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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

A day to celebrate the community.  This is what students, teachers, and community members recognize as they collaborate to present the 2015 Vail Pride Day. The event is a Vail School District community tradition, founded in 1999 by Governing Board Member Anne Gibson. “It is a day to honor and showcase the many successes of our students, staff, volunteers, clubs, businesses, and community service organizations. It is also a great opportunity to come together and celebrate the wonderful, caring community of Vail,” says Aron Schmidt from 2015 Vail Pride Day.

Celebrating its 16th anniversary, the community will gather to appreciate those doing great work in the school district and Vail’s successes in general. There will be booths, entertainment, and a festive atmosphere. The Vail Pride Day is addressed for students of all ages.

Students will enjoy a lot of activities. One of them is the popular Academic Jeopardy and Math Bowl Competitions. Watching them compete, visitors can see how competitive school-age kids can be. “Our event hosts the district Math Bowl and Academic Jeopardy events. Additionally, the event highlights district science and educational displays. The district can benefit from the support provided and legitimacy given by association through the Arizona SciTech Festival,” Schmidt explains.

Of course, it’s not all about being the smartest. There’s a Fun Run where kids can participate and have a lot of fun in doing physical activities. Visitors can also see classroom, educational, art and science displays, special performances, and have the opportunity to learn about local organizations.

“There will also be loads of delicious food and fundraising activities that help support Vail School organizations and clubs,” Schmidt states. Delicious food and fun activities, what’s not to like? After all, the event planners anticipate that visitors will enjoy the activities, displays, and performance. And most of all, “The highlight is the pride that community members have in celebrating the caring community of Vail,” he adds.

Even though the event honors the caring community, it’s open to the public. So, if you happen to be in the area, why not stop by and see how great the community is? Join the crowd, enjoy the fun, see how great kids can be, and bring home some valuable lessons. Hopefully, this great event will continue to take place annually and will just keep getting better with age.

Vail Pride Day takes place on Feb 21, 2015

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

How can Arizona students unlock the door to career success? One answer is Tucson’s Key 2 Employment Symposium, presented by the Metropolitan Education Commission, and an Arizona SciTech Festival Signature Event.

Although two-thirds of Arizona’s jobs require some form of higher education, less than half of Arizona’s students graduate on time and ready for college.  On Wednesday, February 11, students from four area high schools will visit the University of Arizona campus to attend workshops and meet representatives from fields ranging from health care and veterinary care, to law enforcement, armed forces, and manufacturers, to counter these statistics and prepare these students for the workforce of tomorrow. They will also have the chance to speak one-on-one with college instructors and Graduate students from the UA and Pima Community College to find out about the degree programs they offer, where the degrees lead in terms of careers, and most importantly, what students need to do right now to be ready to enter the programs after graduation.

After arriving at Old Main, students will tour the UA Mall with UA Student Life volunteers. For many of teens, this will be their first visit to campus, so it gives them a chance to soak in the feel of the campus and imagine themselves taking classes there one day.

The tour concludes at the UA Student Union, where 60 exhibitors will be ready to talk with students about study and career options. Students will participate in hands-on demonstrations and have time to talk with the instructors, Graduate students, and industry professionals.

High-tech careers are a big focus of Key 2 Employment. When students get an idea of the salaries tied to the careers, they really start to pay attention. Opportunities like this can be life-changing for teens, giving them visions of a future that they had not imagined prior to arriving at the event.

That potential for change motivates the MEC’s Executive Director, Dr. Joan Webb-Vignery. She notes that a good percentage of students leave Key 2 Employment with more knowledge about both high tech careers and about going to college. She adds, “At the same time, they can ask about internships, about summer jobs where they can get more experience in a field they are interested in. There are a lot of positives that come out of this. I think it’s the only thing like this in the State of Arizona to this day.”

New to this year’s event are two workshops for students—one presented by David Rodriguez from the MEC’s Regional College Access Center, the other presented by the UA College of Engineering. Both workshops hold the promise of providing students with deeper knowledge about the college preparation and entrance process, along with the diverse learning opportunities awaiting them once they are college students.

Over the symposium’s 18-year history, the MEC has continued to make it more useful to the students who attend. Originally starting out as an event focused on jobs available to vocational education program graduates, it has become an event that showcases the high tech careers within reach of our students. The 2015 Key 2 Employment Symposium will let teens know these options do exist, and it will to show them the paths that lead to those careers.

2KEY TO EMPLOYMENT SYMPOSIUM BLOG DSCF0068 (3)

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

How can Arizona students unlock the door to career success? One answer is Tucson’s Key 2 Employment for the 21st Century Symposium, presented by the Metropolitan Education Commission, and an Arizona SciTech Festival Signature Event.

Although two-thirds of Arizona’s jobs require some form of higher education, less than half of Arizona’s students graduate on time and ready for college.  On Wednesday, February 11, students from four area high schools will visit the University of Arizona campus to attend workshops and meet representatives from fields ranging from health care and veterinary care, to law enforcement, armed forces, and manufacturers, to counter these statistics and prepare these students for the workforce of tomorrow. They will also have the chance to speak one-on-one with college instructors and Graduate students from the UA and Pima Community College to find out about the degree programs they offer, where the degrees lead in terms of careers, and most importantly, what students need to do right now to be ready to enter the programs after graduation.

After arriving at Old Main, students will tour the UA Mall with UA Student Life volunteers. For many of teens, this will be their first visit to campus, so it gives them a chance to soak in the feel of the campus and imagine themselves taking classes there one day.

The tour concludes at the UA Student Union, where 60 exhibitors will be ready to talk with students about study and career options. Students will participate in hands-on demonstrations and have time to talk with the instructors, Graduate students, and industry professionals.

High-tech careers are a big focus of Key 2 Employment. When students get an idea of the salaries tied to the careers, they really start to pay attention. Opportunities like this can be life-changing for teens, giving them visions of a future that they had not imagined prior to arriving at the event.

That potential for change motivates the MEC’s Executive Director, Dr. Joan Webb-Vignery. She notes that a good percentage of students leave Key 2 Employment with more knowledge about both high tech careers and about going to college. She adds, “At the same time, they can ask about internships, about summer jobs where they can get more experience in a field they are interested in. There are a lot of positives that come out of this. I think it’s the only thing like this in the State of Arizona to this day.”

New to this year’s event are two workshops for students—one presented by David Rodriguez from the MEC’s Regional College Access Center, the other presented by the UA College of Engineering. Both workshops hold the promise of providing students with deeper knowledge about the college preparation and entrance process, along with the diverse learning opportunities awaiting them once they are college students.

Over the symposium’s 18-year history, the MEC has continued to make it more useful to the students who attend. Originally starting out as an event focused on jobs available to vocational education program graduates, it has become an event that showcases the high tech careers within reach of our students. The Key 2 Employment for the 21st Century Symposium will let teens know these options do exist, and it will show them the paths that lead to those careers.

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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.

2Midwestern University Logo

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.

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