The 5th annual Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival will be held at EAC on February 22-23

Contributed Photo: Children climb on a giant cotton picker during the 2017 festival.

Carl Hayden High School robotics teacher, Fredi Lajvardi, subject of the film ‘Spare Parts’ will be a featured speaker

Contributed Article

THATCHER – For the fifth year in a row, the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC) and Eastern Arizona College (EAC) are teaming up to present the annual Gila Valley Health and STEAM Festival – an event designed to feature a wide variety of activities showcasing health, science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.

On Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, free blood, hearing, and vision screenings along with a wide assortment of health information from a variety of vendors will be provided in the Eastern Arizona College Activity Center from 7 – 11 a.m.

Contributed Photo: Carl Hayden High School robotics teacher Fredi Lajvardi – subject of the movie “Spare Parts” – will be a featured speaker.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, hands-on activities related to health, science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math will take over EAC’s North Campus, beginning at 9 a.m. and running until 1 p.m. Then the fun starts all over again with entertainment and an entire slate of new activities that night at the Discovery Park Campus, beginning at 3 p.m. and running until 8 p.m. Food from local vendors will be available at both locations. This event is free to attend and open to the general public.

In conjunction with the Festival, on Thursday, Feb. 21, a screening of the film “Spare Parts”, starring George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, and Jamie Lee Curtis will be held at the Stargazer 5 Theater for Gila Valley high school students. This screening will be by invitation only.

On Friday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 in EAC’s Lee Little Theater, the festival will welcome Fredi Lajvardi, robotics teacher from Carl Hayden High School and subject of the film, “Spare Parts”. Fredi captivated the country when he led his team of disadvantaged teenagers in a university-level underwater robotics competition, where they defeated leading schools, including top-ranked MIT. Their story inspired not only the major motion picture, “Spare Parts”, but also the acclaimed documentary “Underwater Dreams”.

With humor and compassion, Fredi brings audiences on his inspiring journey, illustrating the need to embrace diversity and invest in people to help others realize their potential. His incredible real-life tale equips you with the real life encouragement to maximize your own potential and to work together to solve complex problems. Honored with numerous awards for his spirited passion for teaching, Fredi continues to serve as a prominent advocate about the importance of STEM education nationwide. This event is made possible through the generous contributions of The United Way, The Graham and Greenlee Counties Regional Innovation Committee, and Allen Theatres Inc.

“This event has been such an overwhelming success for the past four years,” said Ryan Rapier, Director of Marketing and Development at MGRMC. “We are just excited for the opportunity to join with EAC once again and throw the biggest Health Fair and STEAM party this valley (has) ever seen. All of us involved would like to invite everyone in Graham and Greenlee counties to attend and take part in the fun.”

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

The Festival is made possible by a committee consisting of local partners including MGRMC, EAC, Freeport McMoRan, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Eastern Arizona Science Initiative, the city of Safford, Graham County Electric Cooperative, National Science Foundation, CMI Printing, LifeNet, First Things First, Audiology Inc., Grand Canyon University, Science Foundation of Arizona, PHI Air Medical and the Arizona SciTech Festival. More information about activities and schedules can be found at

Also included as part of the festival is the inaugural Go Gold Childhood Cancer Awareness 5k Run. Registration for the run will be available between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. in the lobby of EAC’s North Campus Tower Residence Halls, with the mile fun run beginning at 8 a.m. and the 5k kicking off at 8:30 a.m. The entry fee for this event is $20 and all proceeds go toward helping Gila Valley families with children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Registration is currently open online at For more information contact Patti Wren at 928-428-8384.

The Arizona SciTech Festival is a state-wide celebration of science, technology, engineering and math held annually in February and March. If you would like more information about the local Festival or the annual health fair, please contact Ryan Rapier at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center by email at

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