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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

2Ted Kraver

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

The Arizona Capital Times assembled an impressive set of panelists for their Higher Education “Morning Scoop” on August 18th, 2015. Tim Slottow, President of University of Phoenix(UOP), addressed the audience first. At the University of Michigan as CFO he had managed $6 Billion a year into 100 top rated programs while reducing tuition. At the unique UOP half of the students are first generation and 70% are working. He is concerned about the polarized political system that is not rationally addressing social change. He is focused on improving the trajectory of the middle class over the next five years.

Ilya Iussa is Chief Strategy Officer of Maricopa County Community College District. She noted that MCCCD is into its 100th year of providing education for Arizona. Their unique mission has an open door policy for any student resulting in largest supporter of workforce development. As the largest community college district in the USA, it has three financial sources: one third tuition ($84 per credit hour), one third land taxes and one third from state of Arizona.  Oops, the state recently cut funding!  Their uniqueness attribute has been shifted into high gear to acquire new sources of funding. They are trying to remove a historical law that says for each $1 contributed by a company, they have to forego $1 in land taxes.

Glenn Hamer is CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. By 2020 it is vital to Arizona economy that 65% of our working population has higher education in either a college or trade school. With unskilled jobs continuing to decline businesses are working with our universities on programs that range from “boot camp” skills to computer programmers.  Potential employees flock to Arizona for higher education. We must improve the graduate pipeline to business and industry by assuring they remain in our state. K-12 education has pockets of excellence but overall it is the major reason why our college graduates move out of state.

Ilene Kline is President of the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona must commit to providing affordable college education to all individuals. Twenty-five percent of their funds have been cut by the State, and this funding must be restored. Loans to students load them with too much debt.  Federal Pell grants are much more effective. The Arizona Constitution is not being followed when the State fails to adequately fund education. Well-funded research is also vital to business and economic development. More juniors are entering universities than freshmen. What we need is an effective alignment of the goals of all post-secondary institutions.

Michael Romano, Campus President of Universal Technical Institute (UTI), asked the audience, “How many of you want your kids to be auto mechanics?”  When he mentioned auto and diesel and moved on to NASCAR, he got a better response. UTI works at a high level with Ford and General Motors to develop highly educated technicians. STEM is a major part of the curriculum and prepares graduates for higher degrees.

Senator Carlyle Begay, Member Senate Education Committee, discussed the working-jobs program Joint Technical Education District (JTED). This program is highly effective in rural and tribal regions. He emphasized the years of cuts and the need for you raise your voice at election time to change education policies.

Paul Thorpe is Chair of House Government and Higher Education committee. To entice graduates to stay, Arizona needs an innovation like the European Veterinarian Model being prototyped by UofA. The 6-7 year Vet program produces huge student debts. These debts that cannot be paid if the vet practices in a rural area.  So debts are lowered by UofA if graduates serve these areas. Arizona has a tax source disadvantage with 80% of land held by the federal government. Our state funds only $9,000 per student while New York funds $22,000 per student.  The federal payment to Arizona in lieu of taxes is very small, far short of the $50 per acre paid by private landholders. A forlorn hope is that the U.S. BLM will provide $50 per acre on their 32 million acres of non-Native American land and deliver $1.5 billion for Arizona education.

Jim Small of the Capital Times asked the question, “When the requirement that 65% of the Arizona’s job holders have higher education will the college and university student slots be available. The panel members described their offerings, focusing on flexibility for the student, placements and how the schools feed into each other to create an effective pipeline for students. The higher education schools directly engage employers to determine their current and future needs for college education students.

Jim then asked about affordability and the mountain of student debt.  The response was now that the recession was retreating, the State of Arizona needs to reverse its funding cuts for higher education by 2016. We do not have families with generational wealth so we all have to pitch in. The funding should be student centric with focus on STEM education to serve high paying jobs. The huge teacher and medical student retention problem must be addressed with paying down their loans if they stay in Arizona. Colleges must take steps to modernize higher education to deliver faster, cheaper and better learning with emerging technology and its unique pedagogies.

I left Alexi’s with the feeling that the panel covered the issues well, and had some creative ideas. Most important they were working together to address Arizona’s massive higher education problems. The two huge challenges that must be solved:

1. Student funding/student debt;

2. Integrate the goals of the disparate Arizona higher education entities into to one efficient and effective strategic plan, as articulated by Ilya Iussa. Time line must be much less than five years.

2Ted Kraver

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

Summer ends and schools are back in business. THE question sitting out there is, “What facts did you learn over the summer?”   Your free range explorations may have gone as far as changed your life’s calling. My middle school son was convinced during the summer 1985 that he wanted to create video games.  I got him an AMIGA PC. Today he is the creative director for one of the world’s largest video game companies. His goal remained fixed. When I was his age I wanted to be a helicopter engineer and create the next ram- jet powered Hiller Hornet. That fact changed a dozens of  times as I meandered through many industries and public sector ventures, changing paths ever few years.  We both continue to have very rewarding lives.

The neat thing about a scientific, technical and engineering (STE) education is that you learn how to do things and see the physical world in all its reality.  Your mathematics (M) education is a vital support tool for STE that provide a rigorous foundation for facts. Once you have mastered STEM and sharpened your intuitive mind, you are set, right?  Well, not as much as you might think.

While you are learning STEM you are also delving into history, art, biographies of inventors, scientists and a host of interesting folks. Hobbies and sports enrich your life. My mother was the county librarian in the 1940s and 1950s. Because of my sister’s interests her library had a bigger collection of science fiction books than the large Cleveland library. Facts of physical reality become intertwined speculation, intuition, and emotions. Digging deeper into science you discover the theory of chaos applied to complex systems. The simplistic and comfortable “cause and effect” of Newtonian physics is replaced by less than adequate complexity theory. The weather, turbulent flow of fluids, mobs and military battles cannot be predicted by simple cause and effect rules based on facts.

A recent book (2012) titled “The Half-Life of Facts,” “Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date” by Samuel Arbesman of Harvard and the Kauffman Institute and Harvard. The theme is plasticity of facts.  The concept of half-life came on the scene with atomic theory. The radio activity of chunk of Uranium 235 will decay to half its current level in 704 million years. After another 704 million years and the chunk will produce a quarter of the clicks per second on a Geiger counter. A solid fact like the number of chromosomes in human cells was discovered to be 48 in 1912.  But a half century later new a technique showed only 46.  Doctors used to recommend smoking tobacco. Portrayed as grey-green, leathery, and slow moving, dinosaurs are actually speedy critters covered with multicolored feathers and skin.

Time also wreaks havoc with facts. A hundred years ago a British neurologist said, “It takes 50 years to get a wrong idea out of medicine and 100 years a right one into medicine.”  The Apatosaurus was mislabeled Brontosaurus 150 years and the error was known by 1910. Today “Brono” still gets used twice as often and the US Post Office came out with a Brontosaurus stamp in 1989, featuring an Apatosaurus.

Fortunately we humans are highly adaptive. It is important to learn facts, but we must also recognize and adapt to changing facts. Make sure that your instructors know their lecture facts are a changing. Think about a fact’s half-life. Some may be 704 million years, but some may be only to the next news cycle.


Guest Author: Allie Nicodemo, associate editor, Office of Knowledge Enterprise

Carbon is constantly cycling between Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. It moves in different forms among living things, soil, sedimentary rocks, fossil fuels, the atmosphere and the oceans. Recently, people have begun releasing large amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. This causes changes in our global climate and creates problems for human well-being.

Arizona State University researchers address carbon issues end-to-end, from the point of emission to capture and storage to reuse. The university brings together specialists from across academic backgrounds to address not only technical issues, but also political and socioeconomic issues of decarbonization to get our carbon cycle back in balance.

Check out our series on carbon to learn about policy, carbon capture and more!


Guest Author: Allie Nicodemo, associate editor, Office of Knowledge Enterprise

Carbon is constantly cycling between Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. It moves in different forms among living things, soil, sedimentary rocks, fossil fuels, the atmosphere and the oceans. Recently, people have begun releasing large amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. This causes changes in our global climate and creates problems for human well-being.

Arizona State University researchers address carbon issues end-to-end, from the point of emission to capture and storage to reuse. The university brings together specialists from across academic backgrounds to address not only technical issues, but also political and socioeconomic issues of decarbonization to get our carbon cycle back in balance.

Check out our series on carbon to learn about policy, carbon capture and more!

Photo Caption: Carbon moves through the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere in various forms, in a process known as the carbon cycle. Illustration by Jessica Flanagan. Click to enlarge.

Abstract Submission Site Opens — September 15, 2015
Abstract Submission Deadline — October 15, 2015

The Materials Research Society Announces its Call for Papers for the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit.
Web submission only; fax or e-mail submissions will not be accepted.

For over 30 years, the MRS Spring Meeting has served as a major international stage for the examination of current and emerging materials research. Over time, the Spring Meeting has reached an attendance of over 5,000. While much has changed since that first Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1984, most notably in technical scope and attendance, the MRS Spring Meeting continues to be multidisciplinary and multinational, attracting researchers from all scientific fields, backgrounds and employment sectors—students to Nobel Laureates—and providing a glimpse of the future of materials science.
Now, we are excited for our first Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona—the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit! The size of the Phoenix Convention Center will allow all daytime events to take place “under one roof,” providing attendees with easier access to multiple symposia, enhancing the interdisciplinary nature of the MRS Meeting and affording expanded networking opportunities.
We’re confident the move to Phoenix will bring with it a great meeting experience, and we’re looking forward to a new and exciting chapter in MRS Meetings!
The program features a record-setting 62 technical symposia on topics that include:
  • Characterization and Modeling of Materials
  • Energy and Environment
  • Electronics and Photonics
  • Materials Design
  • Nanotechnology
  • Soft Materials and Biomaterials
Invited or contributed speakers, poster presenters, industrial exhibitors and sponsors—this Conference is yours to build through your scientific and technical contributions and your participation to the MRS program. We believe that with your contributions, the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit will be the best yet!
For further information on the 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit, visit www.mrs.org/spring2016. To receive email updates on upcoming meetings and workshops from the Materials Research Society sign up here. Additional information is also available from MRS Member Services by phone at 724-779-3003, fax at 724-779-8313 or email at info@mrs.org.
New research reveals how the strategies of Candy Crush can be embedded into course design to motivate students
Boston, MA, August 6 2015 Engaging and motivating students in their studies is one of the biggest challenges faced by teachers today, with recent statistics* stating that over 40 per cent of full time four-year college students in the US fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years and many never complete their education.
A potential solution to this problem has been identified by a mother and daughter research team from the University of Akron, USA, in a new study from Emerald Group Publishing, global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society.
Evangeline Marlos Varonis, Instructional Designer from the university’s Design and Development Services department, and Maria Evangeline Varonis, English teacher, are both casual players of King Digital Entertainment’s game Candy Crush Saga. This led them to question what it is about the game that drives them to keep playing?
The article, ‘Deconstructing Candy Crush: what instructional design can learn from game design’ from Emerald’s International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, reveals how the strategies used in the game can be applied to academic course design in order to motivate students to persist and to enhance learning outcomes.
Evangeline Marlos Varonis explains: “As our students can become disillusioned with traditional course design methods, a major part of my role as an Instructional Designer is to research alternative ways of delivering course content. Gamification, using game design elements in non-game contexts, is a growing trend which has influenced our work in recent years. This led us to question how Candy Crush motivates players to continue. What began as participant observation soon expanded into a full ‘deconstruction’ of the game’s features.
“Our study identifies the key strategies used by the game and illustrates how these can be embedded into course design in order to help keep students focussed and engaged, and to motivate them to continue through their course right up until completion.”
As part of  Emerald’s dedication to highlighting current research through informative and thought provoking content, we have produced an infographic inspired by this study called ‘Designing an academic course? Five tips from Candy Crush you need to know’ which is available to view and share on a dedicated web page together with related research articles.
Complimentary access to the original article is also available until the end of August 2015.
– Ends   – 
Notes to editors:
*Source: National Centre for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research’s report: ‘Understanding the College Dropout Population’, Jan14. Data correct as of 29.07.15
About Emerald:  www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com
Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,500 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs.
Emerald is COUNTER 4 compliant. It is also a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.
Dawn Williams
Content Communications Executive
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Phone: +44 (0) 1274 785226

1Arizona Game & Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is pleased to announce some very exciting upcoming programs for teachers and students. Please check out the brief descriptions below and click on the appropriate links for more information.

As always, if you have any questions, please email me directly at eproctor@azgfd.gov rather than replying to this email!

Using Cameras to Study Wildlife

The advent of digital cameras has opened up new avenues for studying wildlife. Today, the digital camera is one of the most widely used technology tools in wildlife management. In this unique workshop, teachers will have the opportunity to learn about ways cameras are used in wildlife management while creating some relevant classroom materials.

This workshop is taking place in the Tucson area on Saturday, August 22.
Click here for more information and to register. Hurry: only a few spaces remain!


Learn about Our New and Updated Resource Trunks

One of the most popular educational materials that we provide are the resource trunks. Sometimes called bone boxes, these trunks have a variety of tactile resources that you can bring into the classroom. We have spent some time updating these materials and are very excited to share these changes with you! In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to experience the materials from at least four of our loaner boxes.

This workshop is taking place in the Phoenix area on Saturday, September 19.

Click here for more information and to register. Space is limited.


Workshop Helps Integrate Science and Social Studies

The struggle to preserve America’s wildlife is an amazing tale of national and natural history. It is a story of what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal. And it provides an engaging context to integrate science, language arts and American history in the classroom. Join us for a day-long teacher workshop and learn how to bring the history of wildlife management into your classroom.

This workshop is taking place in the Phoenix area on Saturday, October 24. The content and resources are geared toward secondary teachers. However, all are welcome to register. There is a $25 fee to participate.

Click here for more information and to register. Space is limited.


School Group Sport Fishing Program

We are pleased to announce that the application process for our “Sport Fishing Education Program” is now open. All Arizona educators who work with grades three and above are welcome to apply. Because the demand is often higher than we can accommodate, a random drawing will be held to fill the number of available spots. If selected, your school will receive an hour-long classroom presentation and a 3-4 hour hands-on fishing event at a nearby body of water.

For more information and to submit your application, click here. But hurry: applications are only accepted until August 14!


Eric Proctor
Wildlife Education Coordinator
Arizona Game and Fish Department
(623) 236-7243

Sign up for FREE AZ Game and Fish e-newsletters at http://www.azgfd.gov/signup

Your wildlife is the Heritage Fund’s Legacy!

1National Hispanic Environmental Council

Dear Students, Educators, and Enviro Leaders:

For those who have not seen our earlier emails, the National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC) is still accepting applications from students to attend our 14th annual, national “NM Minority Youth Environmental Training Institute”, to be held August 8—17, 2015, at national forests, parks, laboratories etc. in beautiful northern New Mexico.  NHEC covers all costs to attend.  The Institute is held and students housed at the Glorieta Conference Center in Glorieta, NM.

This is one of 3 Environmental STEM Institutes- in NYC, CA, NM- that NHEC operates across the country as we work to build the next generation of Latino/minority environmental professionals and scientists.  Interested students should apply promptly for this unique opportunity.

Regarding eligibility: as this is a national program the Institute is open to students from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The NM Institute is an intensive, residential, science-based, 10 day long environmental education and envir. career program for top students, aged 17-20 deeply interested in the environment and a related major/career.

Through a full scholarship, NHEC covers ALL costs for students competitively selected, including transportation, housing, meals, science equipment, and more.

Using our Environmental STEM curriculum students learn a range of environmental and conservation issues.  Students also conduct Environmental Field Studies (air, soil, water testing, biological assessments, tree ecology, birding, more) using high-tech science equipment.  Also participating are volunteer role models–environmental professionals, many minority and from the sciences—who engage/inspire students to pursue an environmental/conservation career.

The sponsors are the U.S. Forest Service; U.S. EPA, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Thus students will also learn about federal internships, jobs, and research opportunities with these agencies, and how to apply.

So if you are passionate about the environment, enjoy science, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, AND been seeking a job in the enviro arena, this program is for you.

The attached contain all materials for students to apply, including selection criteria. Please read the Fact Sheet first; it has a full overview of the program.

To answer three FAQ’s: 1. yes, slots are still available although going fast.  2. there is no deadline per se; NHEC reviews applications/selects students on a rolling basis until all slots are filled.  Students are strongly urged to apply asap.  And 3. as this is a federally funded program eligibility is limited to U.S. Citizens, Permanent Legal Residents, and those with DACA status.

Lastly, we ask you to forward this email to those interested in this exciting program, including qualified students, educators, colleges, organizations, and more.  We thank you for your help.

Please contact NHEC’s Programs Coordinator, Juan Rodriguez, atjrodriguez@nheec1.org<mailto:jrodriguez@nheec1.org>
orrrivera@nheec1.org<mailto:rrivera@nheec1.org>  if you have questions.  Or call NHEC at 703-683-3956.   You can also download the materials to learn more about NHEC/our Institutes through our website at  www.nheec1.org<http://www.nheec1.org>

Roger Rivera
President, NHEC

2Ted Kraver

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

I took my first online course in the early 1990s from the University of Arizona. The course was on the most profound human issue, “Consciousness,” a subject that has been studied and written about since ancient times. Decades of brain-mind research have generated hundreds of professional papers but have not gotten much further than Descartes’, “I think therefore I am.”

Prior to this online course, Northern Arizona University had been a pioneer in distance learning using a microwave tower system. The main classroom in Flagstaff linked to satellite classrooms around the state reaching all the way to Yuma. Later our Arizona Community College system linked their ten community colleges (from Pima to Northland Pioneer to Arizona Western) with a similar but non-microwave system based at the Maricopa Community College headquarters in Tempe. Since then online courses from K-12 through university graduate school have proliferated.

I had chatted with a gentleman at an Arizona Business and Education Coalition function. He works for a Chandler ed-tech company named Glynlyon.  Glynlyon is a conglomerate of four eLearning companies. One is Odysseyware, a pioneering Chandler, AZ company that is offering hundreds of simulation and interactive courses in the K-12 sector.

Some courses are strictly online and others are “blended” with seat time in a classroom with a teacher. There are even “flipped” courses! One study showed that flipped classrooms where students watch video lectures at home and address questions and problems in classroom, as highly effective.  The test scores increased in 67% of the classrooms. Ninth grade math failure dropped from 44 percent to 13 percent.

Along with community colleges and state universities, selective-admissions colleges are also branching out from ivy covered bricks and mortar buildings by delivering flexible learning.  In 2006 MIT and Harvard founded the massive open online course (MOOC) system with the online learning platform called edX. It is currently offering over 300 courses to 3 million students worldwide. Yale has a master’s in medical science degree for physician assistants. One lifespan learning student took classes at Berkeley, Brown, Stanford and Yale without earning a degree. My youngest son is the creative director for a major video game developer and has invented a number of new animation capture devices for his company. In lieu of college credits he spent his time using his highly developed self-learning ability.  

With our economy moving toward independent employment, specific learning and detailed listing of skills on a resume is becoming important. But for human-resource folks in the larger corporate and public sector entities, the degree(s) remain highly significant. Each of us must determine what is best of us.  But mandate for all students is their need to learn how to learn informally as well as formally. To self-manage a lifespan of learning using a plethora of sources, an individualized strategic learning plan is needed. 

What has worked for me is to find a quiet spot. I used a dark corner in a large public library (mom was a county librarian, so go figure!). ) First is a couple of hours just thinking about who I am now, my current situation and what I envision for the future. When the thoughts stop coming, I put down my pencil, and imagine one or more pathways into the future. Eventually decisions gel.  Then I decided what formal and informal education and training I might need. One of my early “library” decisions lead to an engineering job in Phoenix when I graduated college. A decade later the process started me on my 30 year quest for a PhD in engineering.  The following decade I decided my entrepreneur skills had a weak academic foundation, so off I went to get an MBA … and so it has worked for me. 

As I write this I am thinking that maybe it’s about time to hang out in a quiet library again, see you there. 


This past weekend Arizona SciTech in partnership with over 70 middle and high schools and dozens of community partners convened its inaugural Chief Science Officer Summer Institute.

CSOnoteBookfinalpg1Held at Tonto Creek Camp just outside of Payson, 88 of our Chief Science Officers or CSOs experienced a variety of workshops, science activities and talks to enhance their leadership, communication and ties with fellow CSOs. Community mentors or “SciTech Jedi” joined us from premiere Arizona organizations such as Intel, State Farm, Honeywell, TGen, UAT, ASU, Freeport McMoRan, Flinn Foundation to name a few.

CSOs – Enhancing the Voices for STEM 

CSO2A core component of the CSO concept is to increase student “voice” in the local, state and national conversation about STEM. All too often discussions about education and the workforce take place without potentially the most important stakeholder…students! What adults view about the future workforce may not be aligned with our students’ visions. To address this, CSOs are selected through a general election and tasked to capture the voice of their student population. As the number of CSOs build, so will their collective voice. To this end, students are organized into a statewide cabinets and work with one another and address larger, high impact issues and gaps as a collective group.  Starting with an inaugural cohort of 120, it is anticipated there will be over 500 elected CSOs by year 3 of the program.

We have high aspirations for our CSOs both at their school and in the community. By the end of the season each CSO will have:
– Attended a CSO leadership institute at Tonto Creek Camp
– Attended at least 2 regional or state-level cabinet meetings
– Identified and collaborated with a SciTech Jedi (community mentor) on their projects
– Participated in the online CSO mentorship class facilitated by the Arizona SciTech team
– Developed a personal CSO online profile
– Bridged at least one STEM opportunity and/or event with their campus
– Participated in at least one community conversation about STEM and education as an ambassador
– Published at least two blogs about their CSO experience on or off campus

Potential Reach CSO1

It is anticipated ~1300 students will be directly impacted in year 1. This includes the 120 elected CSOs and an average of 10 peers each CSO teams with at their school to support campus STEM programming. We anticipate an additional 7,000 – 35,000 students will indirectly be impacted through CSO related programming such as the general CSO election, students attending STEM related events and CSO related communications such as blogs, journal articles, website and social media posts.


Photo Designer: John Drury