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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.


Guest Author: Allie Nicodemo, associate editor, Office of Knowledge Enterprise

Carbon is constantly cycling between Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. It moves in different forms among living things, soil, sedimentary rocks, fossil fuels, the atmosphere and the oceans. Recently, people have begun releasing large amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. This causes changes in our global climate and creates problems for human well-being.

Arizona State University researchers address carbon issues end-to-end, from the point of emission to capture and storage to reuse. The university brings together specialists from across academic backgrounds to address not only technical issues, but also political and socioeconomic issues of decarbonization to get our carbon cycle back in balance.

Check out our series on carbon to learn about policy, carbon capture and more!


Guest Author: Allie Nicodemo, associate editor, Office of Knowledge Enterprise

Carbon is constantly cycling between Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. It moves in different forms among living things, soil, sedimentary rocks, fossil fuels, the atmosphere and the oceans. Recently, people have begun releasing large amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. This causes changes in our global climate and creates problems for human well-being.

Arizona State University researchers address carbon issues end-to-end, from the point of emission to capture and storage to reuse. The university brings together specialists from across academic backgrounds to address not only technical issues, but also political and socioeconomic issues of decarbonization to get our carbon cycle back in balance.

Check out our series on carbon to learn about policy, carbon capture and more!

Photo Caption: Carbon moves through the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere in various forms, in a process known as the carbon cycle. Illustration by Jessica Flanagan. Click to enlarge.

Abstract Submission Site Opens — September 15, 2015
Abstract Submission Deadline — October 15, 2015

The Materials Research Society Announces its Call for Papers for the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit.
Web submission only; fax or e-mail submissions will not be accepted.

For over 30 years, the MRS Spring Meeting has served as a major international stage for the examination of current and emerging materials research. Over time, the Spring Meeting has reached an attendance of over 5,000. While much has changed since that first Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1984, most notably in technical scope and attendance, the MRS Spring Meeting continues to be multidisciplinary and multinational, attracting researchers from all scientific fields, backgrounds and employment sectors—students to Nobel Laureates—and providing a glimpse of the future of materials science.
Now, we are excited for our first Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona—the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit! The size of the Phoenix Convention Center will allow all daytime events to take place “under one roof,” providing attendees with easier access to multiple symposia, enhancing the interdisciplinary nature of the MRS Meeting and affording expanded networking opportunities.
We’re confident the move to Phoenix will bring with it a great meeting experience, and we’re looking forward to a new and exciting chapter in MRS Meetings!
The program features a record-setting 62 technical symposia on topics that include:
  • Characterization and Modeling of Materials
  • Energy and Environment
  • Electronics and Photonics
  • Materials Design
  • Nanotechnology
  • Soft Materials and Biomaterials
Invited or contributed speakers, poster presenters, industrial exhibitors and sponsors—this Conference is yours to build through your scientific and technical contributions and your participation to the MRS program. We believe that with your contributions, the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit will be the best yet!
For further information on the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit, visit www.mrs.org/spring2016. To receive email updates on upcoming meetings and workshops from the Materials Research Society sign up here. Additional information is also available from MRS Member Services by phone at 724-779-3003, fax at 724-779-8313 or email at info@mrs.org.
New research reveals how the strategies of Candy Crush can be embedded into course design to motivate students
Boston, MA, August 6 2015 Engaging and motivating students in their studies is one of the biggest challenges faced by teachers today, with recent statistics* stating that over 40 per cent of full time four-year college students in the US fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years and many never complete their education.
A potential solution to this problem has been identified by a mother and daughter research team from the University of Akron, USA, in a new study from Emerald Group Publishing, global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society.
Evangeline Marlos Varonis, Instructional Designer from the university’s Design and Development Services department, and Maria Evangeline Varonis, English teacher, are both casual players of King Digital Entertainment’s game Candy Crush Saga. This led them to question what it is about the game that drives them to keep playing?
The article, ‘Deconstructing Candy Crush: what instructional design can learn from game design’ from Emerald’s International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, reveals how the strategies used in the game can be applied to academic course design in order to motivate students to persist and to enhance learning outcomes.
Evangeline Marlos Varonis explains: “As our students can become disillusioned with traditional course design methods, a major part of my role as an Instructional Designer is to research alternative ways of delivering course content. Gamification, using game design elements in non-game contexts, is a growing trend which has influenced our work in recent years. This led us to question how Candy Crush motivates players to continue. What began as participant observation soon expanded into a full ‘deconstruction’ of the game’s features.
“Our study identifies the key strategies used by the game and illustrates how these can be embedded into course design in order to help keep students focussed and engaged, and to motivate them to continue through their course right up until completion.”
As part of  Emerald’s dedication to highlighting current research through informative and thought provoking content, we have produced an infographic inspired by this study called ‘Designing an academic course? Five tips from Candy Crush you need to know’ which is available to view and share on a dedicated web page together with related research articles.
Complimentary access to the original article is also available until the end of August 2015.
– Ends   – 
Notes to editors:
*Source: National Centre for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research’s report: ‘Understanding the College Dropout Population’, Jan14. Data correct as of 29.07.15
About Emerald:  www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com
Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,500 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs.
Emerald is COUNTER 4 compliant. It is also a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.
Dawn Williams
Content Communications Executive
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Phone: +44 (0) 1274 785226

1Arizona Game & Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is pleased to announce some very exciting upcoming programs for teachers and students. Please check out the brief descriptions below and click on the appropriate links for more information.

As always, if you have any questions, please email me directly at eproctor@azgfd.gov rather than replying to this email!

Using Cameras to Study Wildlife

The advent of digital cameras has opened up new avenues for studying wildlife. Today, the digital camera is one of the most widely used technology tools in wildlife management. In this unique workshop, teachers will have the opportunity to learn about ways cameras are used in wildlife management while creating some relevant classroom materials.

This workshop is taking place in the Tucson area on Saturday, August 22.
Click here for more information and to register. Hurry: only a few spaces remain!


Learn about Our New and Updated Resource Trunks

One of the most popular educational materials that we provide are the resource trunks. Sometimes called bone boxes, these trunks have a variety of tactile resources that you can bring into the classroom. We have spent some time updating these materials and are very excited to share these changes with you! In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to experience the materials from at least four of our loaner boxes.

This workshop is taking place in the Phoenix area on Saturday, September 19.

Click here for more information and to register. Space is limited.


Workshop Helps Integrate Science and Social Studies

The struggle to preserve America’s wildlife is an amazing tale of national and natural history. It is a story of what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal. And it provides an engaging context to integrate science, language arts and American history in the classroom. Join us for a day-long teacher workshop and learn how to bring the history of wildlife management into your classroom.

This workshop is taking place in the Phoenix area on Saturday, October 24. The content and resources are geared toward secondary teachers. However, all are welcome to register. There is a $25 fee to participate.

Click here for more information and to register. Space is limited.


School Group Sport Fishing Program

We are pleased to announce that the application process for our “Sport Fishing Education Program” is now open. All Arizona educators who work with grades three and above are welcome to apply. Because the demand is often higher than we can accommodate, a random drawing will be held to fill the number of available spots. If selected, your school will receive an hour-long classroom presentation and a 3-4 hour hands-on fishing event at a nearby body of water.

For more information and to submit your application, click here. But hurry: applications are only accepted until August 14!


Eric Proctor
Wildlife Education Coordinator
Arizona Game and Fish Department
(623) 236-7243

Sign up for FREE AZ Game and Fish e-newsletters at http://www.azgfd.gov/signup

Your wildlife is the Heritage Fund’s Legacy!

1National Hispanic Environmental Council

Dear Students, Educators, and Enviro Leaders:

For those who have not seen our earlier emails, the National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC) is still accepting applications from students to attend our 14th annual, national “NM Minority Youth Environmental Training Institute”, to be held August 8—17, 2015, at national forests, parks, laboratories etc. in beautiful northern New Mexico.  NHEC covers all costs to attend.  The Institute is held and students housed at the Glorieta Conference Center in Glorieta, NM.

This is one of 3 Environmental STEM Institutes- in NYC, CA, NM- that NHEC operates across the country as we work to build the next generation of Latino/minority environmental professionals and scientists.  Interested students should apply promptly for this unique opportunity.

Regarding eligibility: as this is a national program the Institute is open to students from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The NM Institute is an intensive, residential, science-based, 10 day long environmental education and envir. career program for top students, aged 17-20 deeply interested in the environment and a related major/career.

Through a full scholarship, NHEC covers ALL costs for students competitively selected, including transportation, housing, meals, science equipment, and more.

Using our Environmental STEM curriculum students learn a range of environmental and conservation issues.  Students also conduct Environmental Field Studies (air, soil, water testing, biological assessments, tree ecology, birding, more) using high-tech science equipment.  Also participating are volunteer role models–environmental professionals, many minority and from the sciences—who engage/inspire students to pursue an environmental/conservation career.

The sponsors are the U.S. Forest Service; U.S. EPA, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Thus students will also learn about federal internships, jobs, and research opportunities with these agencies, and how to apply.

So if you are passionate about the environment, enjoy science, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, AND been seeking a job in the enviro arena, this program is for you.

The attached contain all materials for students to apply, including selection criteria. Please read the Fact Sheet first; it has a full overview of the program.

To answer three FAQ’s: 1. yes, slots are still available although going fast.  2. there is no deadline per se; NHEC reviews applications/selects students on a rolling basis until all slots are filled.  Students are strongly urged to apply asap.  And 3. as this is a federally funded program eligibility is limited to U.S. Citizens, Permanent Legal Residents, and those with DACA status.

Lastly, we ask you to forward this email to those interested in this exciting program, including qualified students, educators, colleges, organizations, and more.  We thank you for your help.

Please contact NHEC’s Programs Coordinator, Juan Rodriguez, atjrodriguez@nheec1.org<mailto:jrodriguez@nheec1.org>
orrrivera@nheec1.org<mailto:rrivera@nheec1.org>  if you have questions.  Or call NHEC at 703-683-3956.   You can also download the materials to learn more about NHEC/our Institutes through our website at  www.nheec1.org<http://www.nheec1.org>

Roger Rivera
President, NHEC

2Ted Kraver

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

I took my first online course in the early 1990s from the University of Arizona. The course was on the most profound human issue, “Consciousness,” a subject that has been studied and written about since ancient times. Decades of brain-mind research have generated hundreds of professional papers but have not gotten much further than Descartes’, “I think therefore I am.”

Prior to this online course, Northern Arizona University had been a pioneer in distance learning using a microwave tower system. The main classroom in Flagstaff linked to satellite classrooms around the state reaching all the way to Yuma. Later our Arizona Community College system linked their ten community colleges (from Pima to Northland Pioneer to Arizona Western) with a similar but non-microwave system based at the Maricopa Community College headquarters in Tempe. Since then online courses from K-12 through university graduate school have proliferated.

I had chatted with a gentleman at an Arizona Business and Education Coalition function. He works for a Chandler ed-tech company named Glynlyon.  Glynlyon is a conglomerate of four eLearning companies. One is Odysseyware, a pioneering Chandler, AZ company that is offering hundreds of simulation and interactive courses in the K-12 sector.

Some courses are strictly online and others are “blended” with seat time in a classroom with a teacher. There are even “flipped” courses! One study showed that flipped classrooms where students watch video lectures at home and address questions and problems in classroom, as highly effective.  The test scores increased in 67% of the classrooms. Ninth grade math failure dropped from 44 percent to 13 percent.

Along with community colleges and state universities, selective-admissions colleges are also branching out from ivy covered bricks and mortar buildings by delivering flexible learning.  In 2006 MIT and Harvard founded the massive open online course (MOOC) system with the online learning platform called edX. It is currently offering over 300 courses to 3 million students worldwide. Yale has a master’s in medical science degree for physician assistants. One lifespan learning student took classes at Berkeley, Brown, Stanford and Yale without earning a degree. My youngest son is the creative director for a major video game developer and has invented a number of new animation capture devices for his company. In lieu of college credits he spent his time using his highly developed self-learning ability.  

With our economy moving toward independent employment, specific learning and detailed listing of skills on a resume is becoming important. But for human-resource folks in the larger corporate and public sector entities, the degree(s) remain highly significant. Each of us must determine what is best of us.  But mandate for all students is their need to learn how to learn informally as well as formally. To self-manage a lifespan of learning using a plethora of sources, an individualized strategic learning plan is needed. 

What has worked for me is to find a quiet spot. I used a dark corner in a large public library (mom was a county librarian, so go figure!). ) First is a couple of hours just thinking about who I am now, my current situation and what I envision for the future. When the thoughts stop coming, I put down my pencil, and imagine one or more pathways into the future. Eventually decisions gel.  Then I decided what formal and informal education and training I might need. One of my early “library” decisions lead to an engineering job in Phoenix when I graduated college. A decade later the process started me on my 30 year quest for a PhD in engineering.  The following decade I decided my entrepreneur skills had a weak academic foundation, so off I went to get an MBA … and so it has worked for me. 

As I write this I am thinking that maybe it’s about time to hang out in a quiet library again, see you there. 


This past weekend Arizona SciTech in partnership with over 70 middle and high schools and dozens of community partners convened its inaugural Chief Science Officer Summer Institute.

CSOnoteBookfinalpg1Held at Tonto Creek Camp just outside of Payson, 88 of our Chief Science Officers or CSOs experienced a variety of workshops, science activities and talks to enhance their leadership, communication and ties with fellow CSOs. Community mentors or “SciTech Jedi” joined us from premiere Arizona organizations such as Intel, State Farm, Honeywell, TGen, UAT, ASU, Freeport McMoRan, Flinn Foundation to name a few.

CSOs – Enhancing the Voices for STEM 

CSO2A core component of the CSO concept is to increase student “voice” in the local, state and national conversation about STEM. All too often discussions about education and the workforce take place without potentially the most important stakeholder…students! What adults view about the future workforce may not be aligned with our students’ visions. To address this, CSOs are selected through a general election and tasked to capture the voice of their student population. As the number of CSOs build, so will their collective voice. To this end, students are organized into a statewide cabinets and work with one another and address larger, high impact issues and gaps as a collective group.  Starting with an inaugural cohort of 120, it is anticipated there will be over 500 elected CSOs by year 3 of the program.

We have high aspirations for our CSOs both at their school and in the community. By the end of the season each CSO will have:
– Attended a CSO leadership institute at Tonto Creek Camp
– Attended at least 2 regional or state-level cabinet meetings
– Identified and collaborated with a SciTech Jedi (community mentor) on their projects
– Participated in the online CSO mentorship class facilitated by the Arizona SciTech team
– Developed a personal CSO online profile
– Bridged at least one STEM opportunity and/or event with their campus
– Participated in at least one community conversation about STEM and education as an ambassador
– Published at least two blogs about their CSO experience on or off campus

Potential Reach CSO1

It is anticipated ~1300 students will be directly impacted in year 1. This includes the 120 elected CSOs and an average of 10 peers each CSO teams with at their school to support campus STEM programming. We anticipate an additional 7,000 – 35,000 students will indirectly be impacted through CSO related programming such as the general CSO election, students attending STEM related events and CSO related communications such as blogs, journal articles, website and social media posts.


Photo Designer: John Drury

2Ted Kraver

Guest Author: TheodoreTedKraver, Ph.D.

Let’s assume you aspire to a career in one of the STEAM areas of science, technology, engineering, arts or math. Then no matter what age or education level you must be ready to learn whether with formal education or on the job.  There are significant challenges. One is financial.

An AA degree or trade skill can be a vital entry into almost any STEAM career or higher education.  The current no-tuition access to public high school has not yet been extended to public community college and trade schools. The proposed federal plan for free community college has one flaw; it should have been implemented decades ago, like in other developed countries.

Access to hands-on learning provided by trade school or two year college is vital for many STEAM occupations. But four years is the universal goal for social mobility, and to build expert competence and knowledge, and secure better paying and stable employment.  About 70% of parents want K-12 to be more challenging so their children can achieve at least a middle class lifestyle. Unfortunately only 50% of parents expect their children to achieve four years of higher education.  Families stressed with financial hardship are another major cause of student failure.  The starting point of academic learning readiness are pre-schools, not only for low-income children but for all children. Unfortunately less than one third of Arizona preschoolers are enrolled, placing us at 49th in the country.

The goal of Common Core standards and testing is to lift students from all economic sectors and prepare them for higher education and advanced training skills. Standards and testing cost little compared to the all up annual cost of $13 billion for Arizona K-12 public education. Unfortunately they do little to get at the root cause for student failure, the need for pre-school education and parental support for all students.

That magic number of 49th academic readiness compounds from preschool through primary to middle to secondary school system until high school remediation is not possible. Maybe 49th in PK-12 annual investment is the problem. Maybe I should address the challenge in more familiar business terms.

Let’s rename PreK-12 education to Arizona Education Enterprise (AEE). Now onto an analysis using STEAM and business management methodologies. Scientific research and engineering math has revealed that current operations are only 30% successful. Forty percent (40%) of students graduate but are not ready for higher education or training. Worse, 30% of students drop out before graduation. Our AEE product line produces 30% scrap and 40% of potential sales are rejected by our customers due to inadequate quality.

The business approach would be to hire a skilled turnaround engineer that can fix our AEE production processes with emerging technologies, effective practices and industry research.  She installs a continuous education and training system for all employees. This consumes 10% of their working time but increased efficiencies and effectiveness more than compensate.  Every software, hardware, process and facility vendor provides input to redesign of the production facility. Research based metrics and systems are installed to deliver real time feedback for the workers. Significant new investment is secured to the transformation based on the expected efficiencies and drastic reductions in scrap and customer returns.

Could be science, technology, math, engineering and yes artistic analysis, integrated with business investment practices would start the tractor moving from back 49 acres of learning readiness into the blue ribbon for student success at the Arizona State Fair.

Ref. Frank Bruni, “Cradle to Ivory Tower” NY TIMES  2015


By: Gabrielle Olson and Sarah Mason, ASU LightWorks

When you think about light, what comes to mind? Do you think of a campfire in a dark forest, stars from a galaxy far away, or the neon sign across your street?

However you choose to envision it, light is all around us. Humans have had a long history of experimenting with different ways to use light. Some of the greatest minds have dedicated their lives to understanding how to make light, and how to use it. Light is part of how we communicate, navigate, learn and explore.

This year, Arizona State University LightWorks in partnership with other departments throughout ASU celebrate innovators from the past and present who have contributed to light science and its applications through the United Nations’ International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). To participate in the university’s light-oriented events, continue to visit the LightWorks website, asulightworks.com.

“Light doesn’t just provide us the ability to see, it is a power source, a source of inspiration for writers and artists, and a mechanism through which we can communicate and discover,” said Gary Dirks, director of ASU LightWorks and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. “At ASU LightWorks and across the university, we embrace the entire spectrum of light-oriented research, expression and discovery. By celebrating the International Year of Light with the United Nations, we can illuminate all that our students and researchers are doing with light and how their work impacts the globe.”

Learn more here.