Local Innovators Make Math & Science Cool


Local Innovators Make Math & Science Cool

Middle School Students Inspired By Local Scientists, Engineers

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Some of the minds behind the cell phones and cutting edge medical technology are inspiring thousands of Maricopa County’s future scientists and engineers.

The Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) is bringing local scientists and engineers from companies like Intel, MedTronic and Freeport-McMoRan into sixth, seventh and eighth-grade classrooms across Maricopa County.

Shattering Stereotypes

When students envision themselves as working in science, they are more likely to pursue a career in that field. Students can be hindered by the stereotypes of “uncool” scientists or the perception that girls aren't good at science or math. MCESA’s “Engineering STEM Identity” program aims to shatter stereotypes by helping students connect to real people in science and math positions and providing a hands-on science curriculum that has students taking on the role of scientists.

While these STEM professional mentor-single classroom interactions are limited to the classes using MCESA’s Engineering STEM Identity curriculum, MCESA partnered with PBS Channel 8 to broadcast its first STEM Pro Live this past week. The broadcast was available to any class that wanted to participate and teachers were able to type questions during the broadcast for the STEM professional to answer. The video is now available here.

Relevant Learning

Jared Stolsfuz

In this first live broadcast, Jared Stoltzfus, a doctoral student of sustainability at Arizona State University, gave a tour of his “tiny house,” a sustainable home that fits on a 8x16-foot trailer, and talked about what makes it sustainable to more than 1,000 students across Maricopa County. (Pictured)

Dozens of questions came in—about why a person would want to live this way, how this could help refugees and the impoverished in the world, how composting with worms works and more.

Jared Stolzfus broadcasting live to 1,000 students

Excited Students

It was a large scale example of students getting excited about science, technology, engineering and math through conversing about real life STEM work and some of the world’s most pressing problems. Classes in the Engineering STEM Identity program are experiencing these interactions often.

A week ago, Jen Marckmann, a chemical engineer with the medical device company Medtronic, explained to Susan Quinn’s seventh-grade Tartesso Elementary class last week how she first became interested in chemistry when she began thinking about the materials that went into making the motorcycles and dirtbikes she loves to ride.

The students’ faces brightened as she shared about taking dirtbikes through the desert. They continued listening attentively as Marckmann answered their questions: “Why did you choose this kind of chemical engineering?”, “What materials do you use most often?”, “Where do you get titanium?”, “Do you work with uranium?”

“No,” Marckmann said to the question about uranium. “We don’t like to put uranium in people. We’d all glow like the Hulk.”

After Marckmann’s time with the kids, the class’ teacher, Susan Quinn, said they continued to talk about what Marckmann had shared. “We had kids say, ‘Gosh, I think I might want to do that’,” Quinn said. “I think they’re seeing that science is part of the real world. It’s putting faces on an abstract idea.”

Learn more about Engineering STEM Identity, STEM Pro Live and why it’s so important that students connect with working scientists now at education.maricopa.gov.


LAURIE KING, Director of Learning and Communications

Maricopa County Education Service Agency

4041 N. Central Ave., Ste. 1200,

Phoenix, AZ 85012