Flagstaff declared America’s first STEM community

The Flagstaff City Council unanimously declared Flagstaff a STEM city on Oct. 16, the first STEM city in the U.S. Flagstaff was recognized due to a collective attempt to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines within the community.

In 2011, a plan was formulated out of Flagstaff Forty, a group of Flagstaff business leaders, to become a STEM City. Over the past year, they have been working on collaboration efforts within the community and, in the past few months, have seen the project come to life.

David Engelthaler, an epidemiologist at TGen, a local STEM nonprofit organization, is considered the driving force behind the project.

“There hasn’t been another city in the country that has stepped up and said our whole city can do this,” Engelthaler said. ”We are going to be a STEM city.  We are going to put our businesses and our schools and our government and our local organizations all together to achieve this goal.”

In August, a summit was held at Camp Colton, where the Flagstaff mayor and city council were present, along with STEM business leaders, the super intendant of schools and several charter schools. All signed to commit their time and resources to this project because, as Engelthaler said, “[They] have the capability; therefore, [they] have the responsibility.”

A sign declaring Flagstaff as “America’s First STEM Community” will be placed on the highway leading to the city.

Engelthaler expressed a deep passion for educating and producing STEM literate students. He believes, as a result of Flagstaff becoming a STEM Community, more science and technology related businesses will be attracted to the area and more importantly, it will create a better educational system for Flagstaff.

“We want to be able to say, ‘Haven’t you heard about what’s going on in Flagstaff and how great the schools are?’” Engelthaler said.

Adopting a resolution is only the start.

“The boots are getting on the ground and starting to actually put some things in motion to really show what kind of STEM community we are,” Engelthaler said.

This week, the same community leaders will meet to develop an action plan at a Flagstaff STEM consortium. Their goals will be focused on how to bring resources and funding into Flagstaff to support the STEM institutions of the community.

Many community members seem motivated about this progressive project, including Engelthaler.

“What’s exciting about this is that we’re not trying to start anything really new,” Engelthaler said. ”What we’re really trying to do, over the last couple of months, is hold a mirror up to Flagstaff and say, ‘This is who you are,’ now let’s just kind of pull some of these pieces together, be more coordinated and really amplify our effect.”


Arizona State University and Battelle Announce Technology Development Collaboration

Arizona State University (ASU) and Battelle, the world’s largest independent research and development organization, today announced the formation of a strategic collaboration designed to accelerate the exploration and development of new technologies to support the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and learning.


These organizations join forces to design, build and implement innovative learning tools such as video libraries and mobile applications that allow students and teachers to share knowledge using state-of-the-art interactive devices. The conception of these technologies will be managed by researchers and developers who evaluate the exponential value of STEM education for educators and students with these tools from a social perspective.


ASU’s award winning Technology Based Learning and Research (TBLR) specializes in areas of research, emerging technologies, instructional design, courseware, and media development. TBLR will oversee the development of software to assist both teachers and students in and out of the classroom in collaboration with Battelle's world-renowned STEMx research.


“This collaboration will expand ASU’s efforts in new ways where the engagement of interdisciplinary activities and technology-transfer pursuits are leveraged to create education innovations,” said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, senior vice president with the ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “We are delighted to work as a team with Battelle which shares our vision for excellence and impact for STEM education and technology-based research development projects.”


The collaboration will draw upon numerous resources, chiefly STEMx, Battelle’s established network of 13 states whose goal is to accelerate the growth and application of new technologies to increase student achievement and provide additional resources that are suited for the young audience and teachers.


“We are proud to be joining forces with Arizona State University to explore innovative educational technology,” said Eric Fingerhut, vice president of education & STEM learning at Battelle. “Through this agreement we are able to link our most creative leaders and teachers from around the country, through the STEMx network, to proven talent in the development and creation of new technologies.”


The new relationship will focus on developing solutions that can be utilized throughout the world to increase STEM learning outcomes. TBLR and Battelle will explore ideas and distribute the apps throughout its STEM networks and schools.


Arizona State University and Battelle will also look to find new ways of utilizing technology in the classroom and to effectively scale best practices in STEM education.




AZ Science Center teams up with ASU to motivate K-12 students into STEM fields

Arizona Science Center and Arizona State University (ASU) have announced the formation of a new partnership to share dynamic science happenings with the Arizona community, and to motivate and inspire K-12 students to pursue post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

“ASU has been at the forefront in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Chevy Humphrey, president/CEO of Arizona Science Center. “Through this partnership, we hope to expand our meaningful learning opportunities by sharing ASU’s cutting-edge research and scientific developments.”

Through this partnership, ASU and the Center will set the standard for a university and science center collaboration, both nationally and internationally. Together, ASU and the Center will plan joint exhibits, educational activities, lecture series, planetarium shows, demonstrations, and more. We envision a long-term partnership that provides a continuous flow of innovative research and educational activities, projects, and exhibits for K-12 teachers, students and the general public.

“Educational partnerships that inspire innovation, enhance broad accessibility to knowledge, and generate new learning and discovery opportunities are integral to the future success of our state, region and nation,” said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University. “We are proud to establish such an alliance with the Arizona Science Center to benefit the communities we serve.”

“We are very excited to have this unique opportunity to collaborate with the Arizona Science Center and embed ASU within the community,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president with ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “This is an important partnership that enables ASU to integrate the innovative and impactful ideas from our labs into an environment that will inspire and motivate future generations of talent.”

Information about this partnership is available online at



Boeing funds Engineering is Elementary program

Thanks to The Boeing Company, elementary and junior high students will design bridges, water filters, lighting systems, biomedical devices, oil spill solutions, submersibles, electrical circuits and many more everyday applications in the Engineering is Elementary program.

Boeing awarded MPS a $115,000 grant to fund training for 122 teachers, who will present the program to 3,660 students this school year.

Introducing important STEM concepts

“We are excited about this opportunity,” said Sean Enright, MPS curriculum director.

“It will allow us to introduce important science, technology, engineering and math concepts to our students and allow us to build a strong STEM pipeline from our elementary and junior high schools to more in-depth study at the high school level.

"With the number of high quality STEM-related jobs projected in the future, this experience is invaluable to our students and our community,” Enright added.

Meeting needs and challenges facing society today

Developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass., Engineering is Elementary has reached 32,000 teachers and 2.7 million students in all 50 states so far. 

The program focuses on engineering practices and problem-solving skills to meet the needs and challenges facing society today — generating sufficient energy, preventing and treating disease, and maintaining supplies of fresh food and water. As part of our science curriculum, Engineering is Elementary meets Arizona's Academic Standards and Common Core Standards.

Increasing the number of scientists, engineers for our workforce

“Boeing has a strategic community focus to increase teacher effectiveness in math and science and to attract more students into STEM-related careers,” said Mary Baldwin, Arizona community investor for Boeing global corporate citizenship.

“Engineering is Elementary will provide teachers and students a greater understanding of engineering, and it accomplishes that in a fun, interactive way. Our goal is to interest students in engineering at an early age and increase the number of scientists and engineers for Arizona’s future workforce.”



Future ASU STEM Devil Night at Arizona Science Center

High school seniors, as well as sophomores and juniors, are invited to attend Future ASU STEM Devil Night at Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. Students and their families will have an opportunity to meet with representatives from admissions, financial aid, and a variety of schools that focus on STEM-based careers.

Many ASU schools will host tables during the welcome period, and students may enter a drawing for door prizes. At 6:30 p.m., two stages will feature presentations, as well as question and answer sessions. Representatives from each area will speak with students about their areas of interest.

The following ASU academic units will be featured in the Dorrance Planetarium: School of Life Sciences, School of Earth & Space Exploration, School of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Arizona Science Center staff will lead a variety of activities throughout the facility and guests may explore the permanent exhibits. Discounted parking and refreshments will be available.

The STEM Devil night will be Oct. 20 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

To register, call (480) 727-6277 or email for reservations.



Cottonwood Boys & Girls Club Awarded $1500 STEM Grant from Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence


Nine afterschool programs around the state will each receive a $1500 STEM grant from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and Cox Communications to support creative efforts to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into today’s curriculum.

“At a time of shrinking funding in schools across the state, these grants emphasize the critical importance of using an informal STEM approach to curriculum in afterschool and out-of-school-time programs because they remain one of the few opportunities for youth to engage in projects incorporating science, technology, engineering and math,” said Melanie McClintock, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence. “The quality of the proposals we received from around the state made the decisions incredibly difficult, but also pointed to the remarkable quality of afterschool programs developed and operating across the state.”

Proposals were submitted from urban, rural, suburban and charter schools across the state as well as from community-based afterschool programs.

Winners are:

Afterschool “All-Stars” Program, Ira A. Murphy School, Peoria: To purchase iPads for junior high student-led program for students to report, edit and broadcast video morning announcements to the school.

Computer 360 Start to Finish, Introduction to Computer Drafting and Design, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona, Cottonwood: For implementation of computer technology curriculum teaching youth about basic hardware and software components needed to construct a computer system, basic functionality and operational maintenance.

Gilbert Public Schools, VIK Club, Incorporating Digital Photography into 6 VIK Club sites, Gilbert: Funds will support efforts to increase creative hands-on art projects; enhance and expand children’s passion for books, reading and imagination; and inspire and develop passion for photography as an art form.

Girls Scouts of Southern Arizona, Launch of Gamma Sigma Club, Tucson: To purchase iPads for junior high and high school girls to use current apps to plan their engineering projects, integrate 3-D graphics, spreadsheets, charges and presentations.

JAG Afterschool Program, Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, Gila Bend, LaJoya, Sierra Linda, Tolleson and Westview High Schools: To help students develop career and college plans and deepen their connection to their school and community through the purchase if iPads for students to use in researching, planning, conducting, editing and producing a series of video interviews with passionate professionals in STEM related careers.

Show Me Light, Tucson Parks and Recreation KIDCO Programs, Tucson: To explore the science of light from a totally different perspective which would end up creating a laser music show as the final product.

Lego Robotic Club, Magnet Traditional School, Phoenix: To establish a Lego Robotics Club to expose students to STEM in an informal learning setting.

Spartans Science Club, Northland Preparatory, Flagstaff: To expand STEM projects to include robotics and allow students to identify problems they want to try to solve, design, build, program, troubleshoot and execute by purchasing Lego Education NXT Mindstorm kits.

SPOT 127, KJZZ’s Youth Media Center, Phoenix: To engage youth in project-based activities that build foundational skills in radio and broadcast journalism, music and video production, sound design, media literacy, web design, graphic arts, and social media.

Winners were selected based on their innovative use of science and technology in an informal learning setting, the involvement of students in designing many of the projects and the maximum utilization of the limited dollars available.



Tech Launch Arizona Announces Collaboration With Arizona Furnace

The University of Arizona has announced that Tech Launch Arizona will join the Arizona Furnace as a university research partner. The UA’s Office of Technology Transfer, under the Tech Launch Arizona umbrella, will present selected technologies and intellectual property for licensing to entrepreneurs, with the intent that these technologies will form the basis for new high-potential startups.

Arizona Furnace offers promising startup ventures a package worth more than $50,000 in cash and services. The package includes a $25,000 seed funding grant and six months of incubation space in the ASU SkySong facility, the UA’s BIO5 Oro Valley Accelerator, or the UA’s partner incubator, the Arizona Center for Innovation. Arizona Furnace is an intensive, six-month, mentor-led accelerator program, and includes several additional support services. Companies that are accepted into Arizona Furnace must be based in Arizona as a stimulant to regional economic development and job creation.

“We are excited about partnering with ASUto commercialize technologies that we believe could form the basis of innovative new Arizona companies,” said David Allen, executive director of Tech Launch Arizona at the UA. “AZ Furnace provides a nice complement to startup programs that Tech Launch Arizona shall be implementing in the coming year. The Furnace encourages the ‘collaborative licensing’ of technologies coming out of Arizona’s various research institutions.”

Tech Launch Arizona has been created to integrate and augment various UA commercialization programs and operations. The UA envisions a much more robust entrepreneurial approach to early-stage technology investment. “Partnership in programs like AZ Furnace provides additional channels for UA technologies,” Allen stated.

“Furnace is a state-wide collaboration todrive economic development through the creation of new high-potential startups” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president for innovation, entrepreneurship and venture acceleration at ASU’s Venture Catalyst. “The positive response from partners like Tech Launch Arizona, who want additional channels for engagement throughout the state and to share resources, demonstrates that collaboration on early-stage development efforts makes logical sense in today’s environment of scarce resources.”

This unique program will involve a nationwide competition to select and fund new ventures that are based on one or more patents or technologies developed at research institutions in Arizona. In addition to the UA, Northern Arizona University, Dignity Health Systems arealso participants in AZ Furnace. The UA’s participation will augment the number of cutting edge innovations available for entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalize on research discoveries to create viable businesses.

“Discoveries provide unfulfilled benefit to society if they remain in a research laboratory,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development for Arizona Technology Enterprises. “ASU, UA, NAU and Dignity Health are taking a proactive step to ensure that Arizona’s most valuable technologies are given all the assistance they need to realize their full potential here in Arizona. The AZ Furnace is excited to be partnering with these outstanding Arizona-based research institutions.”

The competition is open, and has officially started in the third quarter of 2012. The participants invited into Furnacemust incubate their new companies in the co-working space available to them at ASU SkySong, the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the BIO5 Accelerator and the Arizona Center for Innovation.




Northrop Grumman awards STEM scholarships

SIERRA VISTA— A partnership between the public and private sector celebrated a common goal on Thursday, when Northrop Grumman handed out 26 scholarships to college students pursuing technical careers.


The company gave out $16,000 to promising students focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for the second time as part of the Innovation Campus Project, which has brought the U.S. Army, Cochise College, the University of Arizona and K-12 school districts together with Northrop Grumman in an effort to further STEM education. To do that they need students, who were the guests of honor in the scholarship ceremony at the University of Arizona South.


One of the recipients, Robert Stoner, was relieved to get the scholarship because the avionics program at Cochise College is intense, making it nearly impossible to hold a job at the same time, he said. “Last year was a bit hectic.”

He is excited to be able to focus on his coursework, without worrying as much about finances, Stoner said. “It makes it possible for me to continue my schooling, so I can get my degrees and get into the field.”

He wants to work on airplanes or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Stoner already has an employer in mind. 
“I actually want to get over to Northrop Grumman, that’s my ultimate goal,” he said.

That’s the kind of results the partnership would like to see, as it seeks to respond to the need for qualified employees in STEM fields.

“The Northrop Grumman Innovation Campus here in Sierra Vista has been created proactively to include a set of educational institutions and key customers, certainly the students, with a broad goal to nurture and grow STEM workforces of the future,” said Steve Pedigo, the company’s corporate lead executive for Fort Huachuca. That work begins at the elementary school level and continues all the way through to the university, as Northrop Grumman also contributes money to local K-12 schools.

“We recognize in industry, a more robust STEM workforce is needed to refresh the needs of the aerospace and defense industry, government customers and especially the teachers at all levels,” Pedigo said.

Other leaders of the Innovation Campus Project praised the partnership’s aim and effectiveness.

“This is truly the model of how education needs to go in the future, this is a true partnership,” Cochise College President J.D. Rottweiler said. “This is that pathway in important educational endeavors from K-12, local community college, to university and partnering with private industry … By doing that we’re able to address critical local needs, we’re able to address national security needs, and we’re really able the improve the quality of lives for many of our citizens.”

Jerry Proctor, deputy to the commanding general of the Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachcua, sees the partnership as a great combination of industry, academia, government and national defense, he said. “We’re all in favor of this and more than glad to be part of this energetic team.”

For any of this to be successful, it is vital for the partnerships to be strong, said Jim Shockey, Campus Executive Officer of University of Arizona South. These can be difficult to develop and often some partners can feel like they are stepping on one another’s toes but that’s not happening here.

“Everybody here is focused on getting students through a pipeline, into STEM careers and getting people interested,” Shockey said.

Buena High School Principal John Schreur brought the focus back to Northrop Grumman, which made Thursday’s event possible with its contribution.

“The support, both financial and technological, that we get from them is just awesome and our kids appreciate it and we appreciate it and we thank you so much for the help you’ve given,” Schreur said.




International Association Supports Local Phoenix School's S.T.E.M. Initiative
In order to support the local Phoenix community and the national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) initiative, the Association of Old Crows (AOC) reached out to Edison Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona.  Edison is a public Smart Showcase School serving pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students that utilizes technology as a tool to improve student performance and teacher effectiveness.  Edison Elementary School was tasked with creating Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) themed art for display September 23-26th, 2012 for the 49th Annual AOC International Symposium & Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center's North building.  In addition, the AOC will be hosting the Edison S.T.E.M. club on Monday, September 24th during the Convention's opening session.
Ms. Rosa Wilno, the school's art teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade, followed the National Standards for Arts to make connections between art and other curricular areas.  The students were able to embrace S.T.E.M. through this art project.  Ms. Wilno expressed this as a challenge for the students which they embraced with their thought processes and imaginations.  The result is seven unique EMS art pieces.  Ms. Hillman's 6th grade class contributed two different painted pieces titled "Can you see me?" and "Electromagnetic waves and Beyond."  Mr. Anderson's 7th Grade class' painting answers the question, "What kinds of electromagnetic waves have the ability to travel through outer space?"  Ms. Sphar's 5th Grade class conveyed what interference looks like through their piece.  In sculpture form, the electromagnetic spectrum and parabolic curves as sound waves were made visible by Mr. Pabst's 8th Grade class and Ms. Meissen's 6th Grade class.  Mr. Mason's 5th Grade class showed the wavelengths from daily use of communication devices as a plexiglass mobile.             


SFAz and Helios Announce Three-Year, $4 million+ Grant for STEM School Pilot Initiative and AZ STEM Network
PHOENIX — Helios Education Foundation is investing more than $4 million through a three-year grant to build a statewide STEM Knowledge Management system and to fund the Helios STEM School Pilot initiative which is a new and critical part of Science Foundation Arizona’s (SFAz) recently launched Arizona STEM Network.

Helios and SFAz will work to identify, through an upcoming RFP process, several schools across the state to be selected as Helios STEM Pilot School sites. These Pilot sites will be given seed funds and technical support to integrate quality STEM education into their classrooms. In addition, these sites will be provided the resources and technical assistance needed to integrate STEM education in whole-school and district settings.

With 15-year-olds across the country scoring lower than their international counterparts in mathematics1, and with Arizona students performing among the lowest in the country in science2, Helios and SFAz are working to transform science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching and learning in Arizona.

Helios’ investment of more than $4 million to fund the Arizona STEM Network’s Knowledge Management System and the Helios STEM School Pilot initiative will help SFAz: 
- Build out and implement the next phase of the Arizona STEM Network,
- Research and develop effective models for STEM education that can be replicated in classrooms statewide,
- Integrate best practices of  STEM teaching and learning into Arizona schools and districts in support of higher expectations and academic achievement,
- Leverage effective education practices and teaching advances,
- Provide web-based tools for the implementation of Common Core standards,
- Improve data-driven decision making and measurements of progress, and
- Create opportunities for the business sector to engage more meaningfully with schools.
The Arizona STEM Network will drive access to effective STEM education by providing a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and metrics needed by educators, businesses and donors to improve educational outcomes and achieve collective impact for Arizona students.
"The Helios STEM School Pilot and associated tools will enable us to develop and validate effective models for education that can be replicated to reach more kids and teachers throughout Arizona,” said Darcy Renfro, VP of education and coordinator for SFAz’s Arizona STEM Network. “This is a big step to helping us reach our collective goals for greater student achievement and success long term.”

The Arizona STEM Network will develop these models for quality STEM integration across multiple schools and districts and create a system for capturing, organizing, measuring and disseminating information to help broaden the impacts and availability of STEM education in Arizona. This initiative will provide a proof of concept and implementation models for STEM education reform that can be replicated throughout the state.

 “We are forging an expanded path toward education improvement by developing an implementation plan and knowledge structure for educators that fills gaping holes in previous educational reform efforts,” said William Harris, CEO and president of SFAz. “Useful tools and information, expert technical assistance, strategic connections between parents, students, schools, teachers, administrators, employers and the community will take advantage of the things we know that work in the classroom to improve student achievement.”




JES & Co. Receives Grant for the Achievement Standards Network
JES & Co. is excited to announce that they have received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to sustain and continue development of the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) and to expand the ASN’s services. The Achievement Standards Network provides access to machine-readable representations of learning objectives published by education agencies and organizations. The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officer’s (CCSSO) released Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The ASN contains the Common Core standards and as part of the grant, JES & Co. will enable searching by alternate codes published by CCSSO using existing ASN technical services.
As part of the Gates Foundation work in education, JES & Co.’s ASN data will play a key role in describing and then “connecting the dots” between learning objectives and education resources. By using the ASN, the Gates Foundation initiatives will help teachers develop personalized learning strategies, meet the Common Core State Standards goals, and track students’ progress.
“Widened distribution of the ASN data and the development of new ASN services are critical to the success of today’s changing face of the education market. The open source nature of the ASN data will help publishers and content providers correlate more resources to the Common Core State Standards and develop new applications that can use the standards,” explains Brandt Redd, Senior Technology Officer for Education Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a key supporter of the ASN’s open source access. “The ASN is important to several Gates initiatives. JES & Co. has dedicated many years to helping education stakeholders use learning objectives in meaningful ways. The Gates Foundation is pleased to help them meet their goals,” continued Redd.
JES & Co. has made using the CCSS less expensive by publishing the standards as open source data and making a suite of tools and services available for both publishers and states to use. “Helping teachers transition from state standards to Common Core State Standards is one of our goals,” explains Diny Golder, Executive Director of JES & Co. “And JES & Co.’s new services will help publishers make relationships between their resources and the new CCSS. In the current environment of shrinking budgets, it is critical that content providers have economical ways to make alignments and pass the savings down to their customers,” said Golder.



STEM education brings learning, career prep to another level


What would it take to explore an alien spacecraft at the bottom of a lake and rescue 20 abducted town folks before the National Guard steps in?

It’s the stuff of the “X-Files,” but the lessons help push skills students are learning today through STEM education in Arizona.

At this year’s National Underwater Robotics Challenge, held at Chandler High School in early June, teams of students and adults were asked to create a robot that could dive into a high school swimming pool, maneuver into a submerged “space craft” and retrieve objects set around the “X-Files” story theme.

But there’s no science fiction in what the participants – especially the elementary and high school students – were learning.

All around Arizona, there’s been a push for more science, technology, engineering and math education, known as STEM. One group behind that is Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education (APASE), which runs Arizona’s National Underwater Robotics Challenge.

“We want to develop an interest in STEM fields early on. With (the National Underwater Robotics Challenge) NURC, students see the applicability of what they learned in the classroom in a hands-on environment. They also develop discipline, problem-solving skills, design and engineering techniques. There is little to no design and engineering in regular curriculum and NURC provides that experience, even to the little ones,” said Carmen Cornejo, a board member of APASE.

Students at the robotics competition recognize that.

Triyiadela Rosa, 11, a student at Chandler’s Bologna Elementary School, said the competition was, “good exposure” to science. Plus, “It’s something new and we’ve never done it before.”

Chandler High School student Brian Mogollon, 17, not only participates in his school’s team, but mentors the younger children through Chandler-based Si Se Puede, which promotes non-violence through community participation and educational activities, like its year-round science programs.

“That’s the idea,” Mogollon said during the competition, “to get the younger kids into technology. I get to work and teach them about what I learn. I liked to build LEGOs when I was a kid. Now that I’m older, I get to work with higher skills.”

Those higher skills are what could lead to college and employment in some hard-to-fill science and engineering jobs. But they can also lend themselves to any field, just by boosting students’ enthusiasm for learning.

“You can see how excited those kids are and how excited they are about what they’re doing,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of the Arizona Science Foundation and coordinator for the Arizona STEM Network. “They’re dealing with significantly complex problems … It’s fascinating to see that level of energy. That’s what we’re trying to replicate in places all over the state.”

Renfro and her group are trying to encourage schools to bring STEM education into the classrooms, either through after-school activities like robotics and LEGO clubs or through full integration into the curriculum.

Arizona lawmakers recently helped create a STEM diploma. East Valley schools – Gilbert’s Highland High School and Mesa’s Red Mountain High School – plan to launch the program in the fall. Chandler Unified School District’s Perry High School is launching its own STEM diploma.

Money to run these programs can be hard to come by, said Cornejo of Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education. The Medtronic Foundation and Si Se Puede Foundation helped put on the robotics competition, but even some of the high school students pulled money out of their own pockets to pay for the robots.

Renfro said the foundations and the Arizona STEM Network are working to get funding to start programs around the state to show how STEM integration can work.

There are glimpses of where it can ultimately lead.

“We have kids who go to university because of this,” said Cornejo. “If they didn’t have this, they wouldn’t even fathom the concept (of college). It’s the exposure that really transforms.”


As far as that robotics competition and attempts to rescue the “abducted” people, the older student competition was won by Tempe Union High School District’s Desert Vista High School, followed by a NASA space grant-backed ASU team and the Chandler High School team. Students from Chandler’s Frye Elementary School won the “light” division for the younger students.



 University website addresses gender gap in STEM fields


Arizona State University officials aren’t just adding to the reams of research showing a gender gap in the science, technology, education, and math (STEM) fields. They’re confronting the persistent issue with a web site that encourages women to identify and rectify the “benevolent sexism” prevalent in these male-dominated fields.

The university launched in November 2010 after receiving a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2006. The site, more than just another web resource with studies on how few women are entering STEM fields and finishing degree programs, will offer advice and encouragement from women who have succeeded in the four STEM professions in an effort to close this gender gap.

The web site, aimed at women pursuing their doctorate degrees in STEM fields, will have hundreds of “HerStory” video clips of women who have navigated the difficult STEM road and established careers.

Videos will be available in a wide variety of STEM fields, meaning women can find others from their particular profession, not just someone with a general STEM career, said Bianca Bernstein, an ASU counseling psychology professor and principal investigator of the CareerWISE research program grants.

“Our approach is a little different, because we’re actually trying to do something about it,” she said of the gender gap in the STEM fields.

Giving female Ph.D. candidates real-life examples of women who have been immersed in the same male-dominated fields, Bernstein said, could be key in motivating them to stay in school.

“One of the things we’re trying to address is that women and minorities don’t have role models to see what successful careers can look like in these fields,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine how you might succeed if you don’t see others like you succeed.”

Bernstein said women in STEM fields are often pegged as “lab mothers,” expected to clean up the laboratory after a day of work. And many women are not invited to present research, for example, at an overseas conference, because men assume women want to stay home with their children.

“They’re expected to stick to the more routine work,” she said, describing the discrimination in STEM fields as “benevolent sexism” because men are often trying to accommodate women with children. “They don’t realize they might be discouraging women or not giving them full opportunities. … [Men] might think they’re being sensitive, but it results in women missing out on a very important aspect of career advancement.”

Often, being one of the only women in a STEM workplace—sometimes the lone woman—can be a challenge.

“There are still a lot of instances where that happens,” Bernstein said.

Gender isn’t among the biggest factors for predicting who will earn a STEM-related degree. It’s the strongest predictor, according to research released by the Council of Graduate Schools, which showed that women in STEM fields are 7 to 10 percent less likely to finish their doctoral programs.

A report titled, “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics,” published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) last spring, identified several reasons for the gender gap in STEM fields.

The report said that “negative stereotypes about girls’ abilities in math can indeed measurably lower girls’ test performance” and “lower girls’ aspirations for science and engineering careers over time.”

Encouraging girls and women to enter and remain in STEM fields, however, has proven effective, according to the AAUW research.

“When test administrators tell students that girls and boys are equally capable in math, … the difference in performance essentially disappears, illustrating that changes in the learning environment can improve girls’ achievement in math,” the report says.

Connecting females with the humanities and arts in higher education is “common,” according to the report, even among respondents who “actively reject” the stereotypes of men excelling in science and math and women gravitating toward the arts.




Helios Joins Science Foundation Arizona To Launch The Arizona STEM Network  

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), a nonprofit public-private partnership that serves as a catalyst for revitalizing Arizona and strengthening its economic future, joined with partners today to announce the launch of the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona's educational system for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

A five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network is a unified approach that will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan's driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

Since 2008, the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation has been the leading financial supporter, providing a total of $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz's STEM initiative, as well as the collaboration of work leading up to the launch of the new Arizona STEM Network and plan for implementation. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation today announced a new three-year commitment beginning in 2012, totaling $2.1 million for operational funding that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. The plan focuses on four strategic areas:


- Integrate STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts

- Develop and deploy a predictive analytics system to measure impacts

- Strengthen teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching

- Create opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools


The development of the Arizona STEM Network began after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, along with philanthropic and private sector leaders, tapped SFAz to spearhead the initiative in September 2010. Over a 14 month period, SFAz leaders logged more than 10,000 miles throughout Arizona and met with more than 1,500 individuals from the education, business and government sectors in all 15 counties and the Navajo Nation, as well as the Arizona Department of Education and the State Board of Education to determine statewide needs. Using the feedback gathered, SFAz created the Arizona STEM Network plan.

"Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way," said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. "The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas."

Gov. Brewer, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation and Helios Education Foundation provided major funding for the development of the Arizona STEM Network plan and were joined by Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

"We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant," said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. "A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Arizona is one of 12 states in the U.S., with developing or existing STEM Networks, that are leading the charge to implement a proactive approach to STEM teaching which provides interactive coursework in classrooms to prepare students for successful careers in the 21st century. STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that provides project-based and relevant experiences for students.

"Helios Education Foundation's investment in the Arizona STEM Network's plan to transform K-12 education is really an investment in the future of our state," said the Foundation's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Barbara Ryan. "STEM education is the linchpin that will better prepare our students academically and ultimately increase the number of high school graduates ready to succeed in postsecondary education." 

The Arizona STEM Network will be led and coordinated by SFAz staff with a structured system of information management tools, processes and technical assistance. The Network is in place and will be rolled out in phases, with initial pilot sites to be announced by late 2012. SFAz is currently securing additional long-term operational and program funding from other corporate partners to further support the Arizona STEM Network.

"The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition," said Gov. Brewer. "The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward." 





Arizona High School to Offer STEM Degrees

More than half of students who enter college as engineering majors eventually leave the field before graduating, many during their freshman year. In fact, a 2006 study by Penn State University researchers found that 41 percent of engineering majors who left the field said that their high school didn't adequately prepare them for college coursework.
That's why, starting next year, Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz., will offer students the chance to earn one of two special "STEM Diplomas" that the school says will better prepare students for college and careers.
The rigorous program will "offer a blend of classroom course work and real world experience along with project based learning," according to the school's information packet. In addition to a standard high school diploma, students would earn either a "STEM Diploma" or a "STEM Scholar Diploma." Both special degrees would require students to take five math classes, including Advanced Placement statistics, and six science and engineering credits, but students seeking a scholar diploma will also have to participate in summer workshops and job programs.
"The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare students for college readiness in science, medicine, engineering and math majors," according to a letter the school sent to interested parents. "Students who complete the program and earn a STEM Diploma or STEM Scholar Diploma will receive several academic endorsements and special recognition at graduation."
Before their senior year, scholar graduates will have to complete a job shadowing program with a STEM professional or take classes with the Arizona State University Polytechnic program. Graduates will be automatically admitted to ASU, and the university will offer Engineering 101 and 102 at the high school. Nearby Chandler Gilbert Community College will offer dual enrollment opportunities for students to take college courses in biotechnology, computer science, and engineering.
There is a drawback, however. Students will be required to pay for college credit earned—up to $592 per credit at ASU and $76 per credit at the community college, though the high school says financial aid will be available for students whose families need it.

Mr. Milton Ericksen, Deputy Associate Superintendent & State Director
Career & Technical Education, Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson, Bin 42
Phoenix, AZ 85007


Technical Education Magazine

Budget problems in Arizona have caused Governor Jan Brewer to recommend elimination of nearly ALL State Vocational Block Grant Funds and subsequently ALL Federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Funds for next school year. Governor’s budget removed all but $57,700 of the $11,492,700 from the Vocational Education Block Grant. If this passes the legislature, the loss will include $11,492,000 state funding, and federal Carl D. Perkins funding of $25.9 million, for a total of $36.9 million. Every state dollar guarantees an additional $2.34 in Carl D. Perkins Federal funding for CTE. The professional organization for career and technical administrators ACOVA has asked parents and teacher to write congressional leaders to stop this action. See their website at This action comes at the same time Arizona lost out on the first round of “Race to the Top” funding. The following is from a press release from the governor’s office. – Governor Jan Brewer today announced that with or without the federal government, Arizona will continue to move forward with its aggressive and innovative plans for education reform. The Obama Administration rejected Arizona’s first round application to receive Race to the Top funds (RTTT). The education reform proposals developed in the process of this application have helped Arizona enter into a new stage of transforming education to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. “The ultimate goal of this effort is to implement education reforms that provide Arizona students with a world-class education that enables them to compete on not only a national, but a global basis,” said Governor Brewer. “We will continue to advance education reform regardless of the federal grant process. I would like to thank Superintendent Tom Horne and his staff at the Department of Education, the State Board of Education and the Arizona legislature for their continued support and push for aggressive education reforms in Arizona.” Does this seem contradictory to you? How can the rest of the Technical Education community help Arizona? Let us know.