Rockets, hi-tech wow kids at Science Spectacular The Chandler Arizonan

Rockets, hi-tech wow kids at Science Spectacular

Rockets, hi-tech wow kids at Science Spectacular

By wayne schutsky

Arizonan Managing Editor


Aspiring scientists, engineers and mathematicians flocked to AJ Chandler Park in Chandler recently for the city’s ninth annual Chandler Science Spectacular.

The Chandler Science Spectacular is one of 4,500 events part of the statewide Arizona SciTech Festival, which began Jan. 25, with Connect2STEM in Phoenix and will continue through April. It also is one of the fest’s 100 signature events. 

The event is organized by the City of Chandler Economic Development Division and was sponsored by Intel, Northrop Grumman and First Things First. 

“Our main goal is to inspire kids to dream STEAM,” said Liz Sidlov, a Northrop Grumman structural test engineer, referring to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. 

“That’s what our team is called, Dream STEAM Team,” Sidlov added. “So, we want to inspire kids to ask questions about the world around them, to feel like they’re capable of doing science and math and doing it in a fun way and hopefully get them interested in pursuing careers in science, math, technology and engineering. 

“I think we do a pretty good job by making a lot of these really supposedly high level, hard to reach topics easily digestible at a grade school level.”

Intel offered visitors the chance to experience “computer visioning” through demos and other activities concerning computer science basics.

“The activities are specifically for junior high and high school students,” said spokeswoman Renee Levin. “But we do demos for everyone regardless of age.”

This year, Levin was one of the judges for a competition students can join. Each winner is awarded $500 to go towards their organization or program. 

The competition included three categories: most educational, most creative and most passionate. 

ACP – Erie and Hamilton High won the Most Educational Award; Basha High’s “Science is Fun and Love to Learn” won for most creative, and Chandler High School and Girl STEMpowerment won for most passionate. 

Northrop Grumman has been a part of the Chandler Science Spectacular for eight years. This year the company had its own section of the park with 25 tents. About 100 volunteers representing the organization participated.

Northrop Grumman launched a rocket every half hour. A balloon payload was put into a 1/20th scale Antares model rocket and kids helped to install igniters for the motors.

Other activities included a heavy water exhibit simulating how heavy a gallon of milk would be on each planet and the moon, an exhibit focused on waves and wave travel, and new activities focused on guidance navigation control.

In addition, stomp rockets were set up so children could send them off and watch them soar across the grass. 

Northrop Grumman also provided passports children got stamped after completing activities. Once completed, a passport could be exchanged for prizes.

Other groups participating in the 2020 Chandler Science Spectacular included Waymo, the Girl Scouts, and the U.S. Navy. 

Visitors could also interact with characters from the popular franchise Star Wars through Dune Sea Garrison storm-troopers and Jedi. Two stormtroopers and two Jedi walked around and took pictures with visitors. 

Chandler Science Spectacular also partnered with the Chandler Symphony Orchestra, which provided a musical instrument “petting zoo” complete with a keyboard, a triangle, a violin and a cello.

The orchestra took the stage to play a free hour-long concert of musical selections from science-related media, such as Star Trek – complete with a recitation of the show’s opening monologue “Space: the final frontier.” 

The goal of these pop culture references as with the rest of the Chandler Science Spectacular is to encourage the next generation to take an interest in science.

“It’s just a way to show how fun science can be,” said Stephanie Romero, chief information officer of Chandler. “At the city of Chandler, we’re known as a community of innovation. 

And so, in order to continue this spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, we’re going to need makers, we’re going to need entrepreneurs. This is a great way to introduce them.”

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