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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

2Ted Kraver

Guest Author:  Theodore “Ted” Kraver, Ph.D. 

The Arizona SciTech Festival crescendo of events has subsided.  The school year is winding down and many transitions are taking place. I recently experienced a very personal reminder that science, engineering, technology and mathematics exist and must thrive in a much wider world. Take history.  My grandson has graduated his 6th grade class as the top math student. He has also won a place on the state history team that will be traveling to Washington DC next month to compete in the national finals. His subject was the Maoist Revolution and the struggles of his grandparents and mother before they emigrated from Shanghai to Arizona in the early 1990’s. His sister is also graduating Chandler High School and will be attending Cal Poly in Southern Californian pursuing Aeronautical and Mechanical engineering.  Cal Poly rates second to the U.S. Military Academy for engineering in public universities. Her strong suit is art and she expects this talent will strengthen her STEM education.

Last week I dropped in to visit my major professor at ASU who somehow got me through my PhD at age 57.  Jami Shah teaches in the aeronautical/mechanical engineering department.  One of Dr. Shah’s research projects is “student career decision making.” In colleges with both aeronautical and mechanical engineer the freshmen are equally split between the two majors. When junior year rolls the passion for either airplanes or cars has been replaced with the need for flexibility in the job market. Ninety percent graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Dr. Shah also has a research project to supplement memorization type tests used to assess readiness for engineering college with tests that determine capabilities in:

  1. Divergent Thinking
  2. Quantitative Reasoning
  3. Spatial Visualization
  4. Problem Formulation

These four innate talents are vital for success as an engineer or scientist for their use of memorized STEM facts, formulas and procedures.

If the old truism holds, “A college is only as good as its incoming freshman class,” then the real challenge for Arizona is K-12 education. I attended the annual Arizona Capital Times “Morning Scoop” for K-12 education. Their panelists were Representative Heather Carter, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, President of Arizona Superintendents Association Roger Freemen, Chairman Arizona Board of Regents Jay Heiler, and the parent group of Support Our Schools Arizona executive director Doreen Zannis. The main topic was funding of K-12 education.

They discussed the recent deep cuts to all of Arizona education to balance the State budget deficits. The deficits had been created during the past years of recession that reduced tax revenues. They then shifted to the current situation and the future of K-12 education. Arizona is one of lowest states in per student funding. With low salaries our teacher talent level is down because it is hard to attract or retain the most qualified teachers.  Disadvantaged kids who need higher funding to achieve an education equitable to the advantaged kids are not being served.  About 10% of Arizona’s high schools produce 50% of students that achieve college degrees.

The Arizona K-12 funding system fluctuates with the economy and is not based on the needs of our students. The result is increasing class sizes, decreasing critical classroom and counselor support, and less effective facilities and technology.  Local community property tax base provides much of the funding for their schools. This creates a financial disparity between rich and poor districts. Rich community high schools have 50% of graduates achieving college; the poorest communities experience a 18% rate.  Funding has also been cut from the highly successful post high school technical training path, JTED.

The panel closed with, “Hope springs eternal…especially for the 2016 legislative session.” The economy is getting better and tax revenues are increasing.  Diane Douglas is reviewing the tangled “mess” of tax rates, formulas and requirements that plague the Title 15 laws which govern Arizona K-12 education. There are a host of unfunded mandates that schools cannot address. Many laws thwart the Arizona Constitution’s mandate for a general and uniform school system.  Forward looking education innovation such as emerging learning support technologies is hampered by the laws in our 103 year old Title 15.

Morning Scoop wrapped up by expressing a unanimous conviction. A new K-12 funding system will be crafted and put into law to replaces the current system by our 2016 legislators.  Keep tuned!

1MATT - BLOG PICTURE 2015 Kids CoLab

Guest Author:  Matt, Kids CoLab

There have been many things in my life that I’m passionate about, but one in particular is technology. I’ve been interested in technology since I was about five years old, when my dad built a model RC airplane, and it was the coolest! My dad and I then started building and flying them together, especially when we were in Flagstaff in the summer, where we kept our RV. Then a couple years ago we found a place called Gangplank. Gangplank is a collaborative work space for small companies to kick-start their business. At GP (Gangplank) we found a CNC laser cutter and a 3D printer to use for free. My dad taught himself to cut wood on the CNC, and around the same time I taught myself how to use the 3D printer to print cool objects, like a mini-ghost from Destiny (my favorite video game). That was the day the way I looked at technology changed – I started to realize there’s much more to technology then just RC planes, and I got really excited to explore what cool stuff is out there and how it all works. This is the story of me deciding to build my own computer.

I got the idea of building a computer from a friend I met in Flagstaff. We talked all the time about how he was going to build a computer. I got so intrigued to build one myself, so I did a lot of research and started watching online videos that explained what parts are in a computer, how to build one, and how to install software. Then I took the next step, which was very difficult – asking my parents! I was bombarded with a ton of questions like, why do you need another computer? What are you going to use it for? How much will it cost? Where will you get the money? I never actually thought about those details or exactly how I was going to build it, but I knew I would, so I went back to the drawing board and did more research. I showed my parents everything, and I then answered their questions with this: “I am going to build a computer to teach myself how to build one of the most advanced pieces of modern technology, and in the end it won’t matter what I use it for or how much it costs. What will matter is learning how to plan and construct one of these fantastic machines to further my passion of technology.”

My parents said that was a lofty goal but that I could try. I started saving money and looking for jobs around the house or anywhere else to help me earn more. I’m part of a program called Kids CoLab at Pearson, a company that creates educational apps. Kids CoLab is a voluntary activity that lets me help adult applications managers develop learning applications for children. (Read more about Kids CoLab in this article: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/27379572/2014/11/13/kids-help-design-reading-app). When it ends, Pearson is letting me choose a technology gift for my work. I am choosing money toward my computer. I also set up a fund at GoFundMe, which my mom knew about. So far, I raised $165 (http://www.gofundme.com/qwds47y)! I know it may take some time, but I am very confident I will achieve my dream of building my own computer!

crowdfunding techshop Chandler - DSCN1673-1024x768

Author: Tishin Donkersley, M.A, http://www.aztechbeat.com, April 15, 2015

Maker space TechShop Chandler, served as the setting for Governor Doug Ducey as he signed HB bill 2591, an intrastate crowdfunding bill where small businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to sell equity in their company over the Internet and receive funding from the general public. This bipartisan Bill provides exemptions from state statutory registration requirements for certain securities transactions. http://aztechbeat.com/2015/04/equity-crowdfunding-is-open-in-arizona

PhotoCourtesy: AZ Tech Beat:

Photo Caption: Shown here: Steve Zylstra (left), Governor Ducey (Center)

1carlo_maley2

Submitted By: ASU Biodesign Institute, April 2015

All living things—from dandelions to reindeer—evolve over time. Cancer cells are no exception, and are subject to the two overarching mechanisms described by Charles Darwin: chance mutation and natural selection. Study of the evolution of blood-borne cancers like leukemia is providing new insights for diagnosis and treatment.

In new research, Carlo Maley, PhD., and his colleagues describe compulsive evolution and dramatic genetic diversity in cells belonging to one of the most treatment-resistant and lethal forms of blood cancer: acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Read More Here: http://biodesign.asu.edu/news/cancers-relentless-evolution

PHOTO CREDIT AND PHOTO CAPTION AND PHOTO CREDIT:

Carlo Maley, researcher, ASU’s Biodesign Institute;  associate professor, School of Life Sciences
Photo by: Michelle Saldana: The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University

1beez (3) ASUS BLOG APRIL 2015

Submitted by: Arizona State University

Have you heard the buzz? Thanks to Phoenix’s rising temperatures, it’s bee season – and many residents are coming into contact with these complex creatures.

Fortunately, Arizona State University Provost Robert E. Page Jr. is a bee expert and has some fun facts to share.

  1. China produces the most honey in the world

China is by far the dominant honey producer at more than 430 million tons in 2012. In the U.S., there are more than 2.74 million colonies producing honey and the value of the U.S. 2014 honey crop stands at more than $385 million. North Dakota tops the charts in U.S. honey production.

  1. Bee colonies can be rented

According to the National Honey Board, the first colony rented out to help pollinate crops was in 1909. Bees are linked to agricultural crop production valued at $19 billion in the U.S. The California almond crop is entirely dependent on honeybee pollination and involves more than 1 million colonies of bees. ASU has developed a startup Pollen-Tech through the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative to help pollinate crops.

  1. Honeybees aren’t native to the Americas

Honeybees were brought by European settlers during the 1600s. Europeans had developed techniques for managing bees and these so-called European honeybees were attractive because they could be kept in hives. Some Native American tribes called honeybees “the white man’s flies,” because the arrival of bees often heralded the encroachment of settlers.

  1. Africanized bees came to the US from Brazil

The Africanized honeybees were brought to Brazil and crossbred with European honeybees. It was thought they could better tolerate the hot tropical climate in South America. Several of these Africanized colonies escaped, swarmed into the Brazilian jungle and hybridized with local European colonies. Over the years, these colonies have been spreading northward, arriving in the U.S. in 1990 and Arizona in 1993.

Visit Research Matters to see the rest of the list! The first person known to study bees was Aristotle. He was curious about how they divided their tasks and organized their activities.

Photo by: Charles Kazilek

kid_and_math_2

Por Carmen Cornejo, Coordinadora de Relaciones Hispanas, Arizona SciTechFest

Los padres jugamos un papel importante en guiar a nuestros hijos para que ellos tengan un buen desempeño escolar.

Nuestras actitudes positivas o negativas hacia las matemáticas también son transmitidas. Como padres debemos fomentar una actitud positiva hacia las matemáticas, la ciencia, la tecnología e ingeniería-lo que se conoce en inglés como STEM- y colaborar con nuestro granito de arena a que desarrollen todo su potencial.
Varias organizaciones e iniciativas han desarrollado guías para que los padres fomenten las matemáticas con sus hijos a varios niveles escolares. Me encontré esta guía en la internet. ¡Lee este folleto y ponlo en práctica! SIGUE LA LIGA.

kid_and_math_2

Guest Author: Carmen Cornejo, Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, Arizona SciTech Festival

Parents play an important role guiding their children to achieve great academic performance at school.

Our attitudes, positive or negative towards Math, are transmitted and shape our children outlook. As parents we must strive to construct positive attitude toward science, technology, engineering and math- STEM and put our part in the education process.

Several organizations and agencies have developed initiatives for parents to get them interested and engaged into STEM so the students can be motivated.  I found this guide that suggest activities and guides for Spanish speaking parents. Please share it with your friends!

Follow this link!

 Artwork Accepted Through April 27!

COLORING CONTEST ARTWORK - IMG_2407 (3) If you, a friend or family member enjoy expressing their creativity through creative arts, put your creativity to the test and complete the **Famous Gecko’s Art & Coloring Contest**. With a **new deadline extension of April 27**, we have four age category winners – 18 and Over, 12 – 18, 17 – 6 – 11, and 5 & Under.

Winning artists’ work to be entered into a year-long rotating tour throughout multiple cities in Arizona, a story and press release will be created on the winners along with a public acknowledgement at the Festival’s annual Appreciation Event. This year’s winners to be introduced with their artwork on May 5, 2015, at the Pera Club in Tempe. **To Download a copy of the Famous Gecko two-sided form and where to submit, follow this link**: [http://azscitech.com/coloring-contest/](http://azscitech.com/coloring-contest/)

Coloring Contest Artwork3

Prescott SciTechFest 3 (3)

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Prescott is historical. The city is known for its Victorian style homes and it has 809 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The city was also once the capital of the Arizona Territory before Phoenix became the capital in 1889. Located in Yapavai County, Prescott is a destination for people in the Valley who want to escape from summer heat. Who’s not mesmerized by the beauty of the Granite Dells, the geological feature surrounding Watson Lake?

But that’s not all. More importantly, when it comes to education, the city is as significant as other cities in Arizona. Prescott is home to the world-renowned Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where many of the nation’s top aeronautical scientists and engineers are trained. And this year, the city takes another turn to celebrate the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by doing its second annual Prescott Regional SciTech Fest. Last year, the first annual took place in conjunction with the Prescott Sesquicentennial Celebration, and it was a success.

“The event provides an opportunity for schools, industry, and organizations in the Prescott area to showcase their innovation, technology, and the interesting STEM-related activities taking place in the community,” says Department Chair Applied Aviation Sciences James Curtis, Ph.D, who’s also the Co-Chair of the Prescott Regional SciTechFest.

School-aged kids need constant inspiration. They have to always be encouraged that STEM is important. It is important for educators to create a STEM-friendly culture. This event has a mission to promote a culture that celebrates and embraces education, research, collaboration, innovation, and economic growth in the Prescott region related to STEM and arts.
“The event inspires young minds and helps to interest them in a future career in STEM,” Curtis explains. To get to young minds, the event provides a fun and learning experience for all ages, and even the chance to earn prizes!

“The most interesting part about the event is the many industry sponsored booths and student science/art displays at the event,” Curtin says. From City of Prescott, APS, Children Museum Alliance’s, various schools in the region, Prescott Astronomy Club to Universal Helicopters and many more, they’re all tied together to celebrate STEM.

So, for you who want to inspire young minds, mark your calendar and come to the event. Bring your curiosity with you, because at the event you can learn, have fun, and be inspired. Take a chance, and enjoy the free ride.

“We expect an inquisitive mind and an adventurous attitude,” Curtis adds. If you think you have that in you, why not take it to the place where it belongs!

Prescott Regional SciTechFest takes place on 17th and 18th of April 2015, at the Prescott Gateway Mall.

April 6, 2015

Dear Educator:

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) provides opportunities to help schools utilize STEM activities to improve student achievement and better prepare students for college and careers.  One such opportunity is in the support and networking of out-of-school STEM Clubs.  Over the past three years, SFAz has assisted in the creation of STEM Clubs in schools throughout the state.  This has included developing an online STEM Club Guide, coordinating the two Annual Arizona STEM Club Conferences, and providing seed funding for the creation/expansion of over 200 STEM Clubs across the state.

To continue this process, we are hosting the 3rd Annual Arizona STEM Club Conference at the Memorial Union at Arizona State University in Tempe on Monday June 8, 2015 from 8:30am – 4pm.

This free conference is open to all public schools in Arizona with whole district participation encouraged.  Each interested school may send two representatives (administrators and/or teachers) to this event as space allows, where they will:

  • Choose from breakout sessions on topics such as Project Based Learning, Increasing STEM Interest in girls and minorities, STEM and the Arts, and many more,
  • Learn from existing STEM clubs how and why they started their clubs, how these clubs operate, and what their benefits and challenges have been,
  • Explore products and activities ranging from robotics to distance learning activities suited for incorporating STEM into schools both in clubs and into classrooms.

Each school may send up to 2 participants, as space allows, using the following link to register each participant: http://stem.sfaz.org/STEMClubConfRegister  PLEASE REGISTER EACH PARTICIPANT SEPARATELY.

Registration will be open until April 30, 2015.  However again space is limited, therefore please register your participants as soon as possible to assure your space at this event.

Please note: we have limited funds dedicated to hotel accommodations for the evening of June 7th.  These funds are reserved for participants who travel in excess of 100 miles, and will be provided on a first come first serve basis.  Please indicate your mileage on the registration form to determine eligibility.

In addition, all schools who attend will have the opportunity to apply for STEM Club seed funding provided you agree to  (1) start/expand a STEM Club in August,  (2) use the SFAz STEM Club model and guidelines, (3) provide input into our ongoing assessment of STEM Clubs during the 2015-2016 school year, and (4) acknowledge SFAz’s support of your STEM Club on your school’s website.  Additional information on this opportunity will be provided at the conference.

For more information on this event, please contact Stephaine Frimer at sfrimer@sfaz.org.

Sincerely,

John Kriekard, Ed.D. Director of Education

Science Foundation Arizona

1SFAZ Conference Flyer

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