The first cohort of 15 Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs) are ending their year of service to the Flagstaff STEM Education Project, a collaboration with NAU's Civic Service Institute and STEM City. We are beyond thrilled and proud of all they have given to our community. The following infographic shares a little bit of the successes these VISTAs have contributed to the agencies they worked with and to all of Flagstaff in pursuing the overall goal of the project: The Flagstaff STEM Education VISTA Project seeks to increase the academic performance of low-income youth in STEM fields and their interest in pursuing STEM careers.
You can read more about the first cohort of VISTAs here. Please congratulate them all on their service. Thank you, thank you, thank you from Flagstaff STEM City!
Front Row: Maria Archibald, Mira Peterson, Kate Stanley, Megan Carmel, Meg Adakai Kabotie, STEM Coordinator Mindy Bell; Back Row: Dylan Lenzen, Lisa Winters, Chelsea Silva, Geoffrey Kie, Vicki Anderson, Robert McCann, VISTA Leader Kathy Farretta. Not pictured: Jake Burwell, Holly Havlicek, and Erin O'Keefe.
Ms. Wertz - Teacher Feature - December 2016
Kathryn is committed to the Scientists in the Classroom program at SMS, founded and run by 8th grade science educator Jillian Worssam. This program has two components - a one-on-one mentoring program for the 7th and 8th grade Honors Science students, and a classroom business-engagement program for all other science classes. This partnership program has expanded each year since Jillian began it four years ago, and is based on businesses, government agencies, and non-profits that are willing to share their STEM and work expertise with 6th - 8th grade students.
Kathryn presently has five STEM partners! This means she has to do some juggling with her classes to keep them all on track when she has different partners coming into each class on different days, but she claims it is well worth it for what her students gain from these STEM partners!
Judy Tincher with the Arizona Conservation Corps has been a partner with Kathryn for the past three years. Her team visited the classroom to introduce what the Arizona Conservation Corps is all about. Students got to participate in a "Safety Briefing" and were even introduced to some of the equipment worn and used by actual Corps members! Warner's Nursery has also been a Scientists in the Classroom Partner for the psat three years and is working with one of Kathryn's classes this year.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is a new partner this year. Meg Adakai, a STEM VISTA Member, and Phyllis Wolfskill (a former educator at SMS!) included an introduction to the museum and a lesson on careful observation and excavation of artifacts during their first visit to their partner class. The next month, Dr. Larry Stevens led the students in a discussion of ecological food pyramids and the students built a food pyramid with local species.
Lisa Winters is also a STEM VISTA Member, doing citizen science with Grand Canyon Trust, another new Scientists in the Classroom partner. Lisa is not new to the program though as she represented Arizona Game and Fish as a partner last year! Lisa also participates in the one-one-one mentorship program and she had her mentee, Brook Bellar, help her present on healthy watersheds to her new partner class.
The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (EcoSS) at NAU is a new partner as well. ECOSS created an Education Outreach Committee and have presented at the Festival of Science as well as other venues, teaching studnerts about ecology and ecosystems. Dr. Ben Koch, and graduate students Alessandra Zuniga and Adam Siders led the students to a site where they could begin a decomposition study on a variety of natural materials.
Thank you Kathryn for your educational leadership, and thank you to all her STEM Partners working with Kathryn to increase student engagement and understanding about STEM concepts and careers!
Guest post by Lisa Winters, formerly of Arizona Game and Fish, and presently a STEM VISTA Member with the Grand Canyon Trust
The best ten days of the year, the Flagstaff Festival of Science, is in full swing. And this year, we had the first BioBlitz at Francis Short Pond! Organized by Rocky Mountain Research Station, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and Friends of the Rio de Flag, the BioBlitz was an opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to work in collaboration with biologists, naturalists, and other scientists to complete a biological inventory of the plants, animals, and organisms that live in or near the pond.
Thanks to Lisa Winters, left, of Grand Canyon Trust, and Zack Zdinak, right, of Life Drawing and Education
Stations were set up around the pond that collected information about water quality, aquatic insects, birds, plants, and fish. Over 260 students from Marshall Elementary, Flagstaff Junior Academy, and Mount Elden Middle School measured the temperature and dissolved oxygen of the water, used microscopes to identify the aquatic invertebrates they caught, wandered the pond in search of common plants, used binoculars to spot ducks and red-winged blackbirds, fished for rainbow trout, and then pulled together what they learned by constructing a life cycle diagram of an organism of their choice. In the afternoon, many community members got the same chance to explore this unique ecosystem in their backyard while contributing to the survey data collection.
Photos show Alice patiently fishing, the excitement of the catch, and measuring for data prior to release!
Additional partners of the event include the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, local illustrator Zack Zdinak, and more! The event was made possible through a generous grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation and the AZ Game and Fish Heritage Grant. Thank you all for the great contributions to citizen science and education in Flagstaff!
Guest Post by Moran Henn, Executive Director,
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center
What better way to help celebrate Colorado River Days than kiss some fish!?
That’s just what some lucky kids (and a few brave parents) got to do
thanks to Colorado River Days’ Annual Fish and Watersheds Science Saturday
at Willow Bend event.
This free, all ages event focused on the importance of the Colorado River,
healthy watersheds, and native fish. Participants engaged in hands-on
activities organized by numerous event partners who came together to make
the event a great success.
Activities included making paper watersheds with the AZ Trail Association,
creating nature journals to record drawings and stamps of wildlife and
nature with the Sierra Club, watching the far reaching effects of water-flow
on a 3D terrain model and learning how long objects last in ecosystems
when left behind with Oak Creek Watershed Council, making origami boats
and rowing in a real river ducky with Grand Canyon Youth, learning about
the ecology of aquatic worms and snails with Friends of the Rio, seeing
the effects of rain on the watershed with Willow Bend, and the highlight
of the event... meeting live native fish up close and in person with the
USGS aquatic lab team. Over 4 species of native fish were on display,
including the Humpback Chub and Rainbow Trout.
The public experienced, in a fun and engaging way, just how important the Colorado River is, not just to Flagstaff, but to everyone who depends on healthy flowing rivers.
Information on other Colorado River Days activities can be found here, and consider subscribing to Willow Bend's newsletter to stay informed about upcoming Science Saturday programs and other events.
Guest Blog by Marney Babbitt, NAHEC Youth Program Coordinator, Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona Council Director, North Country HealthCare
Are you passionate about STEM, healthy living, empowering girls to be their best, brightest selves, and giving back to your community? If so, consider coaching for Girls on the Run. This may be the perfect fit for you!
Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a physical activity-based, positive youth development program that inspires 3rd through 8th grade girls to recognize their limitless potential and boldly pursue their dreams. The 10-week Girls on the Run program, which is led by volunteer coaches (that's you!), focuses on helping girls develop key life skills, such as cultivating confidence, responding to oneself and others with care and creating positive connections. The teams also learn the value of giving back to their community through a service project. Girls on the Run is non-competitive and works to help each girl achieve her goal. Each season culminates with a 5k event that celebrates girls' growth during the season.
How does GOTR relate to STEM?
66% of 4th grade girls say they love science and math but only 24% of the STEM workforce is female. Children's general perceptions of gender inequality don't start to set in until about age 7. Children who are engaged in physical activities in elementary school have higher self-esteem.
As a GOTR Coach you will work closely with your team of girls and fellow Coaches. You will all have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of girls in your community, not to mention the tutus, glitter, beads and, oh yeah, cheers....lots of cheers!
As a GOTR Coach you will be trained on the GOTR curriculum where you will learn how to work with the girls on important topics such as making friends, healthy relationships, inner beauty, and healthy nutrition, all while creatively integrating running. For example, the girls may have to answer questions about the day's topic each time they complete a lap, while you and your coaching team are encouraging and cheering the girls on.
Girls on the Run is celebrating their 20th Anniversary and you can be a part of girl empowerment. Their message is: We believe that every girl can embrace who she is,
can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, can change the world.
Some quotes from GOTR girls that will help them as they move forward in life:
"I learned to be strong and never give up."
–Ciondra, Grade 6
Girls on the Run could make any girl fearless, because when you're surrounded by people you trust, respect and care for, nothing can hold you back from being the most beautiful person you have grown to be." – Josie, Grade 6
Note: GOTR Coaches do not have to be runners! You just have to be enthusiastic and have a desire to work with girls of this age group. Women and Men over 18 are welcome to apply. We can't wait to have you as part of the GOTR team!
Still not convinced? Watch this short GOTR video here! Then apply to be a GOTR Coach by completing the NEW Coach application here: http://www.gotrna.org/get-involved/hey-coach
To learn more about Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona visit www.gotrna.org or contact Marney Babbitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 928-522-9452.
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!
2015-2016 STEMMY Awards
The 4th annual awards, funded by the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, were received by students Rebecca Adams (FHS and CAVIAT), Teacher Ted Komada (Killip), Community Leader Bruce Sidlinger, and STEM Partner Nestlé Purina. You can read Corina Vanek's article and see Jake Bacon's photographs in the Arizona Daily Sun article 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!
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