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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

Track: SciTech Festival Meet the Mentors 


A variety of platforms exist on which cross-sector community partnerships can be built, and festivals are no exception. Over the years, a number of efforts have been done to develop community partnerships, including events such as the Chandler Science Spectacular, the Verde Valley SciTech Festival, and the Prescott Regional SciTech Festival. Learn how their partnerships are being used to successfully move their initiatives forward.



Chandler Councilman Rick Heumann, Chandler Science Spectacular 

Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, Verde Valley SciTech Festival 

Kimberly Moon, Civil Engineer Prescott Valley, Prescott Regional SciTech Festival 


1Rick Heumann    1Kimberly Moon
(Seen Above: Chandler Councilman Rick Heumann, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, & Kimberly Moon) 


SciTechFestivalHorizontal_Chandler2Chandler Science Spectacular – An annual event that celebrates the exploration of invention as it showcases the businesses, artists, students and innovators in the community as part of the statewide Arizona SciTech Festival.


1Verde Valley SciTech FestivalVerde Valley SciTech Festival – An extension of the Arizona SciTech Festival that celebrates science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematic throughout the Verde Valley Region in Arizona. 


1Prescott Regional SciTech FestivalPrescott Regional SciTech Festival – An event which “provides an opportunity for schools, industry, and organizations in the Prescott area to showcase their innovation, technology, and the interesting STEM-related activities taking place in the community” (- James Curtis, Ph.D., Department Chair of Applied Aviation Sciences, Co-Chair of the Prescott Regional SciTechFest)


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: STEM in Our Communities 

1Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran PreserveScottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is like no place else. Spread across more than 30,000 acres of spectacular desert, it is home to diverse wildlife, lush flora and jaw-dropping topography.

This oasis of beauty and solitude, however, exists near neighborhoods, office parks and one of the busiest corporate jet ports in Arizona.

The preserve has become a laboratory, where the interaction between wilderness and intense human activity can be charted and studied.

What we hope to learn is significant. A healthy desert ecosystem is more than just an aesthetic treat. The Sonoran Desert is the Valley’s “ocean,” a place that attracts tourists from around the world and significant investment from those who seek the beauty and privacy offered by places like the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Preserving that environment requires understanding a complex ecosystem and how it interacts with humans and development. That’s were science comes in. Join us for a fascinating discussion of what we’re learning about the desert and how it can help us preserve and enhance our quality of life, economic development and tourism for future generations.



  • Helen Rowe, Ph.D., the Field Institute Director for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy 

  • Rachel Pearson, the Vice President of Community & Government Affairs at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau 

  • Scott Hamilton, the Senior Trails Planner for the city of Scottsdale

  Rachel Pearson 2013 - print  1Scott Hamilton
(Pictured Above: Helen Rowe, Rachel Pearson, Scott Hamilton) 


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: Future STEM Pathways 




  • Phil Howardell, Paradise Valley High School District CREST/STEM Coordinator, Phoenix 
  • Dr. Sara Byron, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Translational Innovation at TGen 
  • Karen Anderson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, The Biodesign Institute, Personalized Diagnostics, Arizona State University 


Phil HowardellPhil Howardell is currently the Paradise Valley Schools District CREST/STEM Coordinator. He has 23 years experience teaching Industrial Technology and Engineering. Before his recent move to the CREST Program Coordinator position, Phil taught engineering for the CREST program for seven years and is a Project Lead the Way Master Teacher.

Phil has a Bachelor’ s degree in IndustriaJ Technology Education fonn Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. Phil is a U.S. Navy veteran who also worked in the highway construction industry as a project manager before becoming a teacher. He is an active member of several professional organizations and is a past Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Association for Career and Technical Education Association-AZ.


Dr. Sara ByronDr. Sara Byron is a Research Assistant Professor in the Center for Translational Innovation at TGen. Her research interests center on understanding the molecular mechanisms whereby aberrations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes lead to tumorigenesis, evaluating the clinical consequences of aberrant pathway activation in cancer, and investigating the genetic context associated with sensitivity and resistance to inhibition of pathways dysregulated in cancer.

In the Center for Translational Innovation, Dr. Byron’s group focuses on content analysis of exome and RNA-sequencing data and knowledgebase development to map drug-gene relationships and pharmacological considerations for indicated therapeutics to identify clinically actionable vulnerabilities. As part of TGen’s precision medicine program, she is involved in various collaborative studies covering a broad spectrum of cancers, including brain tumors, melanoma, and lung cancer.

Sara received her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Minnesota, where she studied insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling in breast cancer under the direction of Dr. Douglas Yee. She joined TGen as a postdoctoral fellow in 2006, working with Dr. Pamela Pollock to investigate the molecular mechanisms and biological consequences of FGFR2 mutations in melanoma, endometrialcancer, and ovarian cancer, and then with Dr. SuWon Kim to explore the influence of chromatin modifications on pathway regulation in breast cancer. 


1Karen AndersonKaren Anderson is an associate professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and ASU’s School of Life Sciences. She is also a medical oncologist and an associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic Arizona.

Anderson is focused on understanding how the immune response can be used to detect and alter cancer development. To create an effective cancer immunotherapy, Anderson’s team identifies target antigens and pushes scientific understanding of the mechanisms of immune regulation that limit effective immunotherapy. 

Before moving to Arizona in 2011, Anderson was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute where she also completed her clinical fellowship in adult hematology and oncology and served as a medical oncologist at the Breast Oncology Center. While at Data Farber, Anderson led two investigator-initiated breast cancer vaccine trials.

One challenge in tumor immunology is how to measure immune responses across the proteome.  Antibodies to tumor antigens can be detected in the blood of cancer patients and be used as biomarkers for early cancer detection. Anderson’s team uses custom protein microarrays and bead-array assays to detect these antibodies and has identified novel biomarkers for the detection of breast, ovarian, and human papillomavirus-associated cancers. 

Anderson developed novel assays for the detection of serum antibodies to the HPV16 proteome, which are strongly detected in HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer patient sera. She is evaluating these antibodies as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. 

The Center for Personalized Diagnostics at ASU, where the Anderson Lab is housed, has adapted custom protein microarray technology developed for high-throughput screening of tumor antigen-specific antibodies. The team has developed secondary confirmatory assays for rapid antibody detection using plate-based and bead-based formats, resulting in identifying panels of autoantibody-based biomarkers for breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. 

Anderson is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.  She has written more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, book chapters and editorials. Anderson serves as committee co-chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network Breast/Gyn Cancers Collaborative Group and is a member of NCI’s Cancer Biomarkers Study Section. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. At Duke University, she completed the Medical Scientist Training Program in which she earned a medical degree at the School of Medicine and a doctorate from the department of microbiology and immunology. Anderson completed her medical internship and residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Internal Medicine. 


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: School STEM Best Practices 

1NeuroscienceCome join our interactive and collaborative session where we explore the relationship between Cognitive Neuroscience, Educational Psychology, and Technology and how the intersection of these fields can provide a deeper and meaningful learning environment for all students.
As a group, we will explore aspects of Cognitive Neuroscience (how the brains builds schema and neuropathways), Educational Psychology (learning theories applicable to learning and memory), and Technology (EdTech) and develop connections between them, engaging in group activities (game-based and hands-on) while leveraging attendees’ experiences. Often, iPads are used depending on session size, but BYOD approach may be utilized as well. 



  • José Ivan Alfaro, M.Ed., MIND Research Institute


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Brainstorm Begins: Trying to appeal to the educators.

“Think STEM doesn’t matter? Every STEM principle is used in order to make this race car go 150 miles per hour and win 27 times on the way to winning the Arizona State Championship. Drivers who have driven this car have gone on to the Indy 500.

“Let STEM motivate them!” Brainstorm ends 

1Smith's EXXON Car  2012-08-03_23-09-25_909  2012-08-11_12-19-45_828

Track: STEM in Our Communities 

T-Teacheerr -4Integrating & Innovating STEM across the Curriculum-Connecting STEM practices to core curriculum content and instruction through informal outdoor education.

How can outdoor learning experiences contribute to meaningful experiences in classroom?  During this interactive learning experience, participants will gain knowledge about the unique and changing role of outdoor education in our changing society.   The effects of outdoor education experiences on participants’ beliefs and attitudes about science mirror the STEM goals of increasing student interest, and identity in STEM.  Participants will leave this session with concrete ideas about high quality, meaningful STEM integration in grades 3-8.  

Outdoor STEM Centered Education Explorers (OSCE ) workshop gives teachers the opportunity to enmesh informal outdoor education techniques into their classroom/school yard.  

During this session they learn specific outdoor education skills essential to bringing experiential learning into the classroom, learn practical planning an logistic skills to prepare them to design, implement and prepare set-up stations for hands-on activities, they gain a structured approach to inquiry-based lesson planning as well as resource gathering information that will enable students to make personal connections to the activities.

This creative event strategically curates workshops and experiences in three areas to give teachers the tools to succeed.   Join us at Tonto Creek Camp, Payson AZ (and/or local venue TBA), for this game-changing experience. There are interactive group discussions and creative experiential lessons.

Interactive exercises:

Schoolyear Ecology Hike-Teacher will go outside to collect things to identify with nature and then make the connection to interest in STEM.  This exercise leads to having students develop interest and identity in STEM.

Engineering Pathway: Genetic Engineering-Teachers will handle live Crayfish. E ach group will be assigned to observe one structure/behavior carefully.  Draw structures and describe behaviors related to those structures.  When scientists draw pictures to understand how something works it is called a model. 

STEAM Machine-Teachers will work in teams to build a machine based on Rube Goldberg chain reaction but will have to also market it to the “Shark Tank.”  Build all out of duct tape, PVC, mouse traps, wood, dominos etc.  Prizes for the STEAM Machine. 


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: Future STEM Pathways 

1Dig Into Mining InnovationLearn about the cool innovation happening in the mining industry and the STEM skills necessary to get there, including big data, IoT and unmanned aerial system technologies. 



  • Lia Walker, Quality Leader
  • Erika Fretheim, Manager, Mine Technology


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: SciTech Best Practices 

1Extending Your Event Story to Attract Visitors and CoverageAs an event organizer you will want to extend your story and brand to attract more visitors and possibly garnering publicity. Our panelists many years of experience will allow them to approach the subject from both the media and the organizer side. They will share their views on best practices and trends to accomplish your communication activities with plenty of time to ask questions. 


  • Marcia Chapman, Vice President, Brodeur Partners 
  • Steve Carr, Kur-Carr Public Relations specializing in nonprofit clients
  • Al Maag, publisher of Giving Hope AZ Magazine and retired Chief Communications Officer at Avnet

Marcia Chapman  

(Seen Above: Marcia Chapman)


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: Computer Science & Tech 

1AZ Robotics!Attendees can enjoy hands-on robotics demonstrations and hear how a focus on robotics, coding and computer science has impacted the economy and changed the course of Arizonas culture.


  • Carol Popovich
  • VEX Robotics teams
  • Dr. Betsy Hargrove 
  • Avondale teacher 


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!  

Track: Computer Science & Tech 

1The Impact of Code.Org on Education and PolicyCoding, STEM and computer science can be incredibly powerful tools in the classroom. Teachers and lawmakers alike are seeing the impact of putting renewed focus on these tools in educational approaches and technology. This panel discussion will focus not only on how educators and policy makers can support a movement toward a more STEM friendly educational approach, but on how a STEM-friendly educational approach impacts students and the economy. 


  • Kathryn Scott
  • Daniel Valenzuela 
  • Kelly Smith
  • SySTEM Schools Teacher 
  • Tony Best 


Register for the 6th Annual Kickoff Conference today!