Guest Blog Post by Rose Houk
It’s pretty easy to just flush the toilet and forget where our human waste goes. For most of us, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”
But on a Saturday in April, nearly 50 interested residents toured Flagstaff’s Rio de Flag Water Reclamation plant to look a little deeper into where our wastewater goes once it leaves our homes and businesses.
It turns out the behind-the-scenes story is really interesting.
The Rio de Flag Water Reclamation Plant is a clean, attractive building standing just beyond Sam’s Club by a trail along the Rio. Inside are bright offices, maps on the walls, and a friendly city employee, Jim Huchel, who greeted us and led the tour.
Once we were all signed in, Jim gave us a firsthand look at the reclamation process from beginning to end. The plant, built in 1993, receives wastewater from the west side of Flagstaff. It first comes into the “primary clarifier,” what looks like a big black spaceship that just touched down. We peered inside to see a thick, dark, watery substance just sitting there.
Unseen were the natural bacteria that were beginning to biologically alter the wastes. Some of the material in the chamber stays suspended, while other parts sink. The suspended solids are skimmed off and sent down to the city’s other water reclamation plant at Wildcat Hill.
In the next step, the liquid enters a secondary chamber where it’s further clarified. It then flows indoors where it’s treated with ultraviolet light for a third step of purification.
Jim poured the water into a wineglass, and it looked good enough to drink. In fact, it’s graded as Class A+, but under Arizona regulations reclaimed water can’t yet be used as potable, or drinking, water.
Residents had lots of questions: Is the reclaimed water okay to put on plants? Is it safe to drink? Using reclaimed water for drinking will take getting over the “yuck” factor, said Erin Young, the city’s water conservation manager. She noted that Arizona is devising regulations that might make that a possibility.
The Rio de Flag plant can treat up to four million gallons of wastewater each day. In summer, nearly all the reclaimed water is spoken for –to irrigate fields, parks, and golf courses, some residences, and for industrial uses. In winter, the city sells excess reclaimed water to the Arizona Snowbowl for snowmaking. A certain percentage also goes back into the Rio. According to the city, reclaimed water accounts for about 20 percent of Flagstaff’s total water use.
Next time you see those purple pipes and signs indicating reclaimed water, it will have a whole new meaning.
A Big STEM City Thank You to Rose Houk for this post! And to Jim Huchel and Erin Young of the City of Flagstaff for this engaging and educational tour!
The Neighborhood Sustainability Grant was created to inspire creative projects that enhance community sustainability efforts. The grant seeks to foster community partnerships that promote sustainable and healthy lifestyles through local food production and educate the greater community about issues regarding water, energy and transportation.
The Neighborhood Sustainability Grant is funded through the Environmental Management Fee fund. Annual funding for the grant is subject to availability and is determined according to Sustainability priority areas.
Complete applications must be submitted by the first business day of each quarter (January, April, July, October) in order to be considered during the next Sustainability Commission meeting (second Wednesday of the month).
For more information and to apply, go to: http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/Albertsgrant
Guest Blog Post by Larry Hendricks, PR and Publications Coordinator, Coconino Community College
CCC CAVIAT Students Focus on Health Professions
They’re taking college classes, but they’re still in high school. Not only that, but they’ve proved their mettle in problem solving in the health occupations, and they’re on their way to a statewide competition in April.
Twelve students in Coconino Community College’s Dual Enrollment/CAVIAT BIO 298 class took exams on Creative Problem Solving through Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA). This class is taught by CCC Science Faculty and Bridges to Baccalaureate Principal Investigator Dr. Aaron Tabor, NAU Graduate Students and CCC Instructors Christina Baze and Bobby Woodruff.
“Four of the students qualified to go to the state level,” Tabor said, adding that all of the students are equally intelligent and deserving of accolades. The team placed ninth overall.
The four students, all 10th graders, are Cate Cole and Ethan Perelstein from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy; and Kaleb Herrelko and Jacqueline Slack from Coconino High School.
According to information from HOSA, its mission is to “promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the deliver of quality health care to all people.” The focus is on health science education and biomedical science programs to promote interest in pursuing careers in the health professions.
To prepare for the exams, Slack said that the team began by reading books on creative problem solving and by researching various health-related problems in the community. Cole added that the team tested one another with problems as well as timing the testing for solutions.
During testing, the team had 30 minutes to prepare and had 8 minutes to present their case in front of a panel to judge. They made the grade, and now they’re heading to Tucson for the statewide competition.
“I personally am excited to meet other students like us, who are science minded,” Perelstein said.
Herrelko added, “That could be fun.”
Slack said, “I’m very excited to compete.”
Cole said, “I’m really excited to see what we can come up with – real-world problems that affect millions across the globe.”
The team members are part of the iCREATE High School Bioscience program. The class offers six credit hours from CCC to apply to a college degree. The students meet five days a week at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University for lectures and labs. The program is offered through the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology.
“I love coming here and getting a taste of what college and medical school will offer,” Cole said.
Perelstein said, “For me, this class is challenging, it’s engaging, and that’s what I really love.”
Herrelko said, “I like the challenge and it requires more persistence.”
Slack said, “I’m excited that every day after school, I get to be around science-oriented, like-minded people.”
For Tabor, he said he thoroughly enjoys being the instructor for the class.
“Frankly, it’s the students,” he said. “I never in a thousand years anticipated teaching K-12 students at all, but this group of students is one of the best I’ve ever encountered.”
Tabor added that his job is to educate the students on the translational sciences and the epidemiology field, but he also is to assist them with their professional growth – creating curriculum vitaes, attending conferences, performing public speaking, seeking publication, and more.
As for the state competition in April, Tabor said the students can go to the national level in the event if they are rank high enough for it. So, the journey may not be over for one or several of them after the state competition.
And as for the future, all four team members have plans. Cole’s goal is to become a physician, an obstetrician. Perelstein is interested in mechanical engineering, particularly “biomimicry,” or solving problems through evolutionary processes. Herrelko is still exploring, but he knows he wants to be an engineer of some sort. Slack is dedicated to becoming a neurosurgeon.
“We challenge one another and work to put our best foot forward as a team,” Perelstein said.
The iCREATE HS Bioscience program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Community partners include CCC, CAVIAT, NAU, TGen North, North Country HealthCare, Coconino County Public Health Services District, and Flagstaff STEM City.
Guest Blog Post by Janelle Reasor, Art and Science Integration Specialist
Marshall Magnet Elementary School has the longest running science fair of all 28 schools in Flagstaff! They had 199 projects from grades 1 through 5 in the categories of Earth, Life and Physical Science. There were also many student demonstrations.
The 5th grade students were all interviewed by their projects, and then all the projects were displayed in the gymnasium. Twenty of the student projects will advance to the Regional Science Fair in Prescott, Arizona.
Thank You to all 28 of our Judges and our 7 interviewers!
From Coconino Community College:
Melinda McKinney, Alejandra Cardoza, Jay Patel, Brandon Hankins, Sun Jeon, Justin Lovett, Ambrielle Begay, Jenille Montelongo Rodriguez, Zachary Thomason, and Lexia Henderson
From Northern Arizona University - Carissa Miyano, Dr. John Tingerthal, Jill Hager Cocking, Dr. Brendan Russo, Hanako Ueda, Chris Wirth, and Melissa Dimas
From W.L. Gore & Assoc. - Mike Heinzer, Justine Roberts, and Alex Leonard
From The Museum of Northern Arizona - Courtney McDaniel, Florence Borgeson, and Jennifer Glennon
From the Rocky Mountain Research Station, USFS - Grace Sorenson and Roy Lopez
From FUSD, Retired - Sue Holiday
From The Arboretum - Coreen Walsh
5th Grade Interviews Conducted By: Dr. G. Kent Colbath, Geoff Kie, Dr. Jamie Sanderlin, Judy LeFevre, Moragan Guild, Cindy Foubert, and Heather Overton
Girls Take Center Stage at the Flagstaff All Girls Chess Championships
Guest Blog Post by William Cheney, Originally published in the Arizona Daily Sun
The 2017 All Girls City Chess Championships were held on Saturday, January 28, at Lowell Observatory. The tournament was moved one week after the scheduled date due to all of the snow Flagstaff received the weekend before. This was the third annual all-girls tournament and three sections were a USCF rated tournament, run by Northern Arizona Chess Center. This is the first year the event was hosted by Lowell Observatory and it attracted over 50 participants. Besides the K-3, K-5 and K-12 sections, there was also an unrated women’s section.
Lowell Observatory, STEM City, Northern Arizona University and Flagstaff Film Festival all hosted the event. In between rounds, students and families were able to explore the visitor’s center, look through telescopes and interact with the hands-on experiments at the site. They also met a female astronomer and heard her interesting presentation during the lunch time break. Dr. Deidre Hunter, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory, gave a presentation on women in science and her work with dwarf constellations. The Flagstaff Film Festival gave out two tickets to each of the first-place winners in each section. NAU gave out three scholarships to the first- through third-place winners in the K-12 section good for any STEM related field at NAU. Thank you to Provost Dan Kain for giving out the scholarships! Domino’s Pizza and Chick-Fil-A also contributed to the event.
The girls and their families really enjoyed the Spaceguard Academy at the Observatory!
In the K-12 section, the winners of the tournament were as follows: first place, Emma Tennyson, Phoenix area; second place, Mia Osmonbekov, Northland Preparatory Academy; third place, Barbara Senff, Blue Ridge High School. In the K-5 section, the city champ was Adrianna Long, 5th grade, Killip; second place went to Imola Seiben, 4th grade, BASIS Flagstaff; and third place went to Christian Begay, 4th grade Killip. In the K-3 section, first place was for Natasha Vasquez, second place went to Alexa Cardenas and third place was for Kayleigh Smith. All three girls are in third grade at Killip. The women were led by Lecretia Ashley. In second place was Sarah Martinet and third place went to Vicki Uthe.
Some of the top national and state girls in chess were at this tournament. In the 8-year-old USCF national all girls’ list was Natasha Vasquez, who is 91st in the nation and 6th in the state. In the 10-year-old group was Imola Sieben, who is 78th in the nation and first in the state. Also in the 10-year-old group is Adrianna Long, who is 93rd in the nation and second in the state. Emma Tennyson, who is 71st in the nation and first in the state, was there as well.
The 3rd Annual All Girls Chess Tournament Champions!
Growing up around places of cultural importance it was synonymous with respecting the land, air and water around me. Cultural values of respect have been the main driver in how I have gone through my day to day life and I firmly believe that how I got to this point in life. I have had the opportunity to attend various programs which had influential leaders. Learning about humbleness I incorporate that into my life as much as I can. But altogether I can simply say I have learned a lot from my grandfathers.
I grew up and attended school for the majority of my life within the Pueblo of Laguna but seeking a challenge my family was supportive and allowed me to attend school in Albuquerque, N.M. which had Advanced Placement classes I desired. Being involved with the school paper the facilitator encouraged me to apply to NAU. My academic endeavors were always supported by my family and encouraged me to attend the university.
While attending NAU I was involved with Connecting Higher Education Indigenously and soon became part of the club’s leadership position. I have gained vast amounts of knowledge with the professors within the Applied Indigenous Studies and do wish to make an impact within my community in the future.
During my time here I have met the love of my life and married last year. My wife being a VISTA in the past, encouraged me to see if there was a place for me in the AmeriCorps family. Which brings us to now where I have begun to know a great family in the Arizona Historical Society. I am really excited to work with AHS and connecting places of importance to STEM education and engaging the Flagstaff community. I had worked as a line cook for five years prior to this VISTA position but still consider cooking a passion of mine.
Guest Blog post by Christine Sapio, CocoNuts Coach and CHS Educator
On December 3, 2016 the Coconino High School “CocoNuts” FIRST Robotics Competition Team hosted 400+ FIRST Robotics students at the 9th Annual High Altitude Robotics Extravaganza. The Extravaganza featured two FIRST events happening simultaneously at Coconino High School: The Flagstaff FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament and the Northern Arizona FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament. Thirty-six teams will compete in the two events.
The Flagstaff FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament featured 26 teams from Flagstaff, Kingman, Cottonwood, Heber, Holbrook, Phoenix, Camp Verde, Glendale, Cibecue and Sedona. The teams competed in this year’s challenge ANIMAL ALLIES for a chance to advance to the Arizona FIRST Lego League Championship January 14-15, 2017 at Arizona State University.
The ANIMAL ALLIES Challenge calls for teams of 9 to 14 year-old children worldwide to research and present their original ideas that explore the interactions between humans and animals. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a series of wisdom-gathering missions which include: pushing a lever to open a door to learning, moving an idea outside of the box, loading a model with knowledge and skill loops, and more. The cornerstones of the experience are the FLL Core Values, which emphasize contributions of others, friendly competition, learning, and community involvement.
The Flagstaff FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament featured 10 teams from Flagstaff, Laveen, Winslow, Buckeye, Gilbert, Heber, St. Michaels, Eager, and Joseph City. The teams are competed in this year’s challenge VELOCITY VORTEX. The teams were competing for a chance to advance to the Arizona/New Mexico Championship February 25, 2017 at Northern Arizona University.
The 2016-2017 Game: VELOCITY VORTEXSM presented by Qualcomm® is played on a 3.7m × 3.7m (12 ft. × 12 ft.) square field with approximately 0.3m (1 ft.) high walls and a soft foam mat floor. The field is divided diagonally into a “red” and a “blue” side corresponding to the two alliances. In the center of the field are two goals on a rotatable stand called the Center Vortex. Two ramps, each with a goal, called the Corner Vortex, are placed in opposite sides of the field. The Center Vortex Goals and Corner Vortexes are alliance specific. There are also four alliance neutral Beacons, two placed on each front wall next to the Corner Vortex. There are floor markings as well as Vision Targets placed on the field walls as reference points for robot navigation.
The top teams in the tournament were: FIRST Lego League Champion’s Award: FALA Llamabots, Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, Flagstaff FIRST Tech Challenge Inspire Award: Navajo Code Writers, St. Michael’s Indian School, St. Michael’s FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance: Mogollon Rim Jaegers (Mogollon High School in Heber) and elkSPLOSION (Round Valley High School in Eager)
Nine FIRST Lego League teams and three FIRST Tech Challenge Teams advanced to their respective Championship Tournaments.
Ms. Wertz - Teacher Feature - December 2016
Kathryn is committed to the Scientists in the Classroom program at SMS, founded and run by 8th grade science educator Jillian Worssam. This program has two components - a one-on-one mentoring program for the 7th and 8th grade Honors Science students, and a classroom business-engagement program for all other science classes. This partnership program has expanded each year since Jillian began it four years ago, and is based on businesses, government agencies, and non-profits that are willing to share their STEM and work expertise with 6th - 8th grade students.
Kathryn presently has five STEM partners! This means she has to do some juggling with her classes to keep them all on track when she has different partners coming into each class on different days, but she claims it is well worth it for what her students gain from these STEM partners!
Judy Tincher with the Arizona Conservation Corps has been a partner with Kathryn for the past three years. Her team visited the classroom to introduce what the Arizona Conservation Corps is all about. Students got to participate in a "Safety Briefing" and were even introduced to some of the equipment worn and used by actual Corps members! Warner's Nursery has also been a Scientists in the Classroom Partner for the psat three years and is working with one of Kathryn's classes this year.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is a new partner this year. Meg Adakai, a STEM VISTA Member, and Phyllis Wolfskill (a former educator at SMS!) included an introduction to the museum and a lesson on careful observation and excavation of artifacts during their first visit to their partner class. The next month, Dr. Larry Stevens led the students in a discussion of ecological food pyramids and the students built a food pyramid with local species.
Lisa Winters is also a STEM VISTA Member, doing citizen science with Grand Canyon Trust, another new Scientists in the Classroom partner. Lisa is not new to the program though as she represented Arizona Game and Fish as a partner last year! Lisa also participates in the one-one-one mentorship program and she had her mentee, Brook Bellar, help her present on healthy watersheds to her new partner class.
The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (EcoSS) at NAU is a new partner as well. ECOSS created an Education Outreach Committee and have presented at the Festival of Science as well as other venues, teaching studnerts about ecology and ecosystems. Dr. Ben Koch, and graduate students Alessandra Zuniga and Adam Siders led the students to a site where they could begin a decomposition study on a variety of natural materials.
Thank you Kathryn for your educational leadership, and thank you to all her STEM Partners working with Kathryn to increase student engagement and understanding about STEM concepts and careers!
Guest Blog Post by Vicki Anderson (STEM VISTA Member) and Danitza Hill (Lead Science Teacher at Leupp)
Leupp Public School had their Winter Family STEM Night on December 1st from 5:30-7:00 pm. About 150 participants used STEM Activity Passports to log in their hands-on activities at 20 stations. The stations were run by teachers, students, and community groups from both Leupp and Flagstaff.
Top-notch hands-on STEM activities for the Leupp students and parents were provided by: NAU Tribal Environmental Education Outreach Program (EEOP), NAU NASA Space Grant group, American Indian Mobile Education Resource (AIMER), NAU Cohort Education students, W.L. Gore engineers, The Wonder Factory, NAU Americorp VISTA STEM Education Project Volunteers, and the Leupp Public School teachers, support staff, and PTO.
Welcome to STEM Night, and The Wonder Factory shares activities with Leupp families
STEM activities were organized by content areas of Engineering, General Science, Astronomy, Geology, Forestry, Math, Technology and STEM integration into Navajo Culture. Some of the many exciting challenges included building catapults, making 3D pasta dinosaurs, designing and testing MAKEY-MAKEYS, making snowflake prototypes with a 3D Printer brought by W.L. Gore, developing molecular gastronomic treats (s’mores), making constellation telescopes, designing, making and testing their aluminum boat buoyancy, and playing math games and measuring activities.
This Leupp Public School STEM Night was a wonderful collaboration with the community and partners in Leupp and Flagstaff. This fun exposure to STEM educational activities was a good motivator for students to want to become future engineers, scientists, mathematicians and technologists. A special thank you goes to Principal Ryan Chee and Danitza Hill (Lead Science Teacher) and the LEUPP staff and the Leupp and Flagstaff community partners for their support in providing these STEM enrichment educational opportunities! Go STEM!
Ruby Hammond, a doctoral graduate student with Tad Theimer's lab at Northern Arizona University, recently presented on Flagstaff birds to Killip Elementary School's after school Habitat Class. The class, led by teacher Mable Wauneka-Goodwin and volunteer Moses Aruguete, is building a bird-friendly habitat in the school's Luna Courtyard.
The fourteen 2nd and 3rd graders already knew a lot of information about both birds and bats, and had many bird stories to share with Ruby! They are all enthusiastic about creating better habitat for birds near Killip and learned more about the local birds and their food and nesting preferences from Ruby's presentation.
Ruby also taught the students some good tricks for identifying birds. Now the students (and you) can distinguish between a raven and a crow!
Ruby's "Urban birds in Flagstaff" presentation and information on nesting preferences is now located on the STEM City Resource page. Moses Aruguete also provided information on building nesting shelves for Robins and Cardinals on this same page.
Killip's Habitat Class hopes you will help feed and house the birds this winter!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator