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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

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Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Avondale is at it again preparing to kick-off their 2nd annual STEAM Fest Family Event!   STEAM based programming has been offered at both libraries once a week since their last year.  On March 18, from 3 p.m – 6 p.m., festivities will begin at the Avondale Civic Center Library, at 11350 W. Civic Center Dr., to showcase the creativity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm going on in their community.

This STEAM Fest is a three hour long, open fair with rows of booths featuring displays and exciting hands-on activities which highlight science, technology, engineering, art, and math.  It is the perfect opportunity to help kids see how STEAM surrounds them in everyday life.

Last year, students created paper electronics; marshmallow catapults; birdhouses made from recycled materials; and had an Occulus Rift.  This year there will be new and even better surprises, including Spheros and Cubelets. These cool new STEAM related kits became possible through grant money, courtesy of the Arizona State Library and the Institutes of Museum and Library Services.

Booths for the event will be run by library and city staff members, but there will also be representation from local STEAM businesses and other large organizations, including the Phoenix Zoo and SRP.

A large part of the youth programming at the city libraries has been dedicated to expanding knowledge about science, technology, engineering, art, and math, to help provide skills and a strong foundation for the future of Avondale.

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

Research suggests that the most successful way to encourage later study in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects is to first foster young children’s curiosity about the world around them. Family SCIFest, an annual celebration of STEM presented by Children’s Museum Tucson, provides children with opportunities galore to explore science and engineering, and to discover nature and outer space.

Now in its fourth year, Family SCIFest is one of Children’s Museum Tucson’s most popular offerings, in addition to being an Arizona SciTech Festival Signature Event. Exhibits and demonstrations will be arrayed outside the museum, and thanks to free museum admission that day, everything inside the museum will also be readily available for exploration.

Thousands of people from across Southern Arizona will flock to the museum to engage in hands-on activities and demonstrations with scientists and STEM professionals from twenty different organizations. Tucson is a city built on science, and Children’s Museum Tucson will make ample use of the bountiful STEM resources available across the region.

Three exceptional STEM resources that the museum is bringing to this year’s Family SCIFest are SARSEF (Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair), the University of Arizona Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, and NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory).

SARSEF will offer two diverse learning activities for children. One will explore different animal habitats, while the other will give children a chance to experiment with Hoberman spheres.

The University of Arizona Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), a world-class research facility and home to next year’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission, will provide an impact crater activity—children will learn about craters by creating their own impacts and then discussing their results with LPL staff.

NOAO will present demonstrations and an activity that teach children about the components of comets. The demonstration will be presented by NOAO staff, using dry ice to create comets. In the Comet on a Stick activity, children will create their own models of comets to take home.

So bring your family to Children’s Museum Tucson’s Family SCIFest for a voyage of scientific discovery led by talented STEM professionals. Not only will your child have fun while learning, he or she just might discover a passion for science and math that lasts a lifetime.

Family SCIFest
Saturday, February 21, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Children’s Museum Tucson
200 South Sixth Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701


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

Water—flowing across the desert through canals. Art—transforming and often transcending human experience. Light—essential, yet at times brutal and unforgiving.

These defining aspects of life in Scottsdale inspired the creation of Canal Convergence|Water + Art + Light. From February 26 through March 1, this free four-day extravaganza and Arizona SciTech Festival Signature Event invites visitors to explore the confluence of water, art, and light through installations, interactive play, dance, and music.

Kirstin Van Cleef, Outreach and Temporary Projects Manager for Scottsdale Public Art, explained how this year’s nine artists combine art and science to yield fascinating results. “Each Canal Convergence artist explores the themes of water, art and light in their own way, through the lenses of several disciplines. On the face of it, their work is just really fun and playful. But it all employs some complex conceptual components often rooted in the sciences.”

Imagine a future where art is produced by robots. That is the world Toby Fraley asks you to envision with his installation, The Artwork Forge. Said Van Cleef, “Fraley has taken a futurist approach to his work – exploring intersections between art and technology in a speculative scenario where everything, even art masterpieces, can be customized.”

After sunset, visitors interact not just with luminous orbs in the canal, but also with people on the opposite bank at Urban Matter’s Play Array. The artwork’s own Wi-Fi network enables smart phone users to play a glowing game of Pong.

More nighttime exploration awaits at Jen Lewin’s The Pool.  Inspired by Australian tide pools, this architect-turned-artist has constructed 106 circular pods that work like cellular automation—reacting to their neighbors, or fractals—repeating the same pattern at increasing scales. Using all of the components of STEAM, this dynamic artwork responds to human interaction with changing color and luminosity.

The Los Angeles-based Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre will perform on Saturday and Sunday. Their performance will be “very cool because they animate everyday spaces in inventive ways,” said Van Cleef. “We can’t wait to see them on Soleri Bridge and Plaza – in LED illuminated costumes!”

Throughout the event, musical groups will be playing live music ranging from Americana, Afro-beat, and Country and Western, to 80’s covers, Bluegrass, and Indie.

But wait, there’s more! Bike riding enthusiasts can join a Community Canal Path Bike Ride for a guided ride along the Arizona Canal on Saturday, February 28 from 10:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m. Riders will visit with Canal Convergence artists along the route.

And don’t forget the drop-in Make-N-Take workshops with artists Karrie Hovey and Saskia Jorda, where visitors of all ages can create artwork inspired by Canal Convergence installations.

Canal Convergence|Water + Art + Light offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the magic that happens when art and science collide. And to stroll along the Scottsdale Waterfront on spring evening while savoring that magic? Perfection.

Complete details about the event, including schedules and artist information, are available on the Canal Convergence web pages. Event Details include: Canal Convergence Water + Art + Light, Thursday, February 26—Sunday, March 1, 2015, The Scottsdale Waterfront, 4420 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 All ages, free admission.

Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech

The 2015 Buckeye Air Fair will offer everything from legendary aircraft to legendary airmen, including a special visit from the Tuskegee Airmen. The family-free event includes a car show presented by Jones Ford Buckeye, Military re-enactments, a kid zone, food, vendors, live music, RC demonstrations, vintage aircraft on display, sky-diving demonstrations and much more.

The event is Saturday, February 21 from 9:00 AM – 3:00PM, and it is the third year for the one day SciTech Festival in Buckeye.  The 2015 Festival will provide interactive science, math and technology activities for everyone – adults, young people and families.  The participating SciTech Partners represent several disciplines in the science and technology fields. This is a STEM event you won’t want to miss!

The Buckeye Airport is located at 3000 S. Palo Verde Road (exit 109 off Interstate 10). For more information about the Buckeye Air Fair, please visit www.buckeyeairfair.com.

Guest Author, Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Power Ranch Elementary, a Higley School District A Rated campus, will present an amazing community interactive event to demonstrate STEM Learning. STEM is the representation of the key field areas of science, engineering, technology and math.  This exciting STEM Night event is scheduled for February 26th, from 5:30 to 7:00pm.

Power Ranch STEM Night will be featured as one of the “Higley STEM Night Series of Signature Events” and be included in the Arizona SciTech Festival. A member of the Arizona SciTech team will participate in each of the events, as well as share information about other local programs to teachers and students.

During STEM Night, teachers, classes, clubs and business partners present hands-on examples of STEM in action. Classes may show off how magnets work, launch rockets, demonstrate engineering feats or display the life cycle of plants. This year, Power Ranch teachers will be facilitating many STEM activities for all participants to enjoy. Some of these hands-on activities include the Exploration of Topology Mazes, Engineering of 3D Structures, the Science of Magic Tricks, Exploding Volcanos, Engineering of Wind Powered Race Cars and the unseen world of Microscope Science.

Local businesses and community groups will also be taking an active role in the STEM event. Representatives from many local businesses, such as SRP, Heliae, SubZero Ice Cream, Tech Shop, Dignity Kids Inc., Hunt & Caraway and ASU Robotics will be here to share their expertise and engage students in future career exploration.  Each represented group will present interactive displays that will show students how science, technology, engineering and math are used in the world outside of school.

“STEM and STEAM Nights are incredibly important because these events bring our entire community together. Students are able to share their excitement about STEM with their families. The events also give families a chance to learn more about what STEM is. The business connections are important because when our students interact with leaders in the STEM industry, it gives them the opportunity to utilize critical, higher-order thinking skills such as creating and problem solving. We are very fortunate to have the support of the SciTech Festival in recognizing how these events contribute a great deal to the overall education of our students,” said Donna Jagielski, Higley’s Instructional Coach of Technology.   The event will be held on the Power Ranch Elementary Campus, 4351 S. Ranch House Parkway in Gilbert, 85297. The Power Ranch STEM Night is bound to be a wonderful experience for the entire family.”

Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech  

Chandler students are learning amazing things! And an event that demonstrates this in a colorful way is through the Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (HISEF).

HISEF features student science fair projects as well as hands-on learning experiences at the fair’s interactive booths. The Saturday fair takes place at Hamilton High School and runs from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (with an awards ceremony from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.).

Students will showcase STEM projects that incorporate what they are learning in their science classroom.

Vendors at HISEF are all representatives from STEM-based community businesses and programs.

Now in its 18th year, HISEF brings together the STEM community–students, program ambassadors and businesses.

Organizers hope to promote local STEM-based organizations through the demonstration of incredible things that Chandler students are learning and experiencing.

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

The Tres Rios Nature Festival invites young and old to learn first-hand about nature through activities and interactive displays at a thriving wildlife habitat.

Tres Rios Nature Festival takes place March 7 and 8 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Avondale’s Base and Meridian Wildlife Area.

Now in its 11th year, Tres Rios Nature Festival offers something for everyone from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts to visitors who have never fished, canoed or shot an arrow. If you want to learn about nature, step out into the great outdoors and check out birds, animals and plants in their home!

The Festival’s focus areas include ecology, biology and conservation. Against the backdrop of a flowing river, exotic animals and diverse plants, scientists and environmental professionals will provide demonstrations about the challenges, curiosities and mysteries of the natural world.

Presentations include: testing water to ensure it is safe to drink; local wildlife and protecting natural habitats; flood control; Audubon groups; and more!

People of all ages and abilities can try their hand at canoeing, fishing, archery and getting up close with animals in the wild, all while learning about conservation, ecology and biology.

Be sure to check out the Recycle Fashion Show at noon on Saturday, March 7th.  Kids are able to enter the contest by filling out the form at www.tresriosnaturefestival.com and creating their own “unique fashion”.

Come see the natural treasure of Tres Rios!

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Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Arizona is filled with a lot of SciTech events in February and March. One of them is Roosevelt Center Sustainability STEAM Festival. The weather is nice around this time, so it’s really the time for we Arizona residents to find things to do outside the house, such as attending this brand new festival that’s designed to gather students, industry professionals, scientist, artists, and community wellness organizations to present the community with exhibitions on all things related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).

The STEAM Festival is also the public grand opening of the George B. Brooks Sr. Community School, home to an unprecedented collection of community wellness organizations and the Roosevelt Center of Sustainability. Thus, the day at the festival includes tours of the Center’s permanent 13,000sqft learning greenhouse, live aquaponics installation, hydroponics laboratories, vermiculture systems, science exhibits, culinary telecommunications, and movies.

In addition, industry professionals will be showcasing a lot of cool stuff going on in technology industries. You haven’t had a chance to check out 3D printing? Now you can see it at the festival, along with other things, such as management technologies, virtual reality, renewable energies, animal husbandry, predatory birds, architecture, chemistry, and many more. Students from the Roosevelt Elementary District also showcase robotics, clean vehicles, and musical performances. Now that’s a lot of things going on in one place! It will be difficult to see them all!

“The event is important to school age kids in that they will be immersed in an environment designed to inspire and empower students and families to embrace STEAM. Our participants come from all corners of STEAM, providing kids with a chance to experience and communicate with those who have made the theme their life’s work,” says Jeremy Truett, Roosevelt Center Sustainability STEAM Festival’s co-chair.

As a debut event, visitors are valued the most. Truett invites visitors to explore the grounds and engage with the exhibitors. “With the hopes that our passion for STEAM might inspire the community to embrace the concepts,” he states. Truett also credits the role of Arizona SciTech Festival in helping to spread the word about the event. “The outreach associated with the organization is amazing and we are grateful to be part of it,” he adds.

The Roosevelt Center of Sustainability is now actually open for field trips. The Festival is a public preview of how the Center is truly an awesome educational attraction in Phoenix. “The best thing is, the notion that visitors will be exposed to the combined efforts of students, educators, STEAM professionals, businesses, and community groups, to bring immersive education to the community,” Truett explains. Permanently, the Center has transformed a retired elementary school campus into a living breathing STEAM learning resource.

In short, another gem was just established in Arizona. It’s our responsibility to revere and use it accordingly so our kids can learn more about STEAM. Don’t waste this priceless resource. Let’s get our kids to the festival and turn them into STEAM enthusiasts.

Roosevelt Center Sustainability STEAM Festival takes place at The Roosevelt Center of Sustainability on Feb 21, 2015.

Guest Author:  Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

March is Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month in Arizona. What’s the best way to celebrate the month? Going to an expo, dedicated to the greatness of archaeology, of course! The Arizona Archaeology Expo is the highlight event of the month and it brings together archaeologists, historians, agency archaeologists, non-profit groups, museums, Tribes, and numerous other preservation partners to help tell the many interesting stories of Arizona’s past.

“We encourage the public to appreciate the fact that archaeological sites are non-renewable resources that, once lost to nature, development, vandalism, or looting, are lost forever. Therefore, we try to install a sense of community pride and stewardship in these resources so that these sites are preserved for generations to come,” says Kris Dobschuetz, RPA from Compliance Specialist/Archaeology, State Historic Preservation Office.

Archaeology is all about preserving the past. For kids, it’s probably not that exciting. But don’t hesitate to bring your kids to the expo. Instead, encourage them to engage with the past. There are so many interesting activities associated with the Archaeology Expo. There are guided tours to nearby historical sites (Territorial Prison, Quartermaster Depot, the Sanguinetti House Musuem). Feeling like becoming knowledgable? There are lecture series on camels, petroglyphs, and how mail used to be delivered in Arizona. Looking for interactive activities?  Kids would enjoy interactive hands-on activities such as the rabbit stick tossing and throwing a spear with an atlatl. Additionally, there’s a flintknapper who can create projectile points using ancient technology. Apart from those, exhibitors from various organizations will be on site to talk about their organization’s and research.

The Archaeology Expo has been going on since 1989. The first Expo was at Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park in Phoenix. “Each year the Expo is located in a different part of Arizona – with the caveat that we need a location just below the Mogollon Rim – since our celebration is always outside and always in March,” Dobschuetz explains. Past locations of the Expo include Coolidge, Cottonwood, Tucson, Tubac, Globe, Payson, Mesa, and Yuma.

What an expo needs is visitors, a lot of them. Let’s make sure we attend the event and have some fun learning archaeology. “We have such wonderfully talented archaeological and historical professionals and knowledgeable lay persons that thoroughly enjoy being able to interact with the public at our Expo,” Dobschuetz says. Most of exhibits are a healthy mix of education and on-hands on learning that really engages the public. “Interacting with our visitors gives us a great opportunity to share our knowledge of archaeology and express why it’s so important to preserve these resources,” he adds.

Visitors can have a wonderful time exploring and learning about the many fascinating aspects of Arizona’s past. Dobschuetz  states that one of the benefits of moving the Expo locations around each year is that it can highlight some of the local attractions that visitors might otherwise be unaware of, and that gives our hosts an opportunity to share their local history. “At the end of the event, visitors can take away anew-found appreciation for archaeology and history, and the knowledge of how to be good stewards of our heritage resources,” he explains.

Is this something you think you’d like to explore? Why not! We all can learn from the past. Archaeology, the study of our past, is a richly dynamic field that borrows heavily from other scientific disciplines. So, let’s join them at the Expo, and get ready for an eye-opening experience.

The 2015 Arizona Archaeology Expo takes place on March 7, 2015 at Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.

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

It’s FULL STEAM AHEAD for budding scientists in Mesa! Here participants will have an opportunity to connect with local business leaders in the fields of engineering, medicine and technology at a networking expo in Mesa!

Mesa Public Schools hosts the third SciTech Expo on February 21 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Red Mountain High School (7301 E. Brown Rd.).

At this family-friendly event, students can share their enthusiasm for STEM with the business community and develop connections with key partners in a variety of industries.

The event will feature student-run interactive demonstrations as well as hands-on “make-and-take” activities. Mechanically inclined visitors should be sure to check out a student-built dune buggy that will be running in the Baja 500!

Student-led tours will bring participants to our Career and Technical Education campus to walk through facilities in the fields of: Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Agricultural Science, Engineering, Automotive and Welding Technologies.

Following the Saturday event is the District Science Fair Awards Ceremony at 2:00 p.m.

So if you’re looking to meet the science pros, learn about STEAM jobs and find out how to get more involved in your field of interest, come down to Mesa’s Red Mountain for SciTech Expo!