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Santa Cruz Valley Unified hosts STEAM and Wellness Night


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  • Carol Cullen, Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35

Special Guest Gabriel Brown With Paramotor. Photo Courtesy Marcy Miller/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

Over 800 individuals attended the recent Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 Family STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) and Wellness Night at Calabasas K8 School.

The event is a spinoff and expansion of previous years’ successful “Science Night at Calabasas” hosted by Calabasas Science teacher Oscar Villasenor.

This year, Villasenor, SCVUSD curriculum representatives and the Event Planning Committee combined efforts to double the number of guest presenters from Southern Arizona and expand topics beyond science to include technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and health and wellness. Over 80 presenting organizations participated.

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Calabasas Science Teacher Oscar Villasenior with student assistants. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

The goal was “to provide students of all ages and their families with opportunities to support the development of a healthy mind and body through engaging interdisciplinary activities, informative and interactive presentations, and collaborative experiences.”

The evening kicked-off with the Rio Rico High School JROTC color guard and the national anthem sung by Special Guest Gabriel Brown.  Brown demonstrated his skills as a paramotor pilot by flying around the venue, landing and talking about powered flight and grit.

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Special Guest Gabriel Brown with paramotor. Photo courtesy Marcy Miller/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

Brown, a professional entertainer, singer/songwriter, voice actor and Youtuber (known as Black Gryph0n) is also a US Navy veteran, impressionist and STEAM enthusiast.  He played a major role in various events throughout the evening including a Q & A panel session.

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Mariposa Community Health’s human lungs (good and bad) attract the attention of future doctors and scientists. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

The five main venues offered guests a variety of learning opportunities in STEAM topics. 

Guests could:

·         peruse museum-style tables and view demonstrations such as Mariposa Community Health’s human lungs in “The Exhibit Hall,”

·         participate in activities such as the University of Arizona’s Math Roadshow in “The STEAM Sandbox,”

·         look through the Sonora Astronomical Society telescopes in “The Great Outdoors,”

·         make bristlebots or disassemble a computer in the “Maker & Taker [apart] Palooza,”  or

·         travel to far off places using the green screen room in “Media Mania & Careers in STEAM.” 

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Rio Rico High School Engineering Class students, (L-R) Josue Valenzuela (10th grade), Samuel Medina (11th grade) and Jesusdylan Garmica (10th grade) demonstrate a series of parallel circuits. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

The “Healthy Food Truck Land” area offered a variety of healthy food choices for purchase.

Organizers estimated the number of people in attendance to be 800, which included both presenters and guests.

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Rio Rico High School Graphic Design Student Alan Van Duinen demonstrates his concept art. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

 “The event brought out people from Rio Rico and surrounding communities,” said co-organizer and Technology Integration Specialist Jennifer Prusak. “It was very apparent that everyone had fun doing, creating or learning about things they had never attempted before.”

“We were very pleased with the outcomes of this event,” said co-organizer and Curriculum Coordinator Marcy Miller.  “We were thankful for an amazing turnout of exhibitors and attendees.”

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San Cayetano fifth-grade student Raquel Carrillo presents winning entry in this year’s Science Fair. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

“We saw many families enjoying time together, and with the help of passionate enthusiasts such as Gabriel Brown, we were able to provide people of all ages with inspiring experiences and a vision for STEAM and wellness,” Miller said.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 is a growing, dynamic school district covering approximately 267 square miles. The district operates five schools. Approximately 3,500 students are enrolled during the 2018-2019 school year.