Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation looks at an Arizona science center exhibit that may create a new generation of scientists and inventors. Producer Shana Fischer and photographer Steve Snow show us how a little bit of imagination is going long way.
Shana Fischer: Inside the Arizona science center, the next great invention may be born. Imagining the newest exhibit invites visitors to use their imaginations and dream big.
RaeAnn Fox: The exhibit is all about exploration, kids being able to see themselves as innovators.
Shana Fischer: RaeAnn Fox is the educational director for the center. And says that the exhibit is unlike anything that they have ever had before. Imaginate puts the students in the driver's seat and allows them to control what they do and how they do it. The exhibit is made up of five different themes. Each one designed to encourage imagination, critical thinking, and risk-taking.
RaeAnn Fox: So the goal here is for kids to explore how they become engineers, and how they become innovators. The paper plane section, kids create their own planes. It sounds easy, but when the planes are ready for their first flight, they are not always successful. Through trial and error, the kids figure out the best design to make the planes soar farther. It's here kids learn one of the biggest factors behind innovation, is the motivation to make something better. Fox says it's an important lesson. That the best designs evolve over time.
RaeAnn Fox: In working with kids one of the things we don't always tell them is how they can become innovators or engineers themselves. This allows them to see how simple modifications make something completely different. How they can improve their world by a simple modification, as opposed to having to create some brand new.
Shana Fischer: Technology teacher Cole Stewart agrees.
Cole Stewart: I think it's like a different viewpoint for them. If they start working on things and realize wow, I can make something.
Shana Fischer: Dozens of exhibits fill the 8,000 square foot gallery but the biggest buzz is for the wind tunnel. A plastic tube that simulates a wind turbine. Kids can create mini planes or use objects like feathers and sponges. They are able to control the speed inside the tube, to see which design flies through the tube the fastest or just hovers in space.
RaeAnn Fox: Kids are having a ball. You hear screaming in the background, and they are like, oh, I just did this, and isn't this great? And that's friction, and we start talking to them about that, and they get really excited.
Shana Fischer: Seventh grader Blake Bradshaw wants to be marine biologist, and says field trips like this one spark her interest in learning more.
Blake Bradshaw: It's really fun. It's a great thing to do, it's cool to learn about the different things that you can go into, all the sciences that there are and stuff like that. It's really interesting and fun.
Shana Fischer: If the necessity is the mother of invention, perseverance is the father. Learning that inventions take time and involve a great deal of trying, is part of the experience at the stop motion camera.
Guest: Well, I have quite enjoyed this.
Shana Fischer: Kids use toy animals to create their stop motion movie. They arrange the toys to tell a story, and then shift the animals slightly and capture a single frame on the camera. They can capture as many frames as they want. The more frames, the longer the movie. Stewart is grateful his seventh grade students are getting a chance to enjoy Imaginate. Showing them how the concepts they learn in the classroom exist in the real world is just one benefit.
Cole Stewart: So many people are hands-on learners. They’re not always audio learners or necessarily visual learners. The fact that they can come here and hold parts and put things together. It gives them a different spin on learning.
Shana Fischer: While Imaginate is about having fun, the exhibit works hand in hand with Arizona schools stem curriculum. The science center provides teachers with worksheets to get the kids thinking before then even step foot inside the exhibit.
RaeAnn Fox: I really want them to be able to take away the idea that we are constantly innovating, we are capable of great things, and that our kids are capable great things.
Ted Simons: Imaginate runs until January 5th. For more information, you can check the science center's website at azscience.org.
Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," an update from a local navigator helping people sign up for insurance under the affordable care act. And we'll find out how million in new state arts funding will be allocated. That's at and on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.