Seventh annual Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival at EAC this Friday and Saturday

By Lori Dugan/EAC

THATCHER — Eastern Arizona College (EAC) is excited to bring the seventh annual Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival to the Gila Valley. This expo will include a wide variety of safe, hands-on activities and demonstrations showcasing health, science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.

The event will begin at the Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus on Friday, April 23, from 3 – 8 p.m. Attendees can visit the StarLab Planetarium, dissect owl pellets, watch a “shocking” demonstration, enjoy a shuttle ride, and explore the universe through a variety of telescopes. Learning opportunities also include native birds and fish, the Gila Watershed Partnership and how plants, insects, and climate affect our area, and tree rings and what they tell us about the life of a tree.

Contributed Photo: A festival goer enjoys an experiment at the 2016 festival.

The Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival continues on Saturday at 8 a.m., beginning with the Go Gold Run for Childhood Cancer hosted by Families Fighting Cancer Together. Registration will open at 7:30 a.m. at the Layton House on EAC’s Middle Campus (Church Street). The one-mile fun run starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K follows at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Layton House on Church Street. This run is in honor of Blayze Brown. Go to https://runsignup.com/Race/AZ/Thatcher/GGACC to register.

There will be a wide variety of hands-on STEAM activities at EAC’s North Campus from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Take your photo on a large farm implement and learn about erosion with the UofA Cooperative Extension/Gila Watershed Partnership’s Rolling River Floodplain. Explore a DPS helicopter and learn about the effects of driving under the influence by navigating through a Go-Kart course challenge. Learn about accident reconstruction and the use of the DPS explosive ordnance disposal robot.

Continue into EAC’s Activities Center for color coding with ozobots, watch a live demonstration of LEGO Mindstorm robots, and learn about the Robotics Lego League. You can even use chemicals to decorate a Christmas tree. The Safford Lions Club will be on hand for vision screening. At 11 a.m., the Women’s Chorale will treat everyone with special music. Chase Moore, EAC music professor, may even entertain us with some improvisation at the piano.

“It will be a treat,” says Phil McBride, EAC dean of instruction and coordinator of the event. “And speaking of treats, enjoy some mini donuts, cool off with shave ice from Shiver Shack, and have some Cotton Candy next to the cotton pickers. As you move south on North Campus, you will be able to see a large trebuchet in action, visit our live Gila Monster mascot and other interesting animals, as well as participate in some fun hands-on learning activities in the Math Science building.”

First Things First will be on hand to give out free books to encourage young children to explore the world of STEAM through reading. If you aren’t sure how much fun science can be, meander into the Math/Science Building at 9, 10, or 11 a.m. to watch three chemistry magics shows presented by the EAC Organic Chemistry class.

Food from local vendors will be available on Friday at EAC’s Discovery Park Campus and on Saturday at EAC’s North Campus. As always, there is no charge to the public to attend, and there are a lot of prizes that you can win just by dropping by to visit.

The Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival is being brought to the community by a committee consisting of local partners, including EAC, Freeport McMoRan, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Eastern Arizona Science Initiative, National Science Foundation, CMI Printing, First Things First, Science Foundation of Arizona, and the Arizona SciTech Festival. More information about activities and schedules can be found at www.eac.edu/SciTechFestival.

The Arizona SciTech Festival is a state-wide celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math held annually in February and March. Due to COVID, we moved our event to April and will be the only in-person Sci-Tech event held in Arizona in 2021. If you would like more information about the local festival, contact McBride at 928-428-8404 or by email at phil.mcbride@eac.edu.

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