Guest Blog Post by Tessa Palazzolo, Mechanical Engineering at NAU
On November 13th, three schools competed in the second ever KidWind Challenge wind turbine design competition. Little Singer Community School, Coconino High School and Northland Preparatory Academy arrived with a total of 14 teams eager and ready to compete. The students were scored based on their wind turbine power output and their overall knowledge on wind energy, along with real life applications of the wind farm industry.
The event consisted of other ongoing challenges such as sail car designs, energy principle questions in jeopardy, and testing out the Human Powered Vehicle (HVP) designed by NAU’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The NAU ASME volunteers were also present at the competition to engage in questions related to college and the guidelines of becoming an engineer with the students. The overall experience of the KidWind Challenge provides a learning experience in hands-on creativity and allowing the students to be inspired with science, engineering and renewable energy.
The Little Singer 5th and 6th grade students were led by teacher Tom Tomas, and were doing an entire unit that incorporated literacy as well as engineering. Students are reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by William Kamkwamba (with Bryan Mealer) that shares the remarkable story of his youth in Malawi, Africa—a nation crippled by intense poverty - and how, with tenacity and imagination, he built a better life for himself, his family, and his village.
The students are also studying biomimicry, an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies. You can see the biologic patterns in their blade designs above and below.
A big STEM City Thank you to Project Director Karin Wadsack, Lead Organizer Tessa Palazzolo and all the ASME students at NAU that came out to help! Also, thank you to the Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff for hosting the KidWind Challenge again!
Guest Blog Post by Karin Wadsack and Todd Traen, with an update from Jenna Samora
On Friday, April 28th, nearly 100 middle and high school students competed in the first Arizona KidWind Challenge wind turbine design competition. 20 teams of students came from Sinagua Middle School, Mount Elden Middle School, STAR School, Winslow High, Coconino High, and Northland Preparatory Academy. The teams brought a wind turbine they had designed and built ahead of time to test in a wind tunnel, determining whose turbine made the most electricity over a 30-second test period. The teams also competed based on their turbine design, technical presentation, technical design knowledge, and general wind energy knowledge. The teams each met with a group of judges from the wind industry, giving a presentation about their project and answering specific design and knowledge questions.
The teams also competed in “instant challenges,” building sail cars, windmills for weight lifting, and playing wind energy Jeopardy. Throughout the day, students got to interact with other students from different schools and grade levels, and explain their own projects to peers, teachers, coaches, and visiting guests.Turbines at the competition included vertical and horizontal axis turbines, systems with and without gears, and some turbines for which the students had wound their own generators.
Frequently heard: “This is AWESOME!” “Check out that design!” “I’m having SO MUCH fun!” “Next year we’re going to do _____!”
The Wind for Schools project staff of eight was supported by an additional eight amazing volunteers from the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals and the Climate Science and Solutions professional master’s program at NAU. The Expert Judges also volunteered their day to the event. The Boys & Girls Club of Flagstaff generously donated its facilities for the day.
Update from Jenna Samora on the MITe Team's trip to Nationals: The Mustang Gust Runners ended up taking 1st in the Vertical Axis Insta-Challenge, but did not score high on the original wind turbine design. After the first competition in Flagstaff, the students 3D-printed their own gears and created their own generator. However, they were unable to get the energy output that they hoped for, so they went back to using the KidWind generator. Even through their turbine was not the best design, the boys still learned a lot and had a great time!
Thank you to our dedicated judges!
Ross Taylor, Wind Subject Matter Expert
Ken Kotalik, Primus Wind Power
Jim Corning, Prometheus Renewables
Daniel Snyder, Westwind Solar Inc
Darrin Russell, Wind Subject Matter Expert
Guest Blog post by Christine Sapio, CocoNuts Coach and CHS Educator
On December 3, 2016 the Coconino High School “CocoNuts” FIRST Robotics Competition Team hosted 400+ FIRST Robotics students at the 9th Annual High Altitude Robotics Extravaganza. The Extravaganza featured two FIRST events happening simultaneously at Coconino High School: The Flagstaff FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament and the Northern Arizona FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament. Thirty-six teams will compete in the two events.
The Flagstaff FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament featured 26 teams from Flagstaff, Kingman, Cottonwood, Heber, Holbrook, Phoenix, Camp Verde, Glendale, Cibecue and Sedona. The teams competed in this year’s challenge ANIMAL ALLIES for a chance to advance to the Arizona FIRST Lego League Championship January 14-15, 2017 at Arizona State University.
The ANIMAL ALLIES Challenge calls for teams of 9 to 14 year-old children worldwide to research and present their original ideas that explore the interactions between humans and animals. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a series of wisdom-gathering missions which include: pushing a lever to open a door to learning, moving an idea outside of the box, loading a model with knowledge and skill loops, and more. The cornerstones of the experience are the FLL Core Values, which emphasize contributions of others, friendly competition, learning, and community involvement.
The Flagstaff FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament featured 10 teams from Flagstaff, Laveen, Winslow, Buckeye, Gilbert, Heber, St. Michaels, Eager, and Joseph City. The teams are competed in this year’s challenge VELOCITY VORTEX. The teams were competing for a chance to advance to the Arizona/New Mexico Championship February 25, 2017 at Northern Arizona University.
The 2016-2017 Game: VELOCITY VORTEXSM presented by Qualcomm® is played on a 3.7m × 3.7m (12 ft. × 12 ft.) square field with approximately 0.3m (1 ft.) high walls and a soft foam mat floor. The field is divided diagonally into a “red” and a “blue” side corresponding to the two alliances. In the center of the field are two goals on a rotatable stand called the Center Vortex. Two ramps, each with a goal, called the Corner Vortex, are placed in opposite sides of the field. The Center Vortex Goals and Corner Vortexes are alliance specific. There are also four alliance neutral Beacons, two placed on each front wall next to the Corner Vortex. There are floor markings as well as Vision Targets placed on the field walls as reference points for robot navigation.
The top teams in the tournament were: FIRST Lego League Champion’s Award: FALA Llamabots, Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, Flagstaff FIRST Tech Challenge Inspire Award: Navajo Code Writers, St. Michael’s Indian School, St. Michael’s FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance: Mogollon Rim Jaegers (Mogollon High School in Heber) and elkSPLOSION (Round Valley High School in Eager)
Nine FIRST Lego League teams and three FIRST Tech Challenge Teams advanced to their respective Championship Tournaments.
Many people in our community believe deeply that investing in the next generation – our students – is essential to our future. As participants in the Flagstaff STEM City movement, we support the outstanding teachers who work daily to open doors and create challenging opportunities for our students. This week Flagstaff bids farewell to one of those outstanding teachers – Kaci Heins of Northland Preparatory Academy, who is departing to take an educational leadership position with NASA’s Space Center, Houston.
For the last 9 years, Kaci’s students from the Peak School, Mt. Elden Middle School, and NPA have flown high indeed. They have launched rockets; learned robotics and 3D printing; sent an experiment to the International Space Station; and created payloads for and released high altitude balloons to analyze myriad results. Kaci’s expertise, enthusiasm, and commitment to her students brought her recognition as our Flagstaff STEM Teacher of the Year, Arizona Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, Air Force Association National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, and this year’s Viola Award for Science Education.
STEM City recognizes that we must all work hard to support outstanding teachers who engage and mentor our students. Kaci is taking her talent to an incredible platform, developing programs to inspire students across the country the way she has inspired and challenged her Flagstaff students. Kaci always challenged her students and all of us to “Dare Mighty Things,” and she continues to lead by example. Please join us in thanking her for all that she has done for Flagstaff’s next generation. We’ll be eagerly watching, in cyberspace and elsewhere, for her next adventures in outer space!
Flagstaff STEM City
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!
7th grade science teachers Carrie Jenkins and Susan Brown, from Sinagua Middle School and Northland Preparatory Academy respectively, have been collaborating for four years on an investigation of macroinvertebrates in Oak Creek and the Rio de Flag near Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.
Carrie and Susan spend hours each fall preparing thirty leaf packs for each site and depositing them in the two environments. They retrieve the packs approximately one month later. Their students then compare the macroinvertebrates they find in the leaf packs from Oak Creek with those from the Willow Bend "pond".
The teachers use online resources from the Leaf Pack Network, a network of citizens, teachers and students investigating their local stream ecosystems. The site has protocols for collecting the samples, resources for macroinvertebrate identification, and a data portal for them to upload their results. Macroinvertebrates are organisms that are large (macro) enough to be seen with the naked eye and lack a backbone (invertebrate). They inhabit all types of running waters, from fast flowing mountain streams to slow moving muddy rivers. Examples of aquatic macroinvertebrates include insects in their larval or nymph form, crayfish, clams, snails, and worms (see photos below). Most live part or most of their life cycle attached to submerged rocks, logs, and vegetation.
After completing their data sheet, students compile their data and upload it to the Leaf Pack Network site. The site has tools for students to compare the data from their two schools, as well as other schools and sites. The students can use the data to determine general stream health. If the overall pollution tolerance value of the organisms is low, the stream is most likely less burdened by contaminants than if the overall pollution tolerance level is high.
This year had some disappointments for the two educators, as the leaf packs in Oak Creek had been purposefully cut away from their anchor so only one pack remained, and the leaf packs in the Willow Bend pond area were imbedded in four inches of ice - making removal difficult. Undaunted, the teachers collected leaf litter along Oak Creek so their students could still look for organisms, and thawed the iced bags in time for class. The Flagstaff STEM community is thrilled to have these dedicated educators!
Flagstaff Medical Center’s Future Health Leaders Summer Camp
Flagstaff Medical Center, a member of Northern Arizona Healthcare, held its first Future Medical Leaders summer camp for high school students from Monday, July 6, through Thursday, July 9. The event, sponsored by Patient and Family Experience Services, was designed for incoming high school freshmen through senior students interested in becoming healthcare professionals.
More than 40 students applied to attend the camp, but only 24 were selected to participate. There were nineteen young women and five young men representing five high schools in Flagstaff (Coconino High School, Flagstaff High School, BASIS Flagstaff, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy and Northland Preparatory Academy) as well as one home-schooled student.
The students spent the week attending lectures about contemporary healthcare topics; visiting different departments and discussing ethical issues. They met with Rob Thames, NAH’s president and CEO, and spent time with physicians, nurses and other colleagues who care for patients. They also participated in hands-on activities, such as a trauma lab, where they practiced patient-care scenarios and learned CPR and first-aid. On the last day of camp, they worked on their public speaking skills and developed basic resumes.
Flagstaff Medical Center is a member of Northern Arizona Healthcare, which also provides healthcare services through Verde Valley Medical Center, Team Health, Verde Valley Medical Clinic, Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, Fit Kids of Arizona, Guardian Air, Guardian Medical Transport, Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, Northern Arizona Homecare, Northern Arizona Hospice and Valley View Care.
For more information on Flagstaff Medical Center programs and services, visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com. “Like” FMC at Facebook.com/FlagstaffMedicalCenter.
Thank you to Patient and Family Experience Services at NAH who hope to host this event again next year. And a special thank you to Sophia Papa, Public Relations with Northern Arizona Healthcare, for the primary writing of this post.
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator