SARSEF

Every child. Thinking critically. Solving problems.

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For the Love of Science Matching Gift Campaign!

Thank you Tim Schaffner and Anne Maley-Schaffner for launching SARSEF’s For The Love of Science campaign. Gifts will be matched up to $3,500. Help us go beyond our $6,000 goal!

There’s chemistry in the air! This February, we are celebrating our love of science! We will highlight students’ science fair projects that were driven by wonder, curiosity, and passion for the world around them. We also can’t forget about Arizona’s birthday on Valentine’s Day, so we will spread the love by featuring classroom-level research projects that emphasized on topics relevant to students and their rural communities in our beautiful Grand Canyon State.

Join us and spread the love of science by supporting SARSEF and making a gift today! A special thank you to Tim Schaffner and Anne Maley-Schaffner for matching gifts up to $3,500!

“Scientific knowledge is vital in education and in life. We support SARSEF’s leadership in engaging youth to explore the world around them and how they can make a difference. In doing so, youth begin to believe in themselves and gain confidence and skills needed in our community.” – Tim Schaffner and Anne Maley-Schaffner

Double your impact today and receive a limited edition For the Love of Science sticker! Type “Love” in the comments section when making your gift.

Click here to donate and support SARSEF!

Student Project Spotlights

For the Love of Discovery

Meet Finnigan McGill, inventor of A-BiRD, an automated bird recognition device!

Last year, Finnigan’s successfully designed and engineered A-BiRD, a device to collect continuous and objective data for ornithologists.

The Automated Bird Recognition Device provides consistent data to help track the rise and fall of bird populations by species. Since the system can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the continuous coverage improves the accuracy and continuity of bird data. A-BiRD can be employed globally for objective data collection without relying on human intervention!

Finnigan’s project led to winning the Coding with Commitment Sponsored Award given by Broadcom Foundation. The award included public recognition by the foundation, a $250 gift certificate, and a Raspberry Pi Foundation Official RP 400 Personal Computer Kit.

Click here to watch Finnegan’s YouTube video to learn more about his project.

Click here to view Finnegan’s project.

For the Love of Our Planet

Meet Insee Eckstrom, a bright 5th grader with a passion for saving our world’s ocean’s!

First motivated by the use of ferrofluid to clean up microplastic in the oceans, he hoped his ideas and invention could help clean up larger plastic pieces before they turn into microplastic. His research focused on exploring plastic and magnetic properties to save the world ocean’s!

Insee will continue to develop his research and prototypes. Who knows… his system could help remove plastic in Tucson’s flashfloods.

Click here to view Insee’s project.

For the Love of the Universe

Meet Yaritza Durazo, a recent Sunnyside High School graduate, SARSEF Fair participant and ISEF finalist, Flinn Scholar, and fierce Latina with a passion for physics!

Last year, Yaritza’s SARSEF project explored chaotic orbits that could make space mission designs more effective and allow us to understand the past and future of our solar system!

Using the Lyapunov exponent in the restricted three-body problem, Yaritza’s research concluded that increasing the Jacobi constant and mass of the planet had opposite effects on the stability of orbits and by rediscovering the 2/7 power law, once can now see the equivalence between two different chaos criteria.

Yaritza’s curiosity and love for Physics and Astronomy lead to an incredible discovery that will continue to support space exploration!

Click here to view Yartiza’s project.

For the Love of Arizona!

Read the Arizona Daily Star Article highlighting SARSEF Rural High School program

SARSEF launched a new rural high school program across Arizona, connecting students with support and resources that are often lacking in geographically remote locations. The program brought university-level research to high school students as they participated in whole class based authentic scientific projects. Teachers were paired with Research Fellows from the University of Arizona and worked together to elevate student research!

The classroom-level research projects emphasized topics relevant to students and their rural communities.

  • CAS High School’s studied how the microbes on local plants around Douglas, Arizona impact plant growth.
  • Safford High School researched how diet impacts the growth of tobacco hornworms.
  • Sahuarita High School installed a pollinator garden to investigate the relationship between the plants and the pollinators.
  • Willcox High School explored soil dynamics by learning about above-ground and below-ground interactions between plants and soil as well as within the soil itself that could have potential implications for local agriculture in Willcox, Arizona.

Click here to learn more about SARSEF’s new rural high school program.

Your gift can now have a greater impact. The Connie Hillman Family Foundation has committed to granting SARSEF $1 (up to $200,000) for every $2 (up to $400,000) raised through new donors or increased gifts from existing contributors.

$200K challenge gift awarded to SARSEF

(Tucson, Arizona) SARSEF is launching a two-year challenge grant campaign in partnership with the Connie Hillman Family Foundation (Hillman Foundation) designed to have an immediate and long-lasting impact on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across the state of Arizona.

The Hillman Foundation has pledged to granting SARSEF $1 (up to $200,000) for every $2 (up to $400,000) raised. The challenge grant applies only to gifts received from new donors (individuals, foundations, and corporate) and increased gifts from existing contributors.

“SARSEF has seen a significant amount of growth over the last few years in response to students’ critical need for access to quality science education – especially for students from historically marginalized groups that have not had the same access to careers and education in science fields.” Julie Euber, SARSEF’s CEO, shared. “With the support of the Hillman Foundation, we can sustain that growth and provide authentic experiences in science and engineering for more students across the state of Arizona.”

Founded in 2011, the Hillman Foundation has awarded more than $14 million to local nonprofit organizations. Recognizing that STEM education is vital and that future-readiness requires students who can connect learning across disciplines to understand and solve real-world problems, this challenge grant will have a lasting and transformative impression across the state of Arizona.   

 

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

If you would like to know more about SARSEF and how you can become engaged in STEM, volunteer for our organization, or donate, visit us at sarsef.org.

Media Contact

Yvonne Pysher, Director of Marketing and Communications

SARSEF

520-525-5230

yvonne@sarsef.org

DOWNLOAD PDF OF PRESS RELEASE

SARSEF Program Manager is named first ever Phoenix YWCA Emerging Leader!

America Miranda, SARSEF Program Manager, has been named the first ever Phoenix YWCA Emerging Leader.

YWCA’s Tribute to Leadership Awards Program has been an annual celebration to recognize the accomplishments of leaders in our community who strive to improve the lives of women, girls, and people of color through leadership, advocacy, and community service.

America joined the SARSEF team in January 2021 with 15 years of experience in large scale event and concert production, as well as experience coordinating community and school programs. Beyond her work at SARSEF, her volunteer work shows a clear dedication to building just communities in Arizona.

Her service includes but is not limited to:

  • Volunteering with Abolition Yuma County which advocates for migrant individuals seeking asylum to do free translating, help find resources, and whatever is needed.
  • Volunteering with several different groups to do border aid runs in Nogales and Ciudad Juarez, providing water and food to migrant individuals.
  • Delivering clothing, shoes and monetary help in Mexico, mainly Sonora, on a monthly basis

America Miranda: “I am honored to receive this award… but the work doesn’t stop here. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve my community and hopefully inspire others to do the same”

America Miranda has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women in Arizona. At SARSEF, she runs two programs serving students statewide. SARSEF’s Racing the Sun is a statewide high school college-preparatory program that engages teams of high school students to design, build, and race their own solar go-karts. They learn engineering and communication skills, explore related careers, and join the race to make transportation sustainable. While the pandemic brought a new set of challenges, it took the right person to build the program to new heights while actively ensuring the program is engaging and supporting high school girls as well as Hispanic and Latino families. America Miranda has taken on that challenge and is building toward a program more reflective of the state’s population. Not only is she working to build relationships and recruit teams near the US/Mexico border, successfully registering a team in Rio Rico this year, she also registered the first all-female racing team since SARSEF acquired the program in 2019.

From America’s first day at SARSEF, she has been an advocate for Hispanic and Latino families. She understands that our efforts need to go beyond translation projects. She actively ensures that SARSEF shows up where Hispanic and Latino families will be and builds spaces for them within the science and engineering education community.

Another great example of her work is SARSEF’s annual ACES Camp, a week-long summer camp for ~40 middle school girls in the Sunnyside Unified School District. While America had worked on the camp previously, this summer was her first time as Camp Director. She introduced several innovative features that were pivotal to the camp’s success including bilingual curriculum and sessions with Hispanic and Latino women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) who shared about their careers and encouraged the campers to pursue STEM. The camp’s final celebration welcomed the campers’ families, where students showed off their real-world, problem-solving projects to proud caregivers while a mariachi band played in the background. Speakers motivated families to keep their kids involved in science and engineering while offering their support and resources. Siblings wanted to know when it would be their turn to be ACES campers. SARSEF’s exit survey showed that by the end of ACES Camp, 61% of the campers said they were highly likely or likely to choose a career in science or engineering.

Congratulations to the 2023 Tribute to Leadership Nominees!

Join us in celebration on Wednesday, March 29th at The Croft Downtown in Phoenix, Arizona from 4:30-7:30! Purchase your tickets here!

Press Release: SARSEF Seeks Judges and Volunteers to Reward and Encourage Students at the 68th Annual Regional Science and Engineering Fair

(Tucson, AZ) Judge and volunteer registration is now open for SARSEF’s 68th annual Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The 2023 Fair will be a hybrid event with all student projects submitted digitally, celebrated during an outdoor Community STEM Expo and Award Ceremony at Reid Park, on Saturday, March 11th, in person from 10:00am-5:30pm. Volunteers are needed for both virtual and in-person roles, serving as judges, monitors, and event support. Join us in supporting the innovators, problem solvers, and leaders of tomorrow from the comfort of your own home, or in-person as we transform Reid Park into a STEM wonderland.

For more info on the Fair, visit https://sarsef.org/sarsef-fair/

“Do you remember a teacher or mentor from your childhood who pointed out that you were good at something? As a volunteer or judge at the SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair, you get to be that person encouraging and rewarding students for their hard work in the sciences. Imagine the difference you can make in their lives,” shared Julie Euber, SARSEF CEO.

This year’s judging will take place virtually and in-person from March 6-March 8, 2023. PreK-Middle school judging will be held virtually, while high school judging will take place in-person at the University of Arizona Ballroom.

  • Elementary school judges must have a high school education, with some experience with the age level selected, and/or interest in the field selected.
  • Middle School judges should hold a bachelor’s degree and have some experience in their field or teach in the selected area.
  • Judges at the high school level should be professionals in their fields (at least three to five years’ experience preferred) and/or be in the process of obtaining or hold advanced (master’s or doctoral) degrees.

For more information on serving as a judge and to register, visit https://sarsef.org/volunteers/judges/

“SARSEF is an incredible foundation, with numerous opportunities for scientists and engineers to serve as mentors. I eagerly look forward to volunteering as a judge every year for the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair. It is an excellent way to support young scientists and to also give back to the community. I learn something new every time that I volunteer, and I feel honored to serve as a mentor to young scientists. I strongly encourage all scientists and engineers to volunteer for this incredible opportunity to support young people in STEM fields.” said Jennifer Noble, Ph.D., Scientist and dedicated SARSEF judge.

The 2022 Fair had over 1,500 projects submitted, representing the work of nearly 7,000 students. Judges gave out over 1,000 awards, prizes, and scholarships, totaling $128,150.38.

642 students won awards on individual and team projects, while 3,990 won awards as part of a class project – 63% of all award winners attended a Title I school. Awards are given to students and teachers in all grade levels and subject areas. Volunteer opportunities are available February 27 through March 11. Time commitments range from a few hours to several days.

For more information on volunteering and to register, visit https://sarsef.org/programs/competitions/sarsef-science-and-engineering-fair/

Beyond the fair, SARSEF works year-round to ensure all students have the resources and access they need to pursue their own science projects. Students are encouraged to think of a problem in their lives, community or world that they would want to solve, while teachers and parents receive guidance on how to support students’ work.

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit https://sarsef.org/

Media Contact:

Yvonne Pysher, Director of Marketing and Communications

SARSEF

(520) 525-5230

yvonne@sarsef.org

DOWNLOAD PDF OF PRESS RELEASE

SARSEF Expands Accredited Professional Development Sessions Across the State 

(Tucson, Arizona) In partnership with ASU- Arizona STEM Acceleration Project, SARSEF is expanding accredited professional development opportunities across the state of Arizona. The sessions will focus on phenomena-based learning, modeling for teachers on how take students noticing and wondering and turn it into a phenomena-based inspired science project and learning experience.  

Phenomena-based learning encourages students to ask questions, discover connections, and design models to make sense of what they observe. This allows students to engage in real world and authentic problems that matter to them.  

“I am excited about empowering teachers to bring Phenomena-based Learning into their classrooms,” said Jessica Howe, SARSEF Manager of In-School Outreach, “this project will enable deeper learning as students will make connections across subjects and see practical relevance to real life. They will develop stronger skills in communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving. My hope is to inspire students, with their teacher’s guidance, to take ownership of their own research and learning.” 

Sessions will be held in the following cities: 

  • February 8 — Community Foundation for Southern AZ – Tucson, Arizona  
  • March 29 — Bisbee Science Lab – Bisbee, Arizona 
  • April 27 — Arizona Science Center – Phoenix, Arizona 
  • May 17 — online via Zoom – Virtual 

If you are interested in registering, please visit https://sarsef.org/asap-registration/ 

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

We Did It! 2022 Was Quite the Year!

Wow! Can you believe the year is almost over?!

For us, it was all about you – our community of committed students, parents and caregivers, educators, volunteers, donors, supporters, board and staff – and the impact we had across the state of Arizona.

We’re taking a moment to reflect on the past twelve months and all we have accomplished together in creating Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers through science and engineering.

2022 Highlights

Looking back on this year and reflecting on some of our favorite moments, we are humbled and grateful on the impact we had on so many students, parents and caregivers, educators, and science education.

As we continue to build Arizona’s largest pipeline of future critical thinkers and problems solvers, SARSEF moved office locations to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in October! Our team also grew, welcoming four new staff members: Kate FitzpatrickCorporate & Community Engagement Manager, Jessica HoweManager of In-School Outreach, Rose PrendergastRacing the Sun Specialist, and Yvonne PysherDirector of Marketing and Communications.

SARSEF programs were also on a roll this year! We launched a new rural high school program, bringing university-level research to four rural high school classrooms in Douglas, Safford, Sahuarita, and Willcox, Arizona (read more about it here). Our Summer Camp programming also expanded as we partnered with the Arizona Science Center to bring Camp Innovation to over 50 students in July. 

We are also excited to share that Amber Folkman, Manager of School Relationships and Impact and SARSEF, were selected to participate in Social Venture Partners ‘Fast Pitch’! It is a program for nonprofit leaders and an event designed to create community level change (learn more about Fast Pitch here).

Our Education team has also been busy, reaching students, parents and caregivers, and educators all across the state. We launched our first ever Science Fair Workshop, serving over 1,000 students to inspire and get them excited about the science fair. We have also expanded our Professional Development Program, serving educators in Bisbee, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

Last, but certainly not least, 460 committed volunteers donated over 4,000 hours in service! Looking back on this year proves that passion and commitment of creating Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers through science and engineering is fueling positive change for a better tomorrow. 

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

From Flying Paper Airplanes to Satellites Over the Horizons

Imagine the impact you can have on the world with indefinite curiosity. Meet Jeremiah Pate, SARSEF alumnus and board member, recipient of Forbes 30 under 30, and founder of Lunasonde. Developing a passion for STEM at a very young age, Jeremiah found himself participating in science fairs since the first grade. His research focused on the physics of cloud formation to determining which molecule could treat and reverse Parkinson’s disease to support an immediate medical need of a family friend.

Jeremiah’s journey with SARSEF began early, creating a project out of paper airplane designs in first grade to see which one would fly the furthest. He entered the science fair every year, but it wasn’t until high school where his passion for science took off.

Every year, Jeremiah Pate’s research projects were in a different category, but were equally important to global needs. In high school, Pate’s SARSEF research projects led him to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) every year, shaping his passion for research. His final project applied to support the immediate medical need of a family friend. He watched the devastating impact the disease had as they went through their silent struggle and made a promise to their families that he would dedicate his final SARSEF science fair project to research in Parkinson’s disease. The determination and outcome was successfully achieved in a Drosophila model .

To the right is Jeremiah Pate at ISEF. He won a total of $8,000 in cash prizes, was awarded the opportunity to attend the Nobel Prize festivities and the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS), and an offer of a four-year University of Arizona Scholarship worth $40,000.

Today, Jeremiah Pate is working towards making the underground world visible, fundamentally transforming our understanding of the planet we live on. This technology will revolutionize the way we find resources such as water, minerals, and geothermal energy. We had the opportunity to interview Jeremiah Pate and learn more about his experience with SARSEF and STEM journey.

What was your relationship to science growing up?

I was always infinitely curious about the world and the intricacy of its components; science allowed an invaluable lens to view everything from tiny molecules to the beauty the promise of space. My family encouraged science outreach participation and research that allowed my relationship with STEM to grow.

How did your interest in science develop?

Throughout my lifetime, I remember reading about the great scientists of the past; each strived to push the boundaries of the known. I wanted to be just like them, and life experiences increased my desire to follow. Watching the space shuttle launch sparked my interest in space; I was only two at the time. SARSEF gave me an avenue take an idea every year and turn it into a viable scientific solution.

What was the first project you presented at the SARSEF Fair?

I started participating in science fairs during first grade. The Pima Air and Space Museum was a common weekend destination; so, my first presentation dealt with aerodynamics. The project researched the types of paper airplane designs and the backyard experimentation to prove which design would fly furthest. 

Can you talk more about the research you completed in high school?

The projects completed in high school ironically lead to other experience in my life. Every one of these SARSEF/ISEF projects were in a different category, but was equally important to global needs. My first-year project highlighted research about the physics of cloud formation; this research would later qualify me to participate in an international project to map noctilucent clouds.  The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was the basis of my second project’s research; AMELIA was an aircraft system acting as avionics black box on the cloud. During my junior year in high school, I researched and created an optical encryption system. My fourth and final SARSEF/ISEF project was my favorite, as it applied to an immediate medical need of a family friend. This project focused on determining which molecule could treat and reverse Parkinson’s disease; this determination/outcome was successfully achieved a in a Drosophila model.

What was it like being a Finalist at ISEF?

Participation in ISEF was one of the most memorable experiences of my life; each of the four years shaped my passion for research. I consider participation in ISEF as my first introduction to the global scientific community. It was remarkable to meet like-minded young scientists from all around the world and to witness the incredible research each conducted at the dawn of their careers. To be a member of these alumni is an extreme honor.

How did you choose your career?

As previously mentioned, my fascination with space exploration began at age two. At that time, I had no clue about physics or science; however, watching the launch of the space shuttle engrained that space research would be a big part of my life.  Hypothesizing about the options space holds and applied solutions to push the boundaries of the known opened many doors to entrepreneurship.

Talk a little bit about your current work.

I am the founder and CEO of Lunasonde, which is working towards taking an MRI scan of planet Earth. Our team designs/creates satellites that collect data deep beneath the Earth’s surface. This technology will revolutionize the way we find resources such as water, minerals, and geothermal energy.

Can you walk me through a typical day for you as a startup founder?                                          

The one thing that a founder must remember is to be adaptable; so, each day is quite different.  A startup is much like a team, so accessibility throughout the entire week to problem solve is very important. My typical CEO days may begin speaking with potential investors or participating in employee-related meetings. Over the past year, the company participated in quite a few accelerators, which are primarily through ZOOM; each requires the application of organization and communication. We are currently working on new technology that requires testing and many late hours.  Startup founders are responsible for both operational and financial interactive strategies. We have increased our phenomenal team based out of Tucson, and now have a presence in Washington DC; so networking and continual communication are evolving. We have special projects in the works and another launch in May of next year. So, typical is not yet in our vocabulary right now.

What advice do you have for students currently considering a career in science?

Science is the key that unlocks everything in life. A career in science is extremely rewarding; however, I would recommend choosing a STEM path that is of interest. A science career that that sparks creativity and excitement takes an interest and morphs it into a life-long career.

What do you do for fun?

I earned my private pilot’s license as a teenager and have enjoyed flying sailplanes ever since. Although spare time is at a minimum right now, I enjoy practicing/participating Krav Maga in my free time.

Thank you Jeremiah Pate for your interview, insight, and knowledge you bring to the world of science!

If you would like to know more about SARSEF and how you can become engaged in STEM, volunteer for our organization, or donate, visit us at (https://sarsef.org/)

2022 ACES Camp for Girls- Girls Closing STEM Gender Gap!

About ACES Camp for Girls

SARSEF’s Applied Career Exploration in STEM (ACES) Camp for Girls is a free, week-long summer camp for middle school girls from Sunnyside Unified School District held every July. The camp is designed to explore a wide variety of careers, provide a path to potential success, and spark their interest in higher education in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. ACES stresses teamwork, use of technology, and hands-on learning, while giving students a feel for the college experience at a critical time in their lives. 

After running for over a decade, the program has had more than 500 participants. Some camp alumni are now engineers or scientists. ACES focuses on the importance of math, science, and careers in technical sciences and underscores that women are essential in every career. 

2022 ACES Camp for Girls

Read the Arizona Daily Star Article highlighting ACES Camp for Girls

SARSEF’s Applied Career Exploration in STEM (ACES) Camp for Girls took place the week of July 11-15 at Pima Community College- Downtown Campus. It is a week-long summer camp for middle school girls from Sunnyside Unified School District. The Summer Camp created a learning atmosphere in both English and Spanish to accommodate Spanish speaking students and increase confidence in STEM learning.

The camp is free and designed to explore a wide variety of careers, provide a path to potential success, and spark their interest in higher education in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. 

40 campers visited STEM centers throughout Tucson that inspired learning and curiosity with immersive, hands-on STEM-based tours. Tours included Pima Community College- Downtown Campus, the University of Arizona, Sonora Quest Laboratories/ Laboratory Science of Arizona, and many more!  

From visiting the Automotive Technology and Innovation Center to touring an autopsy room where they examined real human organs preserved for just these types of educational opportunities, the campers learned and got excited about possible careers in automotive, robotics, machining, welding, animal sciences, health sciences, and many more! 

Combining both entrepreneurship and STEM, the campers explored the development of innovative product ideas, venture capital, and finance management through a “Shark Tank” project of designing and creating a product made of recycled materials. 

SARSEF CEO Julie Euber helped ACES Campers understand their superpowers as they discovered and developed their talents with Clifton StrengthsExplorer Assessment. By taking the assessment, the campersreceived a report with their top three talents and ideas for how to highlight, illuminate and provide important data and action steps for a better future!   

When asking the campers what they think of when they hear the word “science”, Patricia, Grade 7 said,  
“I think about experimenting with new things to create something that will help our society”.  

ACES Camp for Girls provided the opportunity for students to explore careers in STEM, build creative inventions, assess their talents, and create lasting friendships.

ACES Camp Girls on the Radio!

Thank you to Lotus Communications Corporation Arizona and Riley for interviewing SARSEF Programs Manager, America Miranda, and our ACES Camp campers! The interview aired on the following stations: 94.9 MIXfm, Rock 102.1 KFMA, 96.1 FM KLPX, and ESPN Tucson.

If you missed the interview on the radio, tune in here!

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

Interested in supporting SARSEF and our work creating Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers through science and engineering?

Click Here to Visit SARSEF’s Donation Page

SARSEF to Bring University-Level Research to Rural High School Classrooms

(Tucson, Arizona) SARSEF is launching a new rural high school program across Arizona, connecting students with support and resources that are often lacking in geographically remote locations. The program will bring university-level research to high school students as they participate in whole class based authentic scientific projects. Teachers have been paired with Research Fellows from the University of Arizona and they will work together to elevate student research.

The program will focus on classroom-level research projects, emphasizing topics relevant to students and their rural communities. With a whole class problem-based learning approach, students will acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.

“SARSEF is unique in supporting whole class research experiences for high school students,” said SARSEF Director of Research, Margaret Wilch, PhD, “I am excited that the program will provide authentic research experiences to approximately 120 rural students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to conduct scientific research, let alone to interact with an actual scientist. The program focuses on freshman and sophomore science classes, not on science classes where students have already self-identified as loving science. In this way, we hope the program will provide greater access to science, enabling students to experience the creativity of thinking like a scientist and doing science.”

Teachers and Research Fellows received training on how to lead whole class research inquiry and design projects with Margaret Wilch, PhD at the American Museum of Natural History’s Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona. Classroom research project topics were chosen based on concern and relevancy to there rural community.

Teachers and Research Fellows will be awarded with $2,000 stipends supported by the Office of Societal Impact, UArizona Research, Innovation and Impact. Additional programmatic support comes from the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundations.

Four high schools across Arizona are participating in the new Rural High School Program:

  • CAS High School Douglas in Douglas, Arizona with teacher Sharon Christie and Research Fellow Ciara Garcia, PhD candidate in Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona.
  • Safford High School in Safford, Arizona with teacher Kami Downing and Research Fellow Jay Goldberg, Postdoctoral Researcher in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.
  • Sahuarita High School in Sahuarita, Arizona with teacher Gavin Lehr and Research Fellow Katherine Hovanes, Postdoctoral Researcher in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona.
  • Willcox High School in Willcox, Arizona with teacher Ty White and Research Fellow Savannah Fuqua, PhD Student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.

Words From our Teachers and Research Fellows

“As a rural community on the border, there are limited opportunities for us to participate in STEM activities like those that SARSEF offer. Not only will my students learn a lot from this project, they’ll also be exposed to things that they wouldn’t normally encounter. I’m excited to work with a plant scientist and know this collaboration will have great impact in both Douglas and Agua Prieta.” -Sharon Christie, Teacher, CAS High School

“Microbes do a remarkable amount for plants, animals, and humans. We want to see how the microbes on local plants around Douglas impact plant growth. Students will choose plants they’re interested in so that they can see how science has relevance to the world around them.” -Ciara Garcia, Research Fellow, PhD candidate, Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona (paired with Sharon Christie)

“I chose to be part of the SARSEF program so that I can help my students actively take part in real and meaningful science research.” -Kami Downing, Teacher, Safford High School

“We’re going to have the students look at how diet impacts the growth of tobacco hornworms. The students will play an active role in deciding what interests them as the tobacco hornworms grow and change – from life cycle to behavior to size.” -Jay Goldberg, Research Fellow, Postdoctoral Researcher, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona (paired with Kami Downing)

“This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do in my freshman-level science classes but with more support and connections to scientists than could have been possible without SARSEF’s new program. Even science topics that sound in the weeds can easily be connected to not only our day-to-day lives, but also real-world problems and challenges and how we can solve them. This project is no exception.”

“I’m confident that 95% of my students have not done science to the degree that this project allows for. They’ve never had the flexibility to start a project from scratch based on their own interest and curiosity. Because the project includes planting native plants in an area currently invaded by buffel grass, this is a resource that will create opportunity for students in all of my classes for years to come.” -Gavin Lehr, Teacher, Sahuarita High School

“We are installing a pollinator garden then having students investigate the relationship between the plants and the pollinators. We’re going to give students as much opportunity as possible to come up with their own questions in a diverse pollinator garden so that they can take ownership over their own research and get experience in developing their own projects just like professional scientists.” -Katherine Hovanes, Research Fellow, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona (paired with Gavin Lehr)

“I really believe in how research projects help students develop confidence and competence. Working with SARSEF to do a full-class project, I get to share that opportunity with a greater number of students. Any chance the students have to go out and DO science is going to be a win for all parties.” -Ty White, Teacher, Willcox High School

“The students are going to work on a project to understand soil dynamics. They’ll learn about above-ground and below-ground interactions between plants and soil as well as within the soil itself. While the students will be able to take ownership of developing the research questions they want to explore, many will have potential implications for local agriculture.” -Savannah Fuqua, Research Fellow, PhD Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona (paired with Ty White)

About SARSEF:

SARSEF was formed in 1955 in an effort to increase student interest in the field of science. The mission of SARSEF is to engage Arizona’s Pre-K-12 grade students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through inquiry-based learning and research.

SARSEF accomplishes this mission through a variety of programming including a high school mentoring program, the STAR Lab, SARSEF Fair Week, educational outreach programs with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in the sciences, teacher professional development, ACES Camp for Middle School girls, Racing the Sun, and Arizona STEM Adventure.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org

Media Contact

Yvonne Pysher, Director of Marketing and Communications

SARSEF

yvonne@sarsef.org

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From SARSEF to Next Generation Solutions, Global Issues in Healthcare, and Climate Change

Meet Dr. Ahmed Badran, born in Germany, having lived in Egypt and moving to Tucson, Arizona, Dr. Badran was an incredibly gifted STEM student and excellent swimmer at Tucson High Magnet School (THMS). Knowing what a pipette and centrifuge was at 10 or 11 years old, Dr. Badran was exposed to a very diverse set of science and knew the hallmarks of molecular biology at a very young age.

His journey with SARSEF began when he was selected to represent Southern Arizona at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2006. Ahmed was bright beyond his years and was generous and humble in sharing his insights and knowledge of biology and chemistry with his teacher, Dr. Margaret Wilch, SARSEF’s Director of Research, and his classmates.

As a THMS student, Dr. Badran worked in the lab of Professor Indraneel (Neel) Ghosh, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona. Upon graduating high school, he attended the University of Arizona where he continued his research in Dr. Ghosh’s lab until he graduated. Dr. Badran was awarded the prestigious Beckman Scholar award in 2008 as well as the top award as an undergraduate. He earned numerous other awards throughout his undergraduate and graduate school career.

Dr. Badran earned his B.Sc. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics and Molecular & Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. Subsequently, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from Harvard University under the guidance of Prof. David R. Liu, leading the development and application of rapid methods for continuous directed evolution. Following that, he is a Principal Investigator and Fellow of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard where his lab is developing new technologies to reprogram protein translation. To learn more about Dr. Ahmed Badran’s lab at the Scripps Research Institute, click here.

To the right is Dr. Badrans team from the Badran Lab, located at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California. They combine principles of chemical biology, bioengineering, directed evolution, genome editing and synthetic biology to (re)engineer highly integrated cellular signaling networks towards researcher-defined function. The Badran Lab is currently supported by the Scripps Research Institute, NIH Director’’s Early Independence Award, NASA, DTRA, and NIBIB.

Dr. Ahmed Badran was an incredible, bright, and humble student, who is now addressing issues of immediate global impact, namely antimicrobial development, biologics production, information maintenance and transmission, and climate change. We had the opportunity to interview Dr. Badran and learn more about his experience with SARSEF and STEM journey.

What was your relationship to science growing up?

I began interacting with science at a young age. My parents, both of whom are scientists, had a deep respect for their work and what science could teach us about the world around us. They instilled that passion in me from a young age: they spoke with pride about how they contributed to the sum of human knowledge, and discoveries that they made every day. Unsurprisingly, I wanted to be a pioneer like them, so I followed in their footsteps and became a scientist.

How did your interest in science develop?

I’ve always found science interesting. But some of my earliest fascinations came from astronomy. It was exciting to me that researchers could point telescopes up into the sky, watch how the stars and celestial bodies moved, and predict how they would behave years in the future with great accuracy. I remember first learning about the Pillars of Creation, a dense concentration of gas and dust more than 6000 light years away. The image was breathtaking. But I later learned that it no longer existed: since light from this formation takes over 6000 years to arrive to Earth, the gas and dust probably dissipated long ago. This duality of beauty and impermanence was key to my fascination with science.

What was the first project you presented at the SARSEF Fair?

My work at the SARSEF Fair was done in the Ghosh lab at the University of Arizona. It focused on creating sensors to quickly and accurately monitor how proteins interact with one another. My approach relied on using fluorescent proteins, which can be made in living cells and quantified easily. These sensors could detect so-called protein-protein interactions and in doing so would change the fluorescent output of the system. By measuring this change, I could quantify the of the protein-protein interaction.

Can you talk more about the research you completed in high school?

My work during SARSEF got me excited about making sensors for other biological activities. Just as proteins interact with one another, they can also interact with blueprints of information in cells: DNA and RNA. I became interested in using proteins that naturally bind to specific DNA and RNA sequence, but instead using them to report of new or engineered sequences. This technique could then be applied to detect mutations in DNA or RNA, or even quantify damage that would happen in different environments or disease states.

What was it like being a Finalist at ISEF?

Being an ISEF Finalist was one of the most pivotal moments of my career. While at ISEF, I interacted with students from all over the country and the world, all of whom were engaged in research as high school students. But the most exciting element of ISEF was the diversity of science: mathematicians, chemists, biologists, physicists. And some students were even bridging gaps between fields to create hybrid fields. I was struck by the quality of all of their work and thrilled to interact with peers who valued and enjoyed science as much as I did.

How did you choose your career?

After SARSEF and ISEF, I was admitted to the University of Arizona as a biochemistry major, and continued my trajectory in studying proteins. Their diverse shapes and functions fascinated me. The more I learned about these molecular machines which are the workhorses of the cell, the more I began to think about modifying their functions or combing two or more existing activities into a single protein. So as an undergraduate, I explored different types of proteins and started to combine them in unique ways to create activities that may not exist in Nature. This field is called bioengineering, and the field with which I now most closely associate.

Talk a little bit about your current work.

My work now has changed quite a bit. My lab is interested in the most fundamental biological process that gives rise to proteins in cells: translation. This process is orchestrated by Nature’s most essential and complex machine, the ribosome. This machine decodes the patterns of bases in RNA to give rise of tens of thousands of unique proteins in our cells every day. But how exactly does it do this? And why does it translate the genetic code in the way that it does? If we can answer these questions, not only do we learn much about how natural biological systems achieve this important activity, but we can go a step further to create technologies to make artificial proteins with new activities. These could be useful to help us sense and respond to disease states, or perhaps even solve critical problems like climate change. My lab is excited about all of these topics, and we are actively working to address many of these important questions. 

Can you walk me through a typical day for you as an assistant professor?

As an assistant professor, most of my time is spent on the bench next to my students and postdocs. We plan and carry out experiment every day together. Beyond that, I spend a few hours every day working on manuscripts or grant applications, both of which are critical to academic science. Manuscripts are the way by which we share our findings with the world, and tell them about the exciting innovations we’ve made. Grants, on the other hand, are laboratory funds that are graciously given to us by our funding agencies to support our work.

What advice do you have for students currently considering a career in science?

There are many different types of science out there, and it can be difficult to know which one is the right one for you. Explore different avenues until you find something that you really enjoy. It may take longer to find, but it’s a much more worthwhile investment than doing something you don’t enjoy.

What do you do for fun?

When I’m not doing science or mentoring students, I like to play a lot of sports outdoors like soccer and swimming. I’ve also recently started hiking and got into amateur astronomy.

Thank you Dr. Ahmed Bedran for your interview, insight, and knowledge you bring to the world of science! Motivated by passion and curiosity, your research has truly made a difference in addressing issues of immediate global impact for a better tomorrow.

If you would like to know more about SARSEF and how you can become engaged in STEM, volunteer for our organization, or donate, visit us at (https://sarsef.org/)