April 16th, 2019, marked the 2nd Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit. Over 50 students from 10 schools and community organizations gathered at The Arboretum of Flagstaff to share climate action and renewable energy projects. Teams included youth in 4th-12th grade from Killip Elementary School, FALA Environmental Coalition, Hopi Junior Senior High School, Montessori School of Flagstaff, Coconino High School, Summit High School, Northland Preparatory Academy, Arizona Trail Association Gear Girls, Copper King Elementary School (Phoenix), and Pine Forest Charter School.
The Summit include presentations for two challenges, a sustainability expo, climate research tour, and guest keynote speaker. Teams in the Climate Action Challenge presented projects that addressed climate change related issues in their neighborhood, school, or community. Teams in the KidWind Challenge presented and tested originally designed wind turbines for energy generation and efficiency. When not presenting, youth explored the sustainability expo, which included turning on lights with bike-generated power, learning about waste and recycling, hands-on activities illustrating how pollution affects water resources, and nature trivia. Students also attended tours of the SEGA (Southwestern Experimental Garden Array) climate research at the Arboretum.
The Summit concluded with keynote speaker Dr. Ted Shuur, NAU Professor of Ecosystem Ecology, who shared his research and first-hand experience with the impacts of climate change in Alaska, followed by an awards ceremony. Congratulations to all participating teams, and a special shout out to the challenge winners and runner-ups!
Climate Action Challenge
4th-8th Grade Challenge Winner: Northland Preparatory Academy 7th Grade Science, Eco-Canvas
4th-8th Grade Challenge Runner Up: Northland Preparatory Academy 7th Grade Science, Fork It
9th-12th Grade Challenge Winner: Hopi Junior Senior High School Project Uuyii, The Effect of Climate Change on Hopi Fields
9th-12th Grade Challenge Runner Up: FALA Environmental Coalition, The Pledge for Veg/Change the Meat You Eat
4th-8th Grade Challenge Winner: Team Windova, Cooper King Elementary School (Phoenix)
4th-8th Grade Challenge Runner Up: Team Wind Riders, Cooper King Elementary School (Phoenix)
9th-12th Grade Challenge Winner: Team A.D.A.M., Coconino High School
9th-12th Grade Challenge Runner Up: Team Swifty, Coconino High School
The 2nd Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit was a collaborative initiative among the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and The Arboretum at Flagstaff. Read more about the Summit and view photos at https://www.flagstaff.az.gov/4123/2019-Summit.
Written by Lee Bryant.
To commemorate the legacy of Cesar Chavez, Killip Elementary School and the Civic Service Institute at NAU (CSI@NAU) collaborated on a Day of Service cleaning up and building up the Killip school gardens on March 29th, 2019. We had participation from local service members, elementary students and teachers, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and longstanding community partners.
As part of a National Service day, service member participants included 7 volunteers from the CSI@NAU VISTA program, 1 FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member, 1 CSI@NAU AmeriCorps volunteer, and 5 NAU students interested in the Peace Corps.
There were 8 classes with over 200 students who integrated the service day into their learning. Jessica Beekman's 3rd Grade and Courtney White's Pre-K classes worked in Luna Park to remove pine needles and trash, clean the pond, and paint tables. Lisa Hatch's 2nd Grade and Kim Edison's 4th Grade classes prepared the garden beds in front of the school and planted violas and pansies. Tracy Blahut's 5th Grade, Michelle John's 4th Grade, Tim Begley's 2nd Grade, and Mabel Goodwin’s 2nd Grade classes prepared the Learning and Plant Part Gardens by tilling the soil, adding natural soil amendments, reconstructing garden beds, and turning compost.
Beyond the amazing work of service members, students, and staff, we also had over 30 volunteers from the community, including associates from Home Depot (East Flagstaff Store) and NAU’s Farm-to-School First Year Seminar and Master’s of Sustainable Communities program. Home Depot (East Flagstaff Store) donated the materials they used to build a raised 140-square-foot U-shaped garden bed designed in part by the 4th and 5th Grade students, Home Depot (West Flagstaff Store) donated saws to build benches and for future use by Killip, and the Coconino County Master Gardener Association funded the materials to develop an outdoor classroom in the Learning Garden, including materials to build benches and chalkboards. NAU has offered consistent support for the after-school garden club and ensures that all garden needs are met.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this day (and all garden days!) possible. Over 12 cubic yards of trash were removed, and the new garden bed and benches have made the gardens ready for upcoming outdoor learning units. Check out the great work our volunteers accomplished with the before and after shots below!
Before (top) and after (bottom) view of the main Learning Garden.
Students till and amend soil in the front yard garden beds, and plant flowers.
Written by Lee A. Haferkamp and Brooke Kahl.
Just because Earth Day has passed, that doesn't mean you can't continue to learn about the changing planet!
Here is a climate change experiment you can do at home with limited materials.
What Is Climate Change?
Standard deviation is a statistic that tells you how closely a group of numbers (for example, temperatures) are clustered around a mean value (average temperature). When the standard deviation is small, the numbers are fall close to the mean. When the standard deviation is large, the individual values are spread out far from the mean.
In this environmental science activity, students explore both science and statistics as they track changes in temperatures over time. Check out more STEM activities for your students at Education.com.
What You Need:
- Calculator(Microsoft Excel may alternately be used if it is available to the student.)
What You Do:
1) Based on your personal observations of the weather patterns, formulate a hypothesis that predicts whether local weather conditions are outside historical norms.
2) Decide on a location whose weather patterns you wish to monitor.
3) Check the United States Historical Climatology Network web site to see whether it includes historical weather data for the location you have chosen to study. If it doesn’t, select a nearby location. The website has temperature precipitation data going back over 100 years for many locations in the U.S.
4) Calculate the average temperature and precipitation values for each month going back at least 30 years.
5) Tabulate and plot your results.
6) Compare temperature and precipitation data for the current month with the historical values.
7) Determine whether the average measured temperature falls within one, two or three standard deviations of the mean.
8) Evaluate your hypothesis. If necessary, revise it and perform additional calculations.
Provided by Education.com
The April Lunch with an Expert at Killip was a huge hit! This month we had turtle expert and wildlife biologist, Shellie Puffer, from the USGS. She came in with a slideshow filled with pictures of turtles she is currently studying in the Southern part of Arizona, as well as some turtle shells, bones, and even a turtle x-ray! Shellie explained to the students the educational path she took to become a wildlife biologist and why studying wildlife is important.
The students got to touch and examine the turtle shells and look at the x-ray, where they could see turtle eggs still developing inside the turtle. Many students stayed behind once the presentation was over to question Shellie about wildlife biology and to share stories of their own turtle encounters.
Thank you for the awesome presentation Shellie!
Written by Mallory Schaefer, STEM City Project Coordinator.
Where does my food come from, and how much water and energy went into its production? How long will we have water if our power fails? How will a hurricane in Texas increase the cost of gasoline in my city? How much will a drought in California impact my food choices?
These are the kinds of questions that citizen science project FEWSION (Food-Energy-Water Fusion) For Community Resilience (F4R) is setting out to answer for rural communities and small cities throughout the United States. The project is led by NAU’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL) and School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS), and it is currently sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
What has F4R already done?
Last year, the project started its data collection and procedure development with a volunteer group and an NAU graduate class, who also collected publicly-available data for counties throughout the United States. F4R only collects data on other countries that show their trade with the U.S., and does not track which part of another country traded resources came from or went to. Even so, F4R has already modeled the simplified global impact of disasters in the United States, such as Hurricane Florence.
The map above, produced by F4R data scientist Richard Rushforth, is a prediction of the impact Hurricane Florence would have throughout the world. Further information can be found at http://news.nau.edu/fewsion-hurricane-florence/#.XLTtxDBKiUn.
Where is F4R heading?
This year, more volunteers and students are taking this work and collecting more detailed data for the Flagstaff area. The data collection and analysis F4R will publish will provide some vital information to help communities make informed decisions ranging from what products to buy to environmental legislation and health education efforts. F4R is collecting county-level data on where all these resources are coming from and going to. The Flagstaff research will also be used to help streamline the process for other communities to collect and interpret their data.
The feature I am most excited about, “FEW View,” allows you to see where each county in the United States imports its resources from, where it exports them to, and how a disaster in one area may impact another. While it is not yet available to the general public, it currently has a few built-in disaster scenarios, some options for custom disaster scenarios, and options to focus the map on any set of resources and counties you want.
An example screen of FEW View from https://fewsion.us/visualization/ shows a state-level breakdown of where California’s “virtual” water is going. Virtual water is the water that was consumed by the production of something else, such as crops, electricity, or manufactured goods.
How can I learn more?
All published results so far, more detailed project information, and more can be found at https://fewsion.us/. As a citizen science project, F4R welcomes all interested members of the Flagstaff community to share any helpful information or skills they have.
In addition, F4R is hosting an open house on Saturday, April 27th, from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. in the Downtown Flagstaff Public Library to share some preliminary results and take feedback from our community.
Written by Laura Haferkamp
Mountain Charter School hosted its first annual STEAM night on January 24th, reaching out to students, parents, alumni, and community members to engage in STEAM activities for all age ranges. A wide variety of activities were available to explore, designed by community members in STEAM fields, Mountain School staff, and their fellow classmates. These activities ranged from math games to stargazing to having discussions about the importance of our local watersheds.
Lowell Observatory: STEAM night attendees navigated the stars with Mary Lara from Lowell Observatory. Attendees searched for constellations, galaxies, and nebulae while enjoying a s’more. At the stargazing station, students learned the importance of space exploration and gained insight on why we should all take a moment to look to the stars.
Coding: As students finished their s’mores they moved inside to investigate all that STEAM night had to offer. Students practiced coding with Mountain School’s kindergarten teacher and programmed a coding mouse to move along their desired path to get to its final destination.
Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project: The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project was there to emphasize the importance of wolves and their positive impacts in our ecosystems. By learning about the region wolves inhabit, how to identify them, and their impact on the ecosystem, students were motivated to take action for wolves and help educate their peers.
Oak Creek Watershed Council: Students and community members also participated in activities put on by the Oak Creek Watershed Council learning the importance of Oak Creek watershed and the effect it has in their communities. Students walked through the effects of litter and how long it can last in an ecosystem. Student also learned through a 3D model of the watershed how litter is carried through our watershed and in some cases into drinking water. Through these activities students were informed and motivated to implement “Leave No Trace” practices into their daily lives.
Tynkertopia: Tynkertopia worked with students as well to learn the importance of engineering all while tapping into their creative side. Students dipped paper into water and paint to create works of art and see where art and science intersects. Tynkertopia inspired students to look outside the box and problem solve creatively and in their own unique way.
Teacher- and Student-Led STEAM Activities: Teachers and peers also provided a range of activities that explored many areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Creating snowflakes, students learned about symmetry and that harmonious proportion and balance is important in both art and math. Using prisms, students learned about the color spectrum, and investigated how light passes through a prism and separates into the colors of the rainbow. Students discovered that light and color can be both beautiful and educational! Boat building, the engineering behind oil spill clean up, and how the design of a bird’s beak affects its diet were all among the topics to investigate. Students learned about force and motion, friction, and magnetism through a series of exciting games, and discovered the bones in a human hand. Math games from the classroom were a popular activity, and students had a chance to be the teachers as they shared with their parents.
Mountain Charter School’s STEAM Night exposed students and community members to all that STEAM has to offer. STEAM Night not only opened attendee’s minds to all the different fields STEAM encompasses, but connected local community members and the Mountain School families in a night of STEAM, games, and family fun!
Written by Crystal Routhe
Lunch with an Expert continued at Killip Elementary this month with expert Dr. Cindy Browder. Dr. Browder is an associate professor at NAU in the Chemistry Department. Dr. Browder is not only a professor, but also a researcher. She talked to the 5th graders about some inventions she's been working on. She brought along a prototype for a solar power storage unit, somewhat akin to a battery, but smaller and more sustainable. Dr. Browder also discussed how to go through the patent process when you have an invention you want to patent.
Thank you Dr. Browder for inspiring our Killip 5th graders!
Written by Mallory Schaefer, STEM City Project Coordinator.
The 6th Annual STEM Celebration took place on March 11th, 2019. This STEM Celebration had 110 exhibitors, the most exhibitors for a STEM Celebration yet!
Exhibitors came from all over Flagstaff from a variety of organizations. There were schools, non-profits, government organizations, businesses, and clubs. All these organizations were there to showcase how they help enhance STEM in our community. Many of the exhibitors had activities for kids to do and others had little take home items.
The Celebration would not be possible without the sponsors who donated time and resources to the event.
Over the past few months, STAR school middle schoolers have been learning about simple machines and engineering. They have undertaken numerous challenges; building Popsicle stick catapults, designing bridges, and engineering miniature Ferris wheels. Each project required the students to think critically, work as a team to accomplish a common goal, and troubleshoot to overcome unexpected obstacles. Additionally, the students have been learning how to balance creativity and function- following the printed directions to assemble a working stand for their Ferris wheel while also decorating said stand with bright markers and color coordinated rubber bands.
This balance was illustrated by the latest engineering challenge- to build the tallest skyscraper possible out of Legos. The only restrictions on the skyscraper designs was that they needed to stand on their own. The rest was left up to the imaginations of the students! The results were predictably creative and fun, with one “portable” skyscraper on wheels, another growing plastic Lego plants out of every story, and a third with a giant robotic arm sprouting from the top.
Although these designs may not be realistic for life-size skyscrapers, they were a great way for our middle school students to think about the challenges engineers face when building tall buildings and have fun while doing it. And who knows, maybe one of our students will be designing a new addition to the New York City skyline in 15 years and look back on this activity as the inspiration for their career.
Written by Regan Gee
A remorseful Goldilocks asks for the help Mountain School students after accidentally breaking baby bear’s chair. Mountain School’s helpful 2nd graders tapped into their engineering skills to provide the best chair they could for baby bear. Students were provided with minimal materials including index cards, paper, cardboard rolls, Popsicle sticks, tape, and their imaginations.
Students worked in teams exploring different ideas on how to build the best chair before beginning construction. Once students started constructing their chair, they put their heads together to delegate jobs and utilize all the skills that individual team members had to offer. Once construction was done they entered the final test: “How would baby bear like his new chair”? Baby bear tested the chair to see if he fit comfortably and the team met all of their goals. By the end of the day baby bear had many comfortable chairs to last him a lifetime thanks to Mountain School’s 2nd grade students!
Written by Crystal Routhe