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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

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

AZ Tech Council - PlaneImage (3)

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

When you think, “Arizona,” what thoughts come to mind? One that should be among the first is that Arizona is a leader in the aerospace and defense industries. The state has created a thriving ecosystem where industry giants like Boeing, Bombardier Aerospace, General Dynamics, Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Orbital Sciences, and Raytheon Missile Systems work in tandem with hundreds of small and mid-size companies.

The Grand Canyon State’s aerospace and defense industry payroll ranks as the fourth largest in the United States. The salaries those employees take home are substantial—these industry workers earn an average of more than $83,000 per year.

Arizona SciTech recognizes the huge impact the industry has on our state and is proud to support the Arizona Technology Council’s fourth annual Aerospace, Aviation, Defense and Manufacturing Conference on March 5, 2015 at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas.

The conference was developed four years ago as a way to connect major aerospace and defense contractors with their supply base, and to showcase and support the industry as a whole. This year’s event, presented in collaboration with the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the Arizona Tooling & Machining Association, will feature a keynote speaker, presentations, and a cocktail reception/expo.

During the event, contractors will be able to outline their requirements to subcontractors, while at the same time small companies and manufacturers will have the chance to meet directly with industry decision makers. Arizona’s aerospace and defense industry encompasses aviation, space, unmanned aircraft systems, and military assets, so there will be wide-ranging conversations taking place throughout the event.

Leigh Matthew Goldstein, Arizona Technology Council Vice President of Operations and Events, talked about the conference’s success. “We have received great feedback on this event over the first three years. This includes exhibitors who have exhibited all four years (including the upcoming event) of the event. Each year now we have sold out our exhibit space and attracted over 250 attendees,” she said.

Tickets, from $50 to $75, are available on the Arizona Technology Council’s website, along with a complete conference agenda and a listing of participating companies.

Aerospace, Aviation, Defense and Manufacturing Conference
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas
6333 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Guest Author, Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech  

Over 20,000 fans are expected to join in on ‘Baseball City’, a free event with a host of interactive programs, clinics, brand activation platforms and appearances by current and former MLB players as part of the two day celebration that will kick off Cactus League play.

“Our vision with Baseball City was to give those fans even more added value to their spring training  experience; to allow  people young and old a little more engagement when they are not watching games,” said Mike Principe, CEO of The Legacy Agency.  “Bringing the event now to Scottsdale, within minutes of several of the facilities, will enhance the overall baseball experience beyond the traditional game day. We will have something for everyone, and believe that this will quickly become a ‘must attend’ for everyone making the trek to Arizona both this spring and for years to come.”

‘The Science of Baseball’ will be featured at the event as part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, bringing unique partnerships with schools and businesses to engage the public in hands on opportunities with the science behind sport. Microsoft will be demonstrating the Xbox, AZ Virtual Academy will be tying math to baseball statistics, and three professors from ASU will be doing scientific demonstrations around baseball. The Arizona Science Center will have educational activities related to brain safety, reaction time, baseball dissections, and finding the  “sweet spot” (center of percussion) on bats.

The lineup of participants in the event are expected to include: Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and  Orlando Cepeda , 2014 AL All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians), Chicago White Sox star Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac, the Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill, Oakland Athletics All Star pitcher Scott Kazmir and outfielder Billy Butler, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta, and Chicago Cubs outfielder Arismendy Alcántara among many others.


Guest Author: Ester Skiera

Arizona State University’s Emerge is here. That means it’s time to meet artists and scientists in an event that redesigns the future! Who’s in for the fun?

Arizona State University is one of the biggest Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) supporters in Arizona. Nature Magazine writes the University is becoming a player in the confluence of science and art. The University is so big at STEAM they have this spectacular event: ASU’s Emerge. “Emerge is an opportunity to think in radically creative ways about the future and our place in it,” says Ed Finn, co-director of Emerge and director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “The future is going to be a strange place, so a carnival is the perfect environment to explore the possibilities in a playful, improvisational way that’s still grounded in real science, real technology and real ethical questions,” Finn adds.

The event is for all ages. And, school-age kids are always encouraged to attend. “There are science, scientists, robots, art, artists, engineers, Lego project on site, theatre, Improv, actors, and radio (and NPR Radio lab). The host of NPR’s Radio Lab is there with a multi-media production. We expect the visitors to play and have fun,” says Cyndi Coon, Laboratory5,  Inc. and co-director,  Emerge.

The Emerge 2015, is a showcase of radically new visions of the future. The event is located at the University’s SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale. Everything about ASU’s Emerge is special, and always filled with stars. One of them is featured visionary Radio Lab Host, Creator and MacArthur ‘genius,’ Jad Abumrad. He joins spellbinding “visitations from the future” including theatrical performances, improvisation, games, dance and hands-on opportunities to design and build the future.

The theme of this year’s Emerge is The Future of Choices and Values. In this sense, according to Founding Co-Director of Emerge Joel Garreau, humans have unprecedented power to harness and reshape matter, energy and even life itself.

The Emerge is a big STEAM event, a much-anticipated occasion for STEAM enthusiasts in Arizona. It’s probably because the Emerge itself is packed with interesting figures, from artists to scientists, to designers, and many more. In short, it’s a full pack of brilliant minds. After all, the Emerge dares brilliant creative and technical minds to bring questions to life through performance, technology, and storytelling.

This year, ASU’s Emerge brings Jad Abumrad as the headliner. He hosts the popular public radio show that is broadcast on over 500 stations across the nation and downloaded more than 9 million times a month as a podcast.

ASU’s Emerge is a must-see event. Besides, who doesn’t love to see Ars Robotica, that’s presented with a curiosity: What if we could teach robots to dance? The answer is to be found there, and can be found through  ASU roboticists and performance artists’ as they take on the challenge using the Baxter industrial robot.

So come to the event with tons of fun and creativity. And don’t let it slide because you forget to reserve your FREE ticket. Make sure you claim your free ticket on http://emerge.asu.edu

ASU’s Emerge takes place on Friday, March 6, 2015, from 3:00pm to midnight. Free ticket with RSVP. 


2Bench the Bag 1

Guest Authors: Jennifer Alvarez & Adria Surovy, Town of Gilbert 

More than 20 Gilbert Public Schools and Higley Unified School District elementary schools are committing to “Bench the Bag” between February 9th and  March 6th; working together to keep one million plastic bags out of the landfill.

The “Bench the Bag” program, spearheaded by the East Valley Recycling Alliance, is not limited to plastic bags. The program also includes various types of plastic films that can be recycled, including grocery, department store, dry cleaning, bread, produce, and Ziploc bags. Any type of overwrap (paper towel, toilet paper, etc.) or shrink wrap will also be accepted. All bags must be clean; with no paper, receipts, or leftover food inside. Soft plastics from bulk or retail stores that are already being recycled or materials that have not been used should not be donated.

Bench the Bag 2 “Bench the Bag” is part of the Arizona SciTech Festival. As the students work towards their goal of collecting one million bags they will also be learning why recycling is important and how one person can truly make a difference. Once again, Bashas’ Family of Stores is helping our community by providing logistical support and prizes.

One school from both Gilbert Public Schools and Higley Unified School District will receive a bench for their school from Trex Company, Inc., a company that produces wood-composite decking out of the recycled bags. In addition, each participating school will receive planter boxes.

For a list of participating schools accepting public donations, visit gilbertrecycles.org. For additional information, please contact Gilbert’s Environmental Outreach Specialists at (480) 503-6459 or via email atrecycle@gilbertaz.gov

Environmental Services Transparent

2Ted Kraver

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

Job creation in STEM fields is expected to outpace non-STEM jobs by approximately a factor of two … 17 percent to 10 percent.  That’s great news since STEM jobs pay more than many other jobs and most have flexible career paths. That has been a lot more fun and profitable for me, a tall, white, male with northern European ancestry.  For the earlier part of the past two centuries folks like me have been dominant in the United States of America. Fortunately huge strides have since been made to bring equality of opportunity to all Americans with significant success in many areas. But this effort stagnated during the early 1980’s.

From the mid-1800s to the early 1900s the STEM era was mechanical, led by the steam engine. Next STEM driven era lasted until the 1950’s driven by electricity. We are now in the STEM era launched by the transistor. Computers, software, telecommunications and information have dropped many barriers to STEM opportunities. The dominant personal economic factor of upper body strength in the 1800s has long ago been replaced by mental capability which is equally distributed across national origin, race and gender.  STEM provides a powerful pathway to revitalize the equity struggle but we are also a part of the problem.

Currently White males have 51 percent of the science and engineering jobs and white woman have only 20 percent.  Asians are at 17 percent, Hispanics are 6 percent and Blacks are 5 percent with gender ratios about the same as Whites. This is a huge improvement since I stared my career in the 1950s.

Blacks earn on average have half the STEM college degrees as Whites and that ratio is falling. Hispanics and Blacks make up 26 percent of the work force but hold only 13 percent of the STEM jobs. The ratio is the same for Women. Black and Hispanic students are achieving college degrees at twice the rate that companies are hiring them. Leading technology companies are currently employing at a rate that is 30% of equity.

Equity in STEM employment is a very difficult and complex challenge. Many sociological, human behavior and economic factors are in play with both students and adults that educate and hire them. For many it is misperceptions of what science, technology, engineering and math is about. Students are faced with non-STEM traditions in the home, stereotypes, self-doubt and financial stress. Many adults that provide education and manage companies are stuck in outdated hierarchies, policy that has proven ineffective and prejudice that is hard wired in youth.

It seems that our STEM world has its own Star Wars’ish dark side. But STEM advocates believe we have a role in this equity battle with our strong suite of innovation, rationality and individual dream fulfillment.  Each February and March our Arizona SciTech Festival takes a major step along this equity path by promoting and coordinating thousands of inclusive STEM events throughout out our state. Get involved and enjoy.

Ref:  “A Future Segregated by Science,” Charles M. Blow, NY Times Feb 2, 2015

Ref: “The Three S’s of Sustainability,” Michael Moe, GSV Media, Feb 1. 2015.

Ref: “Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee,” Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg, NY Times Feb 6, 2015

2Cochise College

Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech

“As the world gets more connected, it also gets more complex. We now operate on a global scale, and our job in education is to help learners develop knowledge, skills, and abilities to thrive in this new environment,” says Jaime Casap, Global Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. “We are preparing them to solve global problems we haven’t defined yet, using technology that hasn’t been invented, in roles that do not exist. We need to continually iterate education in pursuit of making it a powerful, effective, and engaging learning experience.” Casap “evangelizes” the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools as enabling and supporting capabilities in pursuit of creating powerful learning models. This makes him the perfect featured speaker for the STEM In Action Partnership (SIAP) for the Sierra Vista Area’s upcoming free community event, “Iterating Education.”

This event is produced through the STEM In Action Partnership, centralized in the City of Sierra Vista. SIAP collaborates with businesses, educators, and organizations to create business engagement opportunities, strengthen teacher effectiveness, and integrate STEM into the local schools throughout Cochise County. Their work with businesses is designed to increase their contributions to STEM education in sustainable and meaningful ways, ultimately improving workforce development. It’s a natural partnership, then, to feature Casap, as he works with the Google for Education Team and educational organizations around the world, helping them find ways to continuously improve the quality of education by utilizing and enabling technology capabilities. Casap also works across other Google teams, including, Google Fiber, the Google Policy Team, the YouTube Team, and the Google Capital Team. In addition to his role at Google, Casap serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Science Foundation, New Global Citizens, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on education and access, including South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu,) the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is a council member of the GSV Advisors.

‘Iterating Education’ is a free community event, 5:45 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4. The event will take place at Cochise College Sierra Vista Campus in the Student Union Community Room.

2Family SciFest   DSCF0217 (3)

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 as part of the community. “We showcase careers of interest to the students of which many of their parents are a part of 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 the “behind-the-scenes” of many cool careers such as Border Patrol, Crime Scene investigations, Astronomers, Exotic animal handlers, Sky divers, dentist, hair stylist 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 or negative 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, but 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.

As much as the learning process, 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 at 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 that with 600 people in attendance.  We want to broaden the outreach to our community with the help of the SciTech advertising community,” she adds.

Now let’s make their goal reach, would we?

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

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2Ancient Technology Day stone tools (3)

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Long before the Internet existed, the world might not have been as sophisticated as it is now, but it had its own charms. It even had its own technologies. But how our kids are supposed to know that? Ancient Technology Day Prehistoric & Historic is the answer!

“It is a family friendly event that provides visitors with an opportunity to have an interactive learning experience, where they get to try their hands at multiple kinds of prehistoric and historic technologies and skills that were every day tasks for pioneer settlers and Native American peoples such as the Hohokam,” says Renee Aguilar, Pueblo Grande Museum’s Visitor Services.

Rene also states that one of the biggest demographics of visitors at the Museum is elementary school children. “As a prehistoric archaeological site and museum, Pueblo Grande offers a unique insight and interpretation of Arizona history and the important contributions the Ancient Sonoran Desert People made to the growth and settlement of this area, and how we still benefit from their knowledge today,” she adds.

The event is now celebrating its 15th year as a Pueblo Grande Museum Signature annual Event. And every year, the Museum provides visitors unique activities and showcases.  “The most unique part of Ancient Technology Day is that it offers visitors an opportunity to try multiple kinds of technologies and skills that were an everyday practice from 100 years ago to over 1000 years ago,” she explains.

What’s not to love? The visitors will be able to make their own pottery. Not so much into artistry? How about making an arrowhead? Or trying roasted agave cooked in an underground oven called a “Horno?” Or maybe you’d like to test your hunting skills? Visitors can test their hunting skills by throwing a spear with an Atlatl. Best thing yet? Visitors can try all of these things for free!!

“We expect visitors to have a fun and educational cultural experience while participating in all the different activities we have to offer at this event. We love to see everyone, adults, children, grandparents, and teenagers, get involved, learn new skills, and come away with a better understanding of just how innovative and creative people are throughout history when it comes to using or creating tools to get a job done,” Aguilar says.

It’s important for the children to know that the word ‘technology’ is not limited to computer-related matters. “When people think about technology, instead of just computers, microchips, and robots. We hope that by participating in the Arizona SciTech Festival, we broaden peoples definition and idea of what the term technology encompasses,” she states.

In addition to all of the various demonstrations and interactive activities, there will also be fun, free, craft stations set up throughout the event and fry bread for sale. “We will also have free tours of the archaeological site, artifact interpretation inside the museum, and a special tour of the Park of Four Waters historic canals area with City Archaeologist Laurene Montero.”

15th Annual Ancient Technology Day Prehistoric & Historic takes place on March 14, 2015. Pueblo Grande Museum. Free admission.

2Baseball City logo 2015 (3)a

Baseball City presented by the City of Scottsdale and Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau is your one-stop shop for all things Spring Training – a fan fest and trade show all rolled into one big event extravaganza! Fans of all ages will not only have the opportunity to play ball in various activations like batting cages and base running challenges, but also experience a showcase of some of the finest memorabilia that the baseball world has to offer. They’ll also have the opportunity to meet Major League baseball stars both past and present, and learn some tips on playing baseball from the game’s greats.

The Valley of the Sun has long been the place to be for baseball fans to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the game while their team warms up and figures things out.

In addition to the action on the diamond, Cactus League fans have an incredible opportunity to learn about the science of baseball at Baseball City 2015!

Baseball City 2015 offers insights into the science of baseball through hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and appearances from baseball greats past and present.

The event will take place March 7 and 8 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.

Come see how Baseball City 2015 offers a scientific look at how the game really works while showcasing the game’s natural beauty.

Cactus League visitors and fans of all MLB teams and all ages are invited to celebrate (and investigate) the science and spectacle of America’s pastime at this outdoor venue.

Come enjoy an event full of learning and fun that a baseball fan will never forget. You’ll never hear the words “Let’s play ball!” the same way again!