APS and Phoenix Suns Award STEM Grants – 12-14-18

US DOE Invests $200 million in STEM – 9-8-18
November 10, 2018
Education Grants, Maritz Holdings, Inc. -Awards vary- Due Feb 10 through Mar 13; Apr 13 through Jun 12; and Jul 6 through Sept 18, annually.
December 8, 2021

PHOENIX – What do robots, amusement park rides and weather balloons have in common? They are all projects designed by K-12 teachers throughout Arizona and funded by the APS and Phoenix Suns STEM mini-grant program. For 13 years, the two organizations have teamed up to provide financial grants to help Arizona teachers bring innovative hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning to tens of thousands of students throughout the state.

This year, 28 K-12 teachers across Arizona – from Somerton to Phoenix and Joseph City to Douglas – received grants totaling more than $48,000. The grants will fund a wide-range of STEM-related projects, including robotics, gardening, sustainable art, computer coding and even designing and constructing a mini-Mars rover. The mission of the mini-grants program is to introduce more students to STEM subjects in a new and innovative way through hands-on classroom projects, ultimately resulting in a more tech-savvy workforce.

“This partnership enables Arizona teachers to bring their creative ideas to life in ways that will inspire students to explore science and technology,” said John Hatfield, APS Vice President of Communications. “These teachers are providing students with experiences that could ignite their curiosity and create a lifelong passion for learning.”

Together, APS and the Phoenix Suns have awarded more than $600,000 in grants to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in public and charter schools in the APS service territory.

“Thanks to the STEM mini-grant program, our students will have the opportunity to take part in science experiments that otherwise would not be possible – projects like launching a weather balloon into Earth’s stratosphere,” said Pinnacle High School science teacher and STEM mini-grant recipient, Mike Vargas.

The 2018 recipients will be recognized at a Phoenix Suns game in late December for their commitment to innovating how students learn and engage with STEM subjects.

This complete list of grant recipients (alphabetized by community and school) includes a description of each teacher’s project and the grant amount awarded:


Bagdad Elementary School
Students Impacted: 90
Teacher: Austin Temperley
Project Title: Little Bits Go a Long Way
Grant: $2,500
Description: Little Bits Classroom Kits are designed to provide elementary students with hands-on, collaborative, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning experiences. As part of the Science Club, Cranium Crushers, this activity will provide teams of students with real-time understanding of circuits and circuitry.


Tartesso Elementary School
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Joel Wisser
Project Title: Elementary Engineering through Children’s Literature
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Students in this class will perform engineering projects based on children’s classic literature scenarios, including engineering a stronger chair for baby bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and building and testing a vessel to keep Humpty Dumpty from breaking when he falls off the wall.


Casa Grande Elementary School
Students Impacted: 500
Teacher: Erica Herman
Project Title: Building Sustainable Art
Grant: $1,000.00
Description: Students will use 3D printing pens (20 sets) to create sculptures in art after learning about form and shape. They will then use the sculptures in science to conduct experiments, such as measuring cold and hot temperatures, to determine whether their sculpture was sustainable.

Cottonwood Elementary School
Students Impacted: 66
Teacher: Jessica Vigil
Project Title: Carnival of Learning
Grant: $1,250.00
Description: Students will each construct a motorized amusement park ride that uses a gear system, such as a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round or carousel of swings. They will apply their learning of force, gravity, and motors as they build their working models.


Clawson Elementary School
Students Impacted: 60
Teacher: Ana Daniel
Project Title: Electricity STEM
Grant: $263.48
Description: Students will use learned skills in real life with the help of electricity kits. With these projects, students will experiment with things like electric switches, integrated circuits, digital circuits, fuses and the transformation of circuit sounds into other sounds.

Joe Carlson Elementary School
Students Impacted: 22
Teacher: Myrna Erives
Project Title: Global Project Base STEM Kit
Grant: $800.00
Description: Students complete meaningful projects to solve real-life problems faced around the globe. After conducting their research, students use the information they’ve learned to complete a hands-on STEM project, like building and testing a model home that runs on solar power.

Joe Carlson Elementary School
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Hannah Hurtado
Project Title: Electricity is Cool: A Focus On Circuits
Grant: $1,452.82
Description: The expected outcomes are for students to understand what a circuit is, as well as how circuits work. Using the kits, students should develop an understanding of why circuits may not be working and how they can fix them.

Sarah Marley School
Students Impacted: 295
Teacher: Dora Mendoza
Project Title: STEM Greenhouse
Grant: $1,828.81
Description: This project will enable students to create a beautiful hands-on greenhouse for vegetables. They will learn the process of the scientific method, lifecycle of plants and how to measure distances of planting seeds.


Thompson Ranch Elementary School
Students Impacted: 100
Teacher: Andrina Jimenez
Project Title: Look! It’s a butterfly!
Grant: $1,363.91
Description: This experience will allow kindergarten students to see how a butterfly grows from a pupa to a magnificent adult butterfly. Students will have an up-close experience with the butterfly in its natural habitat while caring for small caterpillars in the classroom. They will also visit the renowned Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale.

Riverview Elementary School
Students Impacted: 100
Teacher: Delbertta Smolinski
Project Title: Breaking into Design, Coding and Programming
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: By offering students the opportunity to investigate and create simple machines, they can then investigate, explore and create robots to help solve everyday world problems. Through this exploration, design, creation and programming students can do live trial-and-error learning to solve problems.


Gilbert Elementary
Students Impacted: 33
Teacher: Tanecia Cornwall-Elysee
Project Title: Gilbert Elementary Quadcopter Qlub
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Through modeling, hands-on activities and real-world discussions, Gilbert Elementary is committed to effectively engaging students in STEM activities. This project gives students the opportunity to design, build, test and fly a fully functional quadcopter.

Burk Elementary
Students Impacted: 294
Teacher: Jill Burdge
Project Title: Reflex Math
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Reflex combines research-proven methods and innovative technology to provide the most effective math-fact fluency solutions available. Students can log into Reflex math anywhere. Reflex is highly adaptive and individualized so that students of all ability levels have early and ongoing success.


Joseph City School District
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Bryan Fields
Project Title: Reading Under the Stars
Grant: $1,000.00
Description: Two nights every year, parents and families are invited to come to the elementary school, select a book from the gym and read together on the playground. This year, teachers will teach the basics of astronomy during the day, and follow these lessons with interactive family viewing of the stars and moon using telescopes.


Lee Kornegay Intermediate School
Students Impacted: 20
Teacher: Jacquelyn Tanner
Project Title: Marvelous Math Manipulatives!
Grant: $1,000.00
Description: For elementary special education students, the idea of sitting and listening for an hour of direct math instruction is not only unbearable, but for many, an irrelevant way of learning necessary concepts. Basic Math manipulatives, which are hands-on teaching materials for solving mathematical concepts, are the key to these students’ educational success.

Dr. Charles A. Bejarano Elementary School
Students Impacted: 100
Teacher: Amanda Schaffer
Project Title: Fairy Tales and STEM
Grant: $2,135.67
Description: This project combines classic stories with hands-on STEM and literacy activities. As children read the stories, animate the puppets, answer questions and complete each STEM challenge, they will build critical language and literacy skills, boost creative expression and master early engineering concepts.


Whispering Wind Academy
Students Impacted: 100
Teacher: Jessica Suri
Project Title: Circuit Maze City – Jerry the Mouse is Missing
Grant: $600.00
Description: This project will help students solve the following case: “Emmalee’s pet mouse, Jerry, is missing. The last time Emmalee saw Jerry, he was playing inside her favorite board game, Circuit Maze City. She thinks he got lost and stuck inside the game. Can you use circuitry, engineering and electricity to help Emmalee find where Jerry is hiding in the game and get him out safely?”

Madison Simis Elementary
Students Impacted: 210
Teacher: Bonnie McCarthy
Project Title: Technology and Transportation
Grant: $750.00
Description: Students will explore how solar energy could be used to develop technological solutions to current transportation challenges. The use of solar cars for this project will provide a hands-on opportunity for outdoor hypothesis testing and experiential learning.

Canyon Springs STEM Academy
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Angela Toms
Project Title: Botley Coding Robots
Grant: $931.61
Description: The project’s goal is to inspire a love of STEM at the kindergarten level using coding and robotics. Students will use Botley in daily centers and during STEM units throughout the year. They also will work together to solve problems using higher-order thinking skills that will start preparing them for future careers.

Canyon Springs STEM Academy
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Lori Bohlman
Project Title: Hatching Baby Chicks in the Classroom
Grant: $1,008.00
Description: Students will complete an investigation where they observe, ask questions, make predictions and record data about the lifecycle of a baby chick.

Canyon Springs STEM Academy
Students Impacted: 80
Teacher: Sheila Fields
Project Title: Collaborate, Create, and Learn with Osmo in Kindergarten!
Grant: $1,388.00
Description: Kindergarten teachers will use Osmo technology to provide engaging, hands-on lessons to encourage young learners to explore STEM concepts.

Sonoran Foothills School K-8
Students Impacted: 300
Teacher: Mary Ann Cawley
Project Title: STEMazing Bobcats: Bright Futures in Engineering and Programming
Grant: $2,419.00
Description: Students will use engineering concepts to build an autonomous robot to solve real-world problems in their own community. After the project, students will share their research and findings.

Pinnacle High School
Students Impacted: 200
Teacher: Mike Vargas
Project Title: Near Space Team 2019
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Students who participate in this team build a payload, attach it to a weather balloon and fly that balloon to an altitude of 100,000 feet or more. The students’ payloads enter the stratosphere and achieve what we call “near space” altitudes. The payload will contain experiments, cameras and tracking equipment.


Faras Elementary
Students Impacted: 175
Teacher: Alvina Hughes
Project Title: Magnetic Wall
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: The project will involve placing a metal plate approximately 12 feet wide and 8 feet long on an outside wall. Students will use the magnetic wall to measure angles and degrees as well as visualize how momentum is created by using or eliminating angles.


Coyote Springs Elementary School
Students Impacted: 175
Teacher: Yvonne Berry
Project Title: Makerspace K’nextions
Grant: $2,375.90
Description: This project will provide curious 7- and 8-year-olds with K’Nex kits that correspond to hands-on math and science concepts. Two or three students will share each kit, giving them cooperative team time in the makerspace. First and second grade classes come to the “Collaboratory” on a daily basis to participate in STEM activities designed to engage them in learning and applying new concepts.


Grayhawk Elementary School
Students Impacted: 421
Teacher: Michelle Lindstrom
Project Title: Full STEAM Ahead
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Four specialist teachers (STEM, music, band and visual arts) team up for multiple collaborative projects that have real-world applications, including engineering solar ovens to produce conglomerate, melted crayon blocks and using recycled materials to construct working musical instruments after learning the physics of sound.

Cocopah Middle School
Students Impacted: 180
Teacher: Marcia DeMuro
Project Title: Home Automation with BirdBrain Technologies Hummingbird Bits
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: Sixth-grade beginning STEM students will design architectural models and bring them to life with the use of Hummingbird Bit controllers. This project helps students build a 3D model that can support its weight and that of the Hummingbird pieces using mathematical concepts of scale, technology standard of knowledge constructor, and engineering.


Somerton Middle School
Students Impacted: 450
Teacher: Karina Suarez
Project Title: Mars Rover STEM challenge
Grant: $1,620.00
Description: In this project, students will act as Mars exploratory rover engineers. They will evaluate rover equipment and determine what parts fit in a provided NASA budget. They will then build and program the rover with a working mechanism to collect several Mars rock samples. Along with applying the scientific method to design a working mechanism to collect several rock samples, students will learn about different real-life Mars missions and robots used by NASA.


Wickenburg High School
Students Impacted: 115
Teacher: Adam Malik
Project Title: Physics “Phun”
Grant: $2,500.00
Description: This project will make science exciting, relevant and “phun” for students. This program will target over 100 high school sophomores and juniors enrolled in chemistry or physics classes. Students will be exposed to a new physics concept and competition on a monthly basis. In addition, professionals who work in physics from throughout the community will visit and speak to the students about post-secondary options in the field.

About APS
APS serves about 2.7 million people in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is the Southwest’s foremost producer of clean, safe and reliable electricity. Using a balanced energy mix that is nearly 50 percent carbon-free, APS has one of the country’s cleanest energy portfolios, including both Palo Verde Generating Station and renewable energy. The company is also a proven leader in introducing technology and services that offer customers choice and control over their energy consumption. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).

About the Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are Arizona’s original professional sports franchise and since joining the NBA in 1968, have been regarded as one of the most successful NBA franchises on and off the court. The Suns have featured some of the most iconic teams in league history, including the 1992-93 NBA Finals team led by Charles Barkley that is arguably the most beloved team in Arizona sports history, and the innovative “Seven Seconds or Less” teams that were the precursor for today’s modern style of play. In 2018, the Suns became the first NBA team to have four former players inducted into the same Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class when former Suns Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill and Charlie Scott were inducted together. Suns Legacy Partners, LLC, led by Managing Partner Robert Sarver, owns the Phoenix Suns, three-time WNBA Phoenix Mercury and operates Talking Stick Resort Arena, the entertainment center and heart of downtown Phoenix.