Guest Post by Lisa Winters
Arizona Game and Fish Department Fish Biologist Lisa Winters and NAU Centennial Forest Manager Cheryl Miller teamed up to bring native fish into the classroom at Haven Montessori School on Tuesday, March 22nd. Critically endangered bonytail chub, desert pupfish, and razorback sucker, among other species were toted into the elementary classrooms of Kristine Downard and Elisa McKnight via a big green wagon. Children discussed the threats posed to our Arizona native fishes, and then explored the unique adaptations of each fish and made predictions as to their preferred habitat. The highlight was the chance to hold a large, nonnative bluegill; though a bit “slimy”, its sharp spines were a notably different protection than what native fish possess.
Arizona Game and Fish also currently participates in the Scientists in the Classroom program, with aquariums set up in both Kathryn Wertz’s 6th grade and Jillian Worssam’s 8th grade classrooms at Sinagua Middle School. Always an attention-grabber to have live fish, the goal of Native Fish in the Classroom is to encourage appreciation of native Arizona fishes and introduce students to wildlife careers through data collection and critical observation, while further preparing students to become stewards of local watersheds and make informed decisions on caring for the environment. Hopefully the memories will last a lifetime!
Thank you to Lisa Winters for her blog post and photos, and to Arizona Game and Fish and NAU's Centennial Forest for all you do to help STEM education in Flagstaff!
Superbowl of STEM
The 3rd Annual Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration kicked off the week on Monday, March 7th at the NAU Skydome with almost every school, STEM business, government agency, and non-profit in Flagstaff! You can relive the excitement with Flg4TV's 2 minute video here!
High-Altitude Balloon Launch
On Wednesday, March 9th, Teacher Kaci Heins and 100 NPA 6th graders sent their payload to over 106,000 feet on a high-altitude balloon from the Flagstaff Airport. Community Leader Bruce Sidlinger and his Aeronautics Engineering class from Flag High, Airport Director Barney Helmick, the Coconino Amateur Radio Club, the Civil Air Patrol, and many other community partners were there to assist. You can see images and hear the story from KNAU's science and technology field reporter Melissa Sevigny here.
Women Executives in STEM Panel
NAU hosted the panel on Thursday, March 10th. All of the women had connections to NAU and facilitator Elizabeth Glass recommended that the many students in attendance use their alumni network as they search career opportunities.
AZ North Regional
The Skydome was brimming again on Friday and Saturday with the CocoNuts and 52 other teams, for NAU's inaugural FIRST Robotics Arizona North Regional contest, which pitted robots against each other to try to take down a castle. You can read Corina Vanek's article on the event here. Microchip sponsored pit tours by volunteers from many of the teams, as well as a VIP luncheon that was well-attended by Flagstaff's government, business, and education leaders. FIRST, which stands for --- , is a non-profit founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. It encourages students to pursue STEM and also develops skills in teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, and gracious professionalism.
Congratulations to everyone on helping make STEM Week 2016 the best ever in Flagstaff STEM City!
Guest Blog by Heather Berginc, Math Teacher and Code Club Advisor at Flagstaff Junior Academy
At Flagstaff Junior Academy's Middle School, each beginning coder begins with Code.org and does an Hour of Code where they learn basics of coding: what it is, what it can do, and the language of code itself. Students quickly graduate to work with Scratch where they go into pre-made games and change aspects of them, or “remix” them. Students can then create their own games and videos.
Most of our students are mastering the skills needed to be a Scratch Master. Every few weeks we share the cool new ideas that we have been working on and once a semester there is a special game/video challenge that students can participate in. Many of our students have recently began working on a new more advanced type of coding at Khan Academy where they can begin to understand the specific language of code. This is my overall goal at FJA. I want students to understand that they are using coding every day, yet rarely do people know how to read or write using this language.
Flagstaff Junior Academy had six students attend CodeDay in Phoenix on February 13th and 14th at the University of Advancing Technology in Phoenix. CodeDay is an event where students of all code levels can work together to build apps and games in just 24 hours. They have mentors and workshops for students learning new aspects of coding. Our students stayed up all night working on their apps and one of our students has a mini-game on the app iTunes store called "Mouse Collision" under the mini-game series "Wiblits".
Special thank you to Scott Hathcock from the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce for assisting us!
STEM City Coordinator Mindy Bell took Swedish science museum educator Kajsa Berg on a tour to some of STEM City's (aka Flagstaff's) STEM education sites. Kajsa is visiting as half of an exchange established by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce. 6th grade science teacher Kaci Heins, from Northland Preparatory Academy, is the American half. You can read more about the goals of the exchange at their blog.
We began the tour at Sinagua Middle School. Teachers Gretchen Downey, Carrie Jenkins, Jenna Samora, Kathryn Wertz, and Jillian Worssam showcased student-centered learning in engineering musical instruments with recycled materials, plate tectonics with graham crackers, coding at your own pace, creating models of human systems, and doing investigations with dry ice respectively!
Flagstaff Junior Academy is in the ol' Flagstaff Middle School building by the pond. We visited science and math teachers Elii Chapman, Todd Saunders, and Heather Berginc. Kajsa was taken by the open format of the middle school, popular at the time the school was built!
We had a great time touring STEM City! If you want to know more about great STEM sites to visit in STEM City, please contact the STEM Coordinator.