This short article from AZ Central is on Arizona’s Teacher of the Year, John David Bowman. As a National Teacher of the Year, John is a part of the oldest and most prestigious honors program to focus public attention on teaching excellence.
This article highlights John's list of five ways to improve Arizona schools.
Do you agree with his list? What would you add, subtract or change? Please weigh in with respectful comments below.
Jennifer Johnson from the College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences (CEFNS) at NAU organized a full day tour for 7th and 8th grade students from Flagstaff Junior Academy to visit both the people and the places in arts and sciences at NAU.
Jen explained "... getting middle school aged kids excited about attending college is the primary goal for these visits. If I can show them how awesome a STEM education and career can be, that’s a bonus. High school groups get a more focused tour with discussions on specific majors and preparation for a STEM degree. If time allows, we throw in a hands-on activity or project. But again, it’s about getting them excited about college and helping them realize that it’s an achievable goal."
NAU Ambassadors first led the students on a one-hour tour, and then Jen Johnson and Randy Shannon (College of Arts and Letters) took students on a tour of North Campus including the School of Communications and the Performing and Fine Arts buildings.
After lunch at the Union, students toured South Campus including Engineering, Forestry, the Engineering Fabrication Lab (Machine Shop) with Lab Manager Perry Wood, Engineering Projects Room with Dr. John Tester, RAPIDLab (3D printing and CNC machining) with Engineer Jeremy Petak and the Research Greenhouse with Dr.Anita Antoninka.
FJA science teacher Todd Saunders worked with Jen Johnson to organize the tour for the 80 students, and said "Jen was endlessly accommodating with our schedule and large group of students. Our goal was to make college more real for our students and to see science being done in our community. The students enjoyed visiting the dorm and were excited, imagining themselves living there. Additionally the Machine Shop and Research Greenhouse tour lit up many of our students who enjoy science, but who had trouble visualizing a science career."
Thank you, Jen and NAU for providing this great tour to future college students!
STEM City AmeriCorps Member Kristina Houston spent a good part of her summer building engineering kits for the STEM Clubs at Mount Elden and Sinagua Middle Schools. The kits were funded through a Science Foundation Arizona grant with Coconino Community College to enhance engineering pathways from middle school to community colleges.
The kits are based on award-winning curriculum from the Engineering is Elementary group from Boston Museum (www.eie.org). This group produces engineering curricula for both in-school and out-of-school classes/groups for Kindergarten to 8th grade students.
Terra BIRDS, a Flagstaff nonprofit, educates and empowers youth through gardening to help prepare them as the stewards of a sustainable future for humanity. Terra BIRDS is committed to their mission of outdoor, experiential learning that addresses health and happiness, sustainability, STEAM education and the environment, for all our youth. Terra BIRDS does this by developing and maintaining school gardens, delivering innovative programs, supporting teachers, collaborating with other community partners, and striving to be positive leaders for youth and young adults.
During the last school year, with funding from the Flagstaff Medical Center through the Fit Kids program, Terra BIRDS partnered with 38 classrooms at 10 FUSD schools and led approximately 850 students in weekly one-hour sessions for 8 weeks in both the spring and fall. This program gives students the hands-on opportunity to learn STEM content and skills under the broader theme of becoming ecological stewards of their school grounds. Terra BIRDS provided full or part-time jobs for six adults, internships for eight teenagers, and also engaged Ponderosa High School students, youth from the Juvenile Detention Center, interns from the Coconino County Career Center, NAU freshmen in the University College Program, and other volunteers to help deliver this program. Terra BIRDS is currently piloting expansion of the program to Camp Colton.
The Museum of Northern Arizona has been successfully running Discovery Camps for children in the summer for 38 years! Under the leadership of Jennifer Glennon, over 30 camps offered this summer, focusing on natural history and art using nature. There were also trips for the older students. The wide variety of camps were for ages 4 to 13. Older students, often returning campers from ages 14 - 18, served as Junior Counselors.
Liz Blaker, who many of you know from KNAU's Earth Notes, taught the Birds and Bats camp the last week of July. Her 16 campers enjoyed a number of actives including setting up a bird feeder and bird bath for observations, a bird walk along the Rio de Flag, a field trip to Picture Canyon where Lewis's Woodpeckers abound. They did an art project collecting materials to build a nest, and looked at bird feathers close up with a microscope. They also learned about bats, observing a bat house, and creating a bat or bird mobile.
Lowell Observatory has been hosting astronomy camps for kids for the past four years. They began with the elementary age summer camps, and then added the year-round monthly pre-school camps three years ago. Lowell continued building their outreach program by adding middle school summer camps two years ago. The camps build on each other so students in increasing grade levels move from closer to more distant objects in space, and from simpler to more complex topics. As Samantha Flagg, Education Coordinator at Lowell said, "I love that moment when they really grasp that concept - that lightbulb moment."
The 1st and 2nd graders study the solar system and build models of the planets. 3rd and 4th graders study galaxies, and the 5th and 6th graders focus on life on other worlds. They worked in teams with different tasks (communication, landing, safety, etc.) and designed a mission to Europa. The Middle School camps are in the evening and the students becomes observational astronomers, learning how to use the telescopes and navigate the night sky. High School students can begin volunteering at Lowell Observatory when they are 16 years old.
LOCKS (Lowell Observatory Camps for Kids) solid instructional model pairs a certified teacher with a Lowell educator and often an intern as well. This means there is both teaching and astronomical expertise for each class, as well as a low student to adult ratio. Lowell also employs a registered nurse onsite to ensure child health and safety.
The preschool camps continue monthly on the third Saturday of the month. These activity-based, hands-on camps are for children ages 3 to 5. View the LOCKs Preschool flyer here. And many thanks to the teachers, instructors, and interns that let me join in the summer adventures at Lowell Observatory!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator