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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.


Guest Writer: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Lone Mountain Elementary, an A+ school located in Cave Creek, Arizona celebrates its fourth annual math and science night. They are known for their awesome, “stem”sational teachers, but during this special event, young prodigies will step into their teachers’ shoes to show off their knowledge and skills with exciting STEM happenings going on right here in the great State of Arizona! These under-age teachers are reeved up and ready to shine!

This creative “teacher-student” staff will introduce new math and science concepts while presenting problems for attendees to solve.  Because they are creative educators, they will be encouraging, but will not “solve” the problems for their visitors.  Different stations will be set up throughout the school so attendees will enjoy a one-on-one experience with each qualified, young educator.

Lone Mountain Elementary cave creek (3)Last year participants found out how you could to step on six dozen eggs at once and not break one!  This year there is something to new to do with eggs that is just as “eggs”citing! Make a hypothesis about things you never even considered.  Learn fun ways to collect, record and present data.  You will think, explore, sort, color, cut, and PLAY!

This is guaranteed to be a fun evening for the whole family.  No experience is required for participants and the final result will be a great learning experience for all!

The excitement will be happening from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2015 at Lone Mountain Elementary School located at 5250 E. Montgomery Rd. in Cave Creek, Arizona.

2MIM 2 (3)

Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, writer, Arizona SciTech Festival 

The Musical Instrument Museum will soon be humming with performers and instruments from around the world at String Break!

Attendees of all ages can enjoy music, instruments and culture while examining the ways the science of sound influences instrument design and music performance.

Family Days at MIM:String Break with a Side of Science will offer three chances each day to see a special demonstration of the giant Octobasse, as well as two family-friendly STEM tours each day in the science of sound will play out on a variety of stringed instruments. Have fun with rare instruments, musical crafts, local musicians and science-based activities—all with the theme of “string.”

From 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. each day, ASU graduate students will demonstrate the newest equipment and experiments in electronic sound and music!

MIM hosts the third annual String Break from March 21-22 (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily) at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix.

Visithttp://mim.org/exhibits/all-events/ for the schedule of events each day.

All activities are included with paid museum admission and free for Circle of Friends donors, except admission to the special exhibition Beyond the Beat: Drums of the World (additional $7). 

Meet special guests from Fender Guitar Company and Roberto-Venn Luthiery School.
Listen to music from:

  • The Jam Pak Blues ’n’ Grass Neighborhood Band
  • Phoenix Conservatory of Music
  • Romen Buffalo and the Loyal Order Bluegrass Band
  • Rancho Solano Preparatory School’s String Ensemble

Touch instruments at the “Petting Zoo” (hosted by Jam Pak).
Make a simple stringed instrument and design a paper guitar.
Take a silly family picture at the MIM Photo Booth.
Hear a sweet story with the Story Time Band.
Explore stringed instruments on a Family Tour.
Experiment with technology and the science of sound.
Play a ukulele at the Instrument Spotlight.

2Heard Elementary School

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

It must be a relief for parents of Heard Elementary students who care about STEaM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) that the school has afterschool STEaM clubs. The clubs are for students in grades 4-8 and they meet once a week afterschool. “We have teamed up with IBM and they are supporting the clubs with volunteers from their company to help guide the students during their club time,” says Anthony Pietrangeli, principal of Heard Elementary.

Running STEaM clubs at school is a great idea. But what’s the best way to show off the students’ achievements in the clubs? By having a STEaM Showcase! Heard Elementary STEaM showcase is about having the students showcase their STEaM skills and talents that they developed during their afterschool club time, alongside of business leaders in the fields of STEaM careers.

“The efforts of the club meetings will be showcased with booth presentations at the SciTech Festival event. Along with the student showcase presentations, the event will also include business/professionals in the area of STEaM. All will have showcase presentations available for the participants to view and interact with,” Pietrangeli explains.

The event offers an opportunity for school-aged kids along with community to see the STEAM connections that exist across multiple arenas. For example: the students see the biology with the presentation from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, they watch the engineering with the Lego robotics exhibits, and they connect the arts by observing IBM brings technology, face painters, and balloon artists. “The event brings a layer of fun to the STEaM focus,” says Pietrangeli.

In its second year, Heard Elementary STEaM Showcase is back with more activities. In addition to the student showcase presentations, the business partners from STEaM industries also display interactive presentations. The student clubs also share performances, from the Dance Club, Guitar Club, Chorus Club, DJ Club, Band and Orchestra Club. A student art show is on display with the student artists present.

But what makes the showcase really special and a guarantee of fun for the visitors? The students’ presentations are being delivered alongside of IBM (and other STEaM career professionals) hand-on activities for the participants to interact with. In this event, students and professional are completely blended. “It becomes complicated to identify who the students are and who the professional presenters are,” Pietrangeli says.

So why don’t we see what they offer, participate, and have fun. That way we support them as well as we can encourage our kids to witness their achievement. Hopefully that inspires our kids to make their own achievement in STEaM areas too.

Heard Elementary STEaM Showcase takes place on March 13, 2015 at the Heard Elementary School.


Guest Author: Michael Mackowski 

SpaceUp Phoenix is a space exploration “un-conference” that is an element of the Arizona Science and Technology Festival. This all-day event is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2015 on the campus of Mesa Community College (MCC). SpaceUp Phoenix is being co-sponsored by the local chapters of the National Space Society, the Moon Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and MCC. The event will be held in the Physical Sciences Building (near the Planetarium on Dobson Road), beginning at 9:00 am and will run until 5:00 pm. Registration is $5 and covers materials and light refreshments.

This will be a “meet-up” type of event where all attendees are invited to give a demo, present a talk, or participate in a panel or roundtable. No real expertise is needed, as participants can simply pose a question to start a discussion. There will be no detailed agenda in advance, as presenters fill out a program schedule spontaneously at the event using sticky notes on a schedule grid. Think of it as a “pot luck” conference where everyone brings something to share. It will be an informal, fun, environment and everyone interested in space exploration is encouraged to attend.

Dr. Jim Bell, Planetary Scientist from ASU will be the keynote speaker at 9:15 am. We have invited other engineers and scientists from local companies and universities to participate, so there will space science and technology expertise in attendance to interact with in a way unlike any other conference you have attended. Attendees don’t have to stay for the entire day as it will be very informal.

On-line registration is now available at the SpaceUp Phoenix website and we encourage people to sign up in advance so the organizers can plan accordingly.

For more information contact Michael Mackowski at info@SpaceUpPhx.org or see:




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

For four years, Arizona SciTech has been in the forefront of encouraging innovation and collaboration across the state. By linking Arizona’s business, education, nonprofit, and governmental agencies, the statewide Arizona SciTech Festival now encompasses over 800 events throughout the Grand Canyon State.

This year, it was time to expand that vision of linking communities and testing technological boundaries. The Arizona SciTech kickoff press conference was unlike any previous one. In an outstanding display of technological knowhow, over 140 STEM supporters gathered at nine locations across Arizona on February 11, 2015 for the first-ever Arizona SciTech virtual press conference.

There were many hurdles to overcome to present the event, from securing access to equipment to finding potential remote hosting locations. This was where the University of Arizona’s Arizona Telemedicine Program proved invaluable.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) has provided comprehensive telemedicine services to every corner of the state for almost twenty years. Pete Yonsetto, ATP’s Video Conferencing Administrator, explained why ATP was a perfect fit for the proposed virtual press conference:

Our program has lots of experience with the technology to bring remote sites in via video.  We have the expertise and infrastructure hardware to have multiple virtual events happening simultaneously.  We do not dictate how end users utilize our resources, but facilitate the events for them.  Our organization was perfect for the SciTech event in that we have a nice facility in T-Health for presenters and we have the equipment to bring in many remote endpoints. The collaboration and technology that was presented on the 11th was a good example in how you can bring communities together via video. 

Once ATP was brought onboard as a collaborator, locations for the video conference’s remote sites were established. ATP staff had to visit each location to test and verify that the equipment would function correctly. Chris Martin, Assistant Director of ATP’s T-Health Institute described why preparation is essential:

There were a few things that helped make this a successful and smooth virtual press conference, but the most important was testing beforehand.  We had to do a lot of testing before the actual event took place.  Pete Yonsetto and I had to test each site that was interested in being part of the conference.  We wanted to make sure their video systems were able to communicate with our video systems.  Doing this beforehand is critically important to the quality of the videoconference. This limited the number of technical issues that we would have to deal with on the day of the event.

ATP’s T-Health Institute in Phoenix served as the press conference’s hub, seamlessly connecting to eight remote sites in Scottsdale, Tucson, Clarkdale, Safford, Mesa, Avondale, Chandler, Tempe, and Buckeye. In keeping with Arizona SciTech’s goal of uniting business, education, community leaders, and government to support STEM throughout Arizona, speakers included key Arizona SciTech foundational business and industry partners, college administrators, a student, seven mayors, and city officials from four cities. Seats at the remote sites were filled to capacity by community STEM supporters. In fact, the Tucson location at ATP’s headquarters required a second room to handle the overflow crowd—in all, twenty-four Tucsonans packed two rooms.

It was especially exciting to have the enthusiastic support of Arizona’s mayors. As ATP’s Associate Director of Facilities Janet Major commented:

Mayors are the folks who are part of the solution for places that have no bandwidth.  There is still a lot of disparity – and often it takes bandwidth to support STEM learning.  All of AZ should be “equal” but it’s not, in terms of telecommunications.

One of the mayors who noticed both the press conference’s collaborative use of videoconferencing and the implications of that technology was Tucson’s Mayor Jonathan Rothschild:

I was impressed with the use of technology, coordinated statewide, to get the message out to so many different venues. This speaks to what the State possesses, and our potential.

From the collaboration of partners across the state to the demonstration of what technological innovation can mean to Arizona, the Arizona ScTech press conference was an impressive event. As Al Magg, of MaggCommPlus expressed it:

Heck, this is a STEM program in itself…we used technology for technology’s sake…which I loved. Sometimes folks are afraid to try to new things…and Dave [Drennon, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Arizona Commerce Authority] and Jeremy [Babendure, Executive Director at Arizona SciTech] were fearless.

Below is a complete list of the mayors and speakers participating in the press conference:

  • Jeremy Babendure, Executive Director at Arizona SciTech
  • Diane Joens, Mayor of Cottonwood
  • Phoenix—Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix
  • Jonathan Rothshild, Mayor of Tucson
  • John Giles, Mayor of Mesa
  • Jim Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale
  • Kenn Weise, Mayor of Avondale
  • Georgia Lord, Mayor of Goodyear
  • Christian Price, Mayor of Maricopa
  • Brian Sherman, Senior Vice President at Arizona Commerce Authority
  • Victor Gonzalez, Economic Development Manager at Town of Sahuarita
  • James Perry, Dean of Yavapai College
  • Ryan Rapier, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Mt Graham Regional Medical Center
  • Phil McBride, Dean of Instruction at Eastern Arizona College
  • Sean Wenham, Community Development Manager at Freeport McMoRan Inc.
  • Bob Witwer, Vice President at Honeywell Aerospace
  • RJ Muller, Community Relations Manager at Cox Communications
  • Maria Castro, National Coordinating Committee at United We DREAM
  • Rick Heumann, Council Member, City of Chandler
  • Robin Arredondo-Savage, Council Member, City of Tempe,
  • Jennifer Rogers, Public Information Officer & Marketing and Communications Manager at City of Buckeye
  • Sari Custer, Director of Educational Events & Integration at Arizona Science Center

Watch the Arizona SciTech virtual press conference online at https://streaming.biocom.arizona.edu/event/?id=25705&play=1&format=hd

Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Buckeye is celebrating STEM with a multi-site tour: The Inaugural Buckeye SciTech Trail!

This exploration of the sciences spans the fields that are helping Buckeye grow–health and wellness, forensics, energy and water treatment. All are invited to this all-ages event that covers a variety of STEM topics–there’s something for everyone!

The Buckeye SciTech Trail runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on February 28, 2015, at the five locations below.

  1.    Buckeye Fire Station 3 (2582 N. Verrado Way) will provide demonstrations about the science of fire, police/forensics.
  1. Banner Health Center Verrado (20751 W. Market St.) offers a tour of the state-of-the-art facility designed to accommodate health and wellness needs of community and patients. Banner is also hosting a 60-minute Arizona Science Center program.
  1. Palo Verde Educational Center (600 N. Airport Rd.) explores the world of energy with hands-on activities. West-Mec, Estrella Mountain Community College, and the Civil Aviation Patrol will also be on-site offering demos.
  1. Sundance Buckeye Water Treatment Center (21699 W. Yuma Rd.) reveals the science behind where our water comes from and where it goes.
  1. Buckeye Public Library (310 N. 6th St.) – Public Works will be on hand to give a demonstration.

For the first time, these presentations are a collective celebration in order to make it easier for families to experience different parts of STEM in a compact geographical area.

Buckeye SciTech Trail organizers hope to show participants how deeply STEM is embedded around us, and to dispel notions that science is arcane.

Attendees young and old can connect with experts in the community to forge a path for future development in science.

See you on the trail!

BUCKEYE FLYER - ENEWS SciTech_2-28_event_flyer_final

reniassance student days (3)

Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer, AZ SciTech Festival

It’s time again for the Jr./Sr. Student Days at the AZ Renaissance Festival in Gold Canyon, AZ!

For a quarter of a century, the Renaissance Festival has taken students back to the 16th Century to experience how the thinkers, dreamers, and inventors of that era paved the way for the modern world.  It is a place where students learn about history by living it for an entire day!

The Renaissance Festival is located at 12601 E. US Hwy 60 in Gold Canyon.

On March 5th, Time Travelers will be heading to the AZ Renaissance Festival STUDENT DAYS, Age of Discovery, Innovation & Exploration for Jr. High and Senior High Schools throughout the state.  It is the 4th season as an Official SciTech Event! Huzzah!

The Festival will introduce students to renaissance inventions such as the printing press, medical instruments, travel and trade routes and maps, armored cars, parachutes, mechanical clocks, microscopes, magnetic compasses, and much more.  It is a peek at early science, biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, math, engineering, and technology and a time to be challenged to journey into an unknown world without computers or cell phones.

Students will uncover the mystery of this era by immersing themselves into a world of royals and peasants, where geniuses like Galileo, Shakespeare, and Magellan spent their days creating, spawning the scientific revolution, thus beginning cycle of mutual advancement.

Here students will ponder the limitless opportunities still unearthed in the fields of STEAM.

All are guaranteed to walk away with new insights on customs and mannerisms, while also enjoying commedia theatre, jousting tournaments, and artisan demonstrations.


Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer, AZ SciTech

Immerse your students in the 16th century!

The AZ SciTech Festival is proud to present one of its Signature Events, the Arizona Renaissance Festival’s Age of Discovery Student Days. The Arizona Renaissance Festival gives students a chance to do more than just read about the renaissance –they get to experience it!

Student Days for Elementary Schools runs Tuesday, March 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Explore the Festival’s 30-acre, 16th-century European village. Roam the streets and pathways where you can talk to Galileo about astronomy! Observe in awe as artisans craft their wares using scientific techniques, demonstrating blacksmithing, glassblowing, shoe making and weaving.

Go to the CROFT-Local Yokel Village and watch chemistry at work in the daily chores of 16th century life. Speak to Da Vinci about his sketches, technical drawings, or pose as a painting subject, showing your Mona Lisa smile. Children will enjoy people-powered rides and games including Da Vinci’s Flying Machine.

Discoveries made in science during the Renaissance era not only changed the world, but continue to influence modern society.

There is so much to explore and learn! Make your way through our village with peasants, royals, knights, bards (perhaps you’ll encounter Shakespeare), a 13-stage theatre, an arts-and-crafts fair, and a 5,000-seat jousting tournament! Don’t miss this unique learning experience!

Mesa Center of the Arts (3) BLOG ENEWS 2-25

Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Mesa Arts Center celebrates creativity and innovation through the sciences and arts at the free, four-day event spark! Festival of Creativity.

The Spark Festival is a free and, immersive. All-ages feast for the senses with an abundance of opportunities to build, design, interact and discover one’s inner thinker.

The festival showcases work by artists who are pushing the boundaries of traditional media by blending science and technology with captivating visual pieces. Festival-goers will see the world through the artists’ eyes and will have numerous opportunities to leave their own creative mark on the event with hands-on arts experiences and more.

The Spark Festival has grown and evolved over the past five years, with the recurring focus on celebrating creativity. The 2015 festival incorporates the elements – earth, air, fire and water – into interactive experiences.

The Spark Festival takes place at Mesa Arts Center (1 E. Main St.) and runs from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on March 18 and 19, and from 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on March 20 and 21. There is no cost to attend, and parking is free.

On Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m., the campus will transform into Spark, with night-time performances and festivities culminating in a Saturday night fireworks display.

Held during spring break for many Valley school districts and in the heart of Cactus League Spring Training month, Spark will offer participatory activities, delicious foods, live music, original performances, collaborative art and more.

In addition to the traditional focus on STEM, Spark, Mesa’s Festival of Creativity adds an “A” (for “arts) for STEAM. Arts practices teach self-discipline, reinforce self-esteem, and foster the thinking skills and creativity valued in any career path. The art, exhibitions, interactive pieces and installations at Spark integrate science, art and technology in spectacular forms.

In addition to a robust lineup of live music and performances, this year’s festival features several interactive, large-scale pieces that integrate technology.

Festival-goers will be able to try their hand at studio art classes with $5 one-hour workshops including: Making Plates, Flameworking Beads, Watercolor, Shrinky Dink Jewelry, Improv with Names from a Hat and Enameling on Metal.

Organizers of Spark hope attendees are reminded that arts experiences are for everyone and that Mesa Arts Center abounds with opportunities to learn in and through the arts.

Geeks Night Out 2013

Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer 

Tempe is set for a convergence of exhibits, costumes and demonstrations at the fourth annual Geeks Night Out!

The City of Tempe has teamed up with the Arizona SciTech Festival for this spectacular blend of science, technology, engineering, arts, math and, of course, geekery.

The event takes place March 5, 2015,  from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Tempe City Hall Park (31 E. 5th St.).

This free, family-friendly event will enable all of us to Discover the Science!

Attendees can enjoy more than 70 interactive exhibits and activities from a variety of fields.

New this year is a low-rider demo from United Car Club, where participants have the opportunity to learn the science and engineering behind hydraulics.

Miss Arizona, Alexa Rogers, will preside over the PHX Comicon costume parade. The Improvisors will perform STEM improv.

Our theme is Discover the Science. Learn the science behind everything

The Geeks Night Out goal for young learners is to inspire them to pursue STEM education and careers. The organizers also want to help adults learn something new and become aware of STEM careers and companies in Tempe.

So embrace your inner scientist and come on down to Tempe for Geeks Night Out!

Geeks Night Out 2013