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APS, Phoenix Suns help teachers put ideas into action


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  • Elaina Verhoff/ APS and Phoenix Suns

Projects Designed By These K-12 Teachers Throughout Arizona Are Funded By The APS And Phoenix Suns STEM Mini-grant Program. Photo Courtesy APS And Phoenix Suns

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) including a description of each teacher’s project and the grant amount awarded is attached.

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.