Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence awards $18,000 in STEM grants

Fourteen out-of-school time programs across the state have been awarded grants totaling $18,390 by the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and Cox Communications for projects ranging from marine biology and robotics to rainwater harvesting.

From the 2014, the Eaglebot STEM Program at Hope Christian Academy.  (Photo courtesy Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence)

From the 2014, the Eaglebot STEM Program at Hope Christian Academy. (Photo courtesy Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence)

Now in its fifth cycle, the grants from $500 to $1,500 “will provide valuable skills to prepare youth for success in college, career and life,” said Melanie McClintock, executive director of the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.

“These STEM grants are designed to encourage and promote the inclusion of informal STEM learning opportunities in out-of-school programs of all kinds.”

“Cox has been a long supporter of afterschool learning which gives Arizona students the opportunity to stretch their minds,” said Susan Anable, vice president of public affairs, Cox Communications.

“We all know learning does not stop at the classroom door, and seeing the variety of STEM projects submitted confirms that deep learning and critical thinking is taking place afterschool.”

Recipients and their programs are: 

Alchesay High School, Robotics Discovery Camp (Whiteriver)

Through the investigation of simple and motorized machines, the use of gears and sensors, and building and programming robots, the new Robotics Discovery Camp for grades 9 – 12 on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation will teach youth the basics of physics and the concepts behind real machines.

Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus–Pine Council, Girl Scouts Robotics Program (Phoenix)

Adding the VEX IQ Robotics program to the current STEM programming will give middle and high school girls the opportunity to design their own robot and experience STEM in a fun and collaborative environment.

HeatSync Labs, Young Makers Program (Phoenix)

HeatSync Labs, Young Makers Program – a hands-on STEM program for K-12 youth from underrepresented communities – will purchase robotics kits and equipment to form two robotics teams for the upcoming VEX Robotics Competition season.  HeatSync Labs is a nonprofit organization where people interested in engineering, science, computer coding, robotics, as well as STEM professionals, create, collaborate and engage in hands-on learning.

Kyrene Middle School, After Hours Program (Tempe)

Kyrene Middle School will expand their After Hours Program to incorporate the VEX IQ Robotics program engaging youth in hands-on, open-ended robotics and research challenges, including a mentorship program with local professional engineers that will support youth success.

Mesa Public Schools, STEMer Camp (Mesa)

Mesa Public Schools, STEMer Camp – a hands-on STEM learning experience for 5th-8th graders – will explore biomedicine through the diagnosis and treatment of patients; investigate biotechnology through the manipulation of living organisms and solving a crime scene; revolutionize robotics and coding through the engineering process; and use STEM skills to solve real-world problems such as water filtration in third world countries.

Mountain Sky Junior High School, Marine Science Club (Phoenix)

Mountain Sky Junior High School will expand its Marine Science Club investigations to include the addition of new marine ecosystems, more technological interfacing with its mixed reef aquarium, and a new marine refugium to house different species of macro algae and seaweed. The club provides a unique STEM experience by tasking youth with the care and maintenance of six saltwater aquariums and exploring various aspects of marine biology.

New Pathways for Youth, Afterschool STEM (Phoenix)

New Pathways for Youth will launch two new projects for K-8 youth — Zombie Apocalypse Duct Tape Survival Challenge and the Solar Car Challenge. Both projects will build upon key concepts learned in the classroom and develop key skills necessary to support success in STEM.  New Pathways for Youth is a nonprofit organization that empowers at-risk youth to fulfill their potential through mentoring and life skill development.

Paradise Valley High School, FIRST Robotics Club (Phoenix)

Paradise Valley High School’s FIRST Robotics Club, Team Paradise, will purchase a new robot for its Understanding Robot Sensors Project, which takes place in the competition off-season and allows youth to gain an in-depth understanding about each of the robotics components. Utilizing the expertise of degreed engineers, youth will learn strategies for attacking complex technical problems, engineering best practices, and develop new skills through research and hands-on experimentation.

Phoenix Public Library, MACH1 Makerspace Hacker Haven (Phoenix)

Phoenix Public Library’s MACH1 Makerspace Hacker Haven, serving 1,000 youth annually, will replenish its existing STEM kits and purchase more advanced kits for various hands-on STEM activities, including snap circuits, K’Nex, LEGO Mindstorms, and sewing machines so youth and families can continue to enjoy hands-on STEM learning at the library.

Presidio School, Creative Gardening and Water Harvesting (Tucson)

Presidio School, a Tucson charter school serving K-12 youth will fund a Creative Gardening and Water Harvesting project afterschool. Presidio has six garden beds, a water cistern, and a partially built greenhouse that will be further developed to engage youth in real-world investigations about gardening, growing food, and water harvesting.

Rogers Ranch Elementary, MESA Engineering Club (Laveen)

Rogers Ranch Elementary’s MESA Engineering Club, focusing on “Building Intelligent Cities,” will  take part in the MESA Changemakers Competition, a long-term project where youth team up to address an authentic community need and use STEM skills to design a service learning project as a solution. The projects might include community development, urban planning, architecture, disaster preparedness or environmental change.

Trailside Point School, Afterschool STEM Club (Laveen)

The Trailside Point Afterschool STEM Club gives youth in grades 5-8 the opportunity to participate in hands-on projects that explore the engineering design cycle.  From rockets to electrical circuits, youth learn to use prior knowledge, research, build and test models and determine how to improve their models in their roles as engineers in training.

Westwood High School, Westwood Robotics (Mesa)

Westwood High School’s Westwood Robotics is a year-round extracurricular STEM Team designed to inspire youth to pursue STEM education and careers through training on project design, CADD, machining, electricity, sensors and programming. Westwood Robotics brings in local industry professionals to mentor youth throughout the design and fabrication of robots for the FIRST Robotics and the MIT/NASA SPHERES lab programming competitions.

Wickenburg High School, Jump Start Summer Program (Wickenburg)

Wickenburg High School’s Jump Start Summer Program is a four-week program designed to better prepare incoming freshman for Algebra I using the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Science of Baseball curriculum.

For more information about the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, visit


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