Guest Blog Post by Larrea Cottingham, Climate Education VISTA, City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program
Climate action and climate education is perhaps more important than ever before, and Flagstaff is leading the leading the way. From the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to the Student Climate Action Challenge, students and other residents across our community are making their voices heard and taking action to create solutions and build resilience in the face of climate change.
As the Climate Education VISTA with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, I have been working since August to engage students in climate action through the Student Climate Action Challenge. To aid students in developing ambitious and effective projects, I created the Student Climate Action Toolkit: a planning guide for taking climate action. This guide takes students though a step-by-step project development process, from choosing a project, to putting it into action. Each step includes an activity for students to complete, such as identifying how their school, community, or environment may be impacted by climate change, creating a SMART goal for their project, and gathering baseline data.
Susan Brown, the 7th grade science teacher at Northland Preparatory Academy (NPA) and 2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Science Education, decided to use the Toolkit as an in-class activity during her climate change unit. I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Ms. Brown's students in class as they created solutions to climate change using the Toolkit. It is always so exciting seeing students in action, working on something they are really excited about. Working with the students in class was not only great fun, but it was incredibly valuable. I was able to take their feedback and make improvements on the Toolkit for students who may use it in the future. Thank you NPA 7th graders and Ms. Brown!
In addition to climate action at NPA, there are approximately 10 student Climate Action Teams participating in the Student Climate Action Challenge from schools across Flagstaff. Students participating in the Challenge range from 4th grade to high school, and are working on a variety of projects, including creating school gardens, decreasing school waste by improving recycling and composting, and peer-education. We very are excited to learn more about these student projects at the Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit this spring!
Students are setting a great example for us all to take climate action, too! You can start by providing your input for the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, so we can create a plan the best represents the values and priorities of our community. We held the first of several open house events on January 24th; if you missed it or want to learn more about the Climate Plan, take a look at the video. For more opportunities to get involved, visit www.flagstaff.az.gov/climateplan.
My name is Sarah Michal, and I am a first-year AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Civic Service Institute at NAU. I will be working on developing resources and training regarding the opioid epidemic and alternatives to pain management. I will also be creating additional training modules for Senior Corps In-Services and assisting with volunteer recruitment and resources. I am looking forward to traveling to counties throughout Arizona to facilitate trainings.
I grew up in Minnesota and moved to the Phoenix area for my undergraduate degree. I missed real trees and four seasons so about three months ago I moved to my favorite town in Arizona, Flagstaff. I earned my Bachelors in Human Communications and I enjoy working with people. I decided to join AmeriCorps VISTA because I want to help make a difference in the lives of people. I am interested in mental health and addiction issues.
In my free time I love spending time outdoors hiking and camping. I will be leading monthly hikes starting in March for a community of girls and women who hike. I am also doing the 52 Hike Challenge and I am on hike 9 out of 52 this year. I am also interested in photography and I enjoy documenting my hikes and adventures via photographs.
My name is Whitney Yarbrough. I am the Knowledge Manager VISTA at NAU’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning. I have resided in Flagstaff, Arizona since 2015. I relocated to Flagstaff from Columbus, Ohio to complete my Master’s degree in Archaeology with a focus in Zooarchaeology and a graduate certificate in Ethnic Studies at NAU. I received my undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts from Wittenberg University in 2015.
I was recently with the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) for two great years. Here, I gained a respect, love, and understanding of the Colorado Plateau and the Four Corners Region as well as developed lifelong relationships with visitors and staff. I worked with the MNA Discovery Camps Summer 2017, where I taught STEAM-based education to youth. This prepared me for my current position by providing me with a skillset for working in an environment where education is of key importance and supplied me with STEM experience.
My goal is to gain experience in marketing and outreach efforts, expand my skills in database management, and in STEM education. I intend to complete a second Master’s degree in Museum Studies in 2019 and a future Ph.D. focused on Biological Archaeology in 2020. I am excited to work in AmeriCorps and am looking forward to the upcoming year.
You are invited! The students in the high school iCREATE Bioscience Class will be presenting their creative team solutions to the problem of tracking of Influenza-Like-Illnesses (ILIs) in Coconino County on Wednesday, March 7th from 3:30-5:00 pm in Room 512 of NAU's Science and Health Building #36.
The Innovative Collaborative Research Experience and Technical Education (iCREATE) class is a CAVIAT course with students from Flagstaff High School and Coconino High School, though it is open to all 10-12th graders in Flagstaff. The class meets Monday-Thursday at NAU for a 6-credit, year-long class in conjunction with Coconino Community College.
The iCREATE course is a key component of a three-year National Science Foundation funded project that tests a model of community engagement in STEM learning. The course engages students in an authentic problem, the spread of infectious disease (specifically influenza). The course integrates the study of relevant bioscience topics and epidemiological principles with the technological project of designing and implementing a data collection system using computer and geospatial technologies software in order to monitor the transmission of influenza.
Course instructors Dr. Aaron Tabor and Robert (Bobby) Woodruff invite you to learn from the creative problem-solving of the motivated students in the iCREATE class. We hope you join us!
Project partners include: The Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University, Translational Genomics Research Institute North (TGen North), Flagstaff STEM City, and the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT), a local provider of career and technical education courses. The project also includes multiple regional health care providers including North County HealthCare and the Coconino County Health Department. Together, we aim to increase local students’ motivation and interest in STEM learning and careers in order to positively affect the region’s future STEM workforce.
You can link here for the Arizona CTE Bioscience course standards to learn what the students in this intensive course will have covered during this comprehensive high school program. Note that the epidemiological problem-based learning to engage students, enhancing this course, is in addition to the course requirements.
The Navajo Nation, Marshall Elementary and STAR School are all in need of Science Fair Judges!
From the Navajo Nation: Red Rock State Park, Gallup, NM
The Navajo Nation Science Fair is at Red Rock State Park in Gallup, NM on February 27, 28 and March 1st. Judging is from 9 am to 12 pm each day. They are also looking for presentations or demonstrations for the same time period so that the teachers, parents, and bus drivers are engaged with something STEM-related out of the judging area while the students are getting their posters critiqued.
Please contact Allan Blacksheep at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and/or to volunteer!
From Marshall: 850 N Bonito St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Dear STEM Volunteers,
Would you like to be a part of history? This is your opportunity to be a judge at Flagstaff’s longest running science fair! Please consider being a judge for Marshall Magnet Elementary School's 31st Annual Science Fair on Monday, February 26th.
There are two ways to be involved:
1. You can judge projects in the Marshall gym, using a provided rubric, for
the length of time YOU have available, anytime between 9:30am and 5:00pm on Monday,
2. You can interview 5th grade students about their science projects in the
Marshall Science Lab from 9:00 - 11:00am on Monday, February 26th.
Your time is valuable and we greatly appreciate your consideration in
judging. Please forward this message to anyone you feel would make an
excellent judge. We cannot do this without you!
Thank you, Janelle Reasor, Art & Science Integration Specialist
From STAR School: 145 Leupp Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004; (928) 415-4157
Contact: STEM VISTA Member email@example.com
Blog Post by Chelsea Silva, Executive Director, Friends of the Rio de Flag; STEM VISTA Member for Friends of the Rio and City of Flagstaff Sustainability
A Ribbon of Life for Flagstaff Students, Residents, and Visitors
Walking from City Hall north you will find yourself on the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS), seemingly headed towards the San Francisco Peaks. As you pass the Public Library, you’ll notice Wheeler Park to your right and a grassy, depression with a footbridge crossing to your right, the Rio de Flag.
An ephemeral stream, you will not see water in this grassy channel unless a monsoon hits in the summer or snow melts and flows downstream in the winter.
Keep wandering half a mile up the FUTS along the Rio de Flag and you will quickly arrive at Frances Short Pond. Filled naturally and sometimes supported with additional reclaimed water, the “duck pond” is one of the most visited sites along the Rio due to the recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities it provides.
The pond and the Rio flowing downstream from it provide a unique setting for Flagstaff students to learn about their environment. The Rio also gives students a chance to give back to their river through restoration and citizen science.
It is my goal as an AmeriCorps STEM VISTA member to connect Flagstaff students with the Rio de Flag. That is why I started the Adopt-the-Rio de Flag Stewardship program in my first VISTA term in 2016-2017. This program allowed me to connect with local teachers to share resources and provide introductory lessons on the Rio de Flag.
In fall 2017, freshman and sophomore biology students at Flagstaff High School began participation in the program. First, the students engaged in a classroom Introduction to the Rio, exploring different aspects of the Rio in small groups.
The following month, students collected data on the Rio de Flag, which was done in partnership with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s citizen science program called Arizona Water Watch. All of the photos in this blog post are courteous of these students who worked hard to document their surroundings as part of the data collection protocol.
During the remainder of my position, I hope to expand these place-based learning opportunities to other Flagstaff students. To achieve this goal, I will host a teacher workshop in the spring that focuses on stewardship, citizen science, and the Rio de Flag. This will give teachers the tools they need to connect their students to the Rio de Flag as stewards of their local river.
In order for the Adopt-the-Rio program to continue into the future, I also conduct grant writing and partnership building as part of my AmeriCorps STEM VISTA position. These tasks require a watershed-wide focus and long-term visioning with guidance and support from local government, residents, businesses and nonprofits.
The Rio de Flag is Flagstaff’s river, and it is our collective duty to protect it for future generations. My AmeriCorps STEM VISTA position gives students the chance to take the lead in protecting and restoring the Rio through citizen science and stewardship.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Rio de Flag, we welcome you to watch our new short film, “Ribbon of Life.” Produced by one of our volunteers, Brittain Davis, this film is about those who visit and love the Rio de Flag.