Join the BioBuilderClub!
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.
Killip Elementary School was incredibly excited to host scientists from the Flagstaff area to speak with our 3rd-5th grade students for their natural disasters unit over the past two weeks. Each disaster group of 25+ students had the opportunity to ask questions and see the disasters in action!
Our volcano and earthquake groups had an absolute blast with USGS scientist Greg Vaughan in the STEM Lab on Monday, May 6th. We were grateful to have him share his expertise and personal experiences, including showing videos of lava flows in Hawaii and earthquakes in Japan. The students came prepared with insightful and high-level questions which needed detailed answers.
The tornado and flood groups spent sessions with meteorologists Brian Klimowski and Megan Taylor from the National Weather Service on Tuesday, May 7th. Both gave engaging talks and showed examples of their respective disasters that occured in the Flagstaff area.
As a last minute addition, we were fortunate to give our volcanoes group another expert; staff geologist Ryan Thompson from Speedie & Associates Inc. on Thursday, May 9th. After using Google Earth to illustrate volcanic activity all over the world, he showed his collection of volcanic rocks and explained how they formed.
Our drought group had a productive session with scientist Molly McCormick from the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center. She coordinates the Restoration Assessment & Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS) program, and her expertise brought a unique perspective for helping to mitigate the effects of drought in our area.
Finally, fire prevention specialist Andrew Hostad gave the fire group an demonstration on how wildfires can lead to increased flooding. This connection was illustrated using coffee grounds and a sponge, which represented runoff and trees respectively. When water went through this area, the flooding was minimized. When the trees were burned down, however, there was nothing to stop the water from entering other parts of the area.
The students were consistently engaged and curious about each presentation, and will certainly be a massive help for their presentations happening this week. Thank you to our speakers!
Written by Stefan Nelson.
Louise Yellowman County Park is centrally located in Tuba City and offers great benefits related to health and wellness, education, cultural values and much more for the community. The park includes a basketball court, playground, ramada equipped with picnic tables, bathrooms, one-mile walking trail and a skate park. This park is highly used by the community and let’s keep our park beautiful by a clean-up day at the park!
Trash pick-up was conducted by volunteers that were supplied with a 5-gallon bucket, gloves and a trash picker tool. Majority of the trash findings was micro-trash such as small glass, cigarette buds, receipts and wrappers located around the park. Each bucket of trash was later condensed to fill about six trash bags. Overall, an estimate of 75 gallons of trash was picked up by volunteers during the event.
This park faces many challenges with graffitii tagging on a weekly basis and the county staff do there best with graffiti clean-up as soon as discovery. Majority of the graffitti taggings is revealed at the skate park area. These are the the before pictures of the recent taggings.
Before Pictures: April 05, 2019
Graffitii Removal was handled by the Coconino County Maintenance staff. They focused on pressure washing the heavy taggings located at the skate bowl and at the restroom facility . Majority of the heavy taggings was spray painted onto the concrete surface at the skate bowl area. The pressure washer was able to remove majority of the spray painted areas. It took about 400 gallons of water to clean the markings with the pressure washer equipment. The pressure washer also helped remove dirt build up inside the skate bowl.
Photos taken during and after the event: May 04, 2019
The volunteers participated with fun STEM & Art related activities that consist of educating the youth with a hands-on project of building molecules with jelly beans and having the youth draw their vision of “re-imaging our park” through art. Majority of the volunteers showed interest with the molecule building structure. These were great activities to help connect with volunteers.
During the event, we were able to complete park user surveys forms. These surveys have 12 basic questions about the demographics, usage, safety and ways to improve the park. These surveys will provide additional data support with improving the park and recreational area in the future and will contribute to the database.
Overall, we had 13 volunteers that were involved with picking up micro-trash, graffiti removal, completing survey forms and participating with STEM & Art related activities. These volunteers I have met during the event are identified as park users, National Honor Society students, AmeriVISTA members and Coconino County Staff that come from the community and who are neighbors to the community. They all made a positive impact for our community park. With a great team of volunteers, a total of 48 hours of work was contributed at the event and we were able to pick up 75 gallons of trash and successfully remove graffiti.
A big thank you to the local business and community for the in-kind donations that valued up to $252.50 for the event. We appreciate your support and partnership in helping keep our park beautiful.
Written by Camille Keith.
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.