Arizona and NM STEM Resources for Kids

At Phoenix Comicon, I was on a panel called “Growing Up With Science.” Our goal was to suggest ways to keep kids—and particularly girls and minorities—interested in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. This post attempts to collect several of the suggested places around Arizona and New Mexico parents can take their kids to investigate these fields. The photo below is from the Phoenix Comicon photo collection and shows the panelists: Dean Frio, Martha Alice Cassetti, Karen Knierman, David Lee Summers, and Aireona Raschke.

STEM-Panel

The categories below are presented roughly in the order we presented them during the panel.


General Education Resources

School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University “is training the next generation of explorers and citizen scientists.” They offer a number of field trips, teacher workshops and partnerships with local schools, exploring astronomy and earth sciences. For more information, visit: http://sese.asu.edu/outreach

Ask a Biologist is a program at Arizona State University where kids can ask questions, access age-appropriate science articles, and interact with activities and online games. http://askabiologist.asu.edu/

Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center. Museums and visits to science facilities are a great way to interest kids in science. Kitt Peak offers year round tours and even night programs where people can observe with docents expert at interpreting the night sky. Get more information at: http://www.noao.edu/outreach/kpvc/

Lowell Observatory is a center for astronomical research and works to bring the results of that research to the general public. They have an outstanding visitor center in Flagstaff and terrific online resources at: http://lowell.edu/

Biosphere 2 serves as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. They offer guided tours to individuals and schools, plus they also offer teacher training programs. Learn more at: http://b2science.org/

Asombro Institute for Science Education works to foster an understanding of the Chihuahuan Desert through programs given to schools in Southern New Mexico and West Texas, plus programs offered at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. Learn more at: http://www.asombro.org/


Experiences and Camps

Astronomy Camp is held each year at Kitt Peak National Observatory and run by Dr. Don McCarthy of the University of Arizona. It gives students hands on experiences in both astronomy and engineering. More information at: http://astronomycamp.org

MathMovesU is a program hosted by Raytheon which has a number of on-line activities and provides scholarships so kids can attend math and science events. http://www.mathmovesu.com/

Phoenix Zoo Camp gives kids an opportunity to spend time during summer and winter breaks at the zoo engaged in activities learning about nature and animals. More information at: http://phoenixzoo.org/camps-programs/camp-zoo/

Young Women in Computing is a camp hosted by the computer science department at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. In addition to the camp itself, they host after school programs, contests, and teacher-program collaborations. They work not only with young women, but young men as well. Get more information at: https://sites.google.com/site/ywicnm/


Citizen Science Projects

Citizen science projects are projects where you can contribute to projects and discoveries. Generally, you are given an on-line tutorial for the project then taken to a set of data that requires analysis. This is a great way for both adults and kids to contribute to real, on-going science projects.

Zooniverse is a literal clearing house of citizen science projects that can be done from your home computer with an internet connection. The projects range from astronomy, to biology, to climate. Find a project and get involved at: www.zooniverse.org

Amazing Space uses the Hubble Space Telescope’s discoveries to inspire and educate about the wonders of our universe. http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/

Gila Monsters at Saguaro National Park is a program where people can report Gila Monster sightings in and around Saguaro National Park and help preserve these amazing animals. http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/gila-monsters-at-saguaro-national-park

McDowell Mountains Citizen Science Program is the steward program that supports the McDowell Sonoran Field Institute by training and deploying volunteers on the various research projects. The program offers opportunities to Conservancy stewards as well as students and community volunteers. Get details at: http://www.mcdowellsonoran.org/content/pages/citizenScienceProgram#sthash.C1Eu2uUO.tvY4etUl.dpuf

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10 comments on “Arizona and NM STEM Resources for Kids

  1. Greg Long says:

    That would have been good to hear ☺ We definitely need to encourage children to learn these things. Unfortunately there seems to be a very strong movement discouraging these fields.

    • Indeed, and it’s really a mystery. The stats I’ve found tend to indicate that people with degrees in STEM fields tend to have higher incomes than those in non-STEM fields. Also, in many cases, STEM degrees to can be applied to many different professional paths. It’s a great foundation for most anyone. This article in WIRED magazine makes a very good case: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/5-numbers-explain-stem-diversity-matters-us/

      • Greg Long says:

        I have a BA (Hons) in history and English and a BSc in computer science. The first gave me a great basis for communicating and book-based research. The latter gave me solid analytical skills, hypothesis testing abilities and a logical approach. One without the other bothers me. I am a believer in forming well rounded individuals who can think independently. Science is crucial to this ideal. As you said, a great foundation for most anyone. Maybe that is why some people want us to abandon science. Thanks for this post and the link. I shall follow it now ☺

      • You’re welcome, Greg, and I absolutely agree. Clearly I think people with an aptitude in the humanities can benefit from science education, but conversely, people with a science aptitude can benefit from a good education in the humanities. Being well rounded helps us communicate with one other and, among other things, keeps us from falling prey to those who would twist such things as science or statistics to deceive us.

  2. What a great panel idea! I love the practical information on programs as opposed to wishful thinking (ie: “If only a program was available.”)

    • Absolutely, I was excited to see this on the schedule and felt honored to have a spot on the panel. In retrospect, the one thing I would have improved would have been to pull this information into a handout. That said, sharing it this way means its also more widely available. Hopefully people find it useful. 🙂

  3. Carl Cohen says:

    The Art and Science panel at Comicon was the best by far IMHO. Thanks for the resources you’ve posted and I suppose you could add the Lowell Observatory and Biosphere 2 to the list. I work with school districts as they transform to a digital learning and teaching model. STEM/STEAM based tools are an integral part of the effort. Complimenting the in-class, flipped class experience with hand’s on experience via the resources you’ve listed or others like the Chandler Environmental Education Center (http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=682) are essential for invoking a passion for discovery and scientific thinking among our children.

    • Thanks, Carl. I’ll see about adding both Lowell and Biosphere 2 to the list above. I appreciate the suggestions and definitely agree about providing good experiences for young people.

  4. dm yates says:

    I think it’s great that you were involved in this. Way to go.

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