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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

Family STEAM Night Photo for Blog 3-11-15

Guest Author:  Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

A night well spent with your family could also be a good time to learn more about science. For that purpose, you can come to Family Science Night, a community event for all ages. The idea is to provide professionals a forum where they can teach students how STEM is a part of the community. “We showcase careers of interest to the students of which many of their parents are a part of in the working community. This event shares how STEM is in every field whether it be medicine, hygiene, sports, law enforcement, space, computer, salons, etc.,” says Tamara Santilli, Villago Middle School, Science Department chair.

The event is good for school-age kids who might only know some cool careers from TV show or movies. The professionals who come to this event can give students a “behind-the-scenes” look at many cool careers such as Border Patrol, Crime Scene investigations, Astronomers, Exotic animal handlers, Sky divers, dentist, hair stylists’ and more.

The most interesting part of the event is the hands-on interaction between professionals of the community and the student body. “Often the public has a tainted view of SWAT, Border Patrol, Sheriff and other law enforcement. This forum allows the students to get into the vehicles (helicopters, DUI van, Border patrol cars, police vehicles, and more) and learn about the science and technology involved in getting a job done right,” Santilli explains.

As simple as it sounds, the interaction can actually break down barriers that society has created with our youth and opens doors to our youth about their potential career opportunities. At this event, students meet and interact with professionals (who often are parents of our student body) in a way that is not “typical” to their profession.

“This is a fantastic forum for all that attend. One featured lab is the “Volume Lab” where our student band performs right alongside former band members that have now started their own band as a profession. Their sound is not only seen and heard but also transferred into computer images via audacity computer programs,” Santilli states.

Family STEAM Night Photo 2 Blog 3-11-15As important as the learning process is, the fun part is, of course, as important. Visitors can expect to engage in hands-on activities from well over a dozen different venues. “We make fresh butter from fresh cow’s milk, we program robots to complete a task, we investigate a crime scene and take fingerprints, we play computer games against our children, we look at the stars through telescopes and so much more,” Santilli says.

The Family Science Night is in its 5th year. Last year, the event hosted between 300-400 members of the community. Of course, Family Science Night can always use more people. “Our goal is to double with 600 people in attendance.  We want to broaden the outreach in our community with the help of the SciTech advertising community,” she adds.

Let’s help them reach their attendance goal and benefit along the way! Come to the Family Science Night. It’s family that matters the most, and a mix of family and science goes a long way!

Family Science Night takes place on March 12, 2015 at Villago Middle School. 


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Guest Author: Debbie Gubernick, writer, Arizona SciTech; DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

What has five neighborhoods, two stages, eight open houses and tours, and is filled with wonder?

The answer is Science City at the Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB), held March 14-15 on the University of Arizona mall. Over the event’s two days, people of all ages will enjoy free demonstrations, shows, author panels and signings, and presentations from UA researchers about their cutting-edge work.

Presented through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, the TFOB and Science City promote literacy, and in the case of Science City, particularly science literacy. Over 125,000 people attend TFOB, making it the third largest book festival in the nation, so the UA College of Science and Bio5 Institute, co-hosts of Science City, are thrilled to invite so many people to discover the amazing science and research being done at the university.

Lisa Romero, UA Bio5 Institute’s Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs, discussed the importance of welcoming the public: “We’ve really found that it’s an amazing opportunity to open our doors to the community, to say, ‘Come on in and see some of the things that we do!’ And I think it astounds people, the amount of cool science that’s going on here, the cool research.”

Four neighborhoods encompass the science of everyday life, the natural world, the world of tomorrow, and the human body. Each neighborhood features interactive demonstrations and activities that will expand visitors’ understanding of the world around them, within them, and beyond them into space.

This year, Science City welcomes a new neighborhood, the Science of Pi, to mark Super Pi Day. There will be multiple ways to explore pi, from a hands-on method of estimating pi with toothpicks and parallel lines to a digits-of-pi memorization contest. Be sure to visit the neighborhood Saturday at 9:00 a.m. to participate in a special Super Pi kickoff activity.

Science City also offers a Stage and a Café, with schedules that include talks by authors and top scientists, panel discussions, and live animal demonstrations.

In addition, Science City expands its reach beyond the UA Mall with eight open houses and tours scattered across the UA campus. Be sure to check the event schedule for information on days, times, and locations—many of the tours, such as the UA Steward Observatory’s Mirror Lab tour, are very popular and fill quickly, so plan your day with that in mind.

Bio5’s Romero explained why the institute is enthusiastic about Science City: “It’s very unique, and it’s the largest STEM event in the state. One segment of our mission is to be a conduit to the public, to make science accessible, to make science exciting, to engage and then train our next generation of scientists.”

She added: “The point is to make people walk in and go, “Wow, I didn’t really think I liked science, but I didn’t even know that WAS science!”

Science City at Tucson Festival of Books
Saturday, March 14 – Sunday, March 15, 2015
University of Arizona Mall
University Blvd. and Cherry Ave.
Tucson, AZ

2Pi Day 2015

Guest Author: Debbie Gubernick, writer, Arizona SciTech; DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

For thousands of years, humans have recognized the special relationship between a circle’s circumference and diameter. The Greek letter p, which is pronounced like “pie,” was first used to designate this ratio in the 1700s. Luckily for us, we live in an enlightened time when we can celebrate pi in all its glory at the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s Pi Day.

Pi Day was first marked on March 14, 1988 at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. The date 3/14 was selected because it corresponds to the first three digits of pi (3.14). This year we have not just Pi Day, but Super Pi Day, with the date 3/14/15 corresponding to the first five digits of pi. And not only that—at 9:26:53 a.m. and 9:26:53 p.m. on March 14, 2015, the date and time will correspond to the first ten digits of pi.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History’s Pi Day will present a variety of ways to explore and appreciate pi, from math games and learning stations to scavenger hunts, presentations, and yes, pie. All Pi Day events are included in regular museum admission.

Games and learning stations will help visitors visualize pi. At the Tossing Pi station, people will play a game with toothpicks that demonstrates a surprising method to calculate pi. Another fun activity will feature a mirror and the number 3.14 to hold before it—try this at home to discover the surprising and tasty result.

Younger visitors will enjoy the museum’s scavenger hunt. Round objects will be hidden throughout the museum, and children will have opportunities to learn about pi as they search for those objects.

To help visitors understand the importance of pi, planetary scientists from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration will discuss how pi is used in their research.

And of course, there will be pie to eat.

But there’s more to March 14, 2015 at the museum than pi and pie. This day will also mark Albert Einstein’s 135th birthday, so in honor of the legendary physicist, children will be able to craft their very own Einstein hair and glasses to wear and take home.

Super Pi Day only comes once every hundred years, so throw some toothpicks, ask a scientist, and raise some pie to Einstein as you celebrate Pi Day this Saturday at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

Pi Day
Saturday, March 14, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
53 N. Macdonald
Mesa, AZ 85201

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Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

If Arizona landscapes are classrooms of sorts, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is among the state’s most impressive stages for science learning.

Verde River Valley Nature Organization celebrates our state’s natural resources with ‘Outdoor Science Fest,’ the second Verde Valley event with AZ SciTech Festival.

All are invited to enjoy the interactive demonstrations and discussions with a focus on experiential, outdoor learning. Featured topics include technology used for mapping, birding and wildlife applications.

A geocache scavenger hunt will demonstrate GPS systems, in addition to presentations on digital overlap mapping, thermal mapping and compass mapping techniques. A hang glider fly-in with model airplane reception will complement the aerodynamics feature. Learn about birding by sound with birding apps, scopes and other equipment.

Wilderness enthusiasts will enjoy the demonstrations on wild foraging and herbal remedies. Specialists will be on hand to showcase tools and techniques for soil and water testing. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at ‘clay play,’ there will be local sources of clay for some classical manufacturing.

Outdoor Science Fest takes place March 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the lagoons of Cottonwood’s Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

VRVNO enjoys the outreach to community, visitors and youth, extending their mission to provide recreational, education, and nature tourism opportunities that support stewardship of the Verde River Valley. The organization is proud to highlight the importance of outdoor recreation, responsible use of natural resources, advances in technology and local applications of the natural sciences.

The Verde River Valley Nature Organization is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) supported by volunteers, sponsors and grants relating to the organization’s Vision and Mission. VRVNO is the umbrella organization of several other youth and adult opportunities. In April, look for the four-day Bird and Nature Festival that includes a Student Field Trip day with local schools and an all-ages Family Nature Fest.

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Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Fair, **SARSEF**, would like to invite everyone to Cox Communication’s Future Innovators Night at the Tucson Convention Center on Wednesday, **March 11th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.**

Families can enjoy live entertainment, hands-on science, and demonstrations in every field of science and engineering. Make a comet, watch physics in action, generate energy, create potions and handle live animals. There will be raffles, a Treasure Hunt and more! In addition, the top 2,000 students from 20 cities will be showcasing their research at this free event and parking at the TCC is included!

**About SARSEF**

SARSEF began in 1955 as a modest event involving 100 science projects, and grew into a year-round organization that provides FREE educational outreach to over 30,000 underrepresented students in areas of poverty. Each SARSEF brings together educators, academic researchers, technology companies, parents and student scientists for a weeklong celebration of science discovery. 75,000 students in Southern Arizona — from kindergarten to high school – designed projects for their local science fairs. Only the best of those projects have been selected to advance to regional competition.
SARSEF 2015 is showcasing 1,850 of those top-level research projects, and awarding more than 700 prizes worth over $100,000 including college scholarships, cash, science equipment, and all-expense-paid trips to international student science fairs.

Contacts: Liz A. Baker, liz@sarsef.org, (520) 343-8651; Kathleen A. Bethel, CEO, Kbethel1@cox.net, (520) 940-1963.

2Canyon Ridge STEAM Night Poster

Guest Author: Ester Skiera

Just like parents who are proud of their kids, Canyon Ridge is proud of its students and their achievement. To show their pride, the school presents STEAM Night at Canyon Ridge. The event is the school’s signature school wide (K-8) event. The event is all about the students and the work they’ve done in the school year. “It’s about the Science they do, the Technology they use, the Engingeering they participate in, the Arts that are integrated, and the Mathematics they incorporate into all of it,” says Jeremy St. Germain, Assistant Principal.

In its third school, the school is not lack of STEAM enthusiasts. The students are excited to show how all the aspects of STEAM can be incorporated into their daily lives today and in the future. “The best part of the event is the students who display their work and show off their hands-on experiments and technology experiences. The best information during the event comes directly from the students,” St. Germain explains.

The students in Canyon Ridge is lucky, the school is so committed to STEAM. For the purpose, the school also works with Arizona SciTech Festival. The collaboration allows Canyon Ridge to broaden its sources, and give the school more connections to make with STEM type programs, people, and resources that could further the education of the students.

“Arizona Science Center has come out and done family activities for our families during our event the past two years and we plan to have them this year. We also want to highlight all of the student work that will be on display and explained by the students,” St Germain adds.

School is the place to learn about things that matter in life, and STEAM is one of them. But getting the students’ interest in STEAM field could be a challenge. STEAM Night at Canyon Ridge is really a good way to make the students realize how STEAM is not just lessons taught in class rooms. After all, the students have a chance to show the work they have completed. How excited is for middle grade students to have their own grade Science Fair? And to get involved in family STEM activities presented by Arizona Science Center?

To make the event successful, visitors are very important. So, let’s plan on attending the event, to see and participate along with Canyon Ridge as they showcase of sites and projects presented by students. And let’s hope the school continues to carry on the event for many years to come.

STEAM Night @ Canyon Ridge School takes place on March 12, 2015 at Canyon Ridge School.

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Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Celebrate the Arizona SciTech Festival at the Phoenix Zoo for Conservation Science Night, Friday, March 13, from 6 – 8 pm. This year’s Phoenix Zoo Conservation Science Night is focused on “Who is a Conservation Scientist?” The event is for all ages, and designed to feel what it’s like to be doing the work of a conservation scientist. Community Engagement Manager, Sarena Gill describes, “Attendees will participate in interactive activity stations that highlight the science and skills involved in conservation, engaging with various conservation scientists and learning about the local species on which the Phoenix Zoo Conservation focuses.”

Participants will learn about data collection and data modeling that’s done as part of the Phoenix Zoo’s own research work.  It may surprise some to know that the Zoo participates in both local and global conservation efforts. At the local level, they are working to maintain healthy and self-sustaining managed setting populations of multiple endangered species natively found throughout Arizona. Current work relates to the Black-footed ferret, the Chiricahua leopard frog, the Gila topminnow, the Narrow-headed gartersnake, the California floater, the Desert pupfish, the Mount Graham red squirrel and the Springsnail. On a global scale, their mission is to provide experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.

Gabby Hebert, director of education at the Phoenix Zoo explains, “This event is a collaboration between the Zoo’s Education and Conservation Science Departments. Actual scientists will be there, showing the research work they do in the lab and in the field. Kids learn scientists are real people, doing what they care about.”

So come on out to meet real conservation scientists and try your hand at conservation science activities, including:

  • Spotlight a black-footed ferret just like it’s done in the wild
  • Help collect behavioral data on Mount Graham red squirrels
  • Test your snail counting skills
  • Make a pledge for conservation
  • And much, much more!

(No live animals will be part of the activities – these are threatened and endangered species!)

The event is free, but space is limited. Advanced registration is required. Call 602-914-4333 to reserve your spot today!

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Guest Author:  Debbie Gubernick, science writer, Arizona SciTech; DebbieDoesSTEAM.com

It’s a simple premise with powerful results: engage K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research projects to enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF) is celebrating 60 years of providing students across Southern Arizona with the opportunity to experience first-hand the thrill and excitement of scientific research.

Over 1,800 research projects will be showcased at this year’s Cox Future Innovators Night, held at the Tucson Convention Center Exhibition Hall on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The projects, selected from 75,000 entries, represent the work of K-12 students from seven counties and 22 cities across Southern Arizona.

Cox Future Innovators Night, an Arizona SciTech Signature Event, celebrates the students’ work with an evening of hands-on science and engineering demonstrations, raffles, and a treasure hunt. The research projects will be on display in the exhibition hall, along with exhibitor booths and a submarine.

In addition, the Dune Sea Garrison will appear in costume as Star Wars characters. Michelle Higgins, SARSEF’s Director of Development, noted that an interest in science fiction can influence later career choices:

Talking about future innovators, there are so many engineers that were inspired by Star Trek and … Star Wars. That’s huge, that’s part of the legacy of STEM.

Admission to Cox Future Innovators Night is free and Cox Communications, a proud supporter of STEM learning in Arizona, is delighted to provide free parking at the TCC for the event.

SARSEF and Cox want everyone to experience the exciting possibilities that STEM learning presents to our state. So parents, bring your children. STEM employers, get a peek at your future workforce. Community members, see the science that Southern Arizona’s children are exploring in their classes. Be ready to create comets. Mix potions. Touch live animals. Generate electricity. And have a smile ready for your Storm trooper photo op. Discover how SARSEF is building and preparing Arizona’s next generation of STEM researchers.


Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

The party’s not over when the sun goes down!  At STEAMtastic and Star Party, that only means the event migrates from the building to the parking lot. The reason is, the Phoenix Astronomical Society and the PVCC Astronomy Faculty have high-powered telescopes out to view the night skies, and both of the towns, Cave Creek and Carefree have dark sky ordinances for excellent stargazing at the Black Mountain campus. And, visitors are welcome to observe. How awesome is that?

But wait, what’s the event about? STEAMtastic is an event designed to promote science in everyday life, centered in the Cave Creek/Carefree area. The community event brings Paradise Valley Community College at Black Mountain together with Cave Creek Unified School District and many local businesses together to provide hands-on experiments showcasing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

“Our event is different in that it is just outright awesome! All of the activities are hands-on and run by college and K-12 students and faculty, and businesses in our community. We have a glow-in-the-dark room, life-sized angry birds and molecular gastronomy, which means there are things to eat. The event is not only for kids. We have a 21-and-older room where adults can learn to brew beer, and see how to kick-up your party with color changing drinks and mixology tips,” explains Loretta Mondragon, site manager – PVCC at Black Mountain.

For school-age kids, the event is also as special. It gives them clarity of how STEAM works as an integral part of everyday life. “All kids have played the game Angry Birds, but they might not realize the physic and math needed to advance to the next level. STEAM activities can help young students understand how fun science and math can be,” Mondragon says.

In its third year, the STEAMtastic and Star Party understands how to capture the audience’s interests. “The event is not a traditional science fair, a ‘look don’t touch’ event. All of the activities are designed for hands-on and participation. The event also doesn’t leave you trying to remember how to do an activity once you’ve left; at the event you receive the secret pass on how to create the activities at home,” she says. Of course, all for the reason so visitors participate and enjoy the event. “We hope families, friends, and community come out to enjoy the afternoon through the eyes of science,” she adds.

So take your adult self to see the event, and bring the kids with you. You get to brew beer and taste the foods, the kids have a chance to participate in numbers of activities. And if you feel like going on with the party, the Star Party waits for you to present you another fun experience of STEAM. Besides, who doesn’t love stargazing?

STEAMtastic and Star Party takes place in Black Mountain Campus on March 12, 2015 from 4:00pm to 7:pm (activities and demos) and 7:00pm to 10:00pm (Star Party)


Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer Arizona SciTech

It’s full STEAM ahead at Casa Grande Union High School District for their fourth annual SciTech Festival!

The CGUHSD SciTech festival is focused on engagement, with a “maker section” spanning submissions from students throughout the day and culminating in a single work. Activity stations will be positioned throughout various hands-on areas, with student leadership and participation on full display!

Outside guest partnerships will help students connect their high school learning and choices, their options at Arizona colleges and universities and their employability in high-tech and high-touch industry throughout the state. Organizers have selected partners with amazing insights for students, sharing not just what they do, but how students can find a pathway to learn and achieve.

The CGUHSD SciTech Festival takes place Friday, March 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Union High School 2730 N. Trekell Road in Casa Grande.

CGUHSD has been a part of the Arizona SciTech Festival since its inception and hosted the first Pinal County School SciTech event. The festival will help students connect to STEAM across multiple disciplines. CGUHSD students are excited to share what they have learned and to provide experiential opportunities to others. With the Maker movement, CGUHSD will experiment with a collaborative between students focused in the arts and sciences.

Organizers hope that participants will cement their own understanding through presentations and speaking with other students and guests, in a spirit of mutual learning. Attendees will develop new interests, ideas and pathways for STEAM in Casa Grande, in Pinal County, and across Arizona!

CGUHSD wants stakeholders to know that STEAM is an undertaking that improves the foundation of Arizona’s society and economy. This festival showcases how STEAM learning connects and empowers Arizona students in the competitive contemporary economy.