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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.


1WonderwomanTrack: Social Equity & STEM
Join Phoenix Comicon’s Science Programming Track as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman: Amazon princess, Army Nurse and one of the first female superheroes. Created by William Moulton Marston, psychologist, lawyer, inventor of the lie-detector, Wonder Woman, with her lasso of truth and invisible jet, enjoys a resurgence of interest with a new movie release in June 2017. Our panel of experts will discuss women in the military, the science of deception and the current status of stealth technology.  Our panelist are: Michelle Loposky, Military Advocate, Assistant Military Advocate & Dependent Programs, Pat Tillman Veterans Center, Arizona State University; Tracey Wood, PhD, Detective, Glendale Police Department; Mike Fillman, Aerodynamics Engineer, The Boeing Company; and Rebekah Brubaker, Manager, Science Programming at Phoenix Comicon, Researcher, Keck Lab, Arizona State University.
During panels, at evening social events like “Beer with Scientists,” and in the interactive demonstration space, the Science Programming track at Phoenix Comicon provides science fans, Career & Technical Education, science and humanities instructors an opportunity to meet and ask questions of credentialed Arizona scientists, researchers and engineers.
Phoenix Comicon’s Science Track also provides professional development credit to attending K-12 and community college instructors.  The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that schools provide professional development in the area of parent & family engagement–including collaborating with organizations with a record of success in improving and increasing parent and family engagement–and Phoenix Comicon Science Programming provides a unique opportunity for teachers to align current STEM topics with popular culture.
Phoenix Comicon’s Science Track attracted almost 10% of the estimated 100,000 attendees of the June 2016 event at Phoenix Convention Center. Phoenix Comicon is Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, 2017, check for teacher discounts and Early Bird ticket discounts: http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/ 
Conference Session - 'Hera Give Me Strength The Science of Wonder Woman'
Seen in image above: Michelle Loposky (far left), Tracey Wood (middle) & Mike Fillman (second to the right)

1Social Equity

1Social EquityTrack: Social Equity & STEM
This session explores the educational landscape of Arizona under-represented and under-served students. We will share how disadvantaged students fair in our education system, programs that exist, personal stories of individuals in STEM who entered through academic and industry paths.  Participants will be introduced to a) approaches used across our nation for STEM advancements that may be leveraged in Arizona, b) inspiring stories for cultivating a sense of belonging, c) and experiential learning exercises that help educators with STEM communication.  Diversity and inclusion is paramount to the U.S. reaching its’ 21st Century STEM goals.  According to the recently published annual report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book, Arizona students are at risk.  While Arizona is still in the bottom ten states, improvements in math proficiency were the most notable area of progress, propelling the state from 35th in 2015 to 18th in 2016. Arizona eighth graders performed better than the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, with 65% in our state not meeting proficiency, while nationally, that statistic is 68%.  Better scores can be attributed to an aggressive effort by public K-12 schools to adopt and meet more rigorous math standards. One of the leaks into the pipeline for students entering STEM has been creating environments for learning and belonging. 
Intended audience:  Students, educators, and civic leaders of all experience levels including none arewelcome. There is no limit on the number of participants.
Moderator Biography:
Loretta Cheeks have developed systems & led development teams within the communications, radio, avionics, instrumentation & control and chemical industries. After Cheeks spent 20 years engineering technical solutions for Fortune 500 corporations, she started the journey to achieve a lifelong goal, which is to earn a PhD in Computer Science. Cheeks is currently a full-time PhD graduate student as an Adobe Foundation GEM Fellow at Arizona State University in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.  Cheeks founded Strong TIES to promote STEM K-12 education that emphasizes discovery, creativity, problemsolving, collaboration and a sustainable education program using computer technologies and cultural-relevant tools.


  • Dr. Karen Hardin, Retired Maricopa County Administrator and Faculty.  A provider of STEM K-12 Education
  • Melissa L. Moreno, CPC, CM-Lean, Employee Owner, Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • Carl Davenport, Director, Silicon Operations/Product Development Engineering, Platform Engineering and Development (PED), Internet of Things Group (IOTG), Intel Corporation
  • Dr. Arlisa Richardson, Physic Faculty, Gilbert Chandler Community College

2XQ Supercool Project

XQ America: The Super School Project, a nationwide movement to “rethink and reimagine high school”, spearheaded by Russlyn Ali, Chief Executive Officer of XQ Institute, and Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective (and widow of Steve Jobs), is underway! (See the XQ Super School Project at www.xqsuperschool.org).

Building on the notions of bold and audacious projects pioneered by Peter Diamandis and XPRIZE competitions (see  http://www.xprize.org/about/what-is-an-xprize) the XQ Super School competition incentivizes high school reform with a $50 Million prize. On Aug. 4, 2016, XQ America will award five to 10 winning design teams up to $10 million each to fund their High School designs and transform our industrial era educational system into education systems that empower young people and their communities.

XQ Phoenix Rising (PHxQ) is among 350 innovative high school models chosen from nearly 700 entrants. What sets Phoenix Rising apart from the competition is its skunkworks educational design. Skilled teaching teams partner with student cohorts and use design thinking, the Socratic method, and integrated learning to provide real world solutions for business and government. Supported by staff, students brainstorm solutions, work in project teams, and produce prototypes and white papers to be implemented by the organizations who hire the school skunkworks as consultants. In this way, each and every student participates in an internship, receives guidance and mentoring, develops critical thinking, and obtains invaluable job skills all while learning the standards they need for post-secondary education and long-term career success. (See many more details at www.risingaz.com.)

The Phoenix Rising team was formed in October 2015 by Wendy Bias and became a national, grassroots movement. The team includes members and support from UCLA Extension, LAUSD, Phoenix College, Rio Salado Community College and others. After reviewing the skunkworks plan proposed by the Phoenix Rising team, Arizona State University (ranked the #1 most innovative school by U.S. News & World Report, 2016) agreed to sponsor the charter for Phoenix Rising when selected as an XQ Super School winner. ASU’s own charter school, ASU Preparatory Academy, achieved a 100% graduation rate in 2016.

Although the initial site of the Phoenix Rising school is set to open in Phoenix, AZ, the Rising Education model is flexible and applicable to a wide range of communities.  Team members around the globe support the movement to “Rethink High School” and anticipate national expansion opportunities of innovative educational models for 21st century students, their families and communities.

Show your support and join the conversation to #RethinkHighSchool by following @XQPhoenixRising on Twitter and Instagram and PhoenixRisingAZ on Facebook and Snapchat. 

Calling all teachers, educators, parents, community members, and more! 

Get ready for The Great AZ Code Challenge 2.0 that will be held on July 22-23 this year.  It is an MIT Enterprise Forum sponsored local event.

This inaugural event last July was the second biggest hackathon in AZ history, with 120 kids, and well over 400 people at the closing ceremony.  Here is a link to a short video of the hackathon last year as a reminder of how impactful this event was.

It was created with the thought that culture is defined by what we celebrate.  This hackathon is meant to get kids excited about coding/programming, technology, and entrepreneurism.  You have seen firsthand the enthusiasm that kids in the Bay Area have towards tech— we want our kids to be just as eager to get involved in the tech scene.

Official marketing just launched last week, but we have already had over 100 kids register for this year’s event, and expect to be sold out with 200 kids participating and hundreds more people at the closing ceremony.

We would love to get you involved in this year’s event.  

Whether you’re a kid interested in participating or would like to volunteer, we are reaching out to you! Sign up to register or volunteer today! 

Guest Author: Loretta H. Cheeks, written June 22, 2017 

Honorable Megan J. Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Loretta H. Cheeks, Strong TIES Founder, Quincy Brown, Ph.D., AAAS Science and Policy Fellow NSF (from right to left).

Honorable Megan J. Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Loretta H. Cheeks, Strong TIES Founder, Quincy Brown, Ph.D., AAAS Science and Policy Fellow NSF (from right to left).

On June 14-15, 2016, the Honorable Megan J. Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, led the way to elevate awareness about STEM careers and resources made available to communities across our nation.  At the first ever Summit on The United State of Women, over 5000 mostly women convened to hear, share and be inspired by the very best the world has to offer in the form of leadership, advocates, educators, celebrities, technologist, business owners, among others.  STEM was at the forefront of discussions for career choices for women and girls in our future.  My name is Loretta Cheeks, Founder of Strong TIES, a provider of STEM K-12 educational programs and an AZ SciTech Festival partner.  I was invited as a Change Maker Nominee to his outstanding event that celebrated women and girls.

Mathtastic 4, MathCounts Video Challenge Project winners and Honorable Megan J. Smith

Mathtastic 4, MathCounts Video Challenge Project winners and Honorable Megan J. Smith

The day of the Summit, Megan hosted “Cracking the Code”, which was a breakout session that gave educators, government, industry and community leaders a platform for showcasing what they’re doing to increase more participation of women and girls.  The Mathtastic 4 presented their Math Video Challenge project, which was an innovative storyline movie that demonstrated the constraints and rules when tackling a permutation problem.  Giving the students a voice and the tools for expressing how they see problems and provide solutions aligns well with AZ SciTech Festival Chief Science Officers (CSO) program.  What was especially awesome about this session is Megan gave a big shout out to Arizona CSO’s?  Did you hear that, the work of the AZ SciTech Festival has hit the highest level of attention!  And afterwards, we spoke and she expressed great excitement about CSO’s and its’ potential. 

1Pic3The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted “Crafting the Bigger Picture: Empowering Women and Girls in STEM”, where a small group of STEM non-profits, education, industry, higher education institutions engaged in a working session.  The cool thing about this
session is our host and the leadership for DOE and EPA are women; Gina McCarty (Adminstrator EPA), Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall (Deputy Secretary DOE), and  LaDoris “Dot” Harris (Director DOE). 
The purpose was to share experiences and resources among the group and bring awareness of STEM initiatives underway at DOE and EPA. 

Our next stop was NASA Headquarters for the session called “Engaging Women and Girls in STEM through Data Science”.  As an ASU Computer Science Ph.D. graduate student with a focus in data mining and machine learning, this topic really intrigued me.  What I found wasn’t the deep dive of algorithms and techniques, rather women who were not computer scientist taking the lead to innovate using NASA datasets for making their communities better and women who had taken non engineering careers had decided on engineering.  For instance, Michele Easter began her career as a model and became a Mechatronics Engineer.  She now works on the Europa Lander Project and is founder of the educational initiative, MindMakerProject.org.  Say amazingly smart, strong and beautiful!

1Pic4My last stop was NASA Science Day on Capitol Hill.  This was geek heaven where the coolest scientist converged to talk about explorations, space and earth.  Did you know on July 4th, NASA spacecraft, Juno, will orbit Jupiter around 11:30PM (PST)?  We may have fireworks in space as well as on earth.   During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.  Jupiter is believe to be the blueprint for all Solar System Planets.  NASA scientist are on a quest to understand life that exist on Jupiter, which is an indication that water exist.  Listen up on July 4th.  

Let’s aspire and inspire others to engage in STEM.

The Goal: Identify and prototype relevant, real-world solutions that build education and career pathways in STEM that support innovation, entrepreneurial learning and collaboration.

The Challenge: The STEM workforce in Arizona is crucial to our innovation capacity and global competitiveness. Yet, in Pima County the education to employment pipeline (in most STEM industries) is underdeveloped and underutilized. To address this problem, our community needs to come together to identify relevant and sustainable ways to help young people connect with STEM education and employment opportunities.

The Method: We challenge teams of students, educators, and professional mentors to answer the following question by creating real prototypes for local solutions:

What does a STEM Town (ecosystem) that supports your future look like?

The competition kicks off in June with a two-day, “Startup Weekend-inspired” event where cross-generational teams of PCC students, PCC faculty, and K-12 educators work together with industry professionals to design relevant and sustainable solutions to the Challenge question. From June through September the student teams meet bi-weekly with faculty mentors as they design and test their pilots, preparing to pitch their concept at a community-wide STEM Innovation Showcase in October.

Get Involved! Become a mentor!

Support workforce development and STEM education by participating in the PCC STEM Innovation Challenge as an industry or community mentor.

Mentor Opportunities: Choose the level of engagement that works for you. The time commitment depends on your schedule and availability. To participate, contact PCC STEM Challenge Organizers Michael Peel (mpeel@pima.edu) or Frank Velasquez (fvelasquez4@pima.edu).

Mentor Position / Time Commitment & Duties: 

  • On-CallTime commitment: On-call mentors have no obligation to participate if time does not allow. Duties: Your name will appear on a list of skills-based mentors. If needed, student teams will contact you for specifc advice.
  • Idea Development: Time commitment: 9 am – 1 pm, Thursday, June 9 @ PCC West Campus. Duties: Idea Development mentors will be paired with teams for the initial ideation phase. Mentors will participate as team members with the primary goal of providing industry and/or community perspective.
  • Team Support: Time commitment: 8-12 hours from June – October, 2016. Duties: Team Support mentors will be paired with teams for the idea development and testing phase. Mentors will attend 4-6 team meetings over the course of the challenge. The primary goal of team support mentors is to provide perspective and help connect the team with resources and/or connections that might be required to develop and test the team’s innovation concept.

1ObamaIf you could personally share with the President any idea on how to use science and technology to make our country better, what would you recommend? While it may be true that voting age in the United States happens at 18, President Obama now wants to hear from YOU. He is giving any and every kid around the country a chance for their voice to be heard by the White House itself about their recommendation on important science, innovation, and technology ideas. We need as many submissions as possible!

It all started this past April at the _6th White House Science Fair_ where President Obama had the chance to meet up with a nine-year-old inventor, Jacob Leggette, who suggested this idea: Why not have a kid science advisor? President Obama loved this recommendation and took off with it, suggesting that a group of kids be brought together to share their own ideas and insights on what’s working in their classroom and how to better engage students in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This is where you (any kid in the country) come in.

President Barack Obama talks with students about their science projects as he tours the White House Science Fair in the Blue Room of the White House, April 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with students about their science projects as he tours the White House Science Fair in the Blue Room of the White House, April 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Whether you care about tackling climate change, finding a cure to cancer, using technology to help make people’s lives better, or getting a human to Mars, President Obama wants to hear from YOU. In his own words at this year’s Science Fair:

“One of the things I find so inspiring about these young thinkers is that they look at all these seemingly intractable problems as something that we can solve. There is a confidence when you are pursuing science. They don’t consider age a barrier. They don’t think, well, that’s just the way things are. They’re not afraid to try things and ask tough questions.”

So no matter what grade level you’re in, what school you attend, where you come from, or whether or not classes come easily to you, now’s your chance to be heard by President Obama himself. What is your favorite thing about Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math? What is YOUR idea on how we can use science and technology to make our country better? Don’t be afraid to speak up or that your idea may not be good enough or “smart enough.” If you have any recommendation or input, President Obama wants to hear yours. This is a point of pride for Arizona and we need to get as many submissions as possible, so spread the word! Get your friends, cousins, classmates- all kids in Arizona involved. Tell him your idea now!

WASHINGTON, DC – On April 13th, President Obama hosted the sixth and final White House Science Fair of his Administration and celebrate the student competitors and winners from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions. The event was the largest White House Science Fair to date, with more than 130 students from more than 30 states, as well as student alumni from each of the prior five White House Science Fairs.
Highlighting the powerful stories of ingenuity, social activism, teamwork, and civic engagement evident in the projects, President Obama called on this generation of students—those in elementary, middle, and high schools today—to actively participate in solving the toughest challenges facing our world, from combating climate change to setting foot on Mars.
President Obama established the tradition of the White House Science Fair at the start of his Administration to personally celebrate our Nation’s top young scientists and innovators. The President created the Science Fair with a simple credo: “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
The President also highlighted the growing community of education, business, and nonprofit leaders who have responded to his State of the Union call to give every child the opportunity to learn computer science (CS), as well as his overall “Educate to Innovate” campaign to ensure all students have the tools to be innovators and problem-solvers. Today’s announcements include:
·         New Department of Education guidance to states, school districts, and other education organizations on the many ways they can use existing Federal funds to advance Pre-K–12 STEM and CS learning.
·         A $200 million investment by Oracle to support CS education for an additional 125,000 students in the United States.
·         More than 500 K-12 schools committing to expand access to CS, with support from Code.org.
·         Commitments to expand STEM learning for more of our youngest learners, from family engagement to innovative use of media.
·         A new online matching platform, supported by US2020, to help more STEM professionals who want to volunteer and mentor.
April 13th’s STEM announcements also marked progress on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and the efforts of the Council on Women and Girls to build ladders of opportunity for all young people, including populations underrepresented in STEM; incorporate STEM into the Administration’s push to expand high-quality early-childhood education; and advance the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect all American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change. Full details on all of the announcements can be found here.
The White House Science Fair is part of a week of Administration activities celebrating science and technology, featuring the President’s participation as a guest presenter throughout the week on the Science Channel’s nightly science news segment. In addition, the White House Science Fair was immediately followed by the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the nation’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with more than 350,000 students and adults expected to engage in more than 3,000 hands-on activities over 3 days. More than 70 Federal agencies participated in the Festival.
A Generational Call to Action
Students today have the potential to be one of America’s greatest generations. Though each generation of Americans brings with them new ideas and energy, today, because of unprecedented access to cutting-edge physical and digital tools, online and in-person communities, and information about the grand challenges we face, American students are even better equipped to harness their passions towards developing solutions that confront our toughest challenges.
They can be the Mars generation, the explorers who first step foot on another planet. Their skills, perseverance, and collaboration can help seed new technologies and solutions to tackle the climate crisis. They can collaborate to harness rapid advances in information technology and nanotechnology to understand the human brain, forge new solutions to cancer, and embrace the American spirit of discovery, invention, and entrepreneurship.
As the President highlighted in this year’s State of the Union Address, everyone in the United States can harness technology to help solve our toughest challenges. The 2016 White House Science Fair shines a spotlight on the contributions that the Nation’s students are making now, and the potential they have to help make our country and our world a better place.
The more than 130 students at the 2016 White House Science Fair represented more than 40 different STEM competitions and organizations. Approximately 40 student teams had the opportunity to exhibit their projects at the White House, and the President will personally view some of these projects. Additional information on the projects, students, and competitions being recognized at the Fair can be found here.
A Sustained Record of Accomplishment
This White House Science Fair is only the most recent example of President Obama’s sustained and historic focus on giving every child the opportunity to excel at STEM education. In the past 7 years:
·         The Administration has secured more than $1 billion in private investment for improving STEM education as part of the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign.
·         Our Nation is more than halfway towards achieving the goal the President set in 2011 of preparing 100,000 new math and science teachers by 2021.
·         Compared to when President Obama took office, 25,000 more engineers are graduating each year from American universities.
·         STEM education has been incorporated into the priorities of the Department of Education (ED)—as illustrated by the Administration’s signature Race to the Top competition—and into the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act that the President signed last year.
·         This White House has announced more than 350 commitments from college and university leadership and others to provide pathways for students underrepresented in STEM to attain degrees.
·         President Obama has started traditions such as the White House Science Fair to honor young people using STEM to improve their communities and the world.
And in his final budget announced in February, the President sustains this impressive track record with an investment of $3 billion for STEM-education programs, as well as a historic $4 billion proposal in support of CS education for all students.
New Steps Being Announced by the Administration Today
Federal agencies are announcing new steps to empower local communities with the tools, people, and support they need to expand their STEM efforts. These include:
·         Federal guidance on advancing STEM education. Today, the Department of Education (ED) Office of STEM is releasing a Dear Colleague Letter providing guidance for states, school districts, and other education organizations on how they can use Federal funds to support innovative STEM-education strategies and ensure equitable STEM-education opportunities and outcomes for all students in the 2016-17 school year. In particular, this guidance outlines how Federal money can be used to support high-quality, hands-on active STEM learning.
·         The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), along with the STEM Funders Networkand the Afterschool Alliance, are collaborating to support vibrant STEM ecosystems in as many as 14 communities, where local schools, out-of-school programs, business, higher education, museums and local institutions will work together to expand STEM learning opportunities for local students. To support the effort, CNCS will place up to 28 AmeriCorps VISTA members, who will be full-time staff on the ground. In addition, CNCS is expanding STEM AmeriCorps VISTA through a new partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences that will place more than 10 AmeriCorps VISTA members over the next 2 years in afterschool STEM-mentoring programs, which will serve students who reside in 60 of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City, NY, and Newark, NJ.
·         The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in collaboration with the YMCA of the USA, will help 10 new host cities around the country expand Thingamajig, a program developed by the YMCA of Metropolitan DC. These cities will create programs, seminars, and tools that assist students in connecting STEM education with real-world problem solving skills. This partnership builds on the last 2 years of expansion across YMCA of the USA, which reaches over 100,000 youth—with a focus on low-income and underrepresented youth—in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Additionally, this year, USPTO will expand its collaboration with the JAMTECH program to more sites across the country. JAMTECH is a hands-on educational experience that gives students with little or no exposure to computer programming the opportunity to build and program their own video games over the course of a day—teaching the principles of game design, coding, and programming in a way that allows students to expand their competencies in areas such as math, physics, analysis, logic, and strategy.
·         Over 200 Federally supported citizen-science projects for students and adults are now accessible from a single place—CitizenScience.gov. The General Services Administration (GSA) is collaborating with theWoodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS), a Trust Instrumentality of the U.S. Government, to launch CitizenScience.gov, a new central hub for citizen science and crowdsourcing initiatives in the public sector. CitizenScience.gov will provide information, resources, and tools for government personnel, students, and adults who are actively engaged in or looking to participate in citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. The development of this catalogue follows the September 2015 memorandum to Federal departments and agencies issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
·         ED, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Too Small to Fail (TSTF) are releasing a series of tip sheets entitled “Let’s Talk, Read and Sing about STEM!” These tip sheets provide concrete resources and recommendations for families, caregivers, and educators of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers on easy ways to incorporate STEM concepts and vocabulary into everyday routines, and suggestions for activities to engage young children in STEM learning. These new resources build on an existing suite of materials co-created by ED, HHS, and TSTF focused on early brain and language development.
·         The National Science Foundation (NSF) will celebrate a Day of Active Learning. A robust foundation of evidence shows that while active engagement enhances learning for students of all demographics, it has an especially beneficial effect on women and underrepresented students, likely due to a greater sense of belonging that can be achieved in active classrooms. Today, NSF is announcing that it will hold an Active Learning Day later this year, with the goal of empowering and encouraging educators nationwide to use active learning in their classrooms.
Private-Sector Commitments in Response to the President’s Call to Action
Today, more than 100 different organizations are announcing new commitments, showcasing the strong response to the President’s State of the Union call to give every child the opportunity to learn CS, as well as his overall “Educate to Innovate” campaign to ensure all students have the tools to be innovators and problem-solvers. These announcements include:
·         New partnerships to train teachers and help more than 500 K-12 schools expand access to CS. Code.org has established partnerships with seven local organizations to deliver professional-learning programs aimed at preparing up to 550 new high-school and middle-school CS teachers over the next 2 years. In addition, Code.org will help support more than 500 K-12 schools expand their CS offerings. This includes:
o   Nine school districts surrounding Chicago have grouped together to begin offering AP CS Principles in 21 high schools.
o   Dallas Independent School District will be offering beginning CS courses districtwide for the first time in the majority of their high schools and all of their middle schools in the 2016-17 school year.
o   Georgia’s Department of Education and Governor’s Office of Student Achievement committed to expand AP CS Principles to 60 high schools and integrate CS into preexisting courses at 60 middle schools across the state.
o   Mississippi’s Department of Education will host 6 summer workshops this year to prepare approximately 170 new CS teachers in grades K-5.
o   Northeast Florida School Districts, representing Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties, have combined efforts to spread opportunities for CS instruction to over 200,000 students served collectively by their 330 schools.
o   In Washington State, Educational Service Districts 123, 171, and 112 (serving 82 school districts) have partnered with Code.org to bring CS professional-learning opportunities for elementary- and middle-school teachers as well as for middle-and high-school counselors and administrators.
·         A $200 million investment from Oracle over the next 18 months in direct and in-kind funds to support CS education in the United States. The investment will allow an additional 125,000 K-12 students to learn CS through the free Oracle Academy program. Oracle is also expanding access to emerging CS fields for interested teachers and students, through opportunities such as their free Big Data Science Boot Camps. To complement its direct CS offerings, Oracle will invest more than $3 million in nonprofit organizations focused on inspiring young girls and engaging other underrepresented students in pursuing STEM and CS degrees.
·         A new online matching platform, created by US2020, to connect more STEM professionals to volunteer opportunities, setting an initial goal to serve 20,000 students this year. The new platform will enable any nonprofit organization or classroom teacher to connect easily with a STEM professional. In 2016, US2020 will use the platform as a central hub to engage more than 1,000 corporations and civic organizations and serve more than 20,000 students with a focus on girls, traditionally underrepresented minority students, and children from low-income families.
·         Commitments to expand STEM learning for young learners nationwide. In response to the Administration’s broader push to expand early-childhood education, private-sector organizations are stepping up and making new commitments to build statewide early STEM programs, equip every Head Start center across the country with STEM tools, and engage families with new media and cultural options. A full list of new commitments will be released as a part of a White House event on early learning and STEM later this month. These include:
o   100Kin10 is awarding $1.7 million to partners in New York State and has leveraged additional support from Motorola Solutions to develop ways to increase the reach and quality of engineering and CS teaching in Pre-K–12 schools.
o   Common Sense Education will produce a set of early STEM-education resources and tools, covering themes like Coding for Early Readers. These resources have the potential to reach more than 300,000 teachers in 100,000 schools, and 65 million households across the country.
o   The Heising-Simons Foundation will partner with The Fred Rogers Company to support the production of 25 episodes of “Odd Squad,” a math-focused television show airing on PBS Kids, create games and an app, and hold free week-long summer math camps in 14 U.S. cities serving more than 400 children.
o   The Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN) will donate 10,000 STEM-focused Spanish/English Family Kits to informal learning settings (libraries and museums), community-based organizations, and national organizations—including home visitation programs—that serve low-income families in order to help expand young children’s access to STEM at home.
o   Learning Point Alaska, Inc. is partnering with multiple Alaska Native organizations to deliver informal, technology-based STEM programming to elementary-school students and build capacity for local teachers in Native Villages throughout Alaska.
o   The Museum of Science, Boston is launching a 3-year initiative to create a research-based Pre-K-Kindergarten engineering curriculum, which will build on the museum’s Engineering is Elementary curriculum, for schools to use to teach children ages 3-5.
o   The National Head Start Association and Lakeshore Learning will set a goal to reach the one million children who are enrolled in Head Start programs with their “Recycle Your Way to STEAM” program.
o   Sesame Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street, will develop “Make Believe with Math,” a research-based Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for educators, which, along with other training resources, will be made freely available online.
Full details on all of today’s announcements can be found here.

Inspire Kids Montessori to host fun, hands-on, classes each Tuesday from 10:30 – 11 am


Phoenix, AZ. (April 7, 2016).  Inspire Kids Montessori is hosting a free “Toddler Explorer” program for ages 12 – 36 months on Tuesdays in May, from 10:30 to 11:00 am, at Ironwood Public Library located at 4333 E. Chandler Blvd. in Phoenix. Tickets are required and will be available at the library starting at 10 am on the day of each class.  Space is limited.


The Explorer program is designed to help toddlers develop language and small and gross motor skills through fun, hands-on, activities.  The weekly class themes are “Rain through the Clouds” on May 3rd, “Erupting Bubbles” on May 10th, the “Colorful Milky Way” on May 17th, “Rainbow Fizzy Cloud” on May 24th and “Tornado in a Jar” on May 31st.


According to Diana Darmawaskita, Founder and Director of Inspire Kids Montessori, “We are very excited to collaborate with Ironwood Library to bring this educational program to the community. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to observe Montessori activities and for children to explore science.”


For more information, parents can contact Ironwood Library at (602) 262-4636, Inspire Kids Montessori at (480) 549-9402 or email info@inspirekidsmontessori.com.


About Inspire Kids Montessori

Inspire Kids Montessori offers high-quality early education programs for ages 6 weeks through 6 years at their campus located at 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 11, in Phoenix, 85048.  For more information, parents can call 480-659-9402 or visit the new Inspire Kids mobile and tablet accessible website at www.inspirekidsmontessori.com.

1Inspire Kids Montessori

Inspire Kids Montessori Teacher, Carrie Ramirez, with students 


Media Contact: Suzanne Jameson, Jameson & Associates

Cell: (480) 721-3629

Email: Suzanne@JamesonAssociates.net


Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, Co-Chair Million Women Mentors-Arizona

Think of Earth Day as a time to get up close and personal with earth – as in soil and dirt! A report from the National Wildlife Federation, “The Dirt on Dirt: How Getting Dirty Outdoors Benefits Kids” provides some compelling data on how playing in the dirt actually makes kids more healthy. Studies show children’s stress levels are significantly reduced when in natural spaces, and playing in dirt can help develop healthy immune functions. And certainly investigations with dirt and the natural environment stimulate scientific thinking!

Unfortunately, we often discourage youth, especially girls, from the joys of this naturally dirty world. But here are some fun ideas for enjoying the earth this Earth Day and any day:

  • Sprinkle some water on the ground and watch how it moves. Does it soak in? Run along pathways? Try changing where water flows along the ground by blocking it with sticks or stones. Try carving new pathways in the ground for water to flow.
  • Find or introduce earthworms in a garden area and watch how they move through the soil. You can gently handle the worms to see how they feel as they move.
  • Explore the ground under plants and trees to see what might be living in the leaves and plant ‘litter’.

And there’s always the making of good old mud ‘pies’ and shapes from wet dirt. Here in the Phoenix Metro area, we’re fortunate that much of our soils contain clay that can be molded in creative ways!