Arizona SciTech Blog
This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.
Guest Author: Loretta H. Cheeks, written June 22, 2017
On June 14-15, 2016, the Honorable Megan J. Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, led the way to elevate awareness about STEM careers and resources made available to communities across our nation. At the first ever Summit on The United State of Women, over 5000 mostly women convened to hear, share and be inspired by the very best the world has to offer in the form of leadership, advocates, educators, celebrities, technologist, business owners, among others. STEM was at the forefront of discussions for career choices for women and girls in our future. My name is Loretta Cheeks, Founder of Strong TIES, a provider of STEM K-12 educational programs and an AZ SciTech Festival partner. I was invited as a Change Maker Nominee to his outstanding event that celebrated women and girls.
The day of the Summit, Megan hosted “Cracking the Code”, which was a breakout session that gave educators, government, industry and community leaders a platform for showcasing what they’re doing to increase more participation of women and girls. The Mathtastic 4 presented their Math Video Challenge project, which was an innovative storyline movie that demonstrated the constraints and rules when tackling a permutation problem. Giving the students a voice and the tools for expressing how they see problems and provide solutions aligns well with AZ SciTech Festival Chief Science Officers (CSO) program. What was especially awesome about this session is Megan gave a big shout out to Arizona CSO’s? Did you hear that, the work of the AZ SciTech Festival has hit the highest level of attention! And afterwards, we spoke and she expressed great excitement about CSO’s and its’ potential.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted “Crafting the Bigger Picture: Empowering Women and Girls in STEM”, where a small group of STEM non-profits, education, industry, higher education institutions engaged in a working session. The cool thing about this
session is our host and the leadership for DOE and EPA are women; Gina McCarty (Adminstrator EPA), Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall (Deputy Secretary DOE), and LaDoris “Dot” Harris (Director DOE).
The purpose was to share experiences and resources among the group and bring awareness of STEM initiatives underway at DOE and EPA.
Our next stop was NASA Headquarters for the session called “Engaging Women and Girls in STEM through Data Science”. As an ASU Computer Science Ph.D. graduate student with a focus in data mining and machine learning, this topic really intrigued me. What I found wasn’t the deep dive of algorithms and techniques, rather women who were not computer scientist taking the lead to innovate using NASA datasets for making their communities better and women who had taken non engineering careers had decided on engineering. For instance, Michele Easter began her career as a model and became a Mechatronics Engineer. She now works on the Europa Lander Project and is founder of the educational initiative, MindMakerProject.org. Say amazingly smart, strong and beautiful!
My last stop was NASA Science Day on Capitol Hill. This was geek heaven where the coolest scientist converged to talk about explorations, space and earth. Did you know on July 4th, NASA spacecraft, Juno, will orbit Jupiter around 11:30PM (PST)? We may have fireworks in space as well as on earth. During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Jupiter is believe to be the blueprint for all Solar System Planets. NASA scientist are on a quest to understand life that exist on Jupiter, which is an indication that water exist. Listen up on July 4th.
Let’s aspire and inspire others to engage in STEM.
The Goal: Identify and prototype relevant, real-world solutions that build education and career pathways in STEM that support innovation, entrepreneurial learning and collaboration.
The Challenge: The STEM workforce in Arizona is crucial to our innovation capacity and global competitiveness. Yet, in Pima County the education to employment pipeline (in most STEM industries) is underdeveloped and underutilized. To address this problem, our community needs to come together to identify relevant and sustainable ways to help young people connect with STEM education and employment opportunities.
The Method: We challenge teams of students, educators, and professional mentors to answer the following question by creating real prototypes for local solutions:
What does a STEM Town (ecosystem) that supports your future look like?
The competition kicks off in June with a two-day, “Startup Weekend-inspired” event where cross-generational teams of PCC students, PCC faculty, and K-12 educators work together with industry professionals to design relevant and sustainable solutions to the Challenge question. From June through September the student teams meet bi-weekly with faculty mentors as they design and test their pilots, preparing to pitch their concept at a community-wide STEM Innovation Showcase in October.
Get Involved! Become a mentor!
Support workforce development and STEM education by participating in the PCC STEM Innovation Challenge as an industry or community mentor.
Mentor Opportunities: Choose the level of engagement that works for you. The time commitment depends on your schedule and availability. To participate, contact PCC STEM Challenge Organizers Michael Peel (email@example.com) or Frank Velasquez (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mentor Position / Time Commitment & Duties:
- On-Call: Time commitment: On-call mentors have no obligation to participate if time does not allow. Duties: Your name will appear on a list of skills-based mentors. If needed, student teams will contact you for specifc advice.
- Idea Development: Time commitment: 9 am – 1 pm, Thursday, June 9 @ PCC West Campus. Duties: Idea Development mentors will be paired with teams for the initial ideation phase. Mentors will participate as team members with the primary goal of providing industry and/or community perspective.
- Team Support: Time commitment: 8-12 hours from June – October, 2016. Duties: Team Support mentors will be paired with teams for the idea development and testing phase. Mentors will attend 4-6 team meetings over the course of the challenge. The primary goal of team support mentors is to provide perspective and help connect the team with resources and/or connections that might be required to develop and test the team’s innovation concept.
If you could personally share with the President any idea on how to use science and technology to make our country better, what would you recommend? While it may be true that voting age in the United States happens at 18, President Obama now wants to hear from YOU. He is giving any and every kid around the country a chance for their voice to be heard by the White House itself about their recommendation on important science, innovation, and technology ideas. We need as many submissions as possible!
It all started this past April at the _6th White House Science Fair_ where President Obama had the chance to meet up with a nine-year-old inventor, Jacob Leggette, who suggested this idea: Why not have a kid science advisor? President Obama loved this recommendation and took off with it, suggesting that a group of kids be brought together to share their own ideas and insights on what’s working in their classroom and how to better engage students in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This is where you (any kid in the country) come in.
Whether you care about tackling climate change, finding a cure to cancer, using technology to help make people’s lives better, or getting a human to Mars, President Obama wants to hear from YOU. In his own words at this year’s Science Fair:
“One of the things I find so inspiring about these young thinkers is that they look at all these seemingly intractable problems as something that we can solve. There is a confidence when you are pursuing science. They don’t consider age a barrier. They don’t think, well, that’s just the way things are. They’re not afraid to try things and ask tough questions.”
So no matter what grade level you’re in, what school you attend, where you come from, or whether or not classes come easily to you, now’s your chance to be heard by President Obama himself. What is your favorite thing about Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math? What is YOUR idea on how we can use science and technology to make our country better? Don’t be afraid to speak up or that your idea may not be good enough or “smart enough.” If you have any recommendation or input, President Obama wants to hear yours. This is a point of pride for Arizona and we need to get as many submissions as possible, so spread the word! Get your friends, cousins, classmates- all kids in Arizona involved. Tell him your idea now!
Inspire Kids Montessori to host fun, hands-on, classes each Tuesday from 10:30 – 11 am
Phoenix, AZ. (April 7, 2016). Inspire Kids Montessori is hosting a free “Toddler Explorer” program for ages 12 – 36 months on Tuesdays in May, from 10:30 to 11:00 am, at Ironwood Public Library located at 4333 E. Chandler Blvd. in Phoenix. Tickets are required and will be available at the library starting at 10 am on the day of each class. Space is limited.
The Explorer program is designed to help toddlers develop language and small and gross motor skills through fun, hands-on, activities. The weekly class themes are “Rain through the Clouds” on May 3rd, “Erupting Bubbles” on May 10th, the “Colorful Milky Way” on May 17th, “Rainbow Fizzy Cloud” on May 24th and “Tornado in a Jar” on May 31st.
According to Diana Darmawaskita, Founder and Director of Inspire Kids Montessori, “We are very excited to collaborate with Ironwood Library to bring this educational program to the community. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to observe Montessori activities and for children to explore science.”
For more information, parents can contact Ironwood Library at (602) 262-4636, Inspire Kids Montessori at (480) 549-9402 or email email@example.com.
About Inspire Kids Montessori
Inspire Kids Montessori offers high-quality early education programs for ages 6 weeks through 6 years at their campus located at 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 11, in Phoenix, 85048. For more information, parents can call 480-659-9402 or visit the new Inspire Kids mobile and tablet accessible website at www.inspirekidsmontessori.com.
Inspire Kids Montessori Teacher, Carrie Ramirez, with students
Media Contact: Suzanne Jameson, Jameson & Associates
Cell: (480) 721-3629
Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, Co-Chair Million Women Mentors-Arizona
Think of Earth Day as a time to get up close and personal with earth – as in soil and dirt! A report from the National Wildlife Federation, “The Dirt on Dirt: How Getting Dirty Outdoors Benefits Kids” provides some compelling data on how playing in the dirt actually makes kids more healthy. Studies show children’s stress levels are significantly reduced when in natural spaces, and playing in dirt can help develop healthy immune functions. And certainly investigations with dirt and the natural environment stimulate scientific thinking!
Unfortunately, we often discourage youth, especially girls, from the joys of this naturally dirty world. But here are some fun ideas for enjoying the earth this Earth Day and any day:
- Sprinkle some water on the ground and watch how it moves. Does it soak in? Run along pathways? Try changing where water flows along the ground by blocking it with sticks or stones. Try carving new pathways in the ground for water to flow.
- Find or introduce earthworms in a garden area and watch how they move through the soil. You can gently handle the worms to see how they feel as they move.
- Explore the ground under plants and trees to see what might be living in the leaves and plant ‘litter’.
And there’s always the making of good old mud ‘pies’ and shapes from wet dirt. Here in the Phoenix Metro area, we’re fortunate that much of our soils contain clay that can be molded in creative ways!
Mesa Public Library
**64 E. First St., PO Box 1466, Mesa AZ 85211-1466 | mesalibrary.org
Position Title: Mesa Public Library VISTA Summer Associate
About Host Site: By providing access and guidance to information, services, and resources, the Mesa Public Library expands minds, empowers individuals, and enriches our diverse community.
About HandsOn Greater Phoenix: HandsOn Greater Phoenix manages a team of VISTA members who dedicate their time to building a better future for the people in the communities they serve. HandsOn Greater Phoenix is offering a unique opportunity to engage K-12 youth in summer learning activities through a Summer Associates service term.
Position Overview: 40 hours/week [5/31/16-7/25/16]
Programming VISTA Summer Associate – The programming VISTA Summer Associate works with librarians to engage K-12 youth in summer learning activities. The Associate would help to create, organize, and implement workshops and programs for K-12 youth. The Associate would also work with teen volunteers to perform other library duties as assigned.
· Follow VISTA program goals
· Participate in HandsOn training
· Work with librarians to create, organize, and implement workshops and programs for K-12 youth
· Assist librarians with K-12 summer reading projects
· Provide additional library support
· Experience leading youth in educational activities
· Ability to work well in diverse teams
· Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative
· Strong desire to dedicate 8 weeks full-time to working with youth
· List any desired skills for position here
· U.S. Citizens, nationals or lawful permanent residents and between 18 – 24 years of age
· Must have a minimum of a High School Diploma
In addition to the minimum requirements for the program, this position requires the following:
· Fingerprint clearance and background check, and obtain a Volunteer badge with the City.
Summer Associates receive benefits and support during and after successful completion of summer service. Associates are eligible to receive:
· A Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $1,222.22 or a $230 summer end-of service stipend
· On-site orientation and training
· A living allowance of approximately $1,790 (for 56 days) to cover necessities during service
· Involvement in the AmeriCorps VISTA Alumni Network and eCommunity
· Orientation and on-the-job mentoring and training by library staff
What if you had the chance to learn magic from Harry Houdini, baseball from Babe Ruth, or acting from Harrison Ford?
While those adventures may be out of reach, you do have the opportunity to learn meteorite hunting from one of the world’s most famous and successful meteorite experts, who lives and works right here in Arizona.
After 21 years in the meteorite business, three years hosting the award-winning TV series “Meteorite Men,” and a million dollars in meteorite finds, Geoff Notkin is ready to share his knowledge and expertise with the public at “Meteorite Hunting Boot Camp,” May 1-3 in Tucson.
Participants will learn the art and science of meteorite hunting from Geoff himself and will be expertly trained in how to hunt for space rocks. You are guaranteed to find one or more meteorites of your own, and whatever you find, you keep! Geoff has personally found thousands of meteorites on four continents and is ready to share his secret storehouse of knowledge with you!
For complete details, visit www.meteoritebootcamp.com. Take advantage of special pricing for participants who live in the Tucson area and/or wish to arrange for their own accommodations and meals. Time is running out and space is extremely limited, so register today!
Intel Has Been A Leader with Interest and Involvement in STEM Education For Decades
By: Michele Peters, AZ SciTech Writer
Intel, the world’s recognized leader in technology is deeply involved and concerned with tech education known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). But instead of only voicing their concern, they have built a culture to help ensure the next generation is totally tech savvy and a program built around transforming education to meet 21st century challenges, where students will need 21st century skills, including how to communicate and collaborate.
One entire section of their website is devoted to and outlines concrete strategies and actions to initiate that transformation – Intel® Education. “Intel® Education delivers a comprehensive approach to creating successful learning environments. By developing a strategic plan that supports your education vision, you can build a robust infrastructure, choose the right devices, and source the best software for your needs—all keys to driving a holistic solution for student success.” http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/video/way-learning-shou...
Renee Levin, Intel Public Affairs Community Engagement Manager, remarked, “…Kids are interested in science if given the opportunity to play and try to solve simple problems get involved…we must give them the opportunity to play in engineering and science.”
A recent opportunity for kids to “play in science” was the Chandler Science Spectacular, held in February. Here students were able to engage in actual hands-on demonstrations provided by companies and schools. There were only demonstrations and activities and where students talk about STEM with STEM professionals those actually involved – literally it was a day of hands on science.
And speaking of hands-on science, nothing is more hands on than students creating their own research and science fair projects, where Intel again leads the way. The Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF) is the largest science fair in Arizona being held on April 6 at the Phoenix Convention Center http://azsef.org/ . But that is just the beginning. AzSEF brings
together first-place winners from school, homeschool, district, county and regional science fairs across Arizona to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarships. The Grand Award winners in the Senior Division from the state-level fair will be selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) taking place May 8–13, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/competitions/internatio...
This is not your ordinary science fair! Each year, approximately 7 million high school students from around the globe present their original research at local science competitions. All hope to qualify for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair but only 1,700 winners of local, regional, state, and national competitions are invited to participate. Participate and compete they do. The best and brightest from 70+ countries share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research, and compete for more than $4 million in awards and scholarships.
Intel’s support of STEM education goes beyond community activities and here again, they not only give voice to their commitment but take action; their commitment is thoroughly embedded within the corporate culture and extends to their employees. Intel strongly encourages and supports their employees’ involvement in the STEM education initiative; involvement in the classroom is of particular focus. Levin commented, “…when Intel employees get involved in the classroom, it is a way that kids can get acquainted with someone who is actually works in a STEM field, most kids don’t know anyone in these fields.”
With so much going on in the community and their intense involvement with students, Levin was asked about any particular incidents or stories about kids or their interaction at one of the many events sponsored by Intel. With that, Levin chuckled and said “ping pong ball launcher”. A young boy became totally enthralled with the ping pong ball launcher he was making. He spent quite a bit of time constructing the launcher then reworking it to see if he could make it launch further and further with each adjustment. The boy did not want to leave even when Dad was ready to go. Dad commented “ I just spent over $100 on a gaming system that doesn’t even begin to capture his attention like this, I would have done just as well with cardboard, tape,
tongue depressor, Dixie cup and duct tape.”
Before ending the interview, Levin commented on the partnership between AZ SciTech and Intel; an important partnership that has been ongoing since the initial start of AZSciTech. “…The partnership is very exciting and tremendously collaborative with a common goal of making Arizona a destination for seeking STEM education AND employment.”
SNEAK PEEK! This dynamic duo are embarking on another collaboration – Communities of Practice where different combinations of the like-minded in STEM education, from different areas, schools, organizations, businesses and employees from all sectors come together to solve STEM education challenges. Each member in the community brings their unique perspective and experience into the collaboration to solve the most pressing education issues of the present and the future. This collaboration has national roots and extremely far-reaching results for many!
As Levin stated, “Intel is not only perceived as the leader in STEM education, Intel strives to BE the leader in STEM education and there’s a lot of action between those words!”
UAT, Small Private Tech College Prepares the Programmers, Engineers and Tech Innovators of the Future.
By: Michele Peters, AZ SciTech Writer
If the thought of becoming a robotic engineer, game innovator, cyber warrior or forensic sleuth sounds right up your alley, then the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) needs to be on your “aware of” list.
This small, private college tucked quietly away in the Tempe area is a bastion of education for those who are into the world of latest technology and STEAM. In short, UAT is a committed catalyst to making the region a hi-tech hot spot and create opportunities for the future STEAM professionals in our area.
But in these times of sprawling universities, thousands upon thousands of students on multiple campuses…what does a small, private university solely dedicated to technology look like? An interview with Dr. David Bolman, UAT Provost and Dean clarified everything “…if I could build a college based on STEAM, what would it look like? Unique, interesting and high energy…a college that I would have gone to, if it had existed when I was choosing a school…stimulating, engaging and creative. It would be an example of the best thinking – practice creativity – practice STEAM. More than take classes, pass tests and get a degree. It would include creativity into the curriculum, within the scope of the class. For instance, learn how to build a robot – then actually build that robot. We build a culture at UAT, the students actually try out what they want to do…”
According to Bolman, technology and helping create the professionals of tomorrow also includes learning about history, art, and culture, it includes learning to work in teams. Build and design something together, as a team; teams that are comprised of diverse people, different ages. Technology needs to be adaptable and be part of our lives, conscious of who we are as a people, it’s aesthetics, it’s design; it is who we are as a culture. This is the future of STEAM.
In Bolman’s opinion, the future of jobs in Arizona will be science and STEAM-based which was a major reason he gave for UAT sponsorship of the AZ SciTech Festival. He stated, “taking part in the Festival plants the idea of a future career in STEAM in the minds of Jr. high and high school students. It will be much easier to fill the pipeline with STEAM-educated professionals if we get these students thinking about STEAM careers now, thinking they can create a life, a career, doing this.”
And Bolman’s opinions are supported by facts. The Department of Labor refers to the ‘sciences’ as the ‘Creative Class’ job classification, STEAM jobs will represent 35-45% of those ‘creative class jobs. Bolman continued, “…in Arizona it will easily be one in three jobs – these will be STEAM jobs. “…we want to be the model of what STEAM education will look like ten years from now, to help students become immersed in STEAM.”
UAT and its stated mission “to educate students in advancing technology who innovate for our future…” is perhaps one of the main reasons UAT has been a participant in the AZ SciTech Festival since the Festival’s beginning five years ago and is now a much appreciated sponsor of the annual event. “The AZ SciTech Festival, all of its activities, hands-on demonstrations, wide breadth of STEAM, fits exactly with our philosophy of creativity and STEAM education. A great example is the AZ SciTech Chief Science Officer (CSO) initiative and the CSO Camp. This extends STEAM education far beyond the realm of ‘support’.
So for all those technogeeks, soon to be technogeeks and wannabe technogeeks, there really is a dream college experience for you – where your technogeekiness, your uniqueness combined with the power of a well-rounded education in technology is your future in STEAM. And it’s right here in Arizona!