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February 15, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology and Innovation: Arizona SciTech Festival – Maker Faire

  |   Video
  • The Arizona SciTech Festival is underway, with over 200 events throughout the state. Scheduled for February 18th at Arizona State University is the Maker Faire, an event filled with student and community project demonstrations, do-it-yourself activities and workshops and the Duel in the Desert scrimmage for FIRST Robotics. Dr. Chell Roberts, Executive Dean of ASU College of Tech and Innovation, will discuss the Maker Faire.
  • Chell Roberts - Executive Dean of ASU College of Technology and Innovation
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: Maker Faire, DIY, innovation,

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Ted Simons: An important aspect of teaching, learning and applying science is creativity. That theme will be highlighted as part of the Arizona Sci-Tech Fest, which features over 200 events throughout the state. One of those events is this weekend's Maker Faire, which is part of Maker Week, hosted by ASU's college of technology and innovation. Here to talk about the Maker Faire is Dr. Chell Roberts, a dean and professor in the College of Technology and Innovation. Thanks for joining us.

Chell Roberts: It's great to be here.

Ted Simons: Give us a grand overview, a synopsis of Maker Week. What are we talking about?

Chell Roberts: It's an opportunity to inspire the public, to inspire partners and inspire kids, K-12 kids and others to the idea of creation and innovation. It's an engagement with us and with partners.

Ted Simons: How do you do that?

Chell Roberts: Well, we have three events to do this. Our first event is called Maker Pitch. The idea is to bring in the public and let them present a pitch as a solution to a problem. Something real. The public can be a student, that public can be a teacher, that public can be even one our students and we have a judging panel and group of people that will help them with the pitch and idea.

Ted Simons: I like that particular idea because it's one thing to be able to build a better mouse trap, but you've got to be able to pitch it and communicate and articulate the fact that you've got a better mouse trap. That's important.

Chell Roberts: It is.

Ted Simons: Give us the second event.

Chell Roberts: It's called Many Maker Faire. It's an extension of Maker Magazine. It’s a group that celebrates do it yourself and it consists of workshops and activities. And a competition.

Ted Simons: So like project demonstrations and competition, that sort thing?

Chell Roberts: It's a whole bunch. It starts off -- on the 18th. It starts off with Duel in the Desert.

Ted Simons: What's that?

Chell Roberts: It's a robotics competition. 12 teams. This is the first robotics competition.

Ted Simons: So Battle Bots, in other words?

Chell Roberts: Kind of a different competition.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Chell Roberts: These robots have a certain task, they have to follow a certain task and you've got moistly high school kids working on developing these robots and programming them and that's one aspect of Maker Faire. What we're trying to do that day is bringing in also and engage many children, students and public, to also get excited about the day. So we have besides this Duel in the Desert, the first robotics competition, we have workshops and activities. And for example, people label to come by and learn the science of flubber.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Chell Roberts: You remember flubber?

Ted Simons: I remember flubber.

Chell Roberts: Or learn about aviation through building an airplane or rocket and they'll have workshops in building and making and we'll have extreme technologies there. That's video gaming. And remote videogames and they can interact with games and remote control.

Ted Simons: That's important because you've got to get folks attention, don't you? You talk about creativity in terms of innovation and designing, you've got to be creative to get folks to be creative.

Chell Roberts: I completely agree. Philosophically, the way we go about educating and inspiring this innovation and creativity is through authentic experience. That's very important. To learn by listening is, of course, important but to learn by doing through authentic experience leads to people who become more engaged so one of the reasons we want to inspire, we see a great need in stem, as -- just spoken about that need. But we see the inspiration coming from a desire to create solutions to problems. If we say stem, exciting to somebody we want to attract. But if we say there are problems in world -- they can be in health and energy or learning -- and give them opportunities to pitch and create an event around real problems, they're creating solutions.

Ted Simons: The third event?

Chell Roberts: The third event is the maker -- Make Your Future event. That's a whole day conference. We're doing in that conference, bringing in young entrepreneurs, people who have started their own companies and we have workshops and presentations to help anyone who wants to do that. Create their own company. Learn from people who have gone through the process, to understand that. So maybe you have an idea for a new product. A solution to a problem and you want more than a pitch, it's the whole help and understanding what do I do? How do I get venture funding and take it to the next level? How do I create a business plan? It's all of those things taking place.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. How do you get more information on all of this? Specifically the Maker’s Faire, the Mini-Maker Faire.

Chell Roberts: Google Maker Week.

Ted Simons: Maker is M-A-K-E-R.

Chell Roberts: Right. Put a space between it. And the first thing that comes up is the College of Innovation and Technology Maker Week, you'll find all the events and be excited and hopefully inspired.

Ted Simons: 30 seconds left. The best way to encourage students to be creative and think both in out of the box? How do you do it? What are we missing here?

Chell Roberts: You've got to give them opportunities to engage and do that creation. They've got to have authentic experience, and being encouraged to taking risks.

Ted Simons: Everything from building planes and learning about flubber. Even son of flubber.

Chell Roberts: Yes.

Ted Simons: And even as simple as origami.

Chell Roberts: We'll be presenting something on that as well.

Ted Simons: You've got that?

Chell Roberts: We've got that covered.

Ted Simons: This weekend and where are we going to find more information?

Chell Roberts: Maker Week, google that.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Chell Roberts: Oh, you bet.

Arizona’s Science Standards

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  • Science Standards for Arizona’s public schools recently received a “D” grade from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based education think tank. Darcy Renfro of Science Foundation Arizona comments on the findings.
  • Darcy Renfro - Science Foundation Arizona
Category: Education   |   Keywords: standards, science, k12,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona's science standards recently received a D grade from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based education think tank. The institute says, among other things, that chemistry and psychology standards in Arizona are, quote, "distressingly inadequate, and that evolution gets short shrift." Here to talk about what Arizona should take from the report is Darcy Renfro from the science foundation Arizona. Good to see you.

Darcy Renfro: Thank you.

Ted Simons: The education think tank, they do the reports and we take them somewhat seriously, don't we?

Darcy Renfro: We do. There's a long-standing history of rigorous reports on science standards. They did it in 2008 and 2005 and again this year. Digging down into what each state is doing and how they're doing with regard to science teaching.

Ted Simons: A D grade for social science standards in Arizona; fair?

Darcy Renfro: Well, I think when you look at the report and you see what they looked at. They read our actual standards and I think what I would take out of this report more than anything is what you see is a patchwork of science standards and different levels of -- of rigor and abilities applied across the United States. I think Arizona is one of many states that did not fare well and I think what is important to think about, why do we let kids -- why do we let kids learn at different levels depending on where they happen to live? From within state to state, you've some students in a state that has D level standards and some A level standards. What we need is to create high standards for all kids in the United States and Arizona, so that we have some way to gauge whether they're actually prepared for what they need to know in college and careers.

Ted Simons: The report says that the science standards were weak on content and that they were plagued by what they called disorganization, a lack of cohesion, frustration.

Darcy Rengo: Right.

Ted Simons: What does that mean?

Darcy Renfro: There's a progression and there are things that students need to understand before they can move on to the next level. It should be a logical progression of scientific concepts. They mean it's disconnected. In one grade you have a certain set of things that students are supposed to know and the next grade, another set and don't necessarily connect. We should be building on science year after year. Not just science, but the interconnectivity of science with mathematics and technology and how it works together and that's the direction we should be moving, how the things work together to help kids.

Ted Simons: Yeah, indeed. And ok. We've got science standards weak on content and science standards plagued by disorganization. Suffering from lack of cohesion. We also are hearing that California and Washington D.C. received an A grade. The only two states or regions that got an A grade. So the question becomes what can Arizona do -- ok, we don't need to go to A, perhaps, in one fell swoop. What can we do to improve?

Darcy Renfro: What they've already done, in math and language arts, internationally benchmarked standards and 48 states including Arizona and Washington D.C. have joined to raise the level of rigor and do that in a way that would enable to compare apples to apples. We look at California and they're getting a D -- an A. If we're playing off the same playbook, we'll know how our kids are doing as well as California. Arizona is one of 26 states leading the country in developing a similar set of common standards that states will adopt that are internationally benchmarked and we'll see the level of rigor, increase not just in Arizona, but amongst all of these states and we'll be able to actually compare not just us against California but against kids in Singapore and Finland and all around the globe.

Ted Simons: Not necessarily comparing us to California and Washington D.C., but what can we take from California and Washington?

Darcy Renfro: I think if you look at -- looking at science standards in isolation is a mistake and we need to look at how science, the interrelationship with math and technology, what are we teaching? Are we teaching them to think, the content they need to know in science and math and language art, and beyond that, to be good thinkers and solve problems and think critically, like when they go to work. When you go to work, you're not -- you're not looking at a set of concepts and memorizing them and spitting them back. You're taking what you know and applying it and we need to do a better job here and in other states. And if you looked California as a whole or Washington D.C. or beyond those -- Washington D.C., that they're doing a tremendous job and creating students that are going to be successful in life.

Ted Simons: Which is discouraging because this is important to competitiveness and security.

Darcy Renfro: Absolutely, and what we call stem education, to national security and economic competitiveness. In a state like Arizona we have a great potential to grow our innovative sectors and work from the university enterprise and research and development we derive and moving those into our markets and we need talent and need to continue to grow that talent. It's vital. And a state like Arizona where we have a high level of defense, a high defense industry, a big defense industry, we need students and U.S. citizens in those jobs that we need to build and grow here in Arizona to support that industry as well as.

Ted Simons: Do Arizona leaders understand the lack of -- this disorganization, lack of cohesion, the things mentioned in the report, I guess you would quibble with a paragraph or -- do they understand?

Darcy Renfro: Believe they do. Arizona is at a point to improve things for kids in Arizona. If you look at what the governor is doing with Arizona Ready and part of Arizona Ready was the race to the top plan that we competed for and ended up getting $25 million from the federal government to help support the implementation. We've done more without any federal dollars than I think the states that got $250 million or $300 million. But one of the requirements was to become a state that adopted internationally benchmarked standards and raised the level of expectation and developed the tools and landscape that will enable them to be successful with the high expectations. Support teachers and turn around schools not doing well and focus on them. Schools that are doing well, let them do what they need do and help the struggling schools and focus on helping the teachers know how to teach the standards. Having them is one thing. Being able to teach them in the classroom is a whole other thing. One of the things that the foundation is doing and asked to do by the governor and the private sector as well, to build a better -- to build a stem network and connect -- identify what's really working and able to replicate that. Identify what's going to help a teacher in the classroom translate these expectations into what a student learns and provides the -- a way to connect concept to real world in the classroom and capture and measure it so we know we're doing a good job as a state.

Ted Simons: Good information. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon" -- Hear from the state senate president and speaker of the house on the current legislative session. And I'll talk to the author of a comprehensive look at the history of Arizona. Those stories, Thursday at 5:30 and 10:00, right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening!

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Legislative Update

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  • An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week update on news from the Arizona State Legislature.
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislature, update,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers celebrated Arizona's centennial this week and then went back to work on a variety of proposed legislation. Here now with our mid week legislative update is Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Thanks for joining us. Let's start with the governor -- we finally got someone to introduce the governor's education reform plan, correct?

Jim Small: This is a plan that has really been in the works for almost a year now. It was about last February when the governor's office started having meetings with legislative leaders and some legislative staff people to talk about this whole idea and it was never able to get off the ground last year for a variety of reasons. That session moved quickly and done in 100 days by -- I think the end of April and didn't get to this bill. It was a cornerstone in Governor Brewer's State of the State plan. And talked about how Arizona needs to go out and revamp the way it hires government workers and give the government more flexibility, like the private market has and Representative Justin Olson, a Republican from Mesa is basically carrying this legislation for the governor's office and it's going to be heard in committee tomorrow.

Ted Simons: New state workers uncovered by civil service protection and current state workers would still have those protections however the governor says you want a 5% raise, uncover yourself.

Jim Small: Yeah, and you could voluntarily do that or there's a provision if you take a new job or new responsibilities and go from a CPS caseworker to a supervisor, by taking that you would become uncovered, so you would move from having merit protection to being an at-will employee.

Ted Simons: Take the promotion and lose the protection.

Jim Small: Exactly.

Ted Simons: How much debate at the capitol?

Jim Small: Tomorrow, it will be a lengthy hearing, going through the employment and regulatory affairs committee in the house. A bill like this, you know, a couple of hours, maybe an hour and a half of testimony and debate and back and forth and you'll have, I think, the state employee unions out in force against this to testify against it and lodge opposition. I don't know if it's going to make much of a difference, at least not in tomorrow's hearing. As most committees at the capitol, it's an overwhelming Republican to Democrat and I'm sure the bill will have new steam to get out of committee and see at this point, what problems are highlighted during the testimony.

Ted Simons: We should mention the critics of the proposed legislation talk about leading to cronyism and retaliation because personality and politics and these things. We'll hear about that tomorrow.

Jim Small: The fear is that you’ll end up with a patronage system -- where a new governor appoints a whole new crop of agency directors and they look down at the ranks in the departments, and say ok. , I'm going to get rid of these people and hire people I've worked with or who are friends and/or family of mine.

Ted Simons: Another bill calling for armed volunteer force on the border. This is -- Sylvia Allen is pushing. The special missions unit.

Jim Small: It's similar to an idea last year that would create -- maybe it didn't get vetoed but kicked around and create a volunteer armed militia that would respond to natural disasters or, in this case, be deployed to the Arizona-Mexico border and not require the governor's approval to be sent to the border so basically a standing volunteer militia designed to protect Arizona.

Ted Simons: And who would be in charge?

Jim Small: I think the National Guard would be in charge.

Ted Simons: The National Guard is for this, correct?

Jim Small: They are not necessarily all for this. They have General Hugo Salazar has gone through a couple of committees and registered as neutral and said I'm not going to take a position but I see problems coming and I don't necessarily want to be the guy in charge of the volunteers not going through military training and the things that his soldiers would do about they're sent into a combat situation.

Ted Simons: Correct me if I’m wrong here, but the cost was estimated at 1.5 some odd million, $1.5 million.

Jim Small: Yeah. That would be taken from some -- a pot of money used for gang, intelligence and drug trafficking.

Ted Simons: $1.4 million to train a force and supply a force and to equip and deploy -- doesn't sound like a lot of money for this.

Jim Small: Well, no, but it doesn't pay for salaries, because they're volunteers. Paying for a couple of people to oversee and supervise and command it.

Ted Simons: I think we need to learn more about it before it flies any higher. What's going on with the concept of the legislature making sure that the teachers don't use bad language or at least language that the FCC would not approve of on classrooms and school grounds.

Jim Small: It's a bill that went through the senate government reform committee this morning and I know it's created -- gotten a lot of controversy. I think on the blogs and news media. And some of the things that people were upset about were taken out. It doesn't apply to colleges anymore. It was amended and applies to in-school now. Originally, it would have applied to any teacher at any time whether in the teachers' lounge or at home or a bar. Would have been able to not use profanity without risking losing their job. It's an interesting bill and even so, the Republicans were skeptical and it passed and it's going to be moved on to a floor debate. But there were a couple Republican, I agree with the sentiment. I understand where you're coming from and I agree that we need to create a culture where there's less profanity, but the way it's written it's got problems and puts you in a situation where a teacher could be fired or suspended based on the word of a student and there's not a good system in the bill to determine how this whole thing is going to happen. How an appeal is going to happen and who is the judge and jury.

Ted Simons: And what words will not be allowed? The FCC standard -- have you watched television, prime time, and all of these -- we've remembered the bare buttocks on "Hill Street Blues."

Jim Small: And one of the Democrats said, jokingly, maybe put all of these words in the bill. And no, no, the FCC's guidelines are clear and I think even that's open to debate. We've seen this happen a couple of times every year, where a network wants to put something on the air and it’s controversial and they’re trying to find a loophole within the FCC guidelines.

Ted Simons: It opens up a discussion on vocabulary, I suppose. Good to have you here.

Jim Small: Thanks for having me.