The Flagstaff Sustainability Leaders course was developed by myself and Emily Shaffer. This is a 10-week intensive volunteer training course designed to educate Flagstaff community members about all things sustainability-related and providing action ideas to inspire volunteer projects focused on sustainability. The program is a combination of two previous volunteer training courses that was created in order to streamline programs for the sake of clarity for the public and to increase staff capacity. Once the course is finished, we will have 25 new fully-trained sustainability volunteers in Flagstaff!
One of the electives from the training focused on protecting Flagstaff’s Open Space. For this, we brought in Leila Husain, a VISTA working in the Sustainability Section’s Open Space division, to explain the steps Flagstaff is taking to preserve natural areas within city limits. For this class, we took the bus as a group to McMillan Mesa. The photo is a view of the San Francisco Peaks from a trail at McMillan Mesa. This Open Space property is in the middle of the city, near Buffalo Park, and provides walkable access to natural areas for people in the Sunnyside neighborhood, as well as all people in Flagstaff!
written by Jillian Goulet, Community Resilience VISTA
For our MLK Day of service, we joined with a large group of ArizonaServe Americorps VISTAs at Changemaker High School, Tucson, AZ. We gathered to support harm reduction by making naloxone kits.
Harm reduction is a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. It includes a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. The most dire consequence of drug use is death by overdose. Administering naloxone prevents this from happening. Naloxone is a medication that reverses opioid overdoses by blocking the opioid receptors and allowing the person to regain their breath. It is imperative that people who use drugs and everyone else who may find themselves in a position to administer naloxone has naloxone. We spent the afternoon creating over 700 kits to be distributed consisting of 3 doses of naloxone, 3 syringes, and instructions. This was a valuable opportunity to provide education to local VISTAs unfamiliar with harm reduction and empower them to put medication in the hands of community members who can now save lives.
Gretchen and Annelisse are both on the CSI Alternatives to Managing Pain team, addressing the health disparities faced by those made vulnerable by drug use in the Tucson area. Annelisse serves with Sonoran Prevention Works. Gretchen serves with the Community Prevention Coalition of Pima County.
written by Gretchen Peterson and Annelisse
Last Friday, October 25th, STEM City paired up with We Teach Maker at NAU, in the Cline Library MakerSpace, to provide professional development to Flagstaff teachers and teaching students. The evening started with a presentation on the benefits of a STEM MakerSpace and how to design and fund one. STEM City Executive Director, Kris Penca, explained to the attendees how to personalize MakerSpaces to work best for each individual classroom.
After the presentation Bobby, from the CSTL and We Teach Maker, led a making activity where groups had to create a 3D model of a STEM related concept or word.
Groups had 45 minutes to build their models out of cardboard, tape, glue, pipe cleaners, and other materials available in the MakerSpace. Once time was up, the groups presented their creations and the audience guessed which STEM word their model represented.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the event to learn and get creative!
Written by Mallory Schaefer, STEM City Project Coordinator.
The segment on Elii Chapman starts at 5:45.
Interested in an affordable STEM after-school program for your high school students?
Join the BioBuilderClub!
The BioBuilderClub is an opportunity for high school inventors to combine engineering and life science to design, build, and test their own ideas.
Last year, team projects ranged from toxic algae, to plastic degradation, a screen to filter pollen, a self-sustaining biological desktop lamp, growing food in space...and so much more!
Check out this 90 second video from last year's season to learn more.
How does it work?
Register here today! Early bird pricing is available through September 30th.
STEM City would like to welcome our new Board President and Vice President, Mike Thomas and Renda Fisk.
Check out these short bios to get to know them a little better!
Mike is originally from Chicago but he has lived in Flagstaff for 17 years. He is married and has two kids in school. Mike has been in the construction agency for 20+ years and he is currently the President of Kinney Construction Services. Mike wanted to be on the STEM City Board of Directors because he enjoys collaborating with other Northern AZ entities to bring STEM solutions and ideas to our community. He enjoy the programs that allow STEM City to get involved in the schools along with the annual STEM Celebration at the NAU Skydome.
Renda was born and raised in Flagstaff and graduated from Northern Arizona University. She is the Technology Integration Coordinator for Flagstaff Unified School District. Renda is passionate about integrating STEM into everyday learning for students and partnering with the community to bring learning to life. She is proud to live in America’s First STEM City and thankful for the learning opportunities surrounding us in Northern Arizona.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Flagstaff had a variety of events celebrating the city’s part in the achievement, including hosting a LEGO Robotics competition at NAU. Killip’s team “The LEGO Side” took part in the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student (or ANGLeS) Challenge on July 19th and 20th. In this challenge, teams needed to fly and land a lunar module via drone in a particular location on a map of the moon’s surface. Following this, a LEGO Ev3-powered rover dropped off a payload, carefully avoided craters as it travelled to the other side of the map, and picked up a lunar sample specified by the judges to return to base and identify. Students were able to experience a unique blend of programming, geology, and engineering.
This challenge not only gave Killip’s 4-student team an excellent experience in on-the-fly problem solving, but was also a unique look into Flagstaff’s contributions to astronomy with field trips to Crater Lake and Lowell Observatory.
As the competition continued, “The LEGO Side” not only gained second place in the first round of the ANGLeS challenge, but won the secret competition “Failure is Not an Option.” While they were in the final four, there was still one more round to go: an opportunity to adjust and fix mistakes for another ANGLeS challenge run. As a testament to the hard work the team put in, this round was incredibly successful, enough for them to win the competition!
As the regional champions, the team will be heading out to Houston, TX to get a tour of the Johnson Space Center in August! Congratulations to the “The LEGO Side!”
Written by Stefan Nelson, Killip VISTA Coordinator.
IYSA students learn about graphic design from Corey Begay, lead artist and graphic Designer at the multicultural publishing company, Salinas Bookshelf, Inc.
On June 6th, 2019, Flagstaff Open Space was awarded a $5,600 grant through Kahtoola for the People. Grant funds will allow the Indigenous Youth STEM Academy (IYSA) to work with an additional educational partner beginning in fall 2019. Kahtoola is a local Flagstaff business committed to building quality winter traction gear. Kahtoola for the People grants 1% of Kahtoola’s annual sales to help fund projects that preserve and enrich indigenous cultures worldwide. Since 1999, over $200,000 has been awarded to programs that improve communities, healthcare, education, resources, and the environment.
IYSA was created in 2017 to provide indigenous youth with the opportunity to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related fields in conjunction with traditional culture, community, and environmental stewardship. Through the program, students participate in STEM related learning sessions led by Indigenous professionals. So far, IYSA sessions have covered ethnobotany, astronomy, natural resources, land management, and archaeology. Over 150 Native American students from the Flagstaff area have benefited from the program.
IYSA students make their own natural toothpaste during an ethnobotany session led by Mayan traditional knowledge scholar, Marina Vasquez
This new educational partnership will involve a Title 1 elementary school within the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD). Title 1 schools are schools with 40% or more students eligible for free or reduced lunch, and typically include a higher percentage of Indigenous students than other, non-Title 1, schools. Funding will cover the full cost of programming for the educational partner to participate, which includes four educational sessions over the course of two semesters. Each session involves an in-class learning component followed by a field trip to an Open Space property. Classroom sizes typically range in size from 20-25 students, which means that 40-50 students will have the opportunity to meet with a STEM professional and participate in a hands-on learning experience in the field.
We are incredibly excited and thankful for this opportunity to impact the lives of young people. Big thanks to Kahtoola for supporting amazing projects in our community!
Written by Kaeli Wells.
We would like to welcome our new Executive Director, Kris Penca! STEM City is really excited to see what direction she's going to take our organization. Read more about her below.
My name is Kristine Penca and I'm looking forward to working with STEM partners and to increasing accessibility to stem resources for all of Flagstaff.
I love to run, hike, walk, and bike. I also enjoy trying new restaurants and Flagstaff is a great place for that!
My husband's name is Mike and we have two kids, Clay and Kenzie.
In my free time, I like to travel, paint, and make things.
I was born and raised in Iowa and received a BA in education from the University of Iowa in 1994. I taught science and math in grades 5-8 for 20 years in Iowa and I encouraged the connection between math and science in Mason City.
I was part of a team that made our intermediate school a STEM school and I also created a $20,000 Makerspace at Lincoln Intermediate.
Other than teaching, I owned, managed, and taught classes at my own business- Iowa Cheer Academy. I also served on many Boards in Iowa including Mason City Baseball Association and the Stebens Children's Theatre.
I moved to Flagstaff with my husband in 2017 and I am currently teaching 7th grade in the MIT-e program at Sinagua Middle School-I teach Science and Engineering.
I am involved in Diving Deeper into the Arizona Science Standards-Educators chosen to unwrap the new Arizona science standards and create 3-dimensional designed units around the standards. In the future, I will be serving as the Digital Learning Coach for FUSD.
I am a believer in STEM education making opportunities for students. STEM makes their future choices brighter!
Earlier this month the STAR school sixth grade had the chance to attend Camp Colton, a camp owned and operated by Flagstaff Unified School District that is dedicated to teaching participants about environmental science. The students spent four days and three nights at camp and attended environmental education classes such as forestry, aquatics, wildlife and geology, taught by Camp Colton's staff.
Each environmental education class was designed to get the students to interact with their natural environment and work as a team to accomplish a specific goal. For example, the Geology class consisted of the students exploring the nearby Lava Tubes and discussing the different types of igneous rock present inside the tubes.
Some STAR students get ready to explore the Lava Tubes
The classes were also designed to be engaging and hands-on, encouraging the students to interact directly with their outside environment. In Aquatics class students measured the circumference of a pond and were then given a chart depicting different types of aquatic animals and insects. Using this chart, and a net and tray, the sixth graders tried to capture as many aquatic life forms as they could and determine the health of the pond based on the types of animals they found.
Some sixth graders examine the insects and animals they caught during Aquatics class
In addition to classes, the students participated in fun camp activities like campfire sing-alongs, square dancing, and stargazing. They learned the Camp Colton morning chant, played Boom Ball, and heard the spooky tale of Able Gable.
Camp Colton was outside of many of the students' comfort zones but they gave every class and activity their best effort, trying new things and making new friends. Many of them did not want to leave at the end of the week, and said it was one of their favorite parts of their school year.
Thank you to Camp Colton staff and Friends of Camp Colton for fully funding our students' camp experience.
Written by Regan Gee.