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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

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Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Long before the Internet existed, the world might not have been considered as sophisticated as it is now, but it had its own charms. It even had its own technologies. But how can kids today have the chance to understand this?  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? Visitors are able to make their own pottery. If you are not so much into artistry, how about making an arrowhead? Or try 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 atl atl. 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. “We hope that people will think about technology in a broader sense rather than just computers, microchips, and robots. By participating in the Arizona SciTech Festival, we hope to broaden people’s 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.

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Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech 

As Chandler continues to grow in business and in population, it is also exploding with new innovation, genius, and downright creativity STEMing from explorers from right here in the great State of Arizona.  This year, on February 21, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., the City of Chandler and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership are proud to be introducing the E.P.I.C. Event (Explore, Play, Imagine, Create), to their repertoire, making 2015 their best event ever!  Four years ago, Chandler began their endeavors to showcase some of the exciting things coming from its local businesses and citizens. The highlights began with; A Nightof Art, where STEM merges with the various art medias, and Science Saturday, whichenkindles a spirit of a maker culture by presenting STEM with a DIY mindset.

Like Science Saturday, E.P.I.C. will have numerous STEM exhibits, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, making the event fun and interactive for all age groups!  Event visitors will enjoy the world of invention as they explore, tinker, and craft new prototypes and projects. Live music and food vendors will also be on hand.

The connection of science, technology, engineering, and math, to simple things in the world that surround us every day, is sure to stimulate minds about endless new visions and possibilities.

The E.P.I.C. Event will be held on Saturday, February 21, from 10a.m. – 4 p.m. in the park adjacent to the Chandler Community Center 125 East Commonwealth Avenue in Chandler, AZ.

Submitted By: Joe Kullman, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University

A high-spirited group of more than 500 young students brought an exciting atmosphere. Anticipation and intensity were evident at the recent Arizona FIRST LEGO League (AZ FLL) state championship tournament.

Sixty-two teams of students ages 8 to 14 gathered at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. The robotics competition was designed to spark their interest and boost their basic skills. It involved science, technology, engineering and math.

It was the largest AZ FLL event ever. The event continued fast-paced growth for the education outreach program. The program has been managed for the past seven years by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Record-breaking year

Some teams that took top awards at a series of regional competitions. This led them to earn their way to the state tournament. They were among a record 335 teams to participate in AZ FLL activities in the past year. That’s four times the number of teams involved in 2008.

There were 176 school teams. This included 11 Girl Scouts troops teams and six neighborhood teams It also included five formed through the Si Se Puede (“Yes, It’s Possible”) Foundation. Also, there were nine teams of home-schooled students, and 17 others consisting of family members and friends. This totaled more than 2,000 Arizona students in all.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organization founded by renowned inventor Dean Kamen. FIRST develops programs to motivate students to choose opportunities in STEM fields. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To learn more about this event, click here.

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Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

The Brains Have It!”  If pondering the subject of how the human brain governs human behavior intrigues you, then come see some of Arizona’s top high school students compete in a Bee that focuses on the subject of neuroscience.  Midwestern University will host their 17th Annual Brain Bee on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at 5 p.m. in Cholla Hall, located at 19555 N. 59th Avenue, in Glendale, Arizona.  The Brain Bee is presented in partnership with the BHHS Legacy Foundation.

Piquing young people’s interest in science is always an exciting endeavor, but seeing interest from kids on a topic as complex as human neuroscience is another thing altogether!  Each year Midwestern welcomes enthusiastic students who thrive on pondering and questioning this very subject. Last year there were 190 registrations!

Midwestern University faculty and students serve as judges, question readers, timers, and scorekeepers for the Brain Bee, using the book Brain Facts, published by the Society for Neuroscience, as the source text. Questions run the gamut from identifying physical features of the brain itself, to naming brain disorders and diseases, and even surgical and medical practices that modify neural behaviors.

The Arizona Regional Brain Bee fits readily into the “Science” component of STEM education; but the immersion of engineering, technology, and math are also intertwined with the world of medicine.  Some of Arizona’s best and brightest high school students come together for this event to each year to be challenged about their knowledge and understanding  of the human organism, which reaches far beyond the simple and basic facts of physiology.  Last year three of the top Brain Bee finishers, in order, were Jaeyoung Kang and Vijeeth Guggilla from BASIS Chandler, and Anisha Ariff from BASIS Peoria.

One of the most exciting parts of the Arizona Regional Brain Bee is that the winner represents Arizona in the National Brain Bee Competition in Maryland.  This student will further qualify for a scholarship towards tuition at Midwestern University, should they decide to pursue healthcare as a career. Midwestern is excited to spark student interest in medicine and healthcare, offering programs in: pharmacy; health sciences; dentistry, optometry; veterinary; and osteopathic medicine.

The event promises to “bee” inspiring, as well as, educational for all! For more information, go to:  http://www.midwestern.edu or call 623.572.3215.

Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

What’s the secret to the Sahuarita STEMtacular that people are anxious to see it come back for year two? Let’s see. The Sahuarita STEMtacular is an Arizona SciTech Signature Event organized by the Town of Sahuarita. The community-wide celebration includes Family Day at the Titan Missile Museum and ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center, the Science Passport Experience, and the SciTech Night Out at Sahuarita Lake Park and Rancho Sahuarita Clubhouse. It also features a demonstration of EMILY (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard), just to mention a few.

“Family and kids will be able to explore Sahuarita attractions and learn the importance of STEM education through interactive displays by local businesses,” says Debbi Al-Houssni, management analyst for Sahuarita Arizona. The Town of Sahuarita doesn’t work alone. They establish the Sahuarita STEMtacular with the support of the Sahuarita Unified School District and Rancho Sahuarita. And there are increases in the number of corporate sponsors. It is a fairly big event now, with 25 vendors providing interactive displays, workshops and demonstrations that will spark curiosity of over 1,200 middle-school age students.

For school students in grades 6-8, they can explore STEM and earn the chance to win prizes. The only thing they need to do is to check out every exhibit and win the prizes through their passport answers learned at the exhibits.

“We expect visitors to come away with a better appreciation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and how these fields of study are evident in various aspects of everyday life,” explains Al-Houssni.

As for the collaboration with Arizona SciTech Festival, Houssni states the event has already benefitted from the strong support and event planning participation of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

So let’s support the Sahuarita STEMtacular by coming to the event. Mark your calendar and take your family there. Besides, what’s not to love? Visitors not only get to learn and play, but also have a chance to bring home prizes!

The Sahuarita STEMtacular takes place Feb 8-13, 2015

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Guest Author: Ester Skiera, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Who doesn’t like watching stars in a pitch-black sky? Stars are pretty. Stars are mysterious. If you’re into watching stars and objects in the sky, here’s an event to match your interest: C.O. Greenfield’s Star Party. Of course, it’s not just for fun. The event will focus on Space Science with the East Valley Astronomy Club sharing their high-powered telescopes to view objects in the sky and share their knowledge about the stars and planets with the students and the community.

“The purpose of the event is to continue to support the importance of STEM education as part of C.O. Greenfield School’s mission and STEM Initiative,” explains Jacob Baca from C.O. Greenfield School. Going onto its second year, the event is important for school-age kids because it gives them opportunity to learn about the topic of Space Science and Astronomy in a real world setting. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to make it an annual experience,” Baca says.

There is always a lot to learn from a STEM-related event, including the Star Party. For this particular event, the focus is seeing students, parents, and the community take part in observing the moon, planets, and stars with the help of the East Valley Astronomy Club, their volunteer astronomers, and the use of their state of the art computerized telescopes. “We hope that our visitors will have fun learning a little more about Space Science and expect them to know that we appreciate their participation with our school and school events,” Baca states.

For C.O. Greenfield School, there’s a mutual benefit for the school and Arizona SciTech Festival in raising STEM awareness. “Our event will help the Arizona SciTech Festival by allowing our community to become more aware about what SciTech Festival is, and how it is assisting in getting students, parents, and communities to recognize the importance of science-related occupations,” he adds.

STEM covers a lot of interests, from the making of chocolate (yes, there’s science in every bite of chocolate,!) to star gazing. Parents and students can choose the wide array of events signatured through the Arizona SciTech Festival. Most importantly, let’s support our children to excel in the area of STEM education by helping them realize how fun STEM can be. “We feel that all of the hands-on science and engineering activities will be beneficial to all of our visitors as they will be able to experience the advancements made with Science education and curriculum,” Baca says.

So, go ahead. Mark your calendar and find yourself and your school-age kids amazed of the greatness of Space Science. Roam around the school observatory and participate in engaging discussions with students from the school about their classroom project related to space science and technology. And of course, observe the stars and so many objects in the sky!

C.O. Greenfield’s Star Party takes place on Feb 12, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. 

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Science Writer: Rita Standerfer, science writer, Arizona SciTech

Arizona teachers are constantly rising to the top when it comes to STEM! On February 21,their 3rd Annual STEM Arizona Education Collaborative Un-Conference.  The event will be held in Phoenix at the Alhambra School District Office.

Teachers from all disciplines and grade levels will gather to share insights, resources and new ideas revolving around the fascinating world of STEM.  It is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the abundant talent and creativity teachers have right here in the great state of Arizona.  The ultimate goal of these dynamic educators is find and develop new concepts and presentations to make science, technology, engineering, and math come to life in classrooms across the state, by introducing them in new, fun, and innovative ways.

The keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Jo Ann Vasquez, Co-Author of STEM Lesson Essentials – Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic

An Un-Conference does not determine the break- out sessions until the day of the event.  The attendees determine the topics they prefer for the three break- out sessions for each hour.  The event is focused on the needs of the attendees – not the organizers of the event.

While the event provides an abundance of current information about the world of STEM to be incorporated into the classroom, it is also a great opportunity for teachers around the state to develop new relationships.  These connections allow new interaction among teachers, thus broadening the resource pool and STEM supplementation ideas.

You can pre-register at https://www.azsta.org/node/947  or register on-site. Registration is $10.


Guest Author:  Rita Standerfer, Science Writer: Arizona SciTech

Coronado Elementary STEAM Night is ready to launch again!  It is a fantastic opportunity to find Arizona families busy communicating, creating and problem solving while honing their science, technology, engineering, and art and math skills.

The action begins on February 12th at 5:30 p.m. at Coronado School in Gilbert.  The event will run until 7 p.m.  This is the 2nd year that Art has been incorporated into the event, adding an even greater flare than last year.  Each grade level will be focusing on a specific aspect of STEAM.  .

The work of these young artists will be on display in the cafeteria.  Local businesses and programs will also join in with exciting hands-on activities for this year’s theme, “Water.”  Students will complete a passport as they move through the activities during the event.

The event involves the community and it helps to increase public understanding and new insights surrounding STEAM and how it is part of our everyday lives.

The company that designed the original Transformers will be visiting the campus with one of their cars, so that students and families can check them out in person. A spokesperson will also be on site to explain how STEM skills are crucial in almost all work environments today.

The mission will be accomplished when attendees leave with a thirst for more STEAM. So climb aboard for take-off!

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Guest Author: Rita Standerfer, science writer

It’s said that “good things come in small packages.” However, ASU’s  Annual Night of the Open Door is no small event. And, just as its title states, it is “OPEN” to everyone! ASU, host to this an amazing night featuring the best STEAM has to offer, plans on going live with its event on February 28th, from 4-9 p.m. at the Tempe Campus on Mill & University (https:opendoor.asu.edu).

The Open Door Events started at the Tempe Campus four years ago, along with its founding partner, Arizona SciTech Festival. It quickly expanded to four campuses with each campus now having its own characteristics and specialties, which include fantastic activities and experiences for all attendees. More than 1,000 top-notch faculty and students will be on hand with more than 100 hands-on activities, talks, tours, and performances that will kick-off a festival to remember in 2015.

This is a university-wide opportunity to go behind the scenes and discover everything that ASU has to offer in cutting-edge science, math, art, humanities, physics, space exploration, green energy, pottery-making, language, culture, engineering, biomedicine, computer science and more.

Some popular favorites include:

  • Tours of the Biodesign Institute and ASU Supercomputer  (usually closed to the public)
  • Hands-on activities, video games and demos, hosted by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Biodesign Institute’s Fun Zone, and School of Life Sciences, School of Math and Statistical Sciences, and School of Earth and Space Exploration.
  • Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies activities (poster and event information for ACMRS)
  • 20+ Mini-language lessons, henna tattoos, crossword and performances in the School of International Letters and Cultures and School of English.

Some of the new events include: 

  • The KAKEHASHI Project – The Bridge for Tomorrow – which debuts a digital storytelling video created by 23 students who studied in Japan for 10 days.
  • Two exciting hands-on workshops: Ancient Uses of Clay and a Rumba and Bolero Spanish Guitar Workshop (bring your own guitar!)
  • The very popular ASU insect collection and its 1.8 million bugs

(moved off campus to an amazing new facility at: 734 W. Alameda Drive in Tempe)

  • Air Devils: Student group in engineering shows how to design and make an unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft. Also hosting flight simulator and quadcopter demos.
  • Zombie hoard at 4:30 p.m. 

The event allows for creative enterprise stretching across all types of fields and disciplines. This STEAM mindset fuels discovery and makes our nation, and our community stronger, and more able to address the challenges of the future. There’s nothing like bringing together so many innovative people and children, from all walks of life, interested in the arts, sciences, math, technology and engineering, to excite and inspire, as well as, create positive change.

The focus of this amazing event is to prove that learning STEAM is fun, challenging, and exciting and that it is the basis for so many things around us that we take for granted. It is a time to see imaginations ignited and faces light up, whether the subject is the tiniest virus, a language, medieval art, dance or space travel.  The emphasis is on getting participants to dream big and to know that their public universities are there to help pursue those dreams.

Each year the event leaves and even bigger footprint on the community.  Following a previous event, Dr. Jeremy Babendure, founder of AZ SciTech Festival stated, “The feedback from Night of the Open Door was overwhelmingly positive, from both the volunteers and the attendees.  A number of those attending wrote to President Crow, with high praise about the event.”

If Feb. 28th doesn’t work for people, there are other ASU Open Door activities to join in:

  • Night of the OpenDoor @ Downtown Phoenix - Jan. 31, 4-8 p.m.
  • Night of the OpenDoor @ Polytechnic – Feb. 20, 5-8:30 p.m.
  • OpenDoor @ West – March 28, 11a.m.-2 p.m.

Map: https://opendoor.asu.edu/tempe/mapsparking






https://asuevents.asu.edu/sites/default/files/NOD_2015.pdf, https://asuevents.asu.edu/experience-magic-middle-ages-and-renaissance



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

How do you make Super Bowl Weekend even more exciting? With a STEM kick-off, of course! The 2015 Arizona SciTech Festival has its own kick-off on Super Bowl Weekend when Connect2STEM sets up downtown at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix campus at 5th Street and Van Buren, just blocks from Super Bowl Central.

Sixty tables in five zones will immerse children in the amazing innovations and discoveries happening in Arizona. From gaming stations to outer space, from exploring nature to delving into human bodies and the brain, Connect2STEM brings the wonder of learning and discovery to Arizona’s families.

The UA College of Medicine in Phoenix joined forces with Cox Communications to create this year’s event. Allison Otu, the College’s director of Outreach and Communications, discussed working with the Arizona SciTech Festival. “We wanted to make sure that we could collaborate because the SciTech Festival brings so much to an event. But it wasn’t until later that we realized it would be the official kick-off Signature Event. We’ve been talking to Arizona SciTech Festival Executive Director, Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., for years about doing something big and exciting, so it’s neat to have kind of a dream come true.”

In addition to providing free wi-fi to everyone at Connect2STEM, Cox is also setting up the Cox Gig Zone, where kids will play video games and talk with Software Engineers to find out what they can do right now to prepare themselves for that career. Cox is also bringing their Flogos machine, using helium and a compressed air bubble generator to send bubbles forming the Cox logo aloft every 10 seconds throughout the event.

A team from the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab will bring outer space to Phoenix by way of the OSIRIS-REx mission in the Outer Space/Technology Zone. OSIRIS-REx launches in 2016, on a 14-year roundtrip mission to the asteroid Bennu, and its principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, will talk about the mission and the questions the team hopes to answer.

Master gardeners will be on hand in the Nature Zone’s Wildcat Water Lab, giving kids a chance to learn about the natural world while getting wet and dirty.

Children will explore human bodies up close in the Bioscience Zone, where a synthetic cadaver, the same type used by medical students, will be available to touch and feel.

The Concussion Discussion: Take the Brain Challenge will offer kids six interactive booths to explore how concussions affect brain function. In one booth, children will don vision-distorting glasses that simulate vision changes after a concussion, and then try to throw a football. While children visit the stations, parents will learn the good, bad, and ugly about concussions, including strategies for keeping children safe from head injuries while playing sports.

Speaking of sports, Wilbur the Wildcat will be in the Wildcat Spirit Zone: Bear Down! Get pictures taken in a photo booth and bounce in the UA inflatable.

So what can people expect at Connect2STEM? Answered Otu, “When people walk up, they’ll get to see everything from a DJ to a popcorn machine to a synthetic cadaver. So everywhere you turn, it’s going to look a little bit different!”

The Connect2STEM event takes place on Saturday, January 31, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. For more information, LINK here: http://azscitech.com/scitech_event/connect2stem/