Every child. Thinking critically. Solving problems.


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Published Monday April 1, 2024

Why I give to SARSEF, and you should, too!

By Emily Halvorson-Otts, Board Chair, SARSEF; Dean of Sciences, Pima Community College

SARSEF provides Southern Arizona’s pre-K-12th grade students an avenue to explore their world through Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM). STEM is a continually growing field, and we need our future scientists and engineers to solve the world’s wicked problems, including ending poverty and hunger, providing access to clean water, creating sustainable solutions, and tackling climate action. We need diverse perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, and ideas to solve these wicked problems.

That is where SARSEF comes in!

Through SARSEF’s numerous programs, children can unleash their creativity, ask questions, and engage their brilliant young minds. More importantly, SARSEF programming helps students recognize their superpower – their minds! SARSEF is a fantastic platform to celebrate kids’ passion, creativity, and curiosity for their world. Further, SARSEF encourages young minds from Title I schools, women, and minorities to participate in STEM – and we need everyone to help solve our wicked problems.

SARSEF has a wealth of programming for pre-K-12 grade students, ranging from Racing the Sun, where students build solar-powered go-carts, to in-school programming called What Do We Wonder, where young kids are encouraged to ask questions and engage in critical thinking and problem-solving. Two of my favorites are the AZ STEM Adventure at the Northwest Campus of Pima Community College (PCC) and the annual SARSEF Science Fair. The AZ STEM Adventure brings approximately 1000 4th-8th grade students to PCC to explore numerous STEM activities, while well over 1000 students participate virtually.

During the most recent SARSEF Science Fair, I had the honor and privilege of handing out the fair awards on stage. We celebrated 1443 projects by 5,264 different students, and over half of those projects were from Title I schools. I am continually amazed by the student projects. Further, their ideas and research remind me that our future is in good hands. It was so much fun to congratulate the students as they walked across the stage. Every student was excited – some visibly so, while others tried to act cool and contain their enthusiasm for the award they had just won. So, why do I give to SARSEF? SARSEF affirms students’ worth by celebrating their minds. And that is why you should give, too!