in the number of corporate sponsors. It is a fairly big event now, with 25 vendors providing interactive displays, workshops and demonstrations that will spark curiosity of over 1,200 middle-school age students.

For school students in grades 6-8, they can explore STEM and earn the chance to win prizes. The only thing they need to do is to check out every exhibit and win the prizes through their passport answers learned at the exhibits.

“We expect visitors to come away with a better appreciation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and how these fields of study are evident in various aspects of everyday life,” explains Al-Houssni.

As for the collaboration with Arizona SciTech Festival, Houssni states the event has already benefitted from the strong support and event planning participation of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

So let’s support the Sahuarita STEMtacular by coming to the event. Mark your calendar and take your family there. Besides, what’s not to love? Visitors not only get to learn and play, but also have a chance to bring home prizes!

The Sahuarita STEMtacular takes place Feb 8-13, 2015

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Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Who doesn’t like watching stars in a pitch-black sky? Stars are pretty. Stars are mysterious. If you’re into watching stars and objects in the sky, here’s an event to match your interest: C.O. Greenfield’s Star Party. Of course, it’s not just for fun. The event will focus on Space Science with the East Valley Astronomy Club sharing their high-powered telescopes to view objects in the sky and share their knowledge about the stars and planets with the students and the community.

“The purpose of the event is to continue to support the importance of STEM education as part of C.O. Greenfield School’s mission and STEM Initiative,” explains Jacob Baca from C.O. Greenfield School. Going onto its second year, the event is important for school-age kids because it gives them opportunity to learn about the topic of Space Science and Astronomy in a real world setting. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to make it an annual experience,” Baca says.

There is always a lot to learn from a STEM-related event, including the Star Party. For this particular event, the focus is seeing students, parents, and the community take part in observing the moon, planets, and stars with the help of the East Valley Astronomy Club, their volunteer astronomers, and the use of their state of the art computerized telescopes. “We hope that our visitors will have fun learning a little more about Space Science and expect them to know that we appreciate their participation with our school and school events,” Baca states.

For C.O. Greenfield School, there’s a mutual benefit for the school and Arizona SciTech Festival in raising STEM awareness. “Our event will help the Arizona SciTech Festival by allowing our community to become more aware about what SciTech Festival is, and how it is assisting in getting students, parents, and communities to recognize the importance of science-related occupations,” he adds.

STEM covers a lot of interests, from the making of chocolate (yes, there’s science in every bite of chocolate,!) to star gazing. Parents and students can choose the wide array of events signatured through the Arizona SciTech Festival. Most importantly, let’s support our children to excel in the area of STEM education by helping them realize how fun STEM can be. “We feel that all of the hands-on science and engineering activities will be beneficial to all of our visitors as they will be able to experience the advancements made with Science education and curriculum,” Baca says.

So, go ahead. Mark your calendar and find yourself and your school-age kids amazed of the greatness of Space Science. Roam around the school observatory and participate in engaging discussions with students from the school about their classroom project related to space science and technology. And of course, observe the stars and so many objects in the sky!

C.O. Greenfield’s Star Party takes place on Feb 12, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. 

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Science Writer: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Arizona teachers are constantly rising to the top when it comes to STEM! On February 21,their 3rd Annual STEM Arizona Education Collaborative Un-Conference.  The event will be held in Phoenix at the Alhambra School District Office.

Teachers from all disciplines and grade levels will gather to share insights, resources and new ideas revolving around the fascinating world of STEM.  It is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the abundant talent and creativity teachers have right here in the great state of Arizona.  The ultimate goal of these dynamic educators is find and develop new concepts and presentations to make science, technology, engineering, and math come to life in classrooms across the state, by introducing them in new, fun, and innovative ways.

The keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Jo Ann Vasquez, Co-Author of STEM Lesson Essentials – Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic

An Un-Conference does not determine the break- out sessions until the day of the event.  The attendees determine the topics they prefer for the three break- out sessions for each hour.  The event is focused on the needs of the attendees – not the organizers of the event.

While the event provides an abundance of current information about the world of STEM to be incorporated into the classroom, it is also a great opportunity for teachers around the state to develop new relationships.  These connections allow new interaction among teachers, thus broadening the resource pool and STEM supplementation ideas.

You can pre-register at https://www.azsta.org/node/947  or register on-site. Registration is $10.

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Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, Science Writer: Arizona SciTech

Coronado Elementary STEAM Night is ready to launch again!  It is a fantastic opportunity to find Arizona families busy communicating, creating and problem solving while honing their science, technology, engineering, and art and math skills.

The action begins on February 12th at 5:30 p.m. at Coronado School in Gilbert.  The event will run until 7 p.m.  This is the 2nd year that Art has been incorporated into the event, adding an even greater flare than last year.  Each grade level will be focusing on a specific aspect of STEAM.  .

The work of these young artists will be on display in the cafeteria.  Local businesses and programs will also join in with exciting hands-on activities for this year’s theme, “Water.”  Students will complete a passport as they move through the activities during the event.

The event involves the community and it helps to increase public understanding and new insights surrounding STEAM and how it is part of our everyday lives.

The company that designed the original Transformers will be visiting the campus with one of their cars, so that students and families can check them out in person. A spokesperson will also be on site to explain how STEM skills are crucial in almost all work environments today.

The mission will be accomplished when attendees leave with a thirst for more STEAM. So climb aboard for take-off!

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Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer

It’s said that “good things come in small packages.” However, ASU’s  Annual Night of the Open Door is no small event. And, just as its title states, it is “OPEN” to everyone! ASU, host to this an amazing night featuring the best STEAM has to offer, plans on going live with its event on February 28th, from 4-9 p.m. at the Tempe Campus on Mill & University (https:opendoor.asu.edu).

The Open Door Events started at the Tempe Campus four years ago, along with its founding partner, Arizona SciTech Festival. It quickly expanded to four campuses with each campus now having its own characteristics and specialties, which include fantastic activities and experiences for all attendees. More than 1,000 top-notch faculty and students will be on hand with more than 100 hands-on activities, talks, tours, and performances that will kick-off a festival to remember in 2015.

This is a university-wide opportunity to go behind the scenes and discover everything that ASU has to offer in cutting-edge science, math, art, humanities, physics, space exploration, green energy, pottery-making, language, culture, engineering, biomedicine, computer science and more.

Some popular favorites include:

  • Tours of the Biodesign Institute and ASU Supercomputer  (usually closed to the public)
  • Hands-on activities, video games and demos, hosted by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Biodesign Institute’s Fun Zone, and School of Life Sciences, School of Math and Statistical Sciences, and School of Earth and Space Exploration.
  • Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies activities (poster and event information for ACMRS)
  • 20+ Mini-language lessons, henna tattoos, crossword and performances in the School of International Letters and Cultures and School of English.

Some of the new events include: 

  • The KAKEHASHI Project – The Bridge for Tomorrow – which debuts a digital storytelling video created by 23 students who studied in Japan for 10 days.
  • Two exciting hands-on workshops: Ancient Uses of Clay and a Rumba and Bolero Spanish Guitar Workshop (bring your own guitar!)
  • The very popular ASU insect collection and its 1.8 million bugs

(moved off campus to an amazing new facility at: 734 W. Alameda Drive in Tempe)

  • Air Devils: Student group in engineering shows how to design and make an unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft. Also hosting flight simulator and quadcopter demos.
  • Zombie hoard at 4:30 p.m. 

The event allows for creative enterprise stretching across all types of fields and disciplines. This STEAM mindset fuels discovery and makes our nation, and our community stronger, and more able to address the challenges of the future. There’s nothing like bringing together so many innovative people and children, from all walks of life, interested in the arts, sciences, math, technology and engineering, to excite and inspire, as well as, create positive change.

The focus of this amazing event is to prove that learning STEAM is fun, challenging, and exciting and that it is the basis for so many things around us that we take for granted. It is a time to see imaginations ignited and faces light up, whether the subject is the tiniest virus, a language, medieval art, dance or space travel.  The emphasis is on getting participants to dream big and to know that their public universities are there to help pursue those dreams.

Each year the event leaves and even bigger footprint on the community.  Following a previous event, Dr. Jeremy Babendure, founder of AZ SciTech Festival stated, “The feedback from Night of the Open Door was overwhelmingly positive, from both the volunteers and the attendees.  A number of those attending wrote to President Crow, with high praise about the event.”

If Feb. 28th doesn’t work for people, there are other ASU Open Door activities to join in:

  • Night of the OpenDoor @ Downtown Phoenix - Jan. 31, 4-8 p.m.
  • Night of the OpenDoor @ Polytechnic – Feb. 20, 5-8:30 p.m.
  • OpenDoor @ West – March 28, 11a.m.-2 p.m.

Map: https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/mapsparking

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/about

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/events/ancient-uses-clay-hands-workshop

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/events/rumba-and-bolero-spanish-guitar-workshop

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/events/air-devils

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/events/zombie-scholar-assembly-undead-romp

https://asuevents.asu.edu/sites/default/files/NOD_2015.pdf, https://asuevents.asu.edu/experience-magic-middle-ages-and-renaissance

https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/gallery

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

How do you make Super Bowl Weekend even more exciting? With a STEM kick-off, of course! The 2015 Arizona SciTech Festival has its own kick-off on Super Bowl Weekend when Connect2STEM sets up downtown at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix campus at 5th Street and Van Buren, just blocks from Super Bowl Central.

Sixty tables in five zones will immerse children in the amazing innovations and discoveries happening in Arizona. From gaming stations to outer space, from exploring nature to delving into human bodies and the brain, Connect2STEM brings the wonder of learning and discovery to Arizona’s families.

The UA College of Medicine in Phoenix joined forces with Cox Communications to create this year’s event. Allison Otu, the College’s director of Outreach and Communications, discussed working with the Arizona SciTech Festival. “We wanted to make sure that we could collaborate because the SciTech Festival brings so much to an event. But it wasn’t until later that we realized it would be the official kick-off Signature Event. We’ve been talking to Arizona SciTech Festival Executive Director, Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., for years about doing something big and exciting, so it’s neat to have kind of a dream come true.”

In addition to providing free wi-fi to everyone at Connect2STEM, Cox is also setting up the Cox Gig Zone, where kids will play video games and talk with Software Engineers to find out what they can do right now to prepare themselves for that career. Cox is also bringing their Flogos machine, using helium and a compressed air bubble generator to send bubbles forming the Cox logo aloft every 10 seconds throughout the event.

A team from the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab will bring outer space to Phoenix by way of the OSIRIS-REx mission in the Outer Space/Technology Zone. OSIRIS-REx launches in 2016, on a 14-year roundtrip mission to the asteroid Bennu, and its principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, will talk about the mission and the questions the team hopes to answer.

Master gardeners will be on hand in the Nature Zone’s Wildcat Water Lab, giving kids a chance to learn about the natural world while getting wet and dirty.

Children will explore human bodies up close in the Bioscience Zone, where a synthetic cadaver, the same type used by medical students, will be available to touch and feel.

The Concussion Discussion: Take the Brain Challenge will offer kids six interactive booths to explore how concussions affect brain function. In one booth, children will don vision-distorting glasses that simulate vision changes after a concussion, and then try to throw a football. While children visit the stations, parents will learn the good, bad, and ugly about concussions, including strategies for keeping children safe from head injuries while playing sports.

Speaking of sports, Wilbur the Wildcat will be in the Wildcat Spirit Zone: Bear Down! Get pictures taken in a photo booth and bounce in the UA inflatable.

So what can people expect at Connect2STEM? Answered Otu, “When people walk up, they’ll get to see everything from a DJ to a popcorn machine to a synthetic cadaver. So everywhere you turn, it’s going to look a little bit different!”

The Connect2STEM event takes place on Saturday, January 31, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. For more information, LINK here: http://azscitech.com/scitech_event/connect2stem/

UA, COX Communications Team Up for Family-Friendly Event Guaranteed to Inspire

Contact: April Fischer, (602) 827-2585

PHOENIX – The University of Arizona and COX Communications have partnered to bring science and hands-on learning to downtown Phoenix just in time for the Super Bowl. Connect2STEM is the official kickoff for the 2015 Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide celebration of science, technology, engineering and math held annually in February and March.

“Connect2STEM” will take place on the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix campus at 5th Street and Van Buren, just blocks from Super Bowl Central, on Saturday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

STEM enthusiasts will learn about the science of creating a video game, see real space equipment and touch synthetic cadavers. Food Trucks will be available on-site.

The Jan. 31 event is open to the public and will feature five hands-on activity zones designed for all ages.

  • Bioscience Zone: Touch, feel and discover the human body like never before. See the biomechanics of a life sized synthetic cadaver that can talk, breathe, bleed and sweat.  Free giveaways at the Banner Children’s Go Kids program booth focused on health, fitness and nutrition.
  • Concussion Discussion: Tackle the Brain Challenge Expo – featuring a vision distorter, eye-hand coordination drills and the Banner Concussion Center.
  • Nature Zone: Get down and dirty with master gardeners and splash around in the Wildcat Water Lab.
  • Outer Space/Technology Zone: Calling all amateur astronomers! Learn about OSRIS-Rex, a mission to bring pieces of the asteroid “Bennu” back to earth.
  • COX Gig Zone: Cox Communications is providing a free WIFI hotspot for all guests.  Come enjoy gaming stations, coloring contests and giveaways.  Learn about the science of GIGABLAST services getting to your home. Be on the lookout for a special appearance by Digeez!
  • Wildcat Spirit Zone: Bear Down! Take a picture in the photo booth, meet Wilbur the Wildcat, mingle with alumni and bounce around on the UA inflatable.

Judy Bernas, associate vice president of university relations at UA in Phoenix, said Connect2STEM will inspire young people to learn more about science careers.

“We hope to bring excitement from across the country to downtown Phoenix,” she said. “Connect2STEM will encouragement enthusiasm in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Susan Anable, Vice President of Public Affairs for Cox Communications, couldn’t agree more.

“With downtown Phoenix as center stage for the Super Bowl, Connect2STEM is a tremendous opportunity to shine a spot light on all of the great things happening to advance STEM visibility. Connect2STEM will add a fun and learning opportunity for valley residents and visitors alike,” Anable explained.

“We think this is a great time to bring people to downtown Phoenix and teach them all there is to learn about science, technology, engineering and math,” Bernas said.

Just 2 Blocks Away From Football Activities

The Connect2STEM event is just two blocks away from the Verizon Super Bowl Central (VSBC) that will take over and transform Downtown Phoenix into the epicenter of Super Bowl activities with 1 million visitors expected to attend. The free, family-friendly, football-themed outdoor fan campus will be the hub of fan, sponsor, media and NFL activities for the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIX. See the complete list of Fan Activities & Attractions.

Visit www.Connect2STEM.comfor detailed event information.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007 and currently has 301 students training to be physicians. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains individuals to become exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders who are life-long learners and inquisitive scholars and who will embrace professionalism, innovation and collaboration to optimize health and healthcare for all. 

Guest Interviewer: Ann Marie Cunningham, for AZ SciTech

Interviewee: Jesus “Rudy” Rodriguez, administrative services general manager, Cottonwood, AZ

How did your job get you involved in AZSciTechFest?

I have a financial background, mainly in accounting.  I moved to Cottonwood from Texas to become the City’s Finance Director, overseeing the budget, purchasing, and transit.  When necessary, I sit in for the City Manager.   Our Mayor wanted to get three northern Arizona communities involved in AZSciTechFest: Jerome, Sedona, and Cottonwood.  The Festival fell in my lap!

How did that work out?

Last year, Jerome, which only has 350 residents, wasn’t involved.  Neither was Sedona, which has red rocks and hiking trails and attracts many visitors. But Cottonwood saw what we could do! Our first year was really successful in bringing people together!

From Saturday to Monday of the AZSciTechFest, we had more than 1,000 Passports turned in. You had to go to at least six events and get your Passport stamped. At our high school auditorium, we had the most visitors: 600 kids.

There were two sets of prizes.  The Passports went into a lottery, one for those under 21, and a second one for those over 21.  The under-21 prizes were six tablets.  The over-21 prizes were two baskets of local wine – we pride ourselves on our wine here – and a stay at a boutique hotel.   This year, we’ll have more tablets, iPods, and other electronics as prizes.

My sons are 15 and 16, and they were at almost every event.  (My daughter is 30 and works for a NASA contractor.) My 15-year old is a tinkerer; he wanted to be in front, asking questions.  Some parents went to every event, too.

What kind of events did you have?

We emphasized the STEM involved in all aspects of running the City.  For instance, we devoted Monday to a free public-safety event.  The police and the fire department brought Hummers, robotics, infrared cameras – all their high-tech equipment.

Other partners were our airport and utilities.  There was a Rover from Prescott College.

Our gas and electricity companies showed how they sort and monitor recyclables and land fill, and how they ship waste out.   They demonstrated how e-waste can be reused.

At the high school, there was a big emphasis on STEM careers, in engineering, medical rehabilitation.  There was 3-D printing.  Students were demonstrating a wave machine!

What are your plans for 2015?

Cottonwood is known as “the commercial hub of the Verde Valley.”  Certainly we have all the big chain stores, like Walmart and Home Depot.  But I’ve lived here 15 years, and I didn’t know that several world-class companies are located here:  Embry-Riddle, Guardian Air, laser light, molding graphics and plastics, several engineering companies.   Since the festival, now I’m aware of these companies, and I see them all over the place.  We tend to drive the same streets every day, and take things for granted.

The schools have been very responsive.  This year, we’ll have a Science Week, where kids can show off their STEM projects to a bigger audience.  We didn’t involve the arts last year.  We’re at the planning stage now to do that.  The schools will take the lead, since they have arts programs, both manual and digital.  Cottonwood is a literary place.  We have 15 or 20 local authors and the public libraries hold authors’ forums.  It would be easy to involve them.

And of course, we want to encourage Jerome and Sedona to hold events in their own communities.

What will you do differently?

Last year, I had a hard time delegating because I wanted to get things done.  I took on too much—the Passport, flyers, posters, everything!–,and at one point, I had to take some time off so I wouldn’t collapse with exhaustion.   Don’t work your fingers to the bone.  Set up a committee, make sure the members have specific assignments, and let them get things done.

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