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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.


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.


John Kriekard, Ed.D. Director of Education

Science Foundation Arizona

1SFAZ Conference Flyer


Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, writer, AZ SciTech Festival 

Due to popular demand, the ARIZONA Sports Fan Expo is back!  On Saturday, April 18th, 2015, Westworld North Hall in Scottsdale, will host this 2nd annual sports extravaganza! Find great deals at the Sports Card and Memorabilia Center and win tons of contests and prize giveaways. It is an all-day fun-filled event, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

SPORTS EXPO4Visit the AZ SciTech Science of Sports Pavilion. This is a grand opportunity to learn all about STEM in sports. Arizona SciTech Festival is a sponsor of this event and will presenting: Ask the Umps; Sports Medicine Tips; The Science of Dance Movement, featuring The Bracken School of Iris Dance; Pitching Tunnels, measuring your throws; Ask the Master of Martial Arts; and much more.  It’s a get up and get moving event where athletes and enthusiasts of every sport come together to learn, participate, share, and shop.  This is the perfect opportunity to visit hundreds of exhibits under one roof to learn about the newest products on the market.

There’s so much to do!

Watch our city’s finest police officers and firefighters compete in an all and out wing eating battle of the wills. Enjoy putting around with pro golfers.  Take part in mini-clinics in basketball, football and soccer. Watch a martial arts demonstration. Learn all about umpire secrets. Get a lesson in survival and lifesaving techniques for handling medical emergencies when biking, rafting, rock climbing, scuba, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Hop up on the stage to join the Irish dancers from Bracken Irish School of Dance.  Chat with a champion motorcycle racer. Try your hand with Handle Fitness, from KinectTM, a motion-based video game that tracks the movement of your body and every bounce of the ball as you dribble to the beat of the soundtrack. Now that’s science, technology, engineering in math all in one!

SPORTS EXPO3Representatives will be on hand from: Cardinals, Suns, Mercury, Arizona United.  Alumni players, cheerleaders, and mascots will be on hand for free autographs and photos. Find out what is going on in sports with Arizona universities.

Shoppers out there should be sure to check out the sports and fan gear at the marketplace.  Be witness to the Native Grill & Wings World Wing Eating Championship.  And if wings are not your thing, don’t worry. There will be plenty to eat for every appetite in the food truck court.

Tune in for the LIVE AUCTION!  Bidding starts at $10. Registration and Item preview will be from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and auction will be held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
For complete terms and conditions of the Sale, please visit https://americanauctionco.com/

For more information go to: http://www.azsportsfanexpo.com


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

Over two decades ago Michael Moe, now of CFA of GSV Media (gvsmedia.com), started writing about the long range systemic issues of education.   We have been building on each other’s ideas ever since. His Nov 23, 2014 issue of “A 2 Apple” compares our health care industry to our education industry and is the source of most of following data/info.

In the early 1960s health care and education had about 6% each of gross domestic product (GDP).  These GDP levels were large but there was little investment in what was a cottage industry with weak technological innovation and wide variance in quality and quantity of service. Both were inefficient in serving the needs of their clients but, health care was ready to change all that.

By the mid-1970s, because of my bio-medical company,  I was on a task team in Washington designing regulations that brought higher professionalism with requirements of proving “safe and effective” to the medical device industry.  At that time, average less than $5 million (2014 constant $) was spent on research to bring a new drug to market. The health care industry had grown to 8% of GDP with 2% of capital markets but it was still capital light and a cottage industry.  By 2014, focusing on cost and outcomes the healthcare industry has tripled in size to 18% of GDP with over 400 companies with market caps of over $1 Billion. Total federal and corporate research is over $100 Billion. The technology and markets are ubiquitous and the gap of care between the disadvantaged and advantaged populations has closed significantly.

Unfortunately the 2014 education industry is still at 8% GDP but there is some indication that transformative innovation has begun to close the education gaps between disadvantaged students and advantaged students. Education is still technology light, a cottage industry, and only has 0.4% of capital markets. The market value of the top four education companies is less than a third of the 10th largest healthcare company.  Research investment is about 1% of healthcare. Healthcare focusing on costs vs. outcomes has pretty much completed the heavy investment phase of its transformative innovation cycle and is expected to decrease its consumption of GDP to 12% by 2025 as efficiencies of STEM kick in.

If education is going to accelerate up the innovation curve then it has to change its traditional focus on non-profits vs. profits and refocus its future on cost vs. outcomes. The STEM based education industry and federal research investments must break out of the mid-20th century doldrums to recreate education with a 21st century model. The physical infrastructure is leading the transformation.  Schools are at 50% PC computers and internet connections now. By 2025 along with broadband connectivity, should be in the 90% range.  The all up current cost is approximately $10,000 per student.  All it takes is for Arizona to invest about 5% more on physical infrastructure. The additional cost for intellectual infrastructure of educator salary increase to a professional level, educator education and training, and digital curriculum would be about 10%.

As with healthcare the cost of investments will climb until the outcomes are secured and then start to drop as the outcomes payoff with much higher efficiency and effectiveness.  The payoff for education is the significant decreases in dropouts and increases in college/work ready graduates as new STEM enabled pedagogy is used to serve the needs of individual students.

For healthcare it was the investment of increasingly effective STEM developed pharmaceuticals, testing and data systems whose investment cost drove medical GDP from 8% to 18%. Cost savings outcomes are expected to drive  it back to 12% by 2015. I doubt that education will have a shorter innovation cycle. If healthcare takes the five decades then the forecast for educational utopia is for 2060!  But governance policy and investments have the power accelerate the transformation.  Maybe if Arizona decides to redefine educators as part of our STEM workforce we can reach the goal a decade earlier.

By Debbie Gubernick, science writer, Arizona SciTech, DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

When he first approached me six months ago, I said, “I don’t know, Ian, a hackathon? How does that go with what Raytheon is all about? We’re all into cyber protection.”  Everybody thinks negatively about hackathons, but they really are trying to do innovative problem-solving in real-life situations while at the same time giving students practical experience and opportunities they won’t get inside the classroom.

                                —Sharon O’Neal, Software Engineering Director at Raytheon, talking about when Hack Arizona director Ian Tracey proposed that Raytheon sponsor the event

A new understanding of hackathons as celebrations of innovation, creativity, and collaboration–this is just one result of Hack Arizona, the University of Arizona’s first hackathon. The weekend-long event took over the UA Science and Engineering Library March 6–8, 2015.

Working in close partnership with Raytheon and other sponsors, a team of InnovateUA students produced the hackathon, inviting college students from Arizona and around the country to participate in a 36 hour marathon of experimentation and problem-solving. Almost half of the 425 students who attended Hack Arizona were from outside the Tucson area, helping to establish Tucson’s position as a leader in innovation. As InnovateUA’s Executive Director Justin Williams put it, the event “raised the profile of Tucson and the University of Arizona on a national map. It brought in hundreds of top talent to work over the weekend.”

The team behind Hack Arizona was adamant that the event be student-run. Sponsors contributed hardware, prizes, and volunteer mentors, but the event planning and execution were completely student-led.  Raytheon’s Sharon O’Neal was impressed with their success:

I can’t tell you how many times throughout the entire weekend we were like, “I can’t believe it!” The kids are like 18 and 19 years old and they are pulling off an event of this magnitude, interacting with the President of the UA, the CIO of UA, and it was like, “Did we ever do this when we were students? No way!”

Raytheon stood out among Hack Arizona’s 45 sponsors because of the depth of their commitment to the event. Williams discussed Raytheon’s integral role over the weekend:

Raytheon was one of a couple of main sponsors, not just from a dollar perspective but from a commitment-to-making-it-happen perspective. Raytheon probably had 25 to 50 volunteers at the event over the weekend [in fact, 60 Raytheon employees volunteered at the event]. They donated 15 quad copters to use over the weekend, and they were the largest cash sponsor as well, so they were a partner, not just a sponsor.

O’Neal elaborated on the enthusiasm that grew at Raytheon at the prospect of participating in the event:

It was the software engineering directorate that got involved in the event. Once we took that and shared it with counterparts in the other disciplines–systems engineering, signals processing, electronics–they all wanted to get on board, so they joined us.

We need to hire interns, and we need to hire permanent employees when they graduate, so it was a beautiful blend, a beautiful timing of our particular needs along with money to develop a stronger relationship with the students in the computer science groups at the UA.

Hackathons provide a unique environment for both students and sponsors, which Williams outlined:

It’s one of those experiences where you work as a team, you work in an intense environment, you work with a goal in mind, and it’s your first project-based experience. We brought employers from around the country into Tucson to build out a network and they sponsored because they want to recruit–this is the coolest job fair. What you’re getting to see is the real world experience and capabilities of the talent, you’re getting to work with them over the weekend, your team is able to work with them, they get to see your brand and they see you as being part of someone supporting their culture of building things.

Raytheon’s O’Neal added that it was exciting to watch the students in action: “They’re innovative, they’re not afraid of a challenge, they have energy, and they have great ideas.” The hackathon gave the company the chance to “match them up with some of our more experienced engineers to help inspire them to want to come work at companies like Raytheon.”

One surprising result was that the hackathon showcased the culture of building and innovation that exists throughout the UA. Hack Arizona invited “not only engineers and computer scientists to participate but … innovators all over the entire campus,” explained Williams. “InnovateUA is very intentionally trying to draw the innovation culture from places where it’s not obvious. If you’re in mechanical or electrical engineering, you’re already a maker, you’re already building stuff. But there’s a tremendous amount of talent and similar kinds of experiences coming from the English department—we’ve got a partnership with the digital humanities program. One of the biggest things to come out of the event was campus-wide engagement. These things had previously been handled in clubs, and clubs only reach a certain scale.

Both Williams and O’Neal are exploring ways to bring the lessons learned at Hack Arizona into other programs. Commented Williams:

There are some important things to learn from this that I am going to try to bring into other programs that we do. One of which is that hackathons are really exhausting and hard work, and the more mature you are in your career, the less interest you have in participating in that, because it’s so much work. But college students can do this. So we’re looking at how do we create a different model of tech talent engagement, demonstration, community building for the talent we have in our community that are more mature and experienced industry professionals.

At Raytheon, O’Neal and others are contemplating what a hackathon for Raytheon employees might look like:

We haven’t figured it out yet, but the core team, it includes people like me, very experienced, long-term career employees and some of our early career hot shot folks …who are two and three years out of college, what we are going to do is try to come up with a hackathon internal to Raytheon.

Once we have the concept of how that would work, we are going to take it to the Vice-President of Engineering to see if they will  back it. It probably won’t be a 36-hour round-the-clock event—that probably won’t work with your average professional—but we can come up with some innovative solutions. We have a cluster of resources to use here at Raytheon. Let’s turn it into an 8:00 a.m.-to-midnight kind of thing, whatever makes sense. Figure out what kind of problem you want to solve. 

Talking about Raytheon’s involvement in future Hack Arizona events, O’Neal added: “Now that people understand what a hackathon is and they understand how important it can be to our future workforce, I would expect that we won’t be the only organization planning on how we are interacting with the event itself. It was like this energy that was contagious.”

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Gila County is located in central Arizona, including the cities and towns of Globe, Hayden, Miami, Payson, Star Valley and Winkelman. The county is beautifully dominated by green luscious pine forest. The beautiful Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is also part of Gila County. In short, Gila County is worth visiting. But, is there any other interesting features besides the natural settings? The answer is, yes! There is!

The county is a big supporter of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) celebration. Gila County is home to Gila County STEMFest, that features more than 40 booths hosted by different agencies, organizations, business, school groups, clubs and engaged individuals. Payson, is one of the cities in Gila County that has an honor to run the Gila County STEMFest. Of course, the Arizona’s Cool Mountain Town is a perfect city to hold a festival that attracts so many people to come. But how did it come to Payson?

After the great success of STEMFest in southern Gila County, Gila County School Superintendent Linda O’Dell initiated a second festival in the northern part of the county. The Payson STEMFest was held in May of 2014. Superintendent O’Dell, in an effort to capitalize on the momentum, decided to move the Payson STEMFest event to the fall. A second STEMFest was held in October of 2014. The decision paid off. The attendance at the second festival more than doubled that of the first.

At Gila County STEMFest Payson, festival goers have the chance to take part in hands-on, interactive STEM activities. Learning from past activities, that have included: solar energy education (APS), renewable energy and water education (SRP), chemistry and robotics projects (Payson High School students), rescue maneuvers with ropes (Tonto Rim Search and Rescue Team), the art and science of ranching (Gila County Cowbelles), “robot fish” (AZ Game and Fish Dept.), engineering know-how (TetraTech), how germs spread (Gila County Health Dept.), range monitoring (UA Cooperative Extension Office), and many more, make the Festival a really fun time to visit.

The STEMFest also gets a great deal of support from Arizona SciTech Festival. “The Arizona SciTech Festival has been very supportive from the beginning, working with our rural community to foster the organic birth of this favorite spring event for many locals. Being a part of the Arizona SciTech Festival has opened doors to new partnerships as well as inspired new ways to grow the festival,” says Holly Sow, Communications & Outreach Specialist from Office of the Gila County School Superintendent.

Sow believes that the event would not be possible without the many partnerships that have been established and the great community support. “The support of Gila County, the Town of Payson and the Payson Unified School District, has been crucial in the realization of STEMFest,” she explains.

So, when the weather starts to cool down and it’s nice to hang out outside, why not consider coming to Payson in Gila County? Payson is a town where the trees are green and the weather is crisp and cool. The city has also long been known for some of the best events in Arizona, including the Payson Hometown 4th of July Celebration. Add to that list, the Gila County STEMFest Payson, where you can have fun, and learn more about STEM.

Gila County STEMFest in Payson will be taking place in the fall, October 2015. The exact date and venue will be determined later.

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech 

Do you have science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related questions that you have had a burning desire to have answered for some time? Would you like to understand why an electric guitar creates sound? Or, what would your clothes be made of if you had lived hundreds of years ago? If you attend the 2014 Gila County STEMFest in Globe, these kind of questions will be answered. And you also will discover many other exciting things, including hands-on demonstrations.

What’s STEAMFest? It’s a free community event sponsored by Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O’Dell and made possible by the many organizations, businesses, agencies, clubs, and civic groups that come together to bring STEM alive in Gila County.

And this year, Gila County STEMFest is back for the fourth time. It features more than 40 booths hosted by different agencies, organizations, businesses, school groups, clubs, and engaged individuals. At each booth, festival goers have the chance to take part in hands-on, interactive STEM activities. Past exhibits have included: solar energy education (APS), drone technology and chemisty in the copper mining industry (Freeport-McMoRan), soil texturing (USDA-NRCS), mobile communications systems (US Army), properties of natural gas (Southwest Gas), fluorescent properties of rocks (Gila County Gem & Mineral Society), heavy equipment simulators (Freeport Training Center), robotics (Globe High School Robotics Team), and many more.

STEMFest brings kids and their families face-to-face with STEM in a fun, engaging way. STEMFest makes learning fun while conveying the message that STEM affects us all in so many ways every day of our lives. “New Arizona College & Career Ready Standards call for an increased awareness by students of how the subjects they learn can be applied in the real world – that is exactly what STEMFest provides. STEMFest not only demonstrates how STEM is used in the “real world,” but it also lets festival goers hear and witness it first hand from the professionals and experts themselves,” says Holly Sow, Communications & Outreach specialist, Gila County School Superintendent’s Office.

The Gila County STEMFest is unique in its organic quality. Each year, STEMFest boasts more than 40 booths offering a broad range of interactive and hands-on learning experiences for festival goers of all ages. STEMFest is an event for the entire family that offers fun, excitement, wonder, and discovery.

“We hope that festival goers will come curious and leave inspired. We hope that families will continue to talk about the things they discover at STEMFest and even try some of the experiments at home. Above all, we want families to have fun learning about STEM together,” Sow describes.

Sow also highlights that the event would not be possible without the many partnerships that have been established and the great community support. “The support of Gila County, the City of Globe, and the Town of Miami, has been crucial in the realization of STEMFest. The local copper mines – Freeport-McMoRan and Pinto Valley Mine, a subsidiary of Capstone Mining – have not only provided financial support of STEMFest, but provide volunteers to host demonstrations every year,” she states.

Come to Miami in Gila County for the STEMFest. It’s spring, and it’s time to get out of the house and have some real fun. And while you’re at it, gain some new knowledge that will give you a better understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math. What could be better than that?

Gila County STEMFest Globe will be held on Saturday, 25th of April 2015 from 9am to noon at Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum in Miami, AZ.

The Yavapai County GIS, Flood Control and Health Departments will be participating in the Verde Valley SciTech Festival. Our specific event will be from 5-7PM on March 23rd in the Yavapai County BOS meeting room (10 S 6th St, Cottonwood).  “What in the World is GIS”  will be showcasing GIS (Geographic Information Systems) through sample web mapping applications and wall maps. “Flood Control is For You” will demonstrate the purpose and functionality of the District’s real-time flood threat recognition system. The Community Health Education Department will use multiple props to help explain the harm of unhealthy choices to students around the Verde Valley.  Check out the diseased lungs, fat vs. muscle and  “Mr Gross-Mouth”  displays! This is a free event.

For Immediate Release –  March 16, 2015

Terri Nelson, Yavapai County GIS, 928-649-6233