Guest Blog Post by Dawn Pfeffer, STEM VISTA at Killip STEM Academy
Girls Teaching Girls is a mentorship program between NAU students and young girls in Flagstaff at select locations. Girls Teaching Girls provide lessons and hands-on activities to promote leadership, community activism, empowerment, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) related skills with the goal of fostering female leaders of the future.
We kicked off the first week of the after school program at Killip Elementary with four girls participating on day one and ended the week with eight Killip students! The NAU girls seemed just as excited as the Killip girls to see this program get started. The first week included drawing pictures, talking about important problems they see and starting to ask the question "how can we fix these problems?"
Project Questions posed by NAU students that the Killip students selected from are listed below:
1. How can we become sustainable citizens?
2. How can we create a positive change through art?
3. How do we destroy stereotypes and stigmas?
4. Why is it important that we are all diverse and different?
5. How can we maintain a happy brain?
6. How can we get adults to better understand kids? What does it mean to be bilingual?
This problem based learning mentorship is just getting started and we here at Killip cannot wait to see what these Girls accomplish!
Note: Girls Teaching Girls is also mentoring at the Boys and Girls Club in Flagstaff so stay tuned for more updates!
Guest Blog Post by Dawn Pfeffer, STEM VISTA at Killip STEM Academy
During the start of Killip Elementary School’s fall break, some 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students spent time using the engineering design process to design gloves for astronauts in space! We spent the week working in teams to test different materials against the dangers in space, including space dust, cold temperatures, and potential impacts from flying objects. Using the results from their tests, students chose the materials provided to ensure safety for the astronauts. They also had to make sure their astronauts could complete tasks after exposure to these dangers. Preliminary tests led to ingenious designs by these clever engineers!
Students persevered through tough challenges when the materials didn’t function as planned, but we worked together to develop solutions, improve designs and complete testing. At the end of the week, the students were able to showcase their designs and demonstrate the tests to future engineering students at Killip. Way to go engineers!
The Engineering Space Gloves curriculum is being developed through a collaborative project with NAU's Center for Science Teaching and Learning, the Flagstaff USGS Astrogeology Center, the Museum of Science Boston, and other collaborators including STEM City. The PLANETS (Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science) project is creating space-themed educational resources for out-of-school-time programs.
The 5-year grant is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement NNX16AC53A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Dawn Pfeffer, Killip STEM Academy, STEM Curriculum
I graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. I fell in love with Flagstaff when my environmental engineering design teams traveled here in 2014 and 2015 and I knew then that I wanted to move here. When I graduated in May of 2015, I worked at an automation company called Rovisys in Ohio for two years. I was a Lead Systems Engineer for various customers and industries. In April of 2017 I was finally able to make my move to Flagstaff and I couldn’t be happier.
I spent my first four months in Flagstaff working on a trail maintenance crew with Arizona Conservation Corps, an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I got to know the people and places that surround Flagstaff and it deepened my love for this amazing city. At the end of those four months I wanted to use my skills as an engineer to help this community grow, so I applied to the AmeriCorps VISTA position at Killip Elementary. I work with Ted Komada to build and modify the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum to better prepare students for the years to come. This is yet another experience that I will cherish forever. I am dedicated to the Flagstaff community and I consider this place my home, so please say hello to me; I would love to meet you!
The 2nd graders at Killip Elementary School are designing a pond for the Luna Park area at their school. To learn more about what the students need to consider for their design, educators Kim Edison, Mable Goodwin, and Wendy Tucker took their young students on a field trip to the Arboretum at Flagstaff on Wednesday, August 23rd. There they met experts from the Arboretum and Natural Channel Design to learn about forest health, as well as the differences between man-made ponds and natural ponds.
Teacher Wendy Tucker and her students observe the pond with Allen Haden
Allen Haden, the lead at Natural Channel Design, shared his expertise on aquatic ecosystems with the students. Allen asked the students to think about what they need to survive, and joked that the fish in the pond can't walk to the grocery store to get what they need. The students observed and then discussed what man-made ponds need to successfully keep organisms alive.
Coreen Walsh and Shannon Benjamin of the Arboretum at Flagstaff engaged students with information on lichens, plants, birds and beetles that make the forest their home.
Shannon Benjamin has the students guess what bird they are hearing and looking at,
and then she passed around a small vial with pine bark beetles inside.
Stay posted for more updates as the pond designs are developed and the pond gets built! Thank you to Allen Haden of Natural Channel Design, and the Arboretum for contributing to a successful educational field trip! If your school is interested in a field trip to the Arboretum before they close on October 31st, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Blog Post contributed by Jake Burwell, STEM Capacity Development VISTA
The 5th grade teachers at Killip Elementary school designed a Problem-based Learning Unit that focused on the students reviewing FUSD's new Wellness Policy that restricts the food/drink items allowed in the classroom. This unit aligned standards for understanding "matter" while integrating real world relevance as the students learned some basic chemistry such as the three common states of matter, physical and chemical properties and changes. They learned what chemicals, including sugar, go into drinks and their final product was a recommendation to the FUSD governing board as to what additional drinks could be included in the policy as "acceptable."
Tracy Blahut, Katie Butterfield and Jillian Hernandez co-developed the unit, and STEM Coordinator Ted Komada helped find local experts to assist. On April 28th, Chemists Irina Barrow and Amy Sessions from W.L. Gore gave the students some basic background on matter and had the students do simple experiments on chemical and physical changes. Amy told the students that she struggled with chemistry in 10th grade, but persisted in her studies and now enjoys her work as a chemist at W.L. Gore! Students guessed from Irina's accent that she was born in Russia, and despite learning a complex career in a second language, is now a highly successful chemist at W.L. Gore.
After this introduction to chemistry, the students were given the following drinks to analyze: NOS, Rockstar, Monster, Sprite, Diet Coke, Coke, Capris Sun, Sunny D, and Propel water. They worked in teams to test their sugar content through a boiling process, taking notes on the results as they completed the experiment. The end results were shocking! With most of the drinks, a large amount of sludge remained after the water evaporated. Some drinks (i.e. energy drinks and Coke) contained over 14 g of solids out of an initial 100 g of liquid. They wrote up their results and created presentations for representatives from FUSD, with suggestions for the drinks that should, or should not, be included in the District's approved list, based on their sugar content.
A selected group of the 5th graders presented their findings to the Forest Highlands Foundation to demonstrate the relevant and educational value of this PBL unit. Thank you to the Forest Highlands Foundation for granting Killip Elementary the funds for the equipment for us to do this unit in the years to come!
Thank you to Irina Barrow and Amy Sessions for their great contributions to this unit!
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!
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!
By Dave Engelthaler, Associate Professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Chair of the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance. This column was adapted from the keynote speech, given by the author, at Science Foundation Arizona's "Giving a Voice to STEM" Conference at NAU on September 30, 2016.
I have often referred to Flagstaff as the Shining City on Arizona’s Hill. It is no accident that I borrow this phrase from the famous, precisely American, ideal of a “Shining City on a Hill”. The early pilgrims imagined that they could create such a community for themselves after escaping the historical norms of European controls on destiny.
Three hundred years later John F. Kennedy reminded of this founding ideal, stating that the world was watching our shining city and that we must live up to our promise; shortly there after, we embarked on one of the greatest journeys of all time and put a man’s foot on the moon (Flagstaff had something to do with that, more on that below).
Twenty years later, Ronald Reagan again reminded us of this American City on a Hill ideal; and while we may not often remember Reagan as a champion of science, he was convinced during his tenure to not only not cut the budget of the National Science Foundation, but rather double it, before he left office. But, as under Kennedy and Reagan and other presidents in before and after, no matter what our economic and cultural condition, we have always led the way in advancing humanity through the sciences.
It is this ideal that convinces me that in Flagstaff, we are a Shining STEM City on Arizona’s Hill.
In August of 2012, a group of Flagstaff Leaders, Businessmen, Educators, Scientists, and Concerned Citizens gathered in the woods on the base of the San Francisco Peaks. This group coalesced around the idea that Flagstaff is a STEM-rich City and that we as a community, businesses and schools, elected leaders and CEOs, teachers and families, needed to collectively band together to bring this rich surrounding to bear on the education of our children and enrich our communities.
There, up on our Hillside, we all mutually pledged our time, talent and resources towards making the STEM City ideals happen. In short – our goal was to have the most STEM literate graduates living and working in a thriving STEM-based economy.
We also had a unofficial motto for the day: “Dare Mighty Things”, which we borrowed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who had, just the preceding night, coordinated the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars (and again, Flagstaff had something to do with this mission). And we both stole that from Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Far better it is to dare mighty things” speech.
Historian, Fredrick Jackson Turner, just a few years before TR’s famous speech, gave us his “Frontier Thesis”, and proclaiming that with the end of the American Frontier, so might be the end the American spirit. While Jackson aptly, and controversially, linked Americanism and American spirit to the discovery and exploration of the American Frontier, I feel that he missed the mark in not understanding the new frontiers that we would identify and explore.
Our increased understanding and use of science and engineering opened up brand new frontiers, beyond land and sea.
One such Frontier, The Space Frontier, was no longer a pastoral landscape to watch from afar. Our STEM City has been at the forefront of the exploration of this new frontier, from the discovery of Pluto, to the training of Apollo astronauts in our backyard, to the camera control of the Mars Rover from our USGS facility, and now finally to the deep space explorations through our Discovery Channel telescope, providing insight into the beginnings of our universe and images of a frontier previously unseen.
Likewise, Flagstaff is home to TGen and the new Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at NAU, where some of the brightest minds are exploring another previously unseen universe – the microbiome. Every day, scientists in Flagstaff are embarking on the incredible journey into the human microbiome – the unseen ecosystem of bacteria and viruses and fungi that live on and in the human body. We are trying to understand how these microbes live, compete, collaborate and otherwise interact during our healthy and disease states. We, ourselves, our bodies, are the new frontier – and again that frontier exploration is here in our STEM City.
And we could go on about the new frontiers ventured by W.L.Gore engineers and SenesTech scientists and MNA paleontologists and Park Service geologists. The frontier is here in our STEM City and some of the greatest pioneers are the trainers of our next generation– the teachers and education professionals of our great public, charter and private schools. Most are ready, willing and able to interact with all of these resources; and some, like former STEM City Teacher of the Year Jillian Worssam, just kick down the door and say: “Let’s do this thing!”
Our STEM City is Worssam’s wildly successful Scientists in the Classroom. It is the Flagstaff Festival of Science (the longest running one in the country). We are the Coconuts; we are the Annual STEMMY'S Awards Ceremony; the STEM Art Competition; and the Super Bowl of STEM in the Dome event (where upwards of 8% of Flagstaff turns out!); we are the Space Station Science Experiment and the High Altitude Balloon Launches; and the superstar Killip Kindergarten Chess team that likes to challenge our Mayor. We are seventh-grade girls wearing lab coats inside a world-class research lab and we are a group of high schoolers rafting down our majestic Canyon to learn our geologic past. We are the Chamber Coding Camps. We are grad students teaching and learning in the K-12 classroom. We are parents, students and teachers on a hill having a star party. We are, in a phrase, America’s First STEM Community.
Arizona, and the rest of the country, is watching our shining STEM City
and we must live up to our promise.
Guest Blog Post by Lisa Winters, Flagstaff STEM Education Program VISTA Member with Grand Canyon Trust
With wide eyes, note-filled worksheets, and an urge to move and explore, 5th graders from Killip Elementary School shout out their observations on a sunny, Tuesday morning at Upper Lake Mary. “We’re part of the Biosphere!” they proudly state.
For the third year in a row, Ted Komada, STEM Coordinator at Killip Elementary School, organized a field trip revolving around the earth’s spheres: the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Over sixty 5th graders from the classes of Ms. Butterfield, Ms. Hernandez, and Ms. Blahut moved through four stations to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the ecosystem around them at Lake Mary. Local experts led each of the sphere discussions.
Lee Born (above), NAU professor and KNAU's staff meteorologist, represented the atmosphere with a lively conversation of atmospheric conditions, natural disasters, and how floods and hurricanes create changes that impact other spheres.
Felix Parham (left), a geologist from the City of Flagstaff, was the geosphere expert. Students thought critically about not just the ground we stand on, but all of the material that forms the foundation of our earth, how it’s shaped, and what we extract from it.
Also from the City of Flagstaff and a proud Killip Cougars alumni, Rae Byars (center) led the hydrosphere conversation. Students learned about the water cycle, and then connected the processes with the other spheres, as well as who and what needs water.
Lisa Winters from Grand Canyon Trust, with Naturalist Chris Keefe, pulled things together by discussing the biosphere, and how all living organisms rely on the other spheres. Students identified animals and their habitats around Lake Mary. They then made connections between their own interactions as members of the biosphere with their needs from other spheres.
Students reflected on the discussions they had at each station. And they will continue the learning back in the classroom where they will research a natural disaster and how the connections between spheres may change. They will conclude the unit by formally presenting their research posters.
This is what STEM education at Killip looks like, thanks to the dedication of the educators and the contributions of the "STEM professionals" from our community!
The 4th grade students at Killip Elementary School have been studying alternative energy systems to determine what energy source would be the best for their school and neighborhood. The three teachers (Mrs.’s Hansen, Hart, and Taylor) have over 90 energetic students participating in this unit! Note that they will soon have a fourth teacher to reduce class sizes.
Three Flagstaff STEM Professionals presented three 25-minute sessions to the classes. Kelly Paduchowski from Prometheus SOLAR brought in a large solar panel, and talked to the students about the great solar energy potential in Arizona. Kelly is a Project Manager at Promethus Solar. She is also a certified photovoltaic installation professional. Kelly has been highlighted in a previous post when she represented Prometheus at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.
Ken Kotalik from Primus Wind Power brought in a wind turbine and talked to the students about having both gride-tied wind power and also off-the-grid wind systems that could also include solar panels. Ken is the Director of North American Sales, for Primus Wind Power. He has been working in and around the renewable energy field for 15 years and he built his own passive and active solar straw bale house in Flagstaff.
Lucas Bair, from the Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center of the US Geological Survey, showed a video on hydropower and illustrated to students how a dam works to generate electric power. Lucas is an environmental and natural resource economist with expertise in water resource and energy economics and policy. His research includes natural resource valuation and decision and benefit-cost analysis with a focus on resources in Glen and Grand Canyons along with large river systems such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin and the Brazilian Amazon.
STEM City and Killip Elementary School thank you for your educational and engaging presentations to the students! Stay tuned, as the students are now finalizing their reports on which of these three alternative energy sources should be used to power their school and neighborhood!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator