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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

2ASML ed

Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann

Sand and water are basic elements that have drawn the human imagination to create a multitude of beachside sculptures, but in Chandler these substances are the basis of some of the smallest microchips ever developed. Arizona SciTech Festival’s Bronze level sponsor, ASML, is the world’s leading provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry, manufacturing complex machines that are critical to the production of microchips.  ASML designs, develops, integrates, and services these advanced systems, which continue to help chipmakers reduce the size and increase the functionality of microchips and consumer electronic equipment.

The manufacturing process begins by converting sand into a silicon crystal that is sliced into wafers. The wafers are polished flat, cleaned and sent to a wafer processing fabrication facility – ‘the Fab’. The Fab is a multi-billion dollar chipmaking plant built around a cleanroom; ASML notes, ‘the cleanest and one of the most controlled environments on earth.’ Lithography is the process responsible for projecting small electronic features onto the silicon wafers. R&D efforts at ASML have included the process of ‘immersion lithography’, described as ‘an excellent trick to make chips smaller and more powerful.’ The process involves adding water between the lens and the wafer. The water bends the light in such a way as to get more light onto the wafer and improve the image it creates, allowing sharper lines and smaller features. ASML’s most advanced immersion systems can image lines just 38 nanometers wide! Thanks to ASML’s lithographic systems, ever-shrinking microchips have brought better, more affordable and more energy-efficient electronics and services to everyone, improving mobility, connectivity, safety, and digital entertainment.

ASML’s senior communications specialist Michael Pullen is proud of these efforts, and eager to support the next generation of scientists in our community. “We are looking forward to being involved with a great program like the AZ SciTech Festival and all the activities around it. STEM education is something that ASML cares deeply about and is evident in our ASML4Kids program where we teach STEM principles to students of all ages through fun, interactive lessons.”

2Ted Kraver

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

Silly proposition since the education and economy drive each other. But it sees to dominate a lot of thinking and decision making in the political and business arena. The public good has always been and always will be funded mainly by public taxes, including K-12 education. Political players rarely apply deep knowledge of how science, technology, engineering and mathematics education drives economics.  Unfortunately there is also a false premise floating in the politisphere that cutting taxes will stimulate the economy and pull us out of recession.

Economic research points to the exact opposite. And yet Arizona carved $billion’s from education funding for 1.2 million Arizona students over the past four years. Fortunately our economy has started to recover. Not by the tax cuts that seriously hurt education but because of the rising national economy.

There is a human trait of believing that if someone is successful in one arena: entrepreneur, business tycoon, or wealthy financial manager, then they will somehow have economic wisdom. The economics of business are totally different than economics of states or countries. A typical difference is that companies sell very little of their product to employees. States and countries have their citizens as their customers.

I am troubled by our Arizona election results.  Our governor elect professes that his business experience will be used to reform Arizona but a state is not an international ice cream business. Our new superintendent of education wants to focus on a single aspect: common core standard based summative assessments. But Arizona’s education is a complex system of human resources, facilities, technology and curriculum. Evidence has yet to emerge that either has insight into how the science of economics should be applied to education.

In our depressed economy recovery needs a massive increase in investment for educator education, training and salaries…up to the level of comparable professions in other industries. Twenty-first century professional tools must also be provided to the teacher-student nexus. These include high-bandwidth and high capacity learning interfaces with formative assessment based digital curriculum enhanced by emerging technologies. Only then can education effectively serve the individual needs of our students.  If education effectiveness succeeds, then once again Arizona will have an economic foundation.

With serious weakness at the top there is an opening for educators to take control of Arizona’s political and institutional destiny.  Innovation leadership would drive from the middle. It is up to our Arizona’s education associations and county and district superintendents to become a powerful and integrated political force.

Then this election could be a benestrophe: as a potential catastrophe turned to the good.

2Carmen Cornejo

Colaboradora: Carmen Cornejo, AZSciTechFest Relaciones con la Comunidad Hispana, Propietaria, Critical Mass Communications, LLC

Muchas personas esperan el retiro y llegar a la “edad dorada” para donar su tiempo como voluntarios, pero esto no sucede con un par de dinámicas graduadas recientes de la Universidad Estatal de Arizona (ASU). Esas jóvenes, no sólo están regalando a la comunidad su tiempo, pero creando y administrando una organización sin fines de lucro que promueve la ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y las matemáticas (STEM por sus siglas en Inglés) en chicos de escuela elemental. Mabel Muñoz e Ingrid Tay son profesionistas destacadas, que formaron parte del famoso club de robótica de Carl Hayden, quienes han superado muchos obstáculos y que se han graduado, no sólo de su High School con honores, sino de ASU.

Este dúo dinámico, quien desea compartir su amor y entusiasmo por la ciencia y la tecnología, creó “Building Dreams/ Construyendo Sueños“ el cual entrena equipos de estudiantes de escuela elemental a participar en competencias de robótica con Legos llamada FIRST Lego League (FLL).

“El propósito de Construyendo Sueños es promover la ciencia y la tecnología en comunidades no frecuentemente servidas con este conocimiento y actividades. A través de robótica, los niños aprenden y se exponen a disciplinas como programación, pensamiento creativo, trabajo en equipo, organización y comunicación en público. Nosotros nos esforzamos de crear un ambiente de trabajo donde los jóvenes son motivados de estudiar carreras de ingeniería, ciencia o matemáticas”, dijo Mabel Muñoz.

“Construyendo Sueños expone a los niños y niñas a varias actividades como Lego Mindstorm y clases de robótica, campamentos de computadora, visitas a ferias de carreras y participación a la competencia anual FLL (FIRST Lego League) que se lleva a cabo cada año en diciembre”, dijo Ingrid Tay.

Por su liderazgo compartiendo su conocimiento y entusiasmo, Mabel e Ingrid son verdaderas líderes comunitarias y todo un ejemplo a seguir.

2STEM Matters

S.T.E.M. Matters Manager: Marisa Ostos 

Have you ever walked past a high-pitched sound and wondered what it was, only to find that the person beside you doesn’t hear it?

Different people, depending on their age, are able to pick up on different frequencies of sound. The younger a person is, the higher frequency of sound they’re able to hear. A five-year-old can hear high-pitched sounds that someone in their late twenties may not be able to hear. This is because your ears have what are known as “hair cells” which pick up on these various frequencies. The more sound and stress these cells are exposed to, the more they tend to bend and break. With this, the hair cells that pick up on the highest frequencies are the ones that are ones that are first exposed to sound in general, so over time these “high-pitch” hair cells will be the first to be affected. Because of this, as time goes on, a person range of sound-frequencies that they can hear will lessen, so the high pitches that they were once able to hear as a child will not be able to be heard when they are thirty.

[Source: ASAP Science- Youtube, "How Old Are Your Ears?"](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxcbppCX6Rk&list=UUC552Sd-3nyi_tk2BudLUzA)


Guest Author: Ester Skiera

Eight’s Horizon is an award-winning program aired by KAET- Eight, Arizona PBS. It’s a nightly public affairs program covering what’s happening around Arizona. But that’s not the only program from Eight that’s noteworthy. More importantly, Eight is truly for us who are passionate in education. Eight specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture. The company utilizes the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives.

KAET – Eight, Arizona PBS follows the trend in using social media. It currently hosts Google+ Hangouts with Arizona State University Professor, Dr. Lawrence Krauss quarterly. He also appears regularly on Arizona Horizon. “There are numerous on-air programs dedicated to students and STEM from PBS, funded by CPB and the US Department of Education,” says Kimberly Flack, Associate GM – Education of Eight – AZ PBS. The newest addition premiering in January 2014 is PBS KIDS ODD Squad. “On-air, online, and additional resources are designed around specific math standard concepts for students in grades 1-3,” Flack explains. In October, Eight also hosted a special free live online event. This event will eventually be available as digital segments in PBS LearningMedia: “Eight hosts Discovering the Ocean: An Educational Program for Arizona Schools Featuring Jean-Michel Cousteau”.

Eight consistently brings high-quality education programs, as part of its mission statement: ‘to continue to deliver groundbreaking, high quality programming; in-depth analysis of local issues; safe, educational viewing for your children; and educational outreach initiatives to enrich Arizona’s future.’ School age kids are very important for Eight. Thus, Eight reaches out by providing various programs and tools, including PBS LearningMedia. “School age kids can now create an account under the direction of their teachers in PBS LearningMedia.  This is a great way for teachers to create flipped classrooms,” Flack says.

STEM runs deep at Eight. “STEM is a large part of KAET’s on-air programming and the focus of our educational outreach.  K.A.E.T. stands for Arizona Educational Television.  It was originally created over 53 years ago to bring high quality programs into homes that were unique to broadcast.  This continues today into new spaces such as streaming media and is still available at no cost over the airwaves,” Flack says.

Clearly, Eight depends on STEM in realizing its mission. Eight lives for education. It supports STEM and those who are dedicated to bringing more people to understand STEM. In Arizona, Eight’s mission is in synch with Arizona SciTech Festival. For that reason, KAET – Eight, Arizona PBS is one of sponsors for Arizona SciTech Festival. “Eight, Arizona PBS has sponsored the AZ SciTech Festival since its opening year. KAET has been pleased to host (AZ SciTech’s Executive Director) Jeremy Babendure on Arizona Horizon numerous times throughout the Festival’s involvement in Arizona.  Dr. Babendure has also worked with Eight to promote the Arizona Innovation Conference both years,” Flacks describes. After all, Eight sees its work with the Arizona SciTech Festival as an extension of its public service to Arizona in continuing to outreach and provide resources to the community, families, educators, business, and industry.

So next time you watch TV and flip through hundreds of channels, stop by Eight, and make time to watch its award-winning programs that revolve around education. Television is not always filled with trash. It could be educational and worth watching like what Eight offers.


Guest Author:  Carmen Cornejo, AZSciTechFest Hispanic Outreach, Principal, Critical Mass Communications, LLC

Many wait for the golden years of retirement to give back to the community, but not a pair of dynamic ASU recent alumni. These young not only are giving back to the community as volunteers, but creating and managing an organization which promotes STEM for elementary school children. Mabel Muñoz and Ingrid Tay are accomplished professionals, former members of the Carl Hayden Robotics Team, who overcame many obstacles in graduating not only from their high school but from Arizona State University with honors. This dedicated duo, who wanted to share their love and enthusiasm for science and technology, created “Building Dreams/ Construyendo Sueños“ which trains teams to participate in FIRST Lego League competitions.

“The purpose of Building Dreams is to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities to underserved communities. Through robotics, kids learn and are exposed to disciplines such as programming, creative thinking, teamwork, organization, and public communication. We strive to create a working environment were youth become motivated to become engineers, scientists, or doctors,” said Mabel Muñoz. Building Dreams tries to expose kids to various activities like Lego Mindstorm robotics classes, computer camps, visits to career fairs, and involvement in the annual FLL (First Lego League) robotics competition which takes place each year in December. “This year, we will continue with the robotics classes with the purpose of enhancing and introducing different skills required in engineering and technology. Throughout the year, we are invited to take our youth to different educational fairs that will spur their imagination and creative thinking,” said Ingrid Tay.

All of the new knowledge and acquired skills are demonstrated at the end of the year during “competition time”. During the last 4 months of the year, kids prepare for the FLL robotics competition where they are given different tasks/missions and they have to work in a team to try to accomplish them. Mabel and Ingrid are real community leaders and an example to follow.

2Aashay Sanghvi

You learn something new each and every day. This may be a trite saying, but it becomes especially true in an internship environment. With no lab experience prior to working at Banner, Amanda Lewis had no idea what was in store. Little did she know, that she would excel in the lab setting and impress those around her. Her mentor, the legendary Dr. Paul Coleman, constantly pushes her. He believes that in an internship setting, both the mentor and mentee are constant explorers who define new boundaries and explore endless possibilities within science. Directly at Banner, Amanda and Dr. Coleman are working with the K1 protein in Alzheimer’s disease. Doing this fantastic research, Coleman is satisfied that Amanda can be exposed to a higher level of work. And she is happy that she can help people through her study and research of immunohistochemistry.


2Aashay Sanghvi

You learn something new each and every day. This may be a trite saying, but it becomes especially true in an internship environment. With no lab experience prior to working at Banner, Amanda Lewis had no idea what was in store. Little did she know, that she would excel in the lab setting and impress those around her. Her mentor, the legendary Dr. Paul Coleman, constantly pushes her. He believes that in an internship setting, both the mentor and mentee are constant explorers who define new boundaries and explore endless possibilities within science. Directly at Banner, Amanda and Dr. Coleman are working with the K1 protein in Alzheimer’s disease. Doing this fantastic research, Coleman is satisfied that Amanda can be exposed to a higher level of work. And she is happy that she can help people through her study and research of immunohistochemistry.


2Ted Kraver

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

I thought I would continue on a “well rounded” theme and how it adds two critical aspects to STEM.  One is determining the validity of the overpowering stream of “facts” that STEM sources deliver including the social sciences. The other is knowledge about humanity and civilization.

Access to data, statistics and information has grown exponentially. Instead of just researching journals or library archives, or chatting with experts there is a cornucopia of Info-Tech sources, some with high validity, and some fraudulent driven by hidden agendas.

I just received a $4.00 copy from ABE of the 1954 book “How to Lie with Statistics.” Every  STEM student in my era read this short, amusing book.  It covers  data graphing manipulations, sampling bias and choice of what average to use to bend truth. Quotes include “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Disraeli, and “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.” Artemus Ward.  Understanding the wrong way is an effective means to learn the right way to use knowledge.

Being a “true believe” is risky.   Blindly following the mandates of your circle of friends, teachers, community or political party is less than desirable. This is where critical thinking comes into play. But critical thinking needs a broad and deep context that crosses many boundaries.

Context resides in both humanity and civilization that can be found  in historical, political, religious, humorous, scientific and philosophical literature both fictional and fact. Your context is developed within the instincts, arts, skills, relationships, beliefs, and mind-sets molded by your own life experiences.

With knowledge founded on valid data and context molded within your life there is one more attribute to being a well-rounded person … action.   That is making decisions and then taking action – every way and every day.

Ref: http://www.abebooks.com/

Ref: David Brooks, “The Problem of Pragmatism,” NY Times, 10/3/2014

Guest Author: Roy Smolens Jr., Science Writer, Arizona SciTech Festival

The Helios Education Foundation has a most noble mission: to enrich lives through education. Helios is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals and families in Arizona and Florida by creating opportunities for postsecondary education success. The Arizona SciTech Festival acts a vehicle for leveraging synergies among stakeholders in the scientific, educational, and business communities to increase the output of future leaders/innovators in STEM – partnered together, a match (STEM) made in heaven!

The Helios Education Foundation partners with many schools and districts state-wide to develop a comprehensive framework to integrate STEM education. Their work includes key design elements that support the development of project-based, interdisciplinary STEM instruction. By providing practical tools and information to assist teachers, administrators, schools and districts that want to improve student outcomes by integrating STEM, Helios raises the bar for student academic achievement.

“The AZ SciTech Festival continues to engage more communities and institutions, generating significant awareness and support for STEM education. In my view, the AZ SciTech Festival is a remarkable—and much needed—catalyst for strategic change in Arizona.” Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation

A longtime and passionate sponsor of the AZ SciTech Festival, the Helios Foundation generously helps celebrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM or STEAM when you include the arts) through compelling collaborations. The Helios Foundation works to remove barriers to understanding STEM reduce the intimidation factor for, not just for kids, but people in general. Their support makes STEMs more approachable.

“By supporting the (festival), the Foundation believes more Arizonans will become aware of the role STEM plays in our economy,” said Dr. Jo Anne Vasquez, Vice President of Educational Practice. “In order for Arizona to be a player in the new global economy, Helios supports educational initiatives that create a college-going culture with an emphasis on academic preparation in STEM education.”

Helios has a noble goal: to enrich lives through education. The Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in education, across three impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years and Post-Secondary education success.

Added to that perspective, Helios also supports the AZ SciTech Festival by being a contributing partner to a state-wide, practical, compelling and magical celebration of STEM, which engages families, communities and businesses. By highlighting STEM career opportunities at this level, Helios provides experiences for students to be college and career ready, and visualize the many STEM career opportunities

“Arizona is a very diverse state from mountains to desert environments and by helping local communities highlight their STEM strengths they provide families the opportunity to recognize the vast range of STEM career opportunities right in their own backyard,” Rebecca Lindgren, Marketing and Communications Director, Helios Education Foundation explains.

The Foundation takes its mission seriously in education. Helios supports both the SciTech community events and many local STEM district and school initiatives by tying the relevancy of the formal STEM classroom learning to the local community. “Woven together, these experiences provide a showcase of the many STEM career opportunities in Arizona which range from developing the formula for the perfect chocolate to experiencing the science behind baseball,” Lindgren illustrated.

Another example of the Helios Education Foundation contributions would be the partnering with the Yuma Union High School District on an initiative called, “Ready Now Yuma“, Helios raises the bar for all students by not only providing students a higher expectations curriculum, it raises the STEM education bar with an academic program used by many world-leading countries in student academic achievement. “Ready Now Yuma” aims to show that it can be done for every student across an entire public school district. The curriculum and learning model that fosters college and career-ready skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving sets Yuma students on a path to preparedness ahead of many of their peers.

If you live in Arizona and care about STEM education – Helios cares.