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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

1Women Networking

Track: Computer Science & Tech

1Women NetworkingThe AZ SciTech Festival Kickoff is a great place to meet new people with similar interests in STEM and complimentary skills, but have you ever been to a networking event where you wanted to make the transition from meeting one person into meeting the next person? Awkward, right? Not so in the Women in Technology Speed Networking session. Talk to a new person every five minutes (bring business cards), then change networking partners to meet the next person. We provide the timing (and the sense of direction). 

Co-host organizations for Women in Technology Speed Networking include:


  • huge Women in Technology International, Phoenix, provides a local forum for women to network with each other, forge connections, share resources and discover opportunities in the technology industry.



  • WWC logoWomen Who Code, Phoenix, is the local chapter of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers by creating a global, connected community of women in technology. The organization tripled in 2013 and has grown to be one of the largest communities of women engineers in the world.




  • GDI PHX logoGirls Develop IT Phoenix is the local chapter of Girl Develop IT, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable programs for adult women interested in learning web and software development in a judgment-free environment. GDI-PHX provides a place where all questions are OK and everyone can learn in a supportive environment. Their courses focus on coding, leveraging existing technology, and having something to show for it (aka building sweet websites).




  • AWIS_AZ_Central_2013The Association of Women in Science, Central Arizona Chapter/Society for Women in STEM, Arizona State University, provides career mentoring and support to promote the success of women in STEM. We are also known at the Society for Women in STEM or SWIS-CAZ. AWIS-CAZ hosts monthly career building seminar luncheons, the Jumpstarting STEM Careers Symposium and annual outreach events such as Hands on Science. Membership & activities are open to Men and Women.



  • WIGI AZWomen in Gaming International Phoenix Chapter is a group of female and male professionals that aims to promote the inclusion and career advancement of women in the games industry. Our goal is to promote equal representation of women and men in the gaming industry; to give them an equal voice on issues of or related to the games industry worldwide and to provide a friendly, safe, and collaborative environment to discuss these issues without fear of retaliation or harassment.





ipad taking pic of money zoomed in

Track: School STEM Best Practices

image002The STEMAZing Project is constantly seeking out #STEMontheCheap hacks and activities. Come learn about a few of these which include hacking $30 board games for simply the cost of copies, turning a cell phone or tablet into a low powered microscope for $1, hacking a solar garden light to use the solar panel for experiments, and so much more. Learn about The STEMAZing Project’s favorite #STEMontheCheap websites – these goldmines use readily available  materials from dollar stores or reused materials. Not spending a fortune on materials does not make the learning opportunity any less valuable. In fact, one might argue that using hacks and #STEMontheCheap alternatives require more imagination and creativity while at the same time opening up the door to invention and innovation. 

PresenterDaNel Hogan, Director of The STEMAZing Project 

Pictured below: Photos for the “Macro Lens Hack” – A close-up of Lincoln’s eyeball on the $5 bill using a cell phone 

Cell Phone taking pic of money 20140808_213756 

Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

By: Michele Peters, writer, Arizona SciTech Festival

The Arizona SciTech Festival now enters its sixth season with over 400,000 people participating last year throughout Arizona including students, teachers, parents, colleges/universities and corporations. This unprecedented growth and success would not possible without the support of elected community leaders who used their positions to further engage and impact the communities they represent. Through their commitment and leadership, they help to embody the grassroots nature of the entire Arizona SciTech ecosystem in its mission to further STEM education and innovation in Arizona. We wanted to acknowledge a few of these leaders who have gone above and beyond, rolled up their sleeves and directly and regularly engaged in the Arizona SciTech Festival’s program development: 

1Don CoveyDon Covey – Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, instrumental in helping launch the Festival its first year; was, and still is, a critical partner in the development of AZ SciTech and STEM education for all students. Covey worked to link STEM professionals with schools in the community.  He was responsible for key introductions with educational leaders throughout the community along with County Superintendents around the state. Covey championed the Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) team to join the development of the AZ STEM Community of Practice which now has over 60 school teams bringing hundreds of school leaders together to improve STEM instruction state-wide. He was one of the first local leaders who invested in communication and collaboration efforts that made the Festival such a success. Covey knows, and continues to model, how local elected leaders can leverage government, education, and business to increase and improve STEM instruction for Arizona. 

1Michelle HessMichelle Hess – Vice Mayor, City of Buckeye, championed the development of the Buckeye SciTech Festival which brings together a unique, interdisciplinary collaboration of business, government, community and education in Buckeye. A vital participant in several events, Hess helped to integrate a SciTech Festival as part of the popular Buckeye Air Fair with over 50 STEM-related activities. The Buckeye Air Fair is one of the top ten events in the Arizona SciTech Festival with an attendance of over 10,000.

Diane Joens – Mayor of Cottonwood, led the efforts to form the Verde Valley Regional SciTech Festival that now includes the four towns of Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Camp Verde and Sedona and has grown into one of the strongest regional SciTech collaboratives in Arizona. This festival is a role model since it has united a diverse collaborative in the Verde Valley region and continues to meet monthly to keep collaborators connected. Joens has inspired other elected leaders to engage in the Arizona SciTech Festival and directly impacts STEM education in all four towns. 

1Rick HeumannRick Heumann – Councilmember of the City of Chandler, enthusiastically led the development of the Chandler Science Spectacular, one of the longest and most robust AZSciTech collaboratives in the state. Now entering their fifth season, the Spectacular continues to feature a night of art and science along with a Science Saturday that draws over 100 content providers and 5,000 attendees. Heumann’s work and results in Chandler have inspired other communities to actively and successfully participate in Arizona SciTech Festival events in addition to several other collaborations.  Heumann has helped to mobilize leaders within the Chandler Economic Development Department and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership to jointly plan and develop Chandler’s continued initiatives.  But it does not stop there.  His commitment to education and students led to his creation of the Chandler Education Coalition that continues to meet monthly and has expanded to additional projects related to early education and literacy. 

1Robin Arredondo-SavageRobin Arredondo-Savage – Vice Mayor, City of Tempe has created and championed the development of Tempe’s  Geek’s Night Out, one of the most memorable events of the SciTech Festival. Her work directly mobilizes the City of Tempe’s support to plan and promote Geek’s Night Out, a grand idea that blends fun and science and brings together all “Geeks” at all levels.  Arredondo-Savage has worked diligently to maintain a thriving grassroots collaboration of business, education, community and government. 

1Linda O'DellLinda O’Dell – Gila County Superintendent, was instrumental in the creation and growth of the first regional SciTech Festival in Gila Valley, the Gila Valley STEM Fest. O’Dell brought together a distinct and diverse collaborative of business, education and community members to extend STEM to Globe/Miami. Now in their 6th season, the Gila Valley STEM Fest is an outstanding role model for successfully bringing STEM education into a community. Based on the success in Globe, O’Dell helped to develop a sister festival in Payson, once again following a similar model that is now in its 4th season with ever-growing attendance and interest in STEM education. O’Dell has lent her talents and commitment to the Arizona SciTech team and has, for multiple seasons, worked on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to expand the reach of SciTech opportunities year round. 

THANK YOU to each and every one

1Arizona's Got STEM Talent

1Arizona's Got STEM TalentTrack: Student Voice

Its back by popular demand! This amazing group of students and STEM enthusiasts showcase their favorite SciTech experience in our 2nd annual Arizona’s Got STEM talent show!


Do you have a STEM talent that you can showcase in 3 minutes or less? If so, let us know. We are looking for 10 of Arizona’s top STEM Talent to showcase as part of our 2nd Annual Arizona’s Got STEM Talent session. Please emailjeremyb@azcommerce.com ASAP if you are interested.

1Modeling Instruction2

1Modeling Instruction2Track: School STEM Best Practices

How do scientists solve everyday problems? This is an activity to engage students in the discovery of how science works in the real world.  Students work through common misconceptions that science is done by a “cookbook” set of instructions provided by the teacher.

Students work collaboratively to come up with a consensus on how to play some games: Learning the “Game” of Science. This activity uses simple abstract games to introduce students to critical processes of science such as observations, hypothesis testing, analysis of data, collaboration, communication, and supporting conclusions with evidence. 


  • Chantel Dooley, President, STEMteachersPHX, Educator, Hamilton High School 

  • Wendy Hehemann, Modeling Workshop and Outreach Coordinator, American Modeling Teachers Association

  • Mina Bhagdev, Vice President, STEMteachersPHX 

  • Amanda Whitehurst, Media Specialist, STEMteachersPHX, Middle School Science Teacher


Pictured Above: Chantel Dooley, Amanda Whitehurst 

Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

1Modeling Instruction

1Modeling InstructionTrack: School STEM Best Practices
Presenters: Chantel Dooley, Wendy Heheman, Mina Bhagdev
How do scientists solve everyday problems? This is an activity to engage students in the discovery of how science works in the real world.  Students work through common misconceptions that science is done by a “cookbook” set of instructions provided by the teacher.
Students work collaboratively to come up with a consensus on how to play some games: Learning the “Game” of Science. This activity uses simple abstract games to introduce students to critical processes of science such as observations, hypothesis testing, analysis of data, collaboration, communication, and supporting conclusions with evidence. 


1WonderwomanTrack: Social Equity & STEM
Join Phoenix Comicon’s Science Programming Track as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman: Amazon princess, Army Nurse and one of the first female superheroes. Created by William Moulton Marston, psychologist, lawyer, inventor of the lie-detector, Wonder Woman, with her lasso of truth and invisible jet, enjoys a resurgence of interest with a new movie release in June 2017. Our panel of experts will discuss women in the military, the science of deception and the current status of stealth technology.  Our panelist are: Michelle Loposky, Military Advocate, Assistant Military Advocate & Dependent Programs, Pat Tillman Veterans Center, Arizona State University; Tracey Wood, PhD, Detective, Glendale Police Department; Mike Fillman, Aerodynamics Engineer, The Boeing Company; and Rebekah Brubaker, Manager, Science Programming at Phoenix Comicon, Researcher, Keck Lab, Arizona State University.
During panels, at evening social events like “Beer with Scientists,” and in the interactive demonstration space, the Science Programming track at Phoenix Comicon provides science fans, Career & Technical Education, science and humanities instructors an opportunity to meet and ask questions of credentialed Arizona scientists, researchers and engineers.
Phoenix Comicon’s Science Track also provides professional development credit to attending K-12 and community college instructors.  The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that schools provide professional development in the area of parent & family engagement–including collaborating with organizations with a record of success in improving and increasing parent and family engagement–and Phoenix Comicon Science Programming provides a unique opportunity for teachers to align current STEM topics with popular culture.
Phoenix Comicon’s Science Track attracted almost 10% of the estimated 100,000 attendees of the June 2016 event at Phoenix Convention Center. Phoenix Comicon is Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, 2017, check for teacher discounts and Early Bird ticket discounts: http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/ 
Conference Session - 'Hera Give Me Strength The Science of Wonder Woman'
Seen in image above: Michelle Loposky (far left), Tracey Wood (middle) & Mike Fillman (second to the right)

1Social Equity

1Social EquityTrack: Social Equity & STEM
This session explores the educational landscape of Arizona under-represented and under-served students. We will share how disadvantaged students fair in our education system, programs that exist, personal stories of individuals in STEM who entered through academic and industry paths.  Participants will be introduced to a) approaches used across our nation for STEM advancements that may be leveraged in Arizona, b) inspiring stories for cultivating a sense of belonging, c) and experiential learning exercises that help educators with STEM communication.  Diversity and inclusion is paramount to the U.S. reaching its’ 21st Century STEM goals.  According to the recently published annual report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book, Arizona students are at risk.  While Arizona is still in the bottom ten states, improvements in math proficiency were the most notable area of progress, propelling the state from 35th in 2015 to 18th in 2016. Arizona eighth graders performed better than the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, with 65% in our state not meeting proficiency, while nationally, that statistic is 68%.  Better scores can be attributed to an aggressive effort by public K-12 schools to adopt and meet more rigorous math standards. One of the leaks into the pipeline for students entering STEM has been creating environments for learning and belonging. 
Intended audience:  Students, educators, and civic leaders of all experience levels including none arewelcome. There is no limit on the number of participants.
Moderator Biography:
Loretta Cheeks have developed systems & led development teams within the communications, radio, avionics, instrumentation & control and chemical industries. After Cheeks spent 20 years engineering technical solutions for Fortune 500 corporations, she started the journey to achieve a lifelong goal, which is to earn a PhD in Computer Science. Cheeks is currently a full-time PhD graduate student as an Adobe Foundation GEM Fellow at Arizona State University in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.  Cheeks founded Strong TIES to promote STEM K-12 education that emphasizes discovery, creativity, problemsolving, collaboration and a sustainable education program using computer technologies and cultural-relevant tools.


  • Dr. Karen Hardin, Retired Maricopa County Administrator and Faculty.  A provider of STEM K-12 Education
  • Melissa L. Moreno, CPC, CM-Lean, Employee Owner, Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • Carl Davenport, Director, Silicon Operations/Product Development Engineering, Platform Engineering and Development (PED), Internet of Things Group (IOTG), Intel Corporation
  • Dr. Arlisa Richardson, Physic Faculty, Gilbert Chandler Community College

2XQ Supercool Project

XQ America: The Super School Project, a nationwide movement to “rethink and reimagine high school”, spearheaded by Russlyn Ali, Chief Executive Officer of XQ Institute, and Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective (and widow of Steve Jobs), is underway! (See the XQ Super School Project at www.xqsuperschool.org).

Building on the notions of bold and audacious projects pioneered by Peter Diamandis and XPRIZE competitions (see  http://www.xprize.org/about/what-is-an-xprize) the XQ Super School competition incentivizes high school reform with a $50 Million prize. On Aug. 4, 2016, XQ America will award five to 10 winning design teams up to $10 million each to fund their High School designs and transform our industrial era educational system into education systems that empower young people and their communities.

XQ Phoenix Rising (PHxQ) is among 350 innovative high school models chosen from nearly 700 entrants. What sets Phoenix Rising apart from the competition is its skunkworks educational design. Skilled teaching teams partner with student cohorts and use design thinking, the Socratic method, and integrated learning to provide real world solutions for business and government. Supported by staff, students brainstorm solutions, work in project teams, and produce prototypes and white papers to be implemented by the organizations who hire the school skunkworks as consultants. In this way, each and every student participates in an internship, receives guidance and mentoring, develops critical thinking, and obtains invaluable job skills all while learning the standards they need for post-secondary education and long-term career success. (See many more details at www.risingaz.com.)

The Phoenix Rising team was formed in October 2015 by Wendy Bias and became a national, grassroots movement. The team includes members and support from UCLA Extension, LAUSD, Phoenix College, Rio Salado Community College and others. After reviewing the skunkworks plan proposed by the Phoenix Rising team, Arizona State University (ranked the #1 most innovative school by U.S. News & World Report, 2016) agreed to sponsor the charter for Phoenix Rising when selected as an XQ Super School winner. ASU’s own charter school, ASU Preparatory Academy, achieved a 100% graduation rate in 2016.

Although the initial site of the Phoenix Rising school is set to open in Phoenix, AZ, the Rising Education model is flexible and applicable to a wide range of communities.  Team members around the globe support the movement to “Rethink High School” and anticipate national expansion opportunities of innovative educational models for 21st century students, their families and communities.

Show your support and join the conversation to #RethinkHighSchool by following @XQPhoenixRising on Twitter and Instagram and PhoenixRisingAZ on Facebook and Snapchat. 

Calling all teachers, educators, parents, community members, and more! 

Get ready for The Great AZ Code Challenge 2.0 that will be held on July 22-23 this year.  It is an MIT Enterprise Forum sponsored local event.

This inaugural event last July was the second biggest hackathon in AZ history, with 120 kids, and well over 400 people at the closing ceremony.  Here is a link to a short video of the hackathon last year as a reminder of how impactful this event was.

It was created with the thought that culture is defined by what we celebrate.  This hackathon is meant to get kids excited about coding/programming, technology, and entrepreneurism.  You have seen firsthand the enthusiasm that kids in the Bay Area have towards tech— we want our kids to be just as eager to get involved in the tech scene.

Official marketing just launched last week, but we have already had over 100 kids register for this year’s event, and expect to be sold out with 200 kids participating and hundreds more people at the closing ceremony.

We would love to get you involved in this year’s event.  

Whether you’re a kid interested in participating or would like to volunteer, we are reaching out to you! Sign up to register or volunteer today!