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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Getting a grasp on STEM at Arizona Science Center

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

Watching a cow eye dissection elicits a range of reactions. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Two hundred kids from seven Valley schools participated in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) event Tuesday at the Arizona Science Center.

Activities focused on what engineers do, how they use technology and what science they need to know to create the gadgets, tools and technologies we so gleefully use every day. The event, called “All hands on STEM,” was part of NBC’s Education Nation tour that rolled through town this past week. (The rest of the media was in town for that trial, which had nothing to do with education, did it?)

At one table, students watched a cow’s eye being dissected, adding a different kind of E — Ewwww! — to the STEM acronym. The kids found it riveting, though it grossed out others (me).

Other activities involved measurement, aerodynamics, strength of materials and shapes, communication, spatial visualization, structures, trial and error and fun stuff like freezing balloons in liquid nitrogen.

After visiting all the stations, the kids trooped into the sunshine, where students from Tarwater Elementary launched air pressure-fueled water bottle rockets.

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

Caitlin Ang (12) from Pueblo Elementary in Kyrene discovers why putting her hand on a Van de Graaff generator gives her a unique hairdo. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

Ethan Miller (9) and Jayden Garcia (9) from West Park Elementary School in Buckeye carefully place dominoes to build a cantilever, a beam fixed at only one end, using only the weight of the dominoes and gravity. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

Daniella Rodriguez, who works at the Arizona Science Center, prepares to lower a balloon animal into a vat of liquid nitrogen. She is teaching kids about the states of matter. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

Lauren Preble, learning and engagement specialist at the Arizona Science Center, along with Tarwater Elementary fifth graders Brody Kofahl (center) and Marcos Gonzalez use a bicycle pump to increase the air pressure in the water bottle rocket. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Education Nation STEM Arizona Science Center Phoenix

A stream of water is all that's left behind when a water bottle rocket blasts off. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

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Daniel Friedman

Daniel Friedman is a staff writer and photographer for RAISING ARIZONA KIDS magazine.

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