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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

What if you had the chance to learn magic from Harry Houdini, baseball from Babe Ruth, or acting from Harrison Ford?

While those adventures may be out of reach, you do have the opportunity to learn meteorite hunting from one of the world’s most famous and successful meteorite experts, who lives and works right here in Arizona.

After 21 years in the meteorite business, three years hosting the award-winning TV series “Meteorite Men,” and a million dollars in meteorite finds, Geoff Notkin is ready to share his knowledge and expertise with the public at “Meteorite Hunting Boot Camp,” May 1-3 in Tucson.

Participants will learn the art and science of meteorite hunting from Geoff himself and will be expertly trained in how to hunt for space rocks. You are guaranteed to find one or more meteorites of your own, and whatever you find, you keep! Geoff has personally found thousands of meteorites on four continents and is ready to share his secret storehouse of knowledge with you!

For complete details, visit www.meteoritebootcamp.com. Take advantage of special pricing for participants who live in the Tucson area and/or wish to arrange for their own accommodations and meals. Time is running out and space is extremely limited, so register today!

Intel Has Been A Leader with Interest and Involvement in STEM Education For Decades
By: Michele Peters, AZ SciTech Writer

Intel, the world’s recognized leader in technology is deeply involved and concerned with tech education known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). But instead of only voicing their concern, they have built a culture to help ensure the next generation is totally tech savvy and a program built around transforming education to meet 21st century challenges, where students will need 21st century skills, including how to communicate and collaborate.
One entire section of their website is devoted to and outlines concrete strategies and actions to initiate that transformation – Intel® Education. “Intel® Education delivers a comprehensive approach to creating successful learning environments. By developing a strategic plan that supports your education vision, you can build a robust infrastructure, choose the right devices, and source the best software for your needs—all keys to driving a holistic solution for student success.” http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/video/way-learning-shou...
Renee Levin, Intel Public Affairs Community Engagement Manager, remarked, “…Kids are interested in science if given the opportunity to play and try to solve simple problems get involved…we must give them the opportunity to play in engineering and science.”
A recent opportunity for kids to “play in science” was the Chandler Science Spectacular, held in February. Here students were able to engage in actual hands-on demonstrations provided by companies and schools. There were only demonstrations and activities and where students talk about STEM with STEM professionals those actually involved – literally it was a day of hands on science.
And speaking of hands-on science, nothing is more hands on than students creating their own research and science fair projects, where Intel again leads the way. The Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF) is the largest science fair in Arizona being held on April 6 at the Phoenix Convention Center http://azsef.org/ . But that is just the beginning. AzSEF brings
together first-place winners from school, homeschool, district, county and regional science fairs across Arizona to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarships. The Grand Award winners in the Senior Division from the state-level fair will be selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) taking place May 8–13, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/competitions/internatio...
This is not your ordinary science fair! Each year, approximately 7 million high school students from around the globe present their original research at local science competitions. All hope to qualify for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair but only 1,700 winners of local, regional, state, and national competitions are invited to participate. Participate and compete they do. The best and brightest from 70+ countries share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research, and compete for more than $4 million in awards and scholarships.
Intel’s support of STEM education goes beyond community activities and here again, they not only give voice to their commitment but take action; their commitment is thoroughly embedded within the corporate culture and extends to their employees. Intel strongly encourages and supports their employees’ involvement in the STEM education initiative; involvement in the classroom is of particular focus. Levin commented, “…when Intel employees get involved in the classroom, it is a way that kids can get acquainted with someone who is actually works in a STEM field, most kids don’t know anyone in these fields.”
With so much going on in the community and their intense involvement with students, Levin was asked about any particular incidents or stories about kids or their interaction at one of the many events sponsored by Intel. With that, Levin chuckled and said “ping pong ball launcher”. A young boy became totally enthralled with the ping pong ball launcher he was making. He spent quite a bit of time constructing the launcher then reworking it to see if he could make it launch further and further with each adjustment. The boy did not want to leave even when Dad was ready to go. Dad commented “ I just spent over $100 on a gaming system that doesn’t even begin to capture his attention like this, I would have done just as well with cardboard, tape,
tongue depressor, Dixie cup and duct tape.”
Before ending the interview, Levin commented on the partnership between AZ SciTech and Intel; an important partnership that has been ongoing since the initial start of AZSciTech. “…The partnership is very exciting and tremendously collaborative with a common goal of making Arizona a destination for seeking STEM education AND employment.”
SNEAK PEEK! This dynamic duo are embarking on another collaboration – Communities of Practice where different combinations of the like-minded in STEM education, from different areas, schools, organizations, businesses and employees from all sectors come together to solve STEM education challenges. Each member in the community brings their unique perspective and experience into the collaboration to solve the most pressing education issues of the present and the future. This collaboration has national roots and extremely far-reaching results for many!
As Levin stated, “Intel is not only perceived as the leader in STEM education, Intel strives to BE the leader in STEM education and there’s a lot of action between those words!”

UAT, Small Private Tech College Prepares the Programmers, Engineers and Tech Innovators of the Future.

By: Michele Peters, AZ SciTech Writer​

If the thought of becoming a robotic engineer, game innovator, cyber warrior or forensic sleuth sounds right up your alley, then the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) needs to be on your “aware of” list.

This small, private college tucked quietly away in the Tempe area is a bastion of education for those who are into the world of latest technology and STEAM. In short, UAT is a committed catalyst to making the region a hi-tech hot spot and create opportunities for the future STEAM professionals in our area.

But in these times of sprawling universities, thousands upon thousands of students on multiple campuses…what does a small, private university solely dedicated to technology look like? An interview with Dr. David Bolman, UAT Provost and Dean clarified everything “…if I could build a college based on STEAM, what would it look like? Unique, interesting and high energy…a college that I would have gone to, if it had existed when I was choosing a school…stimulating, engaging and creative. It would be an example of the best thinking – practice creativity – practice STEAM. More than take classes, pass tests and get a degree. It would include creativity into the curriculum, within the scope of the class. For instance, learn how to build a robot – then actually build that robot. We build a culture at UAT, the students actually try out what they want to do…”

According to Bolman, technology and helping create the professionals of tomorrow also includes learning about history, art, and culture, it includes learning to work in teams. Build and design something together, as a team; teams that are comprised of diverse people, different ages. Technology needs to be adaptable and be part of our lives, conscious of who we are as a people, it’s aesthetics, it’s design; it is who we are as a culture. This is the future of STEAM.

In Bolman’s opinion, the future of jobs in Arizona will be science and STEAM-based which was a major reason he gave for UAT sponsorship of the AZ SciTech Festival. He stated, “taking part in the Festival plants the idea of a future career in STEAM in the minds of Jr. high and high school students. It will be much easier to fill the pipeline with STEAM-educated professionals if we get these students thinking about STEAM careers now, thinking they can create a life, a career, doing this.”

And Bolman’s opinions are supported by facts. The Department of Labor refers to the ‘sciences’ as the ‘Creative Class’ job classification, STEAM jobs will represent 35-45% of those ‘creative class jobs. Bolman continued, “…in Arizona it will easily be one in three jobs – these will be STEAM jobs. “…we want to be the model of what STEAM education will look like ten years from now, to help students become immersed in STEAM.”

UAT and its stated mission “to educate students in advancing technology who innovate for our future…” is perhaps one of the main reasons UAT has been a participant in the AZ SciTech Festival since the Festival’s beginning five years ago and is now a much appreciated sponsor of the annual event. “The AZ SciTech Festival, all of its activities, hands-on demonstrations, wide breadth of STEAM, fits exactly with our philosophy of creativity and STEAM education. A great example is the AZ SciTech Chief Science Officer (CSO) initiative and the CSO Camp. This extends STEAM education far beyond the realm of ‘support’.

So for all those technogeeks, soon to be technogeeks and wannabe technogeeks, there really is a dream college experience for you – where your technogeekiness, your uniqueness combined with the power of a well-rounded education in technology is your future in STEAM. And it’s right here in Arizona!

1National Park Service

National Park Service News Release

For Immediate Release – MARCH 22, 2016

Caleb Kesler, Chief Ranger, MOCA/TUZI, 928-567-5276 x222

Camp Verde, AZ-Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments

SciTech Events at Verde Valley National Monuments

 

The National Park Service, in association with the Verde Valley Science and Technology committee is pleased to offer three different events on Saturday April 2nd, 2016. Please use these opportunities to come learn more about the cultural and natural resources of our three sites.

 

The first event titled “Turtles and Birds and Bats, Oh My!”, will be held at the picnic area of Montezuma Well from 10 am to 11 am.  The event offers insight to some on-going research and monitoring of native Sonoran Mud Turtles, various hummingbirds and local bats.  The second event titled “What the Silent Stones Tell Us”, explores some of the dating techniques archaeologists use. This event will be held at the interpretive circle at Montezuma Castle National Monument from noon until 1pm. The third event is a presentation at Tuzigoot National Monument about Verde Valley Archaeology from 2 pm to 3 pm. 

 

The NPS staff is also participating at the Camp Verde High School SciTech event on April 7, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm.  Park staff will display a model of Montezuma Well and show several videos about Montezuma Well and the surrounding area. All of these events are free of charge and part of the week-long Verde Valley SciTech Festival, April 2 – 8, 2016. 

 

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2016. Over 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 408 national parks and monuments and create close-to-home recreational and cultural opportunities.  

 

Montezuma Well is located at 5525 Beaver Creek Road, Rimrock, AZ.  Montezuma Castle National Monument is located at 2800 Montezuma Castle Road, Camp Verde, AZ.

 

Tuzigoot National Monument is located at 25 Tuzigoot Road, Clarkdale, AZ. For additional information, call 928-567-3322 extension 228, or visit www.nps.gov/moca , www.nps.gov/tuzi orwww.vvscitech.org.

 

For the latest updates on events and programs, find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Surprise’s Super Science Saturday Has Lots of Surprises in Store

BY:  Michele Peters, AZ SciTech Writer

 

On Saturday, March 26 from 9:00 am – Noon at the Surprise Fire Station located at 15517 N. Parkview Place, the residents of Surprise, and anyone lucky enough to attend will have the unprecedented opportunity to meet, talk to and get to know the super unsung heroes, the true heroes of Surprise.

But in addition to meeting and talking to these fabulous heroes, attendees will get to see and learn first-hand how science is used in their everyday efforts to save, assist, rescue and keep everyone safe in their community.   

Science is actually used by police, firefighters and the water department?  While that seems a bit unusual, when you get to learn about this, it really is quite fascinating.  There is true science involved in fighting fires; what is the chemical reaction to cause a fire, how does combustion happen, are chemicals used to stop a fire and can you really fight fire with fire? 

What about sciences used by the police department?  Sherlock Holmes didn’t have all that the police departments now have to help solve crimes.  Just think how much faster he could apprehend those slippery criminals.  Now, there are so many popular TV shows, films and best-selling novels that all involve forensics.  Just what are the sciences used in forensics to solve crimes?  Here is your chance to see first-hand what those shows and books are revealing to help police solve crimes.  But forensics has come a long way since Paris 1879 when records were kept about criminals, height, weight, physical characteristics to fingerprints to today’s DNA technology.  Get out your sleuthing hat and your best questions to ask Surprise’s finest force. 

Okay.  Now down to the nitty gritty – really!  The nitty gritty of water treatment.  Talk about full on science!  Where would we all be without the science behind keeping our water safe?  But what all is involved in this necessity to our survival?  Bring a healthy dose of curiosity and a strong stomach and you too will be fascinated with all that goes into keeping our water safe and usable. 

Kendra Pettis, Economic Development, City of Surprise, was asked about this unusual theme for a science based event.  “…our fire and police are the most in touch with the members of our community.  They are the ones that build trust and respect in Surprise.  What better group of people to help us get the word out about science, the importance of science in our everyday lives.  It’s kind of a sneaky way to show our students how science is so important to all of us…how it is used all the time in our daily lives, and how science is used to keep us safe…from fighting fires, to fighting crime.  Science is used to ensure we have clean water.  That’s the one demonstration I think the kids will be most interested in – even though it has a higher yuck factor” she chuckled. 

Surprise is a growing, dynamic and highly inventive community with a growing, thriving tech community which makes it a perfect fit to be part of the ever-growing, dynamic AZ SciTech Festival. 

And in keeping with the science momentum of the city; during the interview, Pettis mentioned an upcoming event in April, sort of a science festival for adults that will feature beer-making and the science of ghost hunting. 

The City of Surprise is certainly living up to its name – SURPRISE – in all ways, but especially science.  Don’t miss exciting Science Saturday – get to know those people in the community who are the unsung heroes and the science behind what they do to help you!

Jazz, Classical Music…Science and Technology.  What?

BY:  Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer 

 

KBAQ and KJZZ have been the go to stations for classical music and jazz in the Valley for years.  So in these days of STEM where do these two stalwart institutions of music fit?  They fit perfectly.  Both stations have managed an innovative miracle, mixing some of the best music in the Valley with some of the best science and technology in the Valley. 

KJZZ is long known as the station and voice of public radio, a voice for the community and now… a voice for the sciences and technology.  While the dulcet tones of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Harry Connick, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck or Wynton Marsalis sail on the airwaves of KJZZ, so do Spot 127 and on broadband, the Arizona Science & Innovation Desk.

SPOT 127 was created through the collaboration of Friends of Public Radio Arizona, Rio Salado College and KJZZ 91.5 FM and is currently in its third year.  The Center, an innovative, educational outreach youth media center (and successful dropout prevention initiative), is aimed at low-income and at-risk teenagers in the Phoenix area; it empowers Valley youth with digital media skills that are vital to today’s information, technology-driven economy.

The project-based curriculum is actual hands-on training in digital photography, video and audio production and social media that result in students who possess media literacy competencies while honing their media creation and critical-thinking skills.  During the fully immersive two weeks, SPOT 127 staff, KJZZ journalists and media professionals mentor students as they learn to report, write, shoot and edit audio and video stories for authentic, first-hand experience and overview of digital journalism.  And what they learn has long-range impact.  SPOT 127 students develop multimedia pieces that can be used in portfolios, scholarship applications and college applications. 

All student-produced stories are distributed on the website, social media, and some are featured on KJZZ 91.5 FM’s local news programming. However, nothing says something is working like success.  An outstanding example is…Served.    Over the summer, seven participants ages 14 to 16 from SPOT 127, created a food show called Served that takes viewers on a behind the scenes tour of the Valley’s best food spots. Designed for the web, Served will be a monthly show that highlights the diversity and creativity of Arizona’s food scene, while providing at-home tips for viewers.  The students created the scripts, shot, edited and developed the two pilot episodes.

From digital production of Served to a healthy portion of science, and that is the KJZZ Arizona Science & Innovation Desk.  The Science & Innovation Desk is a comprehensive online source for everything science and innovation in the Valley…with a different twist.  Its team of professional reporters take the intimidation factor out of science, replacing it with fun, excitement, entertainment and understanding of what’s happening; from Comet Catalina making an appearance to a cross-country electric car driver making an appearance in Tucson, the KJZZ Science Desk has it covered.  How about an example of the breadth of topics covered?

How Washing Your Hands Every Time You Blow Your Nose Can Present A Health Problem

Turning Trash Into Revenue: How Phoenix Plans To Create New Jobs And Build A No-Waste Economy

Third Desert Tortoise Species Identified By Arizona …

Flagstaff Astronomers Study Unusual Fast-Spinning Asteroid

What Is The Average Monthly High Temperature In Phoenix?

Did You Know: Arizona Is Among Top States In US For Bat Species

 

With the additions of Spot 127 and the Arizona Science & Innovation Desk, KJZZ and KBAQ are well ensconced in the Valley, musically, educationally and now scientifically too. And with strong connections to the community and to science, KJZZ and KBAQ have an equally strong connection…and sponsorship…of the AZ SciTech Festival.  A partner since the inception of AZ SciTech Festival, five years ago, KJZZ and KBAQ have demonstrated their commitment to the community and through these science-based programs, consistently highlight all that is going on in STEM while introducing the fun, excitement and importance of science to new audiences.  Linda Pastori, Associate General Manager, Development for KJZZ and KBAQ sums up the Festival and the stations’ involvement with STEM, “…science can be intimidating, our partnership provides connectivity and awareness, it allows people to touch, feel and experience important topics in science.”   And that is music to everyone’s ears!

A Blend of Prehistoric, Historic and Ancient Technology

BY:  Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer

 

For those of us in the 21st century, technology has fairly specific meanings, ideas and objects we relate to easily.  But what about technology in the past?  Here’s your chance!  Put away the cell phone, tablet, iPod and laptop and experience technology… prehistoric style.

 

On Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, the Pueblo Grande Museum celebrates its 16th Annual Ancient Technology Day:  Prehistoric & Historic and welcomes visitors to travel back in time and experience ancient technologies.  And yes, they did have technologies then, just not the kind we are accustomed to! 

 

So, let’s travel back in time.  How are you at tossing an atlatl (spear)? How about weaving your own cloth?   Try your hand at some of the many free craft activities and games where you can practice your newly acquired ancient and historic technology skills.

 

If you are bit reluctant to toss that atlatl immediately upon arrival, you can first watch the many artists demonstrate how the Hohokam people used various technologies such as flint knapping (making of arrowheads), pottery making, basket weaving, loom spinning, shell etching and shell jewelry, weaving, cotton spinning or how about making adobe brick.  And there’s more!  Experts in historic technologies will demonstrate skills from the Pioneer Days of Arizona.

 

Now that you’ve had a chance to try some of the crafts and activities, you’ll want to put all of this in full context.  Tour the archeological site, prehistoric platform mound, the Park of Four Waters, watch archaeology preservation demonstrations, and artifact show–and-tell will also be available along with a variety of cultural, historic, and technology performances that are not to be missed throughout the day.

 

Laura Andrew, Visitor Services Supervisor for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation was  
recently interviewed and asked about this very popular annual event.  She commented that for visitors to the event, and many come year after year, it “…brings prehistoric and historic technology these people used in daily lives into our lives. Technologies you don’t see on a daily basis …talk to technologists, scientists, archeologists, preservationists – you get a very personal connection and it brings history alive.  You can also see things differently; watch how an artist actually spins thread on a spinning wheel.  So many tools used are so different from what we consider tools today.”

 

Andrews also commented about the unusual juxtaposition of the museum that focuses on prehistoric and historic but is near an airport and in the middle of downtown Phoenix.  “… actually, this is the ancient heart of Phoenix. You get a true feel for the prehistoric and historic relationship of the people … to the water, see the canals, see the petro-glyphs (images created by removing part of a rock’s surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading; a form of “rock-art” that is found world-wide but most often attributed to prehistoric peoples) and realize where we came from.”

 

Part of AZSciTech for five years, the Annual Ancient Technology Day is a natural fit and partner based on the underpinning of and dependence upon science.  Andrew explained, “…elements of archeology lean on hard science for conclusions; archeology, paleontology, social sciences, all depend on science in the background to answer questions.”  In order for us to learn about and learn from the technology of the past, we rely on the technology and science of today.

 

And the one technology that translates and transcends time travel is the roasted agave that you can sample, cooked in the traditional way, slow-cooked in an underground, earthen oven. Plan to spend as much time as possible at the 16th Annual Ancient Technology Day: Prehistoric & Historic at the Pueblo Grande Museum.  Admission to this event and the museum is free as are the many arts and crafts activities. 

Avondale Library Leads STEM Event

BY: Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer

Get your passport and get ready to embark on an adventure that might literally blaze a path that will lead you to a fantastic tomorrow.

The Avondale Library will once again be the driving force behind the annual STEM Fest Family Event. And it is THE place to be on March 16th from 3:30 – 5:30 PM.

Participants receive a passport upon entry. Just like any passport when visiting anywhere in the world, that is the first point of entry into a land or country that leads to new experiences. The STEM Fest Family Event is just that. The event is an entry point to a new and exciting world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). And like a visit to a new country, you’ll learn, experience, experiment and just plain have fun; but this particular adventure may change your life.

The STEM Fest Family Event is a signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival, is for all ages, and is free to attend. You’ll explore booths with experiments, games, activities, and exciting demonstrations all related to STEM. The festival will feature local organizations, local businesses and the Phoenix Zoo. Get your STEM passport stamped along the way to receive a cool completion certificate!

Jesse Caufield, [INSERT TITLE], when asked why this had grown from approximately 80 in attendance the first year to over 200 last year, commented, “…there is a growing awareness that STEM is the future. This Festival appeals to families, kids and parents alike. The library is a trusted source of information, has been and always will be one of the most trusted sources for our community. For this reason, the library has been recalibrating and focusing more on STEM because that is where the jobs of tomorrow will be; more and more materials are being purchased and made available.”

One of the sponsor companies generously gave the library funds that were used to purchase circuitry. At last year’s festival, a mom came with her three year old (yes, three year old) and together they started to put together the circuit. Caufield remarked she was amazed at how quickly they “hopped on this one activity and became completely involved…together.”

And together, the STEM Fest Family Event is where everyone can enjoy games, demonstrations and see for themselves just how much fun science can really be. And who knows, one of those activities might propel you into a future career in STEM – so many areas to choose from. It just may be your passport to a great career in STEM … your tomorrow.

The Phoenix Zoo Shows Off Its Conservationist Side

BY: Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer

The Phoenix Zoo, known as the “go-to” place to visit lions and tigers and bears and so many other fun, furry creatures, the big and the small in the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail and the Children’s Trail, has a surprise in store. There is an entirely other side to the Phoenix Zoo.

On March 11, 2016 6 – 8 p.m. the Phoenix Zoo turns its sights to the important topic of conservation and invites all children ages 8-12, teens, and families to participate in a wide range of fun activities and become for that one night, a Conservation Scientist.

So just what is a conservation scientist? Someone who works to conserve species and habitat and make life better for those species – animals and plants and the habitat where the species are to be found.

Serious stuff, but the Phoenix Zoo and its many activities booths show how much fun this can be.

How about trying your hand at a survey for Chiricahua leopard frogs just like it’s done in the wild. What is a Chiricahua leopard frog and why do they need to be surveyed? The Chiricahua leopard frog is a member of the Ranidae family, the true frogs. And when it wants attention, its call sounds like a SNORE! Previously found in more than 400 aquatic sites in the Southwest, the Chiricahua leopard frog is now found at fewer than 80. In Arizona, the Chiricahua has declined more than any other leopard frog. The Phoenix Zoo along with Arizona’s Department of Game and Fish, and the USFWS are trying to diminish threats through captive breeding and reintroduction efforts. That’s conservation and conservation scientists at work.

At another booth, collect data on California floater mussels. Why is the California floater mussel important enough that data needs to be collected on it? Because so many of these type mussels (bivalves) are becoming sick and declining; however, and it is a big however, this particular species is a clear indicator of aquatic environmental health.

With this level of importance, Sarena Randall Gill, Community Engagement Manager at the Phoenix Zoo’s Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, quickly commented on the ‘why’ The Phoenix Zoo was part of the AZSciTech Festival, “…The Phoenix Zoo has been part of the AZ SciTech Festival from the beginning, for five consecutive years. It gives us an opportunity to be part of a statewide effort and reach out to a much wider and varied audience… with critical issues and important topics like conservation. It gives us an opportunity to discuss conservation and engage people, especially children and teens, about things they may not know exist or thought about before visiting the zoo. ”

But when questioned why hold this particular type of event, Gill’s answer was quite compelling. “One of the most important reasons …is to showcase and highlight all of the different areas of STEM that go into becoming a conservation scientist. This type event and being part of the Festival serves to make the entire subject extremely approachable to kids and teens. Hopefully, after learning about conservation and the job of a conservation scientist, they might go into this field of work; especially teens who visit, they might seriously consider the field of conservation and choose a career as a conservation scientist.”

The event is free, but advanced registration is required as space is limited with activities designed for ages 8-12 and teens, and their families. Meet real conservation scientists and learn about the important work they do with the Phoenix Zoo, and discover ways that you can participate in conservation…and possibly a future career!

intel_4c_100

When is a partnership more than a partnership?  When it involves STEM education, Intel and community organizations blending their experience, best practices, background and advice, all to benefit local schools and their students.  Arizona schools, public, private and charter, have the unique opportunity of unprecedented access to Intel’s wealth of information, practices and knowledge through Arizona’s first STEM School Community of Practice.

 

So how does Intel’s CoPs work and how will Mentoring and Planning Services (MAP) help local schools and educators? 

 

For decades, Intel has been a leader and innovator in business and a pioneer in the area of Community of Practice (CoP). Intel recognized quite some time ago that information and work silos were no longer a feasible structure for success for the company or for Intel employees. After a study of the market, the new paradigm instituted was based on CoPs.  Intel CoPs have proven immensely successful having solved challenges, as well as identified multiple solutions from which to choose but also resulted in an extremely enthusiastic, highly collaborative workforce.

 

Basically, a problem at Intel is either recognized by management or by employees working on a project.  The problem is communicated throughout the company.  Anyone who has an interest in or has expertise in a component for the solution of the problem is welcomed to join the “community”.   This method draws talent and minds from all over the company, not one area, not one department and not one group.  Many minds with a common goal come together to work to find a solution.  This “community” then discusses the issues, possible solutions and what is needed to find the solutions.  Should an idea come up within the community but no one possesses the particular expertise required, an existing community member invites a colleague, someone with that needed expertise, to join the community…and the community of minds expands.  One very interesting and unexpected benefit from this new paradigm became apparent when challenges were recognized well in advance of the challenge mushrooming into an actual problem that had to be solved immediately. Various CoPs also discovered that there were many different ways to get to a solution… through the discussions and sharing of information. 

 

In brief, CoPs allowed Intel to move from silos with no shared learning to a system of eliminated barriers, a sense of community, shared knowledge and effectively eliminated the necessity of continually reinventing the wheel.  This system breaks the tribal mentality1 and results in an extremely enthusiastic, highly collaborative and efficient workforce.  As Janet McConnell, Technical Project Manager at Intel commented, “…a rising tide raises all boats.” The idea of collaborative learning and problem solving has proven to be immensely successful at Intel and it is this structure and experience that Intel brings to STEM education in Arizona.

 

Now, for Intel’s MAP.  Intel, which has always demonstrated profound corporate social responsibility to their communities, created the Mentoring and Planning Services (“MAP”) program.  Through this program, Intel employees volunteer their time and talents to mentor, guide and offer technical advice to schools offering STEM education as well assist non-profit organizations in the area.  Intel’s MAP volunteers use the best practices learned from actual experience and work within the CoPs to the mentor, guide and solve problems for the Arizona STEM School Community of Practice.  MAP volunteers along with partners Arizona Science Center’s Freeport McMoRan Center for Leadership and Learning and the Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) will lead and design STEM learning for students and educators. These corporate and community teams are committed to providing technical assistance for participants in the Arizona STEM School Community of Practice by facilitating dialogue among schools and interest-based groups, sharing high quality resources, modeling instructional practices that support thought, design and creativity within a STEM environment, and models of STEM implementation.  The team is highly experienced and recognized for their abilities to nurture change through mentoring, coaching, and developing collaborative relationships. Renee Levin, Intel Community Affairs & Education Manager summed up the collaboration and insight into the partnership perfectly.  “At Intel, the vast majority of our jobs require advanced education in the STEM areas. Our employee volunteers are excited to participate in this program. They know how rigorous a STEM education path is and they want to help prepare students today for the jobs of tomorrow.”    

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