Arizona SciTech Blog
This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.
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!
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 .
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 and the 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.”
World’s Best-Known Chip Processor Applies CoPs to Create CSOs
What in the world is a CoP and a CSO and how does it involve Intel? Keep reading and you’ll quickly connect the dots.
Intel, known for its inventive ways of processing information, has initiated and uses a truly revolutionary process when it comes to figuring out challenges as well as identifying challenges before they become problems. And in the process (you’ll excuse the pun) has harnessed the energy and creativity of their employees across the entire enterprise with a result beyond expectations.
The name of this revolutionary concept – Community of Practices or “CoPs.” The CoP is essentially a network of people who self-identify. They share an interest (“domain”), are committed to that domain, value their collective competence and learn from each other; therefore, a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. Basically, a CoP is a learning eco-system that applies to business…and which Intel, through the AZ SciTech Ecosystem, now applies to education.
A bit of some background here. Jim Henrys, Principle Strategist, Enterprise Solution Sales at Intel recognized quite a while ago that information and working silos constricted by a severe hierarchal structure were no longer the future and no longer a feasible structure for success for the company or for Intel employees. He studied the market, determined what was needed in the future and created the CoPs around that. This was not based only on theory. They used real Intel problems, shared information and presented the solution. They also found out there were many different ways to get to a solution and learned a great deal because of the sharing; more minds working toward a goal and solution to a problem.
Fastforward several years. Intel CoPs have proven immensely successful, effectively solve challenges, identify problems before they even become problems and identify multiple solutions from which to choose…but also result in an extremely enthusiastic, highly collaborative workforce. CoPs allowed Intel to move from silos with no shared learning to a system of eliminated barriers, a sense of community and eliminated the necessity of continually reinventing the wheel. This system breaks the tribal mentality. 1
Enter the Intel – AZ SciTech connection. The AZSciTech EcoSystem, the only one in Arizona and unique within the US, is an original partner and recipient in the Stem Funders Network (SFN), part of the national initiative, STEM Ecosystems Initiative, to bring STEM education into the schools.
Intel has always demonstrated profound corporate social responsibility to their communities and created the Mentoring and Planning Services (“MAP”) program which brought together Intel and the AZ SciTech initiative. Ah ha, dots are starting to connect!
Based on Intel’s successful CoPs in business, Intel is THE role model AND key partner/collaborator with AZ SciTech to bring CoPs to STEM education in Arizona. Aligning Intel with the STEM Ecosystems Initiative allows Arizona SciTech an important opportunity to join a like-minded national community of practice, enhance, refine and validate existing efforts through technical assistance, co-develop new and transformative initiatives such as the Chief Science Officers and share information and solutions within our local community but also with national partners. Intel’s success and experience provide the quick pathways to initiate, develop, support and operate successful STEM CoPs. All dots now connected!
The AZ SciTech Initiative, Chief Science Officers program is free and open to all schools. It creates a CoP where all information is shared, common challenges discussed and offers the young CSOs an unparalleled opportunity to develop leadership skills in the realm of STEM…in short, dramatically impact and affect the future of STEM education in Arizona, the schools, the community and the CSO themselves.
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.”
For more information on how to join an AZ SciTech Initiative CoP or become a CSO, please visit:
For more information on Intel’s MAP program, please visit:
1Tribal Mentality is a trait extremely useful for the development of the species, but which should have become progressively obsolete in the 21st Century. The “us” Vs. “them” mentality is an “inherent” and “inherited” trait that today prevents our growth as human beings in our interconnected, multicultural world. Claudia Brauer, Brauer Training, has assignments for the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the DEA and holds Homeland Security Clearance.
To the thousands who attend the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace the word needs no explanation
For eight weekends each year, 30 acres in Gold Canyon travel back in time to the 16th century and the Renaissance. Now in its 28th year, from February 6 through March 27, the Renaissance comes to life in Arizona, in all shapes and forms from the eating of turkey legs to incredibly talented artisans displaying one of a kind crafts that harken back to the 16th century. So how does science relate to those olden days and why is the Renaissance Festival a sponsor, for the fifth year, of the AZ SciTech Festival? The explanation is in this year’s Renaissance Festival name, “The Age of Discovery Innovation & Exploration.”
Put away your armor, your lance, set aside plans for jousting and we will explain.
DID YOU KNOW?
Many innovations that began in the 16th century, the period known as the Renaissance, are still evident and influential today. Much of what we consider our modern world can be traced back to the dreamers, inventors and innovators of the Renaissance: biology, chemistry, painting, architecture, art, maps, language, trade, culture and so much more all have roots in the 16th century Renaissance. If any of the following sound familiar, these all started with the sciences, STEAM, of the Renaissance; the printing press, medical instruments, anatomy, travel, trade routes, armored car, parachute, mechanical clock, microscope and the magnetic compass. And the most well-known Renaissance STEAM genius who still amazes scientists and lay people alike, Leonardo da Vinci, certainly tops the list.
The Arizona Renaissance Festival, one of the most successful in the entire country, attracted over 270,000 people last season and is one of our areas most engaging entertainment experiences for the entire family. Aside from its famous jousting tournaments (to get a good seat, you’ll want to head to the jousting arena early), the fun costumes and overall excitement of the entire area, The Renaissance Festival has developed into an extraordinary STEAM learning experience for children and adults alike. The Festival’s Student Days is an engaging, interactive way for kids to learn, hands-on, about Renaissance history, science, language, arts, customs, commerce, math, geography and more. The general public is not admitted during these two days which attracted over 30,850 students, educators and parents last year. Student Days are wisely separated into age/grade groups focusing on the most appropriate experience for the particular age; this year March 1st is for elementary schools with March 3rd for Jr. high/middle schools and high schools.
Renaissance technology, mechanical technology spawned the scientific revolution; science and technology began a cycle of mutual advancement. When asked what do you hope attendees learn when participating in The Renaissance Festival, Sanja Malinovic, Marketing Director, thoughtfully replied, “…to dream. To see that their ideas could become the seed for future projects – they could be the new Renaissance – or a future Da Vinci.”
More Than Just Words, AZ SciTech Festival
Presenting Sponsor is Giant Presence In Community
Guest Author: Michele Peters, writer, Cox Communications
COX, the premier communications company in Arizona, connects and communicates with the community; but COX brings these concepts to new heights. Starting as a Platinum sponsor of the AZ SciTech Festival at its inception five years ago, COX is now the Festival’s Presenting Sponsor. Why? In these days of corporate economic cutbacks, COX is bucking the trend and instead is forward-thinking with its support of STEM in Arizona. In fact, COX is again setting the gold standard for community involvement. R.J. Muller, Manager of Community Relations at COX Communications readily commented, “…COX is strongly committed to STEM and what it brings to our community. STEM is relevant within our state and especially our youth. We are trying to help prepare our youth for the future, they will be the ones to lead our community into the future and STEM is an important part of that future.”
Connection to community is undeniable on so many levels. COX’s STEM JOURNALS on COX Channel 7 is a veritable science smorgasbord of all phases of STEM. Check it out and get excited about all the possibilities STEM has to offer – right here in Arizona; possibilities are endless and many you probably didn’t know about. Not certain if science, or what in the sciences may interest you – check out any one of the 1,000 + events at the AZ SciTech Festival – you will be surprised… and will probably get that answer.
COX not only talks the talk but walks the walk. Realizing not all children or families in our community have access to the digital world; their solution – Technology Centers. COX has opened 33 Technology Centers that give internet access to students who would not otherwise have the Internet available to them. COX works to bridge, as Muller puts it, “…the digital divide” and provides low cost broad band to low income families in our area.
Through the AZ SciTech Festival, new, unexpected partnerships have also emerged. COX and its Connect2Stem now partners with the University of Arizona Medical School for the signature event that celebrates science, technology, engineering, math… and medicine. Over 2,000 people attended its inaugural year in 2015, attendance at the January 9th event was 4,800 – more than doubled! The partnership continues to grow and benefits everyone, but most of all, benefits our community. And where else but at a Connect2Stem event with a medical school would there be a life-sized synthetic cadaver that talks, breathes, bleeds and sweats!
COX has garnered several awards over the years as a corporation that cares about its customers, outstanding customer service and its community; so what better way to put this experience to good use than to create its own award focused on STEM, COX Connect2Stem Awards. For the second year, COX in partnership with the AZ SciTech Festival, honors STEM Connectors in five areas: business, non-profit, education, conservation and after school programs. This prestigious award highlights and recognizes the STEM leaders in our community – and those who impact our future.
Throughout the years of the partnership between COX and AZ SciTech, as in any strong partnership, both reap benefits; but in this case, there is a silent partner, our community. And because of COX and AZ SciTech joining forces, spectacular ideas, like the Chief Science Officers are created and developed; “…because of all that AZSciTech brings to our company and community, we are inspired to do more” said Muller. It may surprise you just how much there is out there.
And may the force, the STEM force, be with us!
PHOENIX – “In January, I stood in front of a joint legislature to deliver my priorities for this session – and key among them was a strong focus on career and technical education.
“Now, following a bipartisan – unanimous – vote in both chambers, we are one step closer to providing vital support for thousands of Arizona students while keeping a structurally-balanced budget.
“This victory is a high testament to what I’ve said since the beginning – we can be responsible with our budget while adding significant, real dollars to K-12 education.
“Over the past month, I’ve traveled the state corner to corner. I’ve met with education leaders, teachers, principals, parents and students. They share this commitment to ensuring that all Arizona students are prepared for life after high school graduation – whether college or career.
“To them, and to all Arizonans, I’m proud to say that the plan I signed today delivers. I thank our legislators – especially Speaker David Gowan and President Andy Biggs – for working swiftly and in good faith to put our kids first.”
For more information or assistance, contact Governor Ducey’s press office: 602-542-1342
SCIENCE and…HIP HOP
What’s the connection? AZ SciTech Festival’s Partner Strong Ties, TURN UP FOR STEAM event – has it all and more!
A weekend filled with and fueled by STEAM. The 3-day event, with its overarching theme, the Science of Sound, is filled to the brim with ingenious innovations, new technology and hands on exhibits including games, coding and even a Coding Hackathon.
So much going on it’s almost impossible to choose – reserve the weekend, February 19, 20 and 21st and plan to attend the annual event at Phoenix College in the West valley area. And by the way, we hate to name drop, but the AZ SciTech Festival and its partners are known for their “pizzazz” and the guest list of those interacting with the students at Turn Up for STEAM is quite impressive; DISNEY STUDIOS, LaMar Queen of MusicNotes in LA and Black Poet Ventures from Phoenix (putting the “A- arts” in STEAM); GOOGLE AND GO DADDY!
Here’s an overview of the STEAMED UP weekend:
FRIDAY: The science of sound, how specific principles of science are actually integrated into music…Hip Hop! It’s the world of rhythm and rhyme and hip-hop…where science meets art. Filled with a high pumping, energetic, and fun exploration of science using hip-hop as the tool. Students will learn: the biology and physics of sound; the use of technology for audio recording sound using software and the microphone; how engineers apply vibration, wavelengths, frequency, and amplification when producing sound; mathematics found in sound, such as fractions, and delve head first into the arts and musical expressions that include learning technology for making music.
SATURDAY: It’s more than just a game! The Coding Hackathon is an incubator of ideas that involves idea creation, design process, development, test, and presentation where students are quickly transformed from player to creator by learning to program while they create their own game through coding and the use of Beta: The Game, a special software platform that produces instant gaming effects and collaborations. Hidden Level Games, a New York based software company, will teach students how to use their game development software (Beta The Game) which features #CodePop, a “tweet‐sized” programming language.
SUNDAY: A day of celebration and culmination of the entire weekend that features the Pathway to STEM Parent Panel. An exciting and thoroughly unique finale of the event is when the kids get to “strut their stuff”. The students demonstrate and present what they learned, experienced and created during the event. And as for the celebration – it is a big one because Sunday is the day to celebrate and honor Black History month.
Loretta Cheeks, co-chair of the event and Strong TIES Founder stresses, “…this is a community-building partnership initiative, connecting youth to resources, mentors, organizations, tools and techniques grounded in STEAM. The event celebrates the genius and possibilities of our metro-Phoenix youth and ignites STEAM innovations.”
In the words of one of the parents attending last year, Rose Robinson from the Prairie View A&M University (Northwest campus); tweeted that she was “apprehensive because it’s a gaming workshop, but now I know it’s computer science, so glad I brought my son!”
Perhaps the underlying philosophy of the event can best be described by educator Marcus Roberts “take what a young person knows, and give them the tools to use what they know, to unlock what they don’t know.” Cheeks recently had a group of youths at an event. She asked them to take out their cell phones (which took about one second!). She then asked if they knew how the texts they send from their phone gets to their friend’s phone. For this and other steaming questions, plan to spend time at the Turn Up For STEAM event. You’ll be glad you attended.