How Students Prepare for Out-of-this-World Experiences

March 8, 2017 | Author: Maggie Zehring

This month more than 1,300 middle school students across Arizona set their sights on the moon, building a scale model of an international lunar base. It was all part of the 18th annual Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge, one of the state’s largest STEM – or science, technology, engineering and math – competitions.

This program gives youngsters hands-on science learning, plus they get to meet real-life engineers, scientists and inventors. The event also helps develop critical problem-solving, communication, team-building and decision-making skills.

Earlier this month, I was honored to visit with Jena Phillips and her students at Bogle Junior High School in Chandler, Ariz. These gifted seventh and eighth grade science students are among the best and brightest in the state. During my visit, they were preparing to compete in the Aerospace Challenge, held Feb. 6-8 at the ASU Polytechnic Campus.

This year, Phillips’ eighth graders helped prepare the seventh graders for competition. You see, last year they were in the competitors’ shoes, getting ready for the Honeywell Challenge themselves. Therefore, they could answer questions about their experiences, conduct mock interviews and even quiz this year’s teams about their lunar base projects.

Watching the student-mentors guide their younger counterparts was heartwarming and inspiring. The knowledge they shared from their experiences was invaluable for this year’s competitors, and the interaction seemed to calm the pre-competition day nerves, too.

It was remarkable to watch Phillips guide the students through this journey, truly a testament to the difference a teacher can make in a student’s passion for STEM learning. She was motivational, inspiring and encouraging. It’s no wonder she won the 2017 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence award.

At the Arizona Educational Foundation, we are proud to support programs like the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge. As a legacy nonprofit agency, we are focused on celebrating the successes of public schools, teachers and programs across the state.

Maggie Zehring

Maggie Zehring

Maggie Zehring is the Deputy Director for the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) where she develops programs, gains community support, and tells the stories of the educators and students she works with. AEF was founded in 1983 and strives to develop and celebrate successes in public education across the state through its seven programs.

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