The students at Killip Elementary have been busy in the garden this fall with growing, harvesting, field trips, and on-site events!
The Learning Garden at Killip Elementary in early August.
The school year kicked off with students from all grade levels enthusiastically maintaining the garden during their recess time, Fit Kids, and the after-school Garden Club. The students diligently watered and weeded the garden until the harvest rewarded their efforts. In late August, the Killip School Garden produced abundant peppers and kale to make kale salsa samples for the whole school (supplementary tomatoes were graciously donated by Kate Waters of Agave Maria Botanicals). In addition to garden care, students learned about compost from Forestdale Farm co-owner, Rylan, and implemented this knowledge by collecting compost in the cafeteria.
Fifth grade students and NAU partners following the field trip.
In October, the 4th- and 5th-grade students had the opportunity to deepen their garden exploration with a field trip to the SLUGG garden hosted by NAU’s Sustainable Communities program and Farm-to-School First Year Seminar, and with a garden redesign project. On the field trip, students explored the ecology of soil, medicinal plants, various pollinators, and garden design. The students also learned from Marina Vasquez of NAU’s Applied Indigenous Studies program about the history of tortillas and had the chance to prepare their own tortillas in the NAU Hogan. The garden redesign took place during Fit Kids class time where students utilized the Engineering Design Process to problem solve and plan their Experimental Garden. This multi-month planning period ended with 12 student representatives presenting to the principal, Joe Gutierrez, and a funder from NAU about the goals and potential benefits of their garden project. The students were awarded funding and will be building a 140-square-foot, U-shaped raised garden bed in the spring!
Community partners, Marina Vasquez, Caleb Eckery, and Molly Carney, help students prepare tortillas during the Harvest Festival.
Finally, the annual Fall Harvest Festival in early November culminated a season full of productivity and fun in the Killip Garden. This year’s festival took place in the gym with 10 food sampling stations, several games, crafts, and participation from students, staff, and volunteers alike. With over 150 after-school students of all grades participating in this year’s Fall Harvest Festival and donations from 12 community partners, it was a great way to celebrate the growing season!
Kindergarten and 1st grade students prepare their Plant Part Garden for winter during recess.
The Killip Elementary garden is supported by FoodCorps. Community partners that offered donations for the Harvest Festival include AZ Health Zone, Coconino County Extension Office, Flagstaff Family Food Center, Flagstaff Foodlink, FLG Terroir, FoodCorps, High Altitude Home Brew Supply, NAU Farm-to-School class, NAU Sustainable Communities, Master’s Program, Root Public House, and Whole Foods.
Written by Brooke Kahl, FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member
Meet Lisa Winters, an inspiring young woman whose childhood love for nature would lead her on the path to becoming a mentor for America’s 1st STEM City, also known as Flagstaff, Arizona.
Lisa grew up in Michigan fishing and exploring with her father, during which time she became intuitively aware of the world around her with an innate desire to explore and protect nature. She became very interested in telling the story of not only how things survive but also our part in the maintenance and retention of it all. Lisa’s journey took her from her home in Michigan to her first university in Indiana and finally to Utah State University where she received her degree in Aquatic Ecology. Following college Lisa took a job working for Arizona Game and Fish as a biologist in the Grand Canyon where her office included a raft and fishing pole in order to study the marine habitat of the mighty Colorado River. She would later take on an internship with Grand Canyon Trust as a Citizen Science Coordinator where she remains employed to this day.
As Lisa became involved with Grand Canyon Trust she had a chance encounter with Kathryn Wertz, a 6th grade teacher at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff. She expressed to Kathryn how fun it would be to bring her fish into the classroom to help better educate the students as to the life and sustainability of not only the wildlife but also the environment around them. Lisa wanted to not only share her interest in science with the children but to also help foster developing young minds on an exploration of discovery, connecting the dots for responsible management of the ecosystem. Lisa believes very strongly in keeping a child’s sense of curiosity alive so they continue to learn. She credits an environmental educator for doing just that for her when she was a kid in school searching for killdeer eggs and becoming inspired herself.
Lisa is very adamant about bridging people with nature and teaching them about protecting it. Her passion lies in expanding the knowledge base on policy and decision making in the real world with an understanding of the effects on our natural environment as being part of this process. She strongly believes it is important to take these steps with young minds and help to integrate this knowledge early in life so they may carry it on into their adult lives as stewards of the spaces around them.
Lisa recognizes Mindy Bell, former STEM City Coordinator and long time STEM educator, as an important influence and mentor who has an undying passion for STEM Education. Mindy is admired for her ability to connect people and build a shared vision of a successful and thriving Flagstaff community. Lisa is thankful for not only a wonderful mentor but thankful to live in Flagstaff, a science literate community where people and fields of science intersect uniquely and with great impact.
Lisa reflects on a particular moment in the classroom that helped to encourage her continued involvement as a classroom mentor while working with a group of 1st graders at Haven Montessori Charter School. She had brought in some fish to do a different style of teaching which in turn made quite a mess. With water all over and a few remaining students helping to clean up, she had an encounter with one little girl who looked up at her in the midst of the chaos and told her she wanted to be a fish biologist someday.
When asked what advice she would share with students Lisa had some great things to say. She recommends they follow their curiosity in what excites and drives them such as she has for her love of the outdoors. She also suggests not to be afraid to dig into a subject they like and unpack it. Take a leap of faith and do something they enjoy so it doesn’t feel like just a job later on in life.
The advice Lisa would give to others looking to become a fellow mentor is to not be intimidated by the amount of work it takes because it is worth it. It is also good practice as scientists to communicate their work to the general public and what better way to start than with 6th graders, who Lisa claims are not near as terrifying as a person may think.
You can learn more about Lisa and her work with Grand Canyon Trust here: https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/staff/lisa-winters
Written by Molly Brown incoming NAU Journalism student
Water is Life Mural of the Eastern Wall of Grand Canyon Spirits. Photo taken by Amber Benally
This fall The Grand Canyon Trust collaborated with Flagstaff High School, Mural Mice Universal, The Beehive Collective and Grand Canyon Spirits to bring together over 60 student artists to vision and install Flagstaff’s newest public art piece “Water is Life,” proving that young people, their voices and their visions have deep impact and weight in a rapidly evolving world.
In September of this year, Flagstaff High School art students Savannah Bell, Rebecca Encinas, Zia Kypta-Keith, Robin Bradley, Cecily Shaddy, Sherrissa Brown, Theresa, Ethan Johnson, Samantha Woody, Ava Steele, and Cynthia Begay attended a five day artists workshop retreat at Kane Ranch near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Brought together by the Grand Canyon Trust’s Youth Leadership Program, and co-facilitated with the Beehive Collective, the students were tasked with creating a collaborative piece showcasing the past, present and future of water justice on the Colorado Plateau.
Leonard Selestewa shares and teaches about his farm, life and history
To begin to process the pieces, students visited mine sites and met with Grand Canyon Trust’s Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust’s and Haul No’s Sarana Rigg’s and Leonard Selestewa, a Hopi Farmer whose livelihood has been continually affected by coal mining on Black Mesa. These connections and stories charged students with delivering a message of the history of injustice, subsequent resistance and possibilities for the future of water justice on the Colorado Plateau to the public.
Flagstaff High School artists sort through ideas and concepts with the Beehive Collective’s Tyler Bee at Kane Ranch
Students spent days visualizing their ideas, concepts and stories with concept maps, lists and sketches, finally narrowing down their ideas to create a mock-up for the mural. Throughout the fall over 70 students worked with Mural Mice Universal to install the piece and today the 39’x13’ Water is Life mural can be seen on the East facing wall of the Grand Canyon Spirits store (982 N. Fort Valley Rd.).
Zia Kypta-Keith paints the elder and storyteller, Horney Toad Chacter on Water is Life Mural
On October 24th community members gathered to listen to the story of the mural, told by the student designers, collaborators and contributors. They described their process, motivation and meanings behind their work and left the community with a call to act now! The students left the audience to reflect on the role of young leaders in their communities. Declaring that they are the future and can accomplish the seemingly impossible when given the chance.
Savannah Bell, Rebecca Encinas, Zia Kypta-Keith, Robin Bradley, Cecily Shaddy,
Sherrissa Brown, Theresa, Alexis Talayumptewa, Ethan Johnson, Samantha Woody, Ava Steele, and Cynthia Begay unveil the Water is Life Mural with Mural Mice Universal Margaret Dawer, R. E. Wall and Shiloh Dog. Photo by Erin Ford
Funding for this project was provided by Cecily Maniaci, owner of Grand Canyon Spirits, BBB Revenues from the City of Flagstaff, and the Flagstaff Arts Council.
Written by Chelsea Griffin, Youth Leadership Program Coordinator at Grand Canyon Trust
Jillian Worssam, founder of the Scientists in the Classroom program and 8th grade science educator at Sinagua Middle School, has been connecting her students to STEM mentors for more than ten years. Carrie Jenkins, 7th grade science educator, has also been connecting her Honors students to mentors for the past several years. The teachers pair each student to one mentor so the student becomes an expert in their mentor's field. Each month the students correspond with their mentors via e-mail and complete an interactive project enhancing their understanding of authentic science in the global world. Students use a variety of media and complete mp3 interviews/recording, research papers, powerpoint presentations, climate change movies, climate change games, and a capstone project based on their mentor's research.
Mentors Dave Engelthaler, Nancy Riggs, Cheryl Miller and Ruby Hammond standing proudly with their Honors Students
Many thanks to the teachers for managing this large project each year, and also to the many STEM mentors - who come from many countries including Norway and Russia, as well as from all over the country and Flagstaff too! The STEM professionals cover a huge variety of STEM fields, and almost all have PhD's or M.D.'s or other advanced titles! Thank you all for sharing yourselves and your work with these dedicated students!
7th Grade Honors Student Mentors: John Chadwick, Harrison Graham, Kaitlin Graham, Robert Greene, Kenton Harman, Kendra Hart, Alan Kasprak, Melanie Kelly, Sarah Kessans, Jilene Oakley, Doug Paget, Ryan Porter, Uzma Tahir, Benjamin Tanner, Ben Trapp, Jason Wilson, Lisa Winters, and Brian Wooldridge.
8th Grade Honors Student Mentors: Ana M. Aguilar-Islas, Carl Ballantine, Ellie Broadman, Druex Chappel, Emily Davenport, Sara Eldred, Rebecca Ellerbroek, Dave Engelthaler, Mark Foster, Ari Friedlaender, Jeffrey Hall, Ruby Hammond, Jennifer Herrmann, Renee Jordan, Roger Pat Kelly, Brian Klimowski, Tracy Layton, Laura Levy, Brandon Lurie, Jason Mansour, Lisa Markovchick, Clayton Marr, George Matsumoto, Michael Mayo, Christina Mehle, John Metcalfe, Moses Milazzo, Cheryl Miller, Peter Nef, Matthew O’Neill, Yvette Ortega, Nancy Riggs, Paul Stevens, Allen Pope, Karin Wadsack, Jonathan Whitefield, Adam Wlostowski, Lindsey Wright, and Yulia Zaika
Apologies if we missed any mentors! Thank you all!
Aubrey Funke, the Assistant Director of the Imaging and Histology Core Facility (IHCF), welcomed the iCREATE students to the IHCF to learn how to use an extremely powerful (and extremely expensive) microscope! The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) can magnify 1,000,000 times - which is 1,000 better than a light microscope, which is already 1,000 time better than our eyes!
The Imaging and Histology Core Facility provides imaging services to faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, along with industry partners. They provide services in light microscopy, electron microscopy, and histology (microscopy of tissues).
Graduate Student Alyssa Talbert creates scaffolds for wound healing with elastin, collagen and water in her graduate work. But here, she is illustrating how to collect and stain cheek samples for the students to view under the light microscope.
Alyssa and Aubrey then take the students to compare the digital light microscope images with the detail they can see with the SEM. Because electrons have a very small wavelength, much smaller than the wavelength of light, the resolution using the SEM is much greater than that of light microscopes.
Aubrey and Alyssa shared a variety of SEM images with the students, from insects (see past Ugly Bug Contest winners below), to fungi, Alyssa's scaffolds, and much more!
The students spent approximately 8 hours at the IHCF learning how to use the SEM. They took copious notes they then followed explicitly, with Aubrey observing them, and they were able to run the SEM themselves on their last day of the training!
Thank you to both Alyssa and Aubrey for all the time and patient effort they put into instructing the students on the SEM. We weren't surprised to learn that Aubrey won the "Outstanding Staff Member" for NAU's Biology Department at their award ceremony on Wednesday, May 2nd. Congratulations to Aubrey!
The City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section held their first Youth Climate Summit at the Arboretum of Flagstaff and the adjacent Merriam-Powell Research Station on Monday, April 30th. Sam Salgado, Climate Aide, professionally completed what past-STEM VISTA member Larrea Cottingham had initiated and ran the event with Sustainability Specialist Jenny Niemann and with support from the City's Water Conservation Program.
Eight student groups from schools and after-school clubs have worked for months on their entries to the Youth Climate Challenge and five of the groups were able to present their work to judges Councilman Jim McCarthy and City Water Specialist Tamara Lawless. The projects included:
After the impressive and professional presentations, the students walked back to the Arboretum for lunch and listened to a guest presentation by Grand Canyon Trust's Uplift Coordinator Eva Malis, sharing how youth do have power and celebrating the efforts they have already made.
After lunch, the students rotated between two workshops - Gardening with Native Plants, and Climate Action Planning. Each team received a certificate at the end of the event. Many thanks to the Arboretum for hosting the event and to the Dr. Kristin Haskins, Coreen Walsh, and other Arboretum staff for assisting with the workshops!
Colleen Hopkins, Telehealth Coordinator for North Country Health Care (NCHC) shared an interactive lesson on NCHC’s Telehealth program with the iCREATE class on March 15, 2018.
NCHC reaches across all of Northern Arizona, stretching 500 miles from Nevada to New Mexico, and has 23 Access Points for care across this vast region. The mission of NCHC is to provide accessible, affordable, comprehensive, quality primary healthcare in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and cultural sensitivity. The health and well-being of patients and community alike are promoted through direct services, training/education, outreach, and advocacy.
The NCHC Telehealth program uses video conferencing technology to link providers and their patients, as well as educators and health care consumers, to a comprehensive continuum of care. Using this technology, they can reduce the isolation of providers and their patients within rural communities. They can also save a lot of time. For example, a patient can get immediate information and help for behavioral health, diabetes, nutrition advice and more, without a practitioner needing to make a 6-hour drive.
The students watched a video about Project ECHO (Extensions for Community Healthcare Outcomes) by Dr. Sanjeev Arora from the University of New Mexico. He shared this collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians everywhere to provide better care to more people, right where they live. The students then practiced using the system to watch their own heart rate on the monitor (photo above) that a remote doctor or nurse would be able to observe and hear real-time. They also used another monitor to see their ear drum (photo below).
Colleen ended the field trip with a tour of the NCHC facilities. Students got to see many areas in the clinic and see the dedication of the entire community working at North Country Health Care. Thank you, Colleen!
Dr. Bret Pasch, Assistant Professor in the biology department at NAU, is partnering with one of Jillian Worssam’s 8th grade science classes at Sinagua Middle School through the “Scientists in the Classroom” program founded by Jillian.
Bret specializes in recording and analyzing mouse vocalizations and has brought his digital sound recorder into Jillian’s classroom so the students can learn first-hand about singing mice. These grasshopper mice have a relatively loud voice so other mice can hear them over the vast distances in the desert where they live.
Bret shared audio recordings of the mice, and then slowed them down so the sound was more apparent to those of us with ears that don’t hear at high frequencies any more! He also showed the students how they can measure both the frequency and duration of the sounds on the sonogram.
The students are making hypotheses about whether the male or the female mice will vocalize more frequently, and which will have a higher pitch, higher amplitude (loudness), and longer duration of the sounds. Bret will leave the mice (male on one side of the room and female on the other) for the next few months along with the digital recorders so students can capture their vocalizations. The mice are nocturnal and vocalize more at night, so the students will be able to access their sounds when they return to school each day.
Bret fed the mice while eager students looked on. He fed them their natural diet of bark scorpions, which are one of most venomous scorpions in Arizona. These mice have a mutation in their pain receptors so they don’t feel the sting as much as another species of mice would. They also like Pinacate bugs that lift their hind ends and spray as a defense strategy. The mice have a behavior where they stick the bugs abdomens in the ground so they don’t get sprayed and then they eat the heads first!
Thank you to Bret for participating in the Scientists in the Classroom program and also for elucidating information on singing mice through a Science on Tap presentation to the community! Flagstaff really appreciates your scientific outreach to both our schools and our community!
Note: You can also see and hear the mice at Bonnie Stevens’ Brain Food story on Bret Pasch here!
As stated on their website: The Ancient DNA Lab provides support for researchers working with ancient, historical, forensic, or other sensitive (low DNA quantity/quality) genetic samples. Established by the School of Forestry’s Carol Chambers and Faith Walker in 2016, the Ancient DNA Lab is physically isolated from other genetics labs on campus and adheres to rigorous quality control measures to prevent contamination, both of which are internationally recognized standards for the early stages of ancient DNA handling and processing.
The Ancient DNA Lab is sterilized (left) and ready to use in 2018.
The 2017 iCREATE class (right) was able to go into the lab between cleanings.
Some of the projects the lab has been involved with include a 10,000 year old bat, research using both extant (living) bats and bat guano, the 8,500 year old bison (below), and work with extant wombats in Australia.
Undergraduate Research Assistant Sam Hershauer presented some basic information on how DNA is extracted, amplified and analyzed in the aDNA Lab. Sam is working on collaborative research project on DNA from organisms in Alaskan lake sediments going back thousands of years. This collaborative project is with the Arctic Lakes Project headed by Dr's. Nick McKay and Darrell Kaufman in the School of Earth Sciences and Sustainability.
Thank you to Faith, Colin and Sam for sharing your hidden treasure with the iCREATE students!
Guest Blog Post by Lara Hernandez, Math and Science Educator, St. Francis de Asis School
Congratulations to San Francisco de Asís Catholic School 6th grade student Robert Zavala. Robert earned a 3rd place Bronze medal at the Arizona State Science and Engineering Fair. Robert qualified to compete at the state level by winning first place at his school competition with his project “How much Pure Aluminum is in the Average Soda Can?” Robert constructed a homemade foundry and reached temperatures of over 1200 degrees F to melt 30 aluminum cans. He separated the pure aluminum from the “dross” or non-aluminum material and determined how much aluminum is in the average soda can.
At the State Fair Robert competed in the 5th and 6th grade Engineering category with 47 other students from across Arizona. Robert was interviewed by four judges during a three and a half hour exhibition at the Phoenix Convention Center to earn his bronze medal.
In total, over 900 students and 700 projects were registered for the state fair. Only
students who place first at their school fair may compete at the Arizona State Science and Engineering Fair. Congratulations to Robert!