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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.







  • Bringing STEM Into the District (Project Lead the Way) 












  • Mesa Arts Center STEAM Sessions (Mesa Arts Center






  • Writing Science For Your Students (ASU)










  • Our Youth Leaders of Today (Metropolitan Education Commission) 

CASA GRANDE — Merlin D’Souza has always liked science. And at age 15, the Casa Grande Union High School sophomore will be among the youngest presenters at the eighth annual Arizona SciTech Festival conference Oct. 3 in Mesa.

During the conference, she’ll talk about the ever-growing STEM field and the new careers it has created.

“There are so many careers that exist today that didn’t exist 20 years ago and the list is always growing,” she said. “My session is designed to help students prepare for these jobs or to help teachers and parents prepare their students for all the possibilities.”


D’Souza will moderate a panel discussion with professionals of various backgrounds who are in the forefront of science, technology, engineering and math innovation.

“Some of the jobs students can prepare for are in bio-ethics, drone technology, analytics, bio-tech and organ development, where organs are grown in labs (rather than harvested from donors),” she said. “It’s exciting that science and technology can provide the solutions to many of the issues faced by humanity.”

D’Souza said she has always been an outside-of-the-box thinker. She hopes to become a medical researcher someday or a doctor working to solve various medical issues.

CGUHS and its robotics club and science program are helping her prepare for that future, she said.

The school’s robotics team, the Mecha Knights, regularly takes part in competitive events in which they design a machine and use it to complete various competition tasks.

“Robotics is a sport,” D’Souza said. “It requires teamwork, setting goals, problem solving, and we score points at competitions.”

D’Souza is also working with a student-led team that is applying for a Lemelson-MIT innovation grant that provides up to $10,000 to invent a technological solution for the real world.

The team worked throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend to submit the grant application online.

“They were here for 10 hours on Saturday and again on Sunday, but they got the application submitted on time,” said John Morris, math and engineering teacher at CGUHS and coach of the robotics team. “They are a dedicated group of students.”


He said it’s an honor to have a student from CGUHS presenting at the conference.

“Based on what I have seen, she is the only student presenting. All others are adults,” Morris said.

The Arizona SciTech Festival conference brings together the state’s key stakeholders for the largest collaborative STEM conference in Arizona. An estimated 1,200 business, industry, education, government and community leaders are expected to attend the event, set for Oct. 3 at the Mesa Arts Center.

The event includes interactive panels, workshops, tables and three floors featuring 50 hands-on STEM exhibitions.

D’Souza said the conference is for all ages, especially young people who like various STEM topics.

“It’s a great way to learn more about STEM topics and see what others are doing,” she said.

D’Souza, of Casa Grande, is the daughter of Moses and Teodolina D’Souza.

Retrieved from AUDE, MELISSA ST. “CGUHS Student among Youngest Presenters at This Year’s SciTech Conference.” PinalCentral.com, 6 Sept. 2018,  shorturl.at/bfyR2

Track: Bridging the Barriers in STEM 

This session will explore ways to promote equity in STEM programs, ensure each child learns in a fair and equitable way, and identify and address inequity in educational settings. We will also look at recruiting from an inclusive perspective to promote program accessibility for diverse populations.



Brittney Martin, Coordinator, Sr. Fulton Schools of Engineering K12 Outreach, Arizona State University 

Richard Ramos, Principal – Supervisor, Estrella Vista STEM Academy 



Register for the 8th Annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kickoff Conference: “Community Stakeholder Summit” today!  

Track: The Latest & Greatest in AZ STEM 

In this session, attendees will learn how cord blood stem cells can be used like bone marrow stem cells to treat and cure over 80 life threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.

The AZPublic Cord Blood Program has had 48 life saving transplants come out of it’s free public donation program.  Several thousand units of ethnically, diverse lifesaving cord blood have been added to our nations cord blood inventory.  Cord blood cellular technology is good business and economics for our state. Cord blood is also showing great promise in the field of regenerative medicine, with clinical trials focused on cerebral palsy, stroke, autism, traumatic brain injury, HIV and diabetes.


Presenter: Charis Ober, Executive Director / Founder, Save The Cord Foundation 



Register for the 8th Annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kickoff Conference: “Community Stakeholder Summit” today!  

Track: STEM in Education 

This session will give strategies on how to have a successful STEM program. It will explain how to engage, inspire and empower the students to own their learning.

Future Stars, is starting it fourth year of the Hands On STEM program. We will discuss how we have been able to keep the program moving forward and growing it to a second site. We will provide strategies on how our program has been able to sustain the youth and market to attract more students. We will also provide tips on how we recruited volunteers and support for the Hands On STEM Fair which had over 300 attendees and 90 volunteers this past April. As IT professionals and Engineers, we bring a different energy into the classroom and lesson and will show how that plays a roll in having a successful program.


Presenter: Shereka Jackson, CEO, Future Stars, Inc


Register for the 8th Annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kickoff Conference: “Community Stakeholder Summit” today!  

Track: STEM in Education 


Preparing students for the future workplace is about cultivating their entrepreneurial mindset – an approach that values “initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition”.

This session will show educators why building a movement of impact-driven entrepreneurship in their school is crucial to student success. In addition, this session will cover practical tips on how to bring entrepreneurship into the classroom to best equip their students with 21st century skills. By the end, participants will be better prepared to graduate the entrepreneurial doers, makers, and thinkers the world needs to solve social problems.

This session will:

Illustrate the future workplace that demands innovation-ready workers equipped with resiliency, design-thinking skills, and tech fluency

Educate attendees on how Generation Z differs from Millennials (motivated by security, more competitive, want independence, etc.)

Explore education trends propelling students towards deeper critical thinking and problem solving (entrepreneurship, project-based learning, social/emotional learning, etc.)

Demonstrate social entrepreneurship as a powerful method of teaching students social responsibility

Exemplify tactical strategies to instill entrepreneurship skills in students in the classroom

Inspire educators to engage students in a more interactive way.



Presenter: Courtney Klein, Co-Founder & CEO, SEED SPOT


Register for the 8th Annual Arizona SciTech Festival Kickoff Conference: “Community Stakeholder Summit” today!