Gretchen Downey, 8th grade MITe (Middle School Institute of Technology and Engineering) teacher at Sinagua Middle School, took her engineering students on a field trip to Coconino Community College on Friday, October 23rd. The field trip was funded by the SFAz+8 grant which funds 8th grade students from Mt. Elden Middle School and Sinagua Middle School to explore engineering pathways in higher education and businesses. Addison Guevara, NAU student and STEM City Intern, assisted with organizing and leading the trip.
Philip Martinez, the engineering, math, and physics instructor at CCC, organized the events at the college. Students were divided into three groups that rotated through two engineering challenges and a tour of the college. Mike Luna led the tours with Kevin Mullins informing the students about dual enrollment and CAVIAT programs available to them in high school. Christine Baze, science instructor at CCC, led one of the engineering activities, while Philip led the other one. Students had a great time building and testing a crane and a balloon rocket!
Thank you to Flagstaff's Ross Dress for Less for providing shoe boxes for the Build-A-Crane activity showcased below!
Jillian Worssam, the first STEM City Teacher of the Year, and professional science educator at Sinagua Middle School, had a big day on Friday, October 23rd, with her "Scientists in the Classroom" program. Initiated by Jillian several years ago, this program now includes 19 community STEM partners (link here for a list of all classroom STEM partners) that are paired with Jillian's and other science educators classes at Sinagua Middle School. On Friday, TGen North, Nestlé Purina, Mountain Heart and Lowell Observatory each had representatives visiting one of Jillian's 8th grade classes.
Scientists in the Classroom consists of two separate initiatives. The monthly classroom mentor program, and a one-on-one scientist-with-student mentoring program for Honors Classes. You can read more about both at the program website and in this Arizona Daily Sun article by Corina Vanek here.
Ande Burke, the Marketing Director for Mountain Heart, has the distinction of being the very first classroom mentor for the Scientists in the Classroom program!
The one-on-one program where a scientist is paired with Honors student includes Jeff Hall, the Director of Lowell Observatory, who visited Jillian's class to present the latest in space to the entire class. Rory Hack, his mentee, will become the classroom expert on Dr. Hall's research. Scientists in this program are not all local; there are 60 partners total, and some are from as far away as Russia and Scandinavia, New Zealand, and the Antarctic bases! Scientists and students share two e-mails per month as students learn more about the scientist and their research and produce podcasts, videos, papers and more.
The CocoNuts FRC Robotics Team from Coconino High School was challenged by NAU professor and SETI cave biologist/ecologist Jut Wynne to design and prototype a robot to explore caves on Mars. The students presented their solution, CRAWDAD (CocoNuts Robotics All-terrain Walking and Driving Articulating Device) at the 2nd International Planetary Caves Conference at Lowell Observatory on Thursday, October 22nd.
The CocoNuts completed background research, met with experts from the US Geological Survey, and took a trip to the Flagstaff Lava Caves before settling on a hybrid design between a climbing robot and the Curiosity Drive Train. The CocoNuts submitted their scientific abstract to the conference committee and were accepted to present at the conference.
The CocoNuts presented their design and 3D drawings of their concept to the audience 0f professors and students from several universities, including NAU, Carnegie Mellon, and the Colorado School of Mines, as well as engineers from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The presentation was well received, and the presenters were able to answer the many questions asked during their Q&A, including a question from a JPL engineer who asked, "When do you think it will be ready?"
The CocoNuts coaches and entire Flagstaff STEM community are proud of these young engineers. Congratulations to the presentation team of Drew Stringer, Luke Peterson, and Carson Nablo. Thank you to Christine Sapio and Dave Thompson, CocoNuts Super Coaches, who provided the information and photos for this post.