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Arizona Experience Store

Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona Scitech Festival.

Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. Great STEM minds were not all born in the 20th century. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier was born in 1768 and orphaned at age 9. Educated by the Benedictines, and surviving the French revolution and Reign of Terror he found himself with returning from Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition in 1801 with an ink pressed copy of the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs by using the Greek and Coptic letters also on the stone. READ MORE. Fourier was both a mathematician and a physicist. He began by experimenting with the transmission of heat. His innovations include mathematics applied to the physics of heat conduction. The two most important were the use of partial differential equations and dimensional analysis. Determining that a planet the size of the Earth could not be warmed by just the incoming solar radiation, he believed that the atmosphere must be an insulator. This was the first proposal of what we now call the greenhouse effect. His mechanism if heat convection is used today. He is most famous for the theorem that bears his name, the Fourier Theorem. The theorem states that an infinite series of periodic waves such as Sine waves or Cosine waves can be added together to form any shape whether regular like a triangular wave or irregular like a random squiggle. Circles can also be used. The resulting Fourier Transform is used over a wide range of current applications: voice recognition, optics, radio, animation, music, quantum physics and medical body scans to name a few. The huge benefit of the Fourier transformation is that it can compress the huge number of data points needed, for instance, to present a digital color photograph into a much smaller data set. The most common picture data set is a JPEG file that comes out of your camera as a photo.jpg. I was attending my wife’s high school class reunion a couple of decades ago and I got to talking with a husband of one of her classmates. It turned out that he had worked for the air force space program when we started sending up spy satellites in the late 1950’s. We needed to send digital photos back to Earth immediately, but did not have the bandwidth capacity in the early days of space flight. His team was responsible for the “crash” effort to create the Fourier techniques to compress the digital images. Their work resulted in JPEG that we all use. The follow on audio/video technology became known as MPEG that produces the MP3’s we enjoy. Not a bad set of accomplishments for a poor orphan from the city of Auxerre, France. Check out: http://tinyurl.com/FourierAndHomer For a demo of how JPEG works. http://tinyurl.com/blogMathTrick-for-JPEG-MPEG For a more complete description of Fourier techniques.
STEM Matters Coordinator: Marisa Ostos  Fish are fascinating creatures, from the giant whale shark to the tiny neon tetra, and will often have some neat hidden talents. Did you know that fish carry small pits on different parts of their bodies, called chemoreceptors, which help them to both smell and taste? Did you also know that some fish use their swim bladder, which they use for buoyancy, to hear? Source: Samantha Henrickson, Curator, Rainforest Cafe
Autora invitada: Carmen Cornejo, Coordinadora de Audiencias Hispanas, AZ SciTech Fest & Dueña de Criticalmassc.com Nosotros que apoyamos la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas (STEM por sus siglas en inglés) estamos conscientes de la importancia de STEM en la educación y los beneficios que estas aéreas traen a la economía de Arizona, la deEstados Unidos de América y su futuro. Nosotros nos esforzamos para invitar estudiantes a sumergirse en estas aéreasque traerán conocimientos nuevos y oportunidades mejores de trabajo en sus futuros. Nuestras comunidades están llevando a cabo grandes esfuerzos en este aspecto, pero para poder ser inclusivos y aprovechar toda la creatividad disponible, debemos poner esfuerzos para incluir comunidades que frecuentemente tienen baja representación en áreas de STEM. Las mujeres, las personas con discapacidades, los afroamericanos, los hispanos, y los nativo-americanos no tienen los números necesarios de individuos involucrados en campos de STEM, donde necesitamos sus visiones del futuro y sus contribuciones. Nosotros entendemos que un campo de conocimiento es exitoso si incluye oportunidades para todos.Esto es especialmente crítico para Arizona, que se convertirá pronto en un estado de mayoría minoritaria, donde la composición de la población joven, nuestro mercado laboral del futuro, es diferente a la de las generaciones pasadas. Cómo podemos ayudar a incorporar a todos en los campos de STEM? Teniendo maravillosos programas a nivel estatal como el Festival SciTech de Arizona (AZSciTechFest), el cual inspira a individuos de todas las edades y niveles a considerar a entrar aáreas de STEM, es uno de los componentes de éxito a la par del trabajo de nuestras instituciones educativas, desde kínder hasta el 12º grado y siguiendo hasta la universidad, proveyendo el rigor académico necesario para el éxito. Investigadores de educación en STEM han señalado la importancia de establecerprogramas específicos que trabajen con poblaciones de bajarepresentación. Aquí en Arizona tenemos grandes organizaciones e individuos que dedican sus esfuerzos en hacer que la buena nueva de STEM llegue a todos. Esos esfuerzos son reportados en las noticias y nos hacen sentirnos orgullosos. Demuestran que cada estudiante, no importa de donde venga puede enfocarse en alcanzar metas altas y puede lograrlo todo…con un poco de ayuda de la comunidad.
Guest Author: Carmen Cornejo, Hispanic Market Liaison, AZ SciTech Fest & Principle, Criticalmassc.com We STEM supporters are aware of the importance of STEM education and the benefits it brings to Arizona’s economy and that of America and its future. We strive to invite students to dive into the areas that will bring incredible knowledge and stronger job opportunities for their future. Great efforts and programs have being initiated in our communities but in order to be inclusive and tap all the creativeness and ingenuity available to us, we must allocate efforts to include often unrepresented communities in STEM education. Women, people with disabilities, African American, Hispanics, and Native Americans do not have the numbers of individuals involved in many STEM fields where we need their visions for the future and contributions. We understand a successful field is one that is inclusive with opportunities for all. This is especially critical for Arizona, which is set to become a minority majority state soon where the make-up of the young population, our future labor force, is different than previous generations. How can we help to incorporate everybody into STEM fields? Having wonderful statewide programs like the Arizona SciTech Festival, which inspires individuals at all ages and levels to consider and enter STEM fields, is one of the components for success along with the work of our educational institutions, from K-12 all the way to college, providing the instruction and academic rigor needed to succeed. Researchers of STEM education point out the importance of setting specific outreach programs that target specific underrepresented populations. Here in Arizona we have great organizations and individuals who dedicate their efforts to share the gospel of STEM to all. These efforts make the news s and make us all proud. They demonstrate that every student, no matter where she or he is or where he/she comes from can set their minds to achieving higher goals and expectations and can accomplish anything… with a little help from the community.
Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. The news this month includes the passing of 96 year old Maxine Greene, a leading educational theorist at Columbia Teachers College. She was a progressive thinker that believed the most effective path to learning was “creative thinking and vivid imaging.” The core of her belief was that “the color, glimmer and sound” of the arts were an essential part of learning. She wanted her students to engage the world both as it is and what it could be. Her use of the Thoreauvian “wide-awakeness,” hampered our struggle to avoid our electronic inputs so we can focus. We all try to avoid wasting hours on YouTube or turn off our devices for a day but to no avail. Two thirds of our work force cannot focus on one specific job. The answer may be found in our young children. They are learning and doing at a prodigious rate. What’s their method?   Secure place so they can be absorbed in one thing without outside distractions or demands; Narrow focus on the current obsession; Not being self-consciousness, they ignore the little narratives found in our older heads and experience life directly.   The shelf of books between “wide-awakeness” and “art of focus” has many other titles. But the most important take away for STEM students and practitioners is three fold:   Put the creativity driver of STEAM into STEM; Create a steam age environment of quiet, expect when your obsession sounds the whistle; Immerse yourself into your self-made center of the universe and let creativity fly.     Ref: Bruce Weber, “Maxine Greene, 96, Dies: Education Theorist Saw Arts as Essential,” The New York Times, June 3, 2014David Brooks, “The Art of Focus,” The New York Times, June 3, 2014
Editor: Marisa Ostos  We've often heard that our thoughts can influence our behavior, but can our behavior influence our thoughts? Science certainly points in a "yes" direction. The "Facial Feedback Hypothesis" states that our facial expressions can influence how we feel. In a study called the "Pen study," people were told to hold a pen in their mouths so that their lips didn't touch the pen. Without knowing it, the participants' mouth-shape reflected a smile. Then, while still holding the pen between their teeth, the participants were told to rate a funny cartoon that they were shown. Low and behold, the participants whose expression reflected a smile found the cartoon to be much funnier than the ones who weren't made to hold the pen in this manner. In a similar study called the "Headset study," participants were told to listen to a speech while they either moved their head up and down (unaware that they were actually nodding) or kept their heads still. The ones who "nodded" tended to agree more with the speech that they listened to! Isn't that something? It's a wonder to think about just how much our actions can influence our thought-processes and feelings. Perhaps on those off-days, or even the on-days, try a smile. It may help to brighten your mood! [*Source: Mae, Lynda. "Lecture 8: The Cognitive Approach." Arizona State University. 24 Jun 2014. Online Presentation.]
Editor: Marisa Ostos "I'm quiet like my parents." "My sister and I have the same sense of humor." How often do you look at a sibling or parent and become amused at just how similar you actually are? Does that similarity come from living in the same environment or from genes passed on to you through your parents? Although shared environments and culture definitely have an effect on how similar you and your family-members may be, more and more research is being done that supports just how much genetics influence who you are as a person. For example, twin-studies have been done that show that there are actually quite a number of similarities between identical twins, regardless of whether or not they grew up in the same home. This points to genetics playing an important role in the shaping of our personalities. Who knew biology could be so interesting!   [*Source: Burger, Jerry M. "The Biological Approach: Relevant Research." Personality. 8ed.]  
Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. For decades I have struggled with the question of why Arizona governance, business and education leadership have failed to unite to create a nation leading 21st century education system. Recently, I had a marvelous experience at Alexi’s Restaurant Grill (who wouldn’t?) during a monthly Capital Times public meeting. Featured was an expert Gov/Bus/Ed panel to address K-12 Education: Representative Heather Carter, Arizona Legislature; President/CEO, Todd Sanders, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Executive Director, Debra Duval, Arizona School Administrators, Inc.; Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal, State of Arizona; President, Andrew Morrill, Arizona Education Association;   Jim Small, Editor, asked them to address Arizona’s progress and future. And so they did, with gusto.  Their main thrust was that education was the most important competitive asset for Arizona economic development. But the reverse is also true. Economic development produces the tax revenues which fund quality education. The 2009 economic plummet pulled education tax revenues down with it. As we recover, the new tax revenues are not finding their way back to our classrooms. In constant dollars we have decreased funding per student by about 20% over the 22 years since the early 1990s. Arizona governance continues to maintain education funding per student at or near the bottom of our 50 states. Average student academic performance hovers at the middle of the pack. Governance policy has been tax cuts and more tax cuts to stimulate the economy. But there is no evidence that this concept has helped the economy and education suffers from resulting underfunding. A panelist said that Arizona has a unique public education system compared to third world countries.  Those countries have a permanent underclass because poor education limits opportunity for upward mobility. If lagging education is drag on the Arizona economy then it is public relations problem. We should pitch that, “Things are going good for public schools.” Ten years ago Florida was the all-star state. But when comprehensive data was finally available… not so good! Meanwhile our education data system has been developed into a national leader. The system is 99% complete and is critical tool that is driving Arizona to excellence. One potential benefit is scale up what works in exemplar schools by having the data system to support valid decisions in all schools. Trouble is that our system has not yet been able to implement this opportunity for a majority of our students.   A  Florence school was touted as an exemplar school. They installed 1 to 1 computing and with outstanding leadership they signifantly increased academic performance. On the other hand, 50 of our high schools had not one graduate who has gone on to graduate from college. Rufus Glasper Chancellor of Maricopa Community College system says 60% of incoming students are not ready to learn in the college environment and only 10% will make it through to a 4 years degree. Federal and State policies are now driving what had been local school district decisions. One example includes strong movement into STEM. But the teacher training and classroom educational systems and materials have not followed.     The “Barbarian at the Gate” is Common Core Standards. Arizona must stay the course on this beneficial “disruptive innovation” but we must also invest in the technical capacity to interface interactively with Common Core assessments. Requirements include an adequate broadband system to all 2100 schools, training materials and supplies and collaborative teacher professional development. We must also avoid, “Death by a Thousand Tests” by effectively using test data to guide individualized learning in a timely manner.  If not, then additional testing is a waste of time. Another problem is that we are evaluating teachers and principals but not the education system itself. For example funding was cut for Kindergarten which causes a huge effect on third grade literacy. That in turn triggers a downward spiral that leads to high school dropouts. Others thought that Arizona needs a long range educational funding policy that is developed by savvy governance leaders and that does not rely on court cases. Voting in an Arizona legislature that is knowledgeable about education at all levels is critical. This will require Independents to greatly increase their voting percentage in the primary. There have been past successes like Career Ladder for teachers with differentiated pay and English Language Learners. But isolated innovations typically drop by the wayside. We must have a comprehensive, sustained, and system wide transformation that all sectors – education, governance and business – is behind. As the meeting was ending, panel participants talked about self-organizing to address the longer range challenges they had been discussing. I urge these five sector leaders to organized a coalition of their peers. Their task over the next six years should be to develop a comprehensive strategic plan with implementation drivers. Why six years?  The funding from Proposition 301 ends in 2020. 
During the winter months, when most other parts of the country are covered in snow, residents of Phoenix brag about the moderate temperatures. But when summer rolls around, the joke’s on us. This Sonoran Desert is no stranger to scorching heat. And in the city, temperatures are even hotter than in the surrounding areas, because roads, buildings and other manmade structures hold onto the sun’s heat. This is known as the “urban heat island effect.” As the thermometer reads 100 degrees and up, air conditioning, swimming pools and large shady trees become a Phoenician’s best friends. However, not everyone has access to these resources to stay cool. Some people don’t have air conditioning in their homes, or can’t afford to leave it on. Others live in neighborhoods where pools and trees are few and far between. Instead of shade and green space, they see mostly concrete, asphalt and dirt lots. This makes certain areas of the city even hotter than others. Scientists have discovered that temperature differences in certain neighborhoods are connected to the socioeconomic status of the people who live there. It turns out that people with less access to important resources also live in hotter parts of the city. Chain Reaction, a free magazine for middle-school readers, explores the science behind the urban heat island effect. The current issue follows researchers at Arizona State University as they explain what causes the heat island and whom it affects the most. Experts in urban planning, history, nutrition, culture, statistics and many other subjects work together to understand the reasons why people in Phoenix are vulnerable to the heat.  This issue of Chain Reaction was produced by ASU with funding from the National Science Foundation. You can see a PDF of the magazine and find related lesson plans at chainreactionkids.org. Teachers can order free classroom sets by emailing info@chainreactionkids.org with a mailing address and number of issues needed.
Guest Author: Uly Siregar (Ester Skiera) Summer is right out your window and it’s coming faster than expected. For many Arizonans, summer is not necessarily a favorite time of year. From increased use of electricity in your house to more costly water bills for never-ending pool time and the extra showers you normally don’t take, much of which leads to summer fatigue. Life goes on as normal, but most people spend a good deal of time inside for the comfort of manufactured coolness. Kids are happy that the school is over but parents are slightly anxious. What to do with the kids in summer? Where to send them? How can I entertain my kids who are not spending seven hours in school? Some families opt to utilize their summer schedules by taking vacations during school break. Strolling in the nice weather of San Diego, California, is always fun. Hiking with the whole family in Yellowstone National Park? Superb. How about family trip to the most northern state, Alaska? A dream vacation! Some take their vacation even further by going abroad. After all, who doesn’t want to see the Mona Lisa at Louvre, at summer afternoon in Paris? But if you prefer to spend your summers appreciating the many beauties of our own state, there are a multitude of creative activities for the kids. The easiest way to occupy our kids’ minds might involve a lot of screen time in the comfort of your own home or visiting a local theatre. But summer vacation should not all be spent in front of TV or the big screen day and night, flipping through kids’ channels, nor should be spent solely on playing multiple games on computer, tablet, or on electronic game devices. So, what’s the key to fun summer? Plan ahead! Parents, there are a lot of things your kids can do around the Valley. Stay calm, a staycation with your kids during summer time might be just what is needed. And take note, even though it’s summer break, kids still need the learning aspects in all fun things they do. The great news is, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), including arts (STEAM) can actually make your kids’ summer activities more enjoyable while at the same time keeping their minds growing and ready to comfortably work their way back into the school schedule when the time comes . “They provide fun, informal opportunities to explore the world around them and see how science, technology, and innovation are all around them,” says Executive Director of Arizona SciTech Festival, Jeremy Babendure, on why it’s important for kids to have STEM-related hands-on activities during school break. The Arizona SciTech Festival has its share of presenting hundreds of hands-on activities across the state of Arizona. The Festival just ended their event that takes place in February and March annually. Of course, the STEM-related activities in Arizona don’t just end after the festival wraps up their annual program. You can always check on the official Festival website about hands-on STEM-related activities to get an idea what’s suitable for your kids. There is something for everyone! The good news is, some of hands-on activities can be easily found in well-established museums and science centers. They also offer a number of summer programs for school-age kids, some of them are: Arizona Science Center. The Center is on the top of the list, because it’s all about science. It offers summer programs from ages 3-14. Camp Innovations are tailored around STEAM, such as: Science of Film (learn about the science behind special effects, lighting, sounds, 3D, and many other aspects of filmmaking), Chemical Meltdown (mix different chemicals to create cool chemical reactions), Survival Science (how to survive in wilderness) and many more. Even if you didn’t take the summer program, the center always has excellent exhibits everyday. There are more than 300 hands-on exhibits in seven themed galleries. If anything, the question would not be “what to do there?” instead it would be more “where to begin?” Learn more: http://azscience.org/ Arizona Museum of Natural History For children ages 6-12, you can have a sleepover at the museum! A Night at the Museum: Roar and Snore with a Dinosaur will take place on July 11. Imagine how excited your kids would be to spend their night in establishment that has dinosaur and all the cool stuff! The museum also offers Prehistoric Preschool Camp. Each thematic morning will get your kids creativity and curiosity roar. For children 6-12, they can take Rock and Roaring program where they can discover prehistoric beasts. Each day has a different theme. Camps feature combinations of science, fun facts, crafts, and activities. Learn more: http://azmnh.org/ Arizona Humane Society Who doesn’t love dogs? OK, there must be some people out there who are not too fond of dogs, but most kids love the four-legged animal. With Arizona Humane society, kids can have fun learning about animals. The Society offers multi-day camps that teach children all about pets. They can learn about animal care and the human-animal bond, and how much joy pets bring to our lives. Not sure about the multi-day camps? Try its One Day Programs to see if it fits your children’s interest. Learn more: http://www.azhumane.org/education-programs/humane-education/workshops-ca... Butterfly Wonderland This relatively new place has become one of the most favorite Arizona’s field trip destinations for school-age kids. You can be sure kids will be in awe to see beautiful and colorful butterflies fluttering around them. The establishment has a rainforest landscape with running waterfalls, exotic plants, blooming flowers, and koi fish ponds, and of course, thousands of butterflies in different varieties. Butterfly Wonderland also offers varieties of workshops . Learn more: http://www.butterflywonderland.com/ Musical Instrument Museum Musical Instrument Museum is a great place to explore the musical instruments and music of the world. Musical Instrument Museum delivers a learning experience that combines arts education, social studies, and science. Nearly 6,000 musical instruments and objects are displayed in MIM. For youth, the museum offers MIM’s Youth Group Tours. Every tour includes time in the Experience Gallery where youths can engage in hands-on activities. They can touch and play authentic instruments from many different countries! Learn more: http://mim.org/ Free Admission Museums These museums might not be as fancy as major museums above but they offer free admission and there’s always something new to learn there. Plan a museum safari with your kids by visiting as many museums during summer. Here are some of them: The i.d.e.a Museum, Phoenix Airport Museum, Chandler Museum, and many others.