I’m Mallory Schaefer and I will be working at STAR School as a part of the AmeriCorps VISTA Flagstaff STEM Education Project team. I moved to Flagstaff in 2013 to attend NAU where I received a Bachelors degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and a minor in Sustainable Community Development. For the past four years I have been working at Willow Spring Program Center, a Girl Scout camp located in Prescott, AZ. Working there is what really made me passionate about working with children in an outdoor setting and allowing them to interact with nature in fun and developmental ways! I would love to pursue a career in Outdoor Education in the future where I can continue to inspire a love for nature in today's youth. I am excited to be back in Flagstaff and to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Native youth and Native communities.
At my site I will be working on developing the schools existing STEM program to meet the needs and wants of the teachers. I hope to develop after school activities with a STEM focus that are both fun and engaging for the students. I will also be working on a special water project that includes setting up an aquaponics system to get the students involved in the importance of water as well as assisting with the implementation of a water testing and filtration project for the near by community. I am looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish in our year of service!
Guest Blog Post by Vicki Anderson (STEM VISTA Member) and Danitza Hill (Lead Science Teacher at Leupp)
Leupp Public School had their Winter Family STEM Night on December 1st from 5:30-7:00 pm. About 150 participants used STEM Activity Passports to log in their hands-on activities at 20 stations. The stations were run by teachers, students, and community groups from both Leupp and Flagstaff.
Top-notch hands-on STEM activities for the Leupp students and parents were provided by: NAU Tribal Environmental Education Outreach Program (EEOP), NAU NASA Space Grant group, American Indian Mobile Education Resource (AIMER), NAU Cohort Education students, W.L. Gore engineers, The Wonder Factory, NAU Americorp VISTA STEM Education Project Volunteers, and the Leupp Public School teachers, support staff, and PTO.
Welcome to STEM Night, and The Wonder Factory shares activities with Leupp families
STEM activities were organized by content areas of Engineering, General Science, Astronomy, Geology, Forestry, Math, Technology and STEM integration into Navajo Culture. Some of the many exciting challenges included building catapults, making 3D pasta dinosaurs, designing and testing MAKEY-MAKEYS, making snowflake prototypes with a 3D Printer brought by W.L. Gore, developing molecular gastronomic treats (s’mores), making constellation telescopes, designing, making and testing their aluminum boat buoyancy, and playing math games and measuring activities.
This Leupp Public School STEM Night was a wonderful collaboration with the community and partners in Leupp and Flagstaff. This fun exposure to STEM educational activities was a good motivator for students to want to become future engineers, scientists, mathematicians and technologists. A special thank you goes to Principal Ryan Chee and Danitza Hill (Lead Science Teacher) and the LEUPP staff and the Leupp and Flagstaff community partners for their support in providing these STEM enrichment educational opportunities! Go STEM!
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!
Guest Post by Elii Chapman, Flagstaff Junior Academy, Math and Science Educator and Garden Club Advisor
As the school year came to a conclusion last spring I learned about a fantastic funding possibility for our gardening project at Flagstaff Junior Academy: Flagstaff Neighborhood Sustainability Grants. Our project fits all aspects of the criteria sought:
At the time I wrote the project proposal there were some of these criterion that I did not fully anticipate meeting. Our existing project was a campus garden that had been funded by a grant from Western Growers Foundation. This garden project was built and used the first year by the Sustainability elective class for 5th and 6th grade students. The second year our Orchestra teacher, Mary Allison, certified in Permaculture, joined my science sessions to teach us the principles of Permaculture Systemic Theory. This year, I wanted to extend our growth season and the productivity of our garden project with the addition of a greenhouse. Mary Allison created a shopping list for the grant proposal to the Flagstaff Neighborhood Sustainability Commission. It was approved!
This year, we have an after-school garden club. It is open to all students, but comprised mainly of 5th grade female students and parents from a variety of grades. As the day approached to install the greenhouse, I had heard from one committed parent volunteer, Matt Young, who was bringing his professional builder knowledge and tools. The day before the big day, I heard from a 6th grade parent, Susie Jardine from American Conservation Experience that several newly arrived AmeriCorp members expressed interest in helping. Thank you to the following AmeriCorp Members who came to help:
Morgan Fiorina, Anna Buchanan, Emily Tanner , Selina Burnette, Daniel Brunner, Tristan Joseph , Victoria (Tori) Maurer, Stephany Gonzalez, and Brandon Martinez.
Our new greenhouse was complete that afternoon at 5:10pm! What an amazing day resulting in a fantastic educational resource. We will continue exploration of native plants and climate difference in the Common Garden system, and grow student knowledge of germination and cooperative plant relationships. Our Garden Club will likely grow now too in terms of age and gender!
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!
Guest Blog by Heather Berginc, Math Teacher and Code Club Advisor at Flagstaff Junior Academy
At Flagstaff Junior Academy's Middle School, each beginning coder begins with Code.org and does an Hour of Code where they learn basics of coding: what it is, what it can do, and the language of code itself. Students quickly graduate to work with Scratch where they go into pre-made games and change aspects of them, or “remix” them. Students can then create their own games and videos.
Most of our students are mastering the skills needed to be a Scratch Master. Every few weeks we share the cool new ideas that we have been working on and once a semester there is a special game/video challenge that students can participate in. Many of our students have recently began working on a new more advanced type of coding at Khan Academy where they can begin to understand the specific language of code. This is my overall goal at FJA. I want students to understand that they are using coding every day, yet rarely do people know how to read or write using this language.
Flagstaff Junior Academy had six students attend CodeDay in Phoenix on February 13th and 14th at the University of Advancing Technology in Phoenix. CodeDay is an event where students of all code levels can work together to build apps and games in just 24 hours. They have mentors and workshops for students learning new aspects of coding. Our students stayed up all night working on their apps and one of our students has a mini-game on the app iTunes store called "Mouse Collision" under the mini-game series "Wiblits".
Special thank you to Scott Hathcock from the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce for assisting us!
Marsha Reynolds, 5th grade teacher, and Jessica Soifer, Art teacher, have partnered for an after school 5th grade STEAM Club that has students engaged in numerous projects. Marsha borrowed Flagstaff STEM City's Engineering Adventures Kit on Rockets and Rovers called "Lift Off". Note: Look here if you are also interested in borrowing an engineering kit!
Marsha Reynolds writes: "Both Mrs. Soifer and I have been privileged to help lead the 5th grade STEAM club at Knoles Elementary. We enjoy working with a dedicated group of students who are interested in science, art, engineering and technology and on top of that, are willing to stay after school once a week for the activities we provide. These students are creative, and do a wonderful job of persevering through the projects that we introduce."
These dedicated teachers also bring in other professionals. Tenielle Gaither, from the USGS Astrogeology Center, observed students building their rovers. And Jeff Jones, the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Coconino Community College, brought in a 3D Printer and students learned how to use the printer to create something original.
Jessica Soifer writes: "The motivation behind STEAM club is our dedicated students. The students show up once a week after school with eyes wide open and execute the daily projects. We have designed our lessons to ensure the students are exploring a range of content among Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. The students explore through experiential learning, discover new ideas and designs, while problem solving, working collaboratively, and having fun. Marsha Reynolds and I work well together. We each have different strengths that compliment each other to bring success to the STEAM club. We collaborate and provide an easy going vibe and flexibility to facilitate a fun and exciting learning environment for all students."
Congratulations to this successful collaboration that has so many students happily engaged in such a variety of projects in their after school STEAM Club!
Killlip Elementary School may have the youngest coders in town! Sheryl Wells, the Technology Integration Coach, began a K-2 computer coding club for their after-school STEM program this year. The students use engaging online computer programming "games" from Code.org. They also program a small robot called the Bee-Bot.
The twenty students (including three kindergarteners) are already impressive coders. Each of the students can work at their own pace and on the challenges at their own level and interest area on the wide variety of programs available on the Code.org site. They work in teams to program the Bee-Bot and determine the best sequence of instructions for it to follow the path laid down for it on the classroom floor.
The birds-eye view of two 2nd graders writing code for the Bee-Bot
Congratulations to the Killip Coders, and please comment below if you know of other young coders in town!
Jim Tuck and Phred Salazar are STEAMing ahead with an after school model train club at Sechrist Elementary School. Ten 4th and 5th grade students are learning science, technology, engineering, art, and math as they build their model trains. Using the T-Trak system (www.ttrak.org) each student builds their own module that then connects with the other modules to create an interconnected railroad system.
The students will exhibit their trains at the Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration in the spring at the NAU dome, and also for Youth Day at the Flagstaff Mall.
Thank you to Phred and Jim for bringing STEAM to students through model trains!
Elii Chapman is the 5th and 6th grade science and math teacher at Flagstaff Junior Academy. Elii engages in numerous hands-on studies with her students. She recently became a beta tester for Foldscope.
What is Foldscope? Taken from their website: Foldscope is an origami-based print-and-fold optical microscope that can be assembled from a flat sheet of paper. Although it costs less than a dollar in parts, it can provide over 2,000X magnification with sub-micron resolution (800nm), weighs less than two nickels (8.8 g), is small enough to fit in a pocket (70 × 20 × 2 mm3), requires no external power, and can survive being dropped from a 3-story building or stepped on by a person. Its minimalistic, scalable design is inherently application-specific instead of general-purpose gearing towards applications in global health, field based citizen science and K12-science education.
Ten thousand beta testers in over 130 countries were chosen to receive 50,000 Foldscopes. As a chosen tester, Elii received 12 Foldscopes. She invited FJA students and their parents to form a family Foldscope Club, and they met on April 11, 2015 to build the foldscopes.
Foldscopes were designed when Manu Prakash and his bioengineering team at Stanford University asked the questions, "What happens to the world if every single kid carries a microscope in his/her pocket? Moreover, what can we achieve in science, medicine, and industry with improved access to microscopes around the globe?"
Foldscopes can be attached to smart phones and the camera function can then take photographic images seen through the scope. These images can be uploaded to the Foldscope image site. The Foldscope Club also has a Pinterest site where you can see some of their images.