Local First Arizona Foundation, an organization that works to build opportunities in rural Arizona, partnered with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District and local businesses to get students excited about STEM. For eight weeks, 3rd-6th grade classrooms across four schools participated in Science Happens Here, a scavenger hunt card game with a Grand Prize opportunity to conduct an experiment with professional scientists from the Arizona Science Center. To play, students and their families were asked to collect Science Happens Here trading cards from local businesses in the community. Each card explained a Scientific, Engineering, Technological, or Mathematical (STEM) process used within that independent business to showcase the breadth of science-related activities happening outside the classroom on a daily basis. The collectable cards then allowed students to unlock household experiments on the Science Happens Here website, earning them a point for each experiment logged for their classroom.
In the Fall of 2018, Mrs. Heath’s 6th grade students from Cottonwood Community School collectively earned a whopping 22 points, making them the season’s victors of Science Happens Here! For their Grand Prize experience, the students chose to conduct a dissection experiment with the Arizona Science Center to study the anatomy of a squid.
How did they do it?
In order to launch Science Happens Here in Cottonwood, Local First Arizona partnered with Arizona Public Service (APS), the Arizona Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN), Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, Cottonwood Economic Development Council, and Councilwoman Tosca Henry. They also partnered with different local businesses to feature them in the hunt and offer cards at their locations. The program bridges the gap between formal and informal learning environments by expanding on classroom learning with accessible, hands-on, project-based activities while simultaneously providing an avenue for the local businesses community to collaborate with the school system.
What was the impact?
Over 625 students participated in this STEM scavenger hunt and as a prize they were able to do more exciting STEM activities and dissect a squid! District Superintendent, Steve King said, “I have not heard that much enthusiasm about a program in a very long time!”
The Arizona Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) is funded by the National Science Foundation to oversee grant funding for informal STEM education projects in four rural Arizona communities: Cochise County, Graham and Greenlee County, the Verde Valley, and the Navapache/White Mountains region. RAIN acts as a resource for best practices in informal STEM program development and works to highlight effective STEM programs, employers and organizations across the state of Arizona. Interested in applying for a grant? Visit our website today and learn more about the opportunities in your community.