Arizona SciTech Blog
This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.
Science Writer: Rita Standerfer
On Friday, February 20, 2015, STEM will hit the streets of downtown Chandler as they launch their 4th Annual, Science Spectacular: A Night of Art & Science. Each year the Downtown Art Walk grows to include even more vendors who come to share their skills and their wares to the city. These artisans adeptly connect art to the sciences through their work. Local technology companies will be on hand to showcase their creativity and innovation through a STEM mindset.
These science crafters will provide exciting presentations with everything from glassblowing and craft brewing, to drawing and painting. Stimulating, interactive hands-on activities will help attendees to better understand the world of science, which surrounds them in their everyday lives. This is a great opportunity to see how STEM meets scientific facts and concepts through the arts.
These events are spearheaded by Vice Mayor Rick Heumann, who works with the Chandler Education Coalition to create interest in STEM and education. The event continues to grow each year, as does the ingenuity and enthusiasm of participants. The evening promises to be more than just an art exhibit, it is an enlightening adventure into the world of STEM.
The community will come to life starting at 6 p.m. and festivities will end at 10 p.m.
STEM Matters Manager: Marisa Ostos
Although some may find it less perturbing than others, certain sounds such as the squeak of styrofoam or the scrape of nails of a chalkboard can make someone squirm to the edge of their seat. Perhaps you are one of those people, but have you ever stopped to wonder why that may be?
Amazingly enough, research has been done studying this exact thing (and yes, research participants have had to listen to these sounds in the name of science). When you hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard, you might imagine that the high pitch of this sound is what causes us to cringe in our seats. However, a study done in 1986 found that it was the medium-pitched frequencies in this sound, rather than the higher pitches, that brings about our reaction.
More recently, research has found that the frequencies of these unpleasant sounds that lie between 2,000 and 4,000 Hertz may be the cause, rather than the actual “scrape” of the sound. This frequency is also the frequency at which we speak, oddly enough. Our own ear canals are shaped in a certain way which help to amplify sounds within the 2,000 to 4,000 Hertz range, so it is possible that unpleasant sounds are also amplified in our ear because of this.
What’s interesting to note that in doing research, these sounds were found less difficult to listen to when they were associated with a different source. For example, if some participants listened to the nails-on-a-chalkboard sound and were told the source, while others were told that this same sound was from a musical composition, people tended to react less. It is also interesting to note that the body does physically react to these sounds: Skin conductivity, which is a way to help measure your body’s stress-levels, does change significantly when you listen to these sounds.
Now, if all you can do is try your best not to think about these horrendous sounds as you read the article, here’s a bit of a positive note. Because scientists are actually doing research on this subject matter, steps are being taken to eventually reduce the frequencies of these sounds in everyday life, including “factory machinery, vacuum cleaners, and construction equipment,” to name a few. Let’s give a high-five to science!
*Source: Geere, Duncan, “Why Fingernails on Blackboards Sound So Horrible,” Wired UK.
Guest Author: Roy W. Smolens Jr., science writer, Arizona SciTech
Be sure to pack up the kids, car enthusiast friends, family and dogs and head to downtown Phoenix for this head-turner of a free event – on February 7th from 10:00am-4:00pm, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department will host the 8th annual classic car show. “Motoring Thru Time: Where the Transportation Past Meets the Future”.
It is held annually at the Heritage Square, Phoenix’ own “past meets the present” block of downtown space.
Have you thought of transportation as art, design, technology and or innovation? Well, here is where STEM innovation meets nostalgia, art, design and history! Early automobile technology and science will be out in force with more than 100 vehicles [cars, motorcycles, bicycles, fire engines, travel trailers] on display with a lovely backdrop of early Phoenix architecture providing a wonderful location to appreciate innovation throughout transportation history.
In addition, Heritage Square includes some of Phoenix’s oldest homes. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department do a wonderful job of transporting you back to 1895 “downtown Phoenix”. The Rosson House Museum is a 10-room, 1895 Victorian home on what used to be known as Block 14 during the days when Arizona was a territory. Heritage Square includes other historic homes and buildings but the juxtaposition of the world-class restaurants and the modern architecture of the Arizona Science Center and Phoenix Museum of History and Science truly make this location a STEM wonder.
Heritage Square & Science Park, a facility of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, is located at 6th St. & Monroe in downtown Phoenix. It’s within walking distance of light rail stations at 3rd St. & Washington/Jefferson and Central/1st Ave. and Van Buren.
Event info / details: goo.gl/j5z0zO
Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech
Nationally the confectionary industry spends over 2.3 billion dollars a year transporting and processing 1.9 billion pounds of cocoa beans from Central and South America to make the billions of chocolate treats exchanged throughout our US economy. We love our chocolate. But scientists debate the root of that love.
The physics and chemistry of cocoa beans and cocoa products (also known as cacao, but not to be confused with coca!) are very complex. Thus, chocolate varies significantly based on the growth environment of its cocoa and the processing received. But all chocolate contains the alkaloids theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine. These have physiological effects on the body, such as alertness. Theobromine is also a vasodilator and is linked to serotonin levels in the brain, which is associated with feelings of love.
Chocolatiers however, believe the love of chocolate comes from the care with which they transform basic cocoa products into candy. This process starts with blending, in varying amounts, the sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and any additional flavorings or milk products that result in variations such as dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate. The texture is also heavily influenced by the conching process which produces cocoa and sugar particles smaller than the tongue can detect, hence the smooth feel in the mouth. Tempering chocolate is a heat treatment method performed on chocolate involving heating and cooling the chocolate to result in shininess and the ‘snap’, or way it breaks. A chocolatier must know how to take chocolate through all of these processes to produce the characteristics that will induce our desire for the product.
So is it the the obromine’s effect on our brain, or it just the fact that it tastes to good? Conduct your own research at the 20th Annual Glendale Chocolate Affair, Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31. The Arizona SciTech Festival will be hosting its own area focused on the ‘Science of Chocolate,’ investigating all the complexities of our love affair with this marvelous substance. Event hours are Friday noon – 10 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. The event is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Glendale, in Murphy Park, located at 58th and Glendale avenues.
Guest Interviewer: Ann Marie Cunningham, for Arizona SciTech
Interviewee: Rick Heuman, vice mayor, Chandler, Arizona, which hosts Chandler Science Spectacular
How did you get involved in AZSciTechFest?
I went to Brooklyn Tech, long before Brooklyn became gentrified and hip. The high school’s neighborhood was severely economically deprived. I came out to Arizona in the 1970s to attend ASU. I liked the West, and I liked the fresh air.
Chandler is in the East Valley, along with Tempe and Mesa. There are now 1.7 million people in the East Valley. When I took office, Chandler didn’t have a fiduciary school district. I thought an education coalition between business and the schools would make sense, especially since we have two universities and community colleges in the East Valley.
The education coalition launched four years ago, right before AZSciTechFest. Jeremy came to see us, and talked about how the Fest could be a tool for economic development as well. Cities could showcase what they do best, and we want to teach kids to be problem-solvers.
Southwestern Arizona is known as “Silicon Desert,” and education is strongly tied to economic development here. Our large high-tech industry can’t stay in our state if the labor force isn’t here.
So Chandler’s mission is two-fold. First of all, we want people to understand STEM. Secondly, we want them to understand that STEM is involved in every aspect of their lives, especially careers — even if they just work in an office on a computer.
What does the Chandler Science Spectacular involve?
We are a two-day event. The last couple of years, Intel has been a sponsor. We keep all events in a concentrated geographic area, so people don’t have to drive. There is as much for kids as possible. It’s all free.
The first year, on opening night, four or five local high-technology and microchip companies opened their doors to any and all visitors for the first time. They had something like 11,000 employees, but on that night, what they did was open to all. Everyone could see what they did, and how they did it.
On Friday, we hold an Art Walk, focusing on the science of art. That’s the largest event we have right now. There are sculptural welding and glass blowing demos – lots of technology involved. In Chandler, we do have the Center for the Arts, which schools use during the day.
Tempe held a terrific event on the art and science of baseball. I played for ASU’s baseball team and never had a free weekend, so that was very important to me.
Saturday is devoted to schools and business. There’s a six-hour fair that involves 60 companies and all the local schools and colleges. Everything is hands-on, from rockets to forensics. Everyone loves hands-on. We had the U.S. Army last year, and we want the Air Force this year, with all their resources.
Last year, we tied the Science Spectacular to the car show, which was held downtown. It’s important to utilize what you have; don’t reinvent the wheel. On Saturday, we got 10,000 people. Usually the car show draws 1,000 to 5,000 people per day.
What’s the best way for a start-up science festival to emphasize STEM’s importance to economic development?
You’re a convenor, an aggregator of STEM content. You need buy-in on the electoral side. You need the school districts. Find out what each city does best. Then you go to the companies, and recruit them.
Meet with people who are already running festivals and farmers’ markets in the community. Find out what STEM ingredients you can bring to what they’re doing. They may be able to help you with marketing and budget.
Have one keystone event where everyone, all your partners, are doing something together – a fair, an expo, a science pavilion, something sparkly.
Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech
Formed originally in 1903, SRP was one of Arizona’s earliest STEM industry leaders, and since that time, it has continued to support citizen understandings of the water/power nexus so unique to our state. SRP has demonstrated a deep commitment to STEM education in Arizona through a breadth of corporate contributions over the years, such as with its Silver Level sponsorship of the Arizona SciTech Festival and multiple avenues of investment in the state’s teachers and classrooms. SRP utilizes its expertise and human resources through in-kind services and volunteer assistance and also funds scholarships, teacher grants, and a variety of educational support programs.
Kevin Rolfe, SRP’s Community Outreach Education Representative, recognizes the challenges of today’s classroom teacher, and explains that their program offerings are a way of supporting teachers and their critical work. SRP funds some aspects of teaching programs at the three state universities, but Rolfe’s main emphasis is providing trainings and resources for in-service K-12 teachers. ‘We offer 24-26 free workshops each year, generally for 4 hours on a Saturday. These teachers receive the training and hands-on materials they can take back and directly apply in the classrooms.’ With some workshop programs, SRP also includes mini-grants for purchasing additional materials. Not surprisingly, workshop topics include electricity and water education, but many also have a sustainability focus. ‘Our workshop on solar energy discusses the challenges with this energy source, but also the advancements’, Rolfe describes. Four day workshops for teachers offered during the summer have included topics of energy, land use impacts, and climate change.
Free teacher training, free teacher resources, including full classroom sets, and grants for classroom needs are all available by connecting with SRP online: www.srpnet.com/education.
Guest Author: Roy W. Smolens, Jr., science writer, Arizona SciTech
Are you ready to jump into the game? In case you missed it, the 2015 Super Bowl will be played at the University of Phoenix stadium. The Arizona Science Center is hosting the most extensive exhibition ever built about America’s most popular sport, “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” This exhibit tells a remarkable story of the game – how it has evolved and how it has found a place in the conscience of the nation. This groundbreaking exhibition will be held daily, 10:00am-5:00pm, from January through May, 2015.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration, is currently touring the largest traveling football exhibition. Featuring NFL Films video footage and a series of interactive displays, Gridiron Glory tackles the science behind the game. With over 200 of the rarest artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including legendary gear, photos, and documents chronicling the cultural phenomenon that is football today. The exhibit captures the essence of the Hall of Fame experience.
Many of the artifacts are being exhibited for the first time. This interactive multimedia experience also includes new material from NFL Films, immersive fan experiences and a specially-designed “Hometown Tribute” section to spotlight the local team. “We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to extend the experience of the Hall of Fame beyond our walls in Canton,” said Joe Horrigan, vice president-communications/exhibits at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This window into time, charts the history of the game, artifacts including a 100-year-old leather helmet, early versions of the football, a Tiffany’s-crafted Vince Lombardi Trophy, game balls and jerseys. One exhibit focuses on technological breakthroughs, including ones that failed, while another examines the broader cultural implications of the game, such as efforts to integrate African-Americans into the previously all-white league.
Whether you’re a child or an adult, male or female, there’s a lot here to learn about the history and science of football.
*Daily from 10:00am-5:00pm from January through May, 2015 Info: azscience.org Tel.: (602) 716-2000
Por Carmen Cornejo, Coordinadora STEM con la comunidad Hispana
Sabemos que tenemos buenas historias que contar. Nosotros sabemos de héroes anónimos, gente común y corriente realizando trabajos extraordinarios que los distingue y los convierte en ejemplos a seguir por otros. Nosotros en Arizona, también sabemos que frecuentemente las cosas son difíciles, pero a pesar de esto, nos las ingeniamos para realizar trabajos con éxito y cumplir con nuestra misión.
Una de nuestras historias está programada para debutar en la pantalla de plata. Spare Parts es la historia de ficción basada en los hechos reales del club de robótica de la escuela High School Carl Hayden y de cómo ese equipo le ganó a estudiantes de las mejores universidades del país en una competencia de robots bajo el agua. La película comenzará a exhibirse en Enero 16 a través de la nación, después de una emocionante premier en Enero 6en los cines Tempe Harkins Theaters 16.
La película, estelarizada y producida por el comediante George López cuenta la historia de 4 jóvenes inmigrantes de la escuela High School al oeste de Phoenix quienes, guiados por un maestro llamado Fredi Cameron, logran competir en contra de los estudiantes de las más importantes universidades del país en una competencia de robos bajo el agua. Nosotros en Arizona sabemos que “Fredi Cameron” es un personaje de película, compuesto por los maestros de la vida real Fredi Lajvardi y Dr. Allan Cameron, quienes por décadas se han dedicado a enseñar promover la ciencia y tecnología.
También estelarizando en Spare Parts están los actores Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, y jóvenes actores que dan vida en la pantalla a Lorenzo Santillán, Luis Aranda, Cristian Arcega and Oscar Vázquez.
La película viene después de múltiples exhibiciones exitosas del documental Underwater Dreams dirigido por Mary Mazzio, quien lleva la saga de los 4 de Carl Hayden en gran detalle además de lo que pasa en la vida de los protagonistas después de la competencia y los efectos transformadores de sus acciones una década atrás. También existe un libro a la venta llamado Spare Parts por el escritor Josh Davies el cual está adquiriendo buenas críticas.
La mejor parte de todo es que son nuestras historias. Todos nosotros que apoyamos la educación en las áreas de ciencia y tecnología nos encontramos con chicos como los de Carl Hayden en las escuelas de nuestras comunidades: llenos de talento y de potencial. Nosotros trabajamos, damos nuestro tiempo como voluntarios y/o pertenecemos a consejos de organizaciones para ayudar a aquellos que podrían verse como “de bajos recursos” y los ayudamos a sacar su mayor potencial, aun en campos tan difíciles como los de ciencia, tecnología ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM).
Así que ésta es nuestra oportunidad de celebrar en grande, ir al cine, recomendar el documental, el libro y seguir trabajando.
By Carmen Cornejo, Hispanic Community Outreach
We know we have good stories to tell. We know of unsung heroes, common people doing extraordinary things that set them apart to become role models for others. We are Arizonans and we know sometimes things are difficult but we manage to successfully do the job.
One of our Arizona stories is now set for the silver screen. Spare Parts, the fictionalized account of the Carl Hayden High School Robotics team win against top universities in an underwater robotics competition will be showing at movie theaters all over the country, starting January the 16th, after an exciting worldwide premiere, on January the 6th at Tempe Harkins Theaters 16.
The movie, starred and produced by George Lopez, tells the story of 4 immigrant kids from a High School in west Phoenix who, guided by an inspiring mentor Fredi Cameron, manage to compete against top college students in a sophisticated tech competition. We know “Fredi Cameron” is the composite character for Fredi Lajvardi and Dr. Allan Cameron, decades long STEM teachers and mentors (wink-wink).
Also starring on Spare Parts are Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis and young actors playing the parts of Lorenzo Santillan, Luis Aranda, Cristian Arcega and Oscar Vazquez.
The movie comes after a very successful documentary called Underwater Dreams by director Mary Mazzio, who brings the Carl Hayden 4 saga in great detail plus what happened to the lives of the persons involved, the transformative ripple effects of their actions. Also a book called Spare Parts by Josh Davies is being sold, achieving good reviews.
The best part of the all is that is one of our stories. We all STEM supporters encounter kids like the Carl Hayden four, talented, young people full of potential all the time. We work, volunteer and serve on non-profit boards so kids that may look underprivileged raise to the top and achieve great things even in difficult fields as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
So this is the opportunity to celebrate big, to recommend the movie, the documentary, the book, roll up our sleeves and keep working.
Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, science writer, Arizona SciTech
If one looks across intellectual history, it seems that times of great collaboration throughout the scientific community correlate with some of the greatest periods of innovation. In the seventeenth century, inventors such as Galileo would share ideas within their scientific community, building upon each other’s notions and gadgets. This is the spirit that underlies today’s ‘Maker’ culture; networking, sharing, peer-to-peer interactions inspiring creativity and continual development.
Communications Manager, Rachel Sutherland, similarly describes the culture of Intel Corporation: “Intel is all about being open to new ideas, and creative problem solving. It’s not a competition, it’s about great ideas and bringing the best ideas forward.” It’s this spirit of collaboration that has spurned Intel’s involvement with today’s ‘maker community’. In fact, Sutherland explains that Intel considers themselves to be a company that was founded by makers. “Our employees are making the brains of computers and computing devices for their day job; then they take those skills to apply to their hobby as makers. That’s why the maker community is such a perfect fit for Intel and Intel employees. It’s just this wide open forum where anything goes. You can apply your creativity and ingenuity and make things happen. Making is very near and dear to Intel because we have so many makers within our ranks.”
Intel is also contributing unique technology for use within the maker community, such as their aptly named ‘Galileo Board’. This development and prototyping board was specifically designed by Intel for makers, students, educators, and DIY electronics enthusiasts. “The Galileo Board is a development that allows you to computerize your invention,” Sutherland describes. “You can apply computing power to something that would otherwise just be a static device, making it even more interesting and powerful and creative. All that computing power can turn a simple mechanical device into some kind of automated device, almost becoming intelligent itself.”
Intel will feature the Galileo Board at its booth at the Chandler Epic Fest, part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, on February 7 in downtown Chandler, “right in our backyard,” Sutherland proudly declares. “We’re really focused on getting makers around the world connected to Intel technology because it’s powerful and it can enable so much. Additionally, we’ll be inviting our employees to showcase their creations at individual booths at the event.”
“The atmosphere of a maker fair is very inspiring,” Sutherland tells. “It’s really such a tight knit community of people who identify themselves as makers. It’s not about competition – it’s about creativity and celebrating everyone’s success and just marveling at the cool ideas that people can come up with. It’s not about who has ‘the best’ – it’s about recognizing your peers and their brilliance, their creativity, and their dedication.”
As a Bronze level sponsor, Intel is a proud supporter of SciTech Fest in Arizona, “because it’s a celebration of STEM, of creativity, of community and it brings together everything that goes into making Intel technology great. It’s sharing ideas, its showcasing ideas, and it’s about including everyone – all ages, all backgrounds, everyone’s welcome. There’s no exclusive club here – it’s for everyone.”
And you never know where that next great idea is going to come from.