AZ Technology and Innovation: Science Festival

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Planning is underway for an Arizona Science and Technology Festival next year. The plan is to rival the best science festivals in the nation. Jeremy Babendure, director of the Arizona SCITECH Festival, and Steve Zylstra of the Arizona Technology Council Foundation will discuss the festival.

Ted Simons: Plans are underway for a six-week science festival that will take place next year in cities and towns throughout Arizona. The event is set to coincide with Arizona's centennial. Joining us now is Jeremy Babendure, director of the Arizona sci-tech festival. Also here is Steve Zylstra, head of the Arizona technology council foundation, one of the three founding partners of the festival initiative. Thanks for joining us.

Both: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Jeremy, talk about this event, what's going on here?

Jeremy Babendure: It's going to be a six-week celebration of science and technology throughout the state. Fun events that will happen throughout cities. A tech crawl, the science of chocolate and baseball and there will be events in different places and formats. Events in Tucson and Pinal County and throughout the state.

Ted Simons: What will be showcased? Science, technology?

Jeremy Babendure: It depends on the event. We have some that integrate science into the culture of what we do. We have an event in downtown Phoenix integrated with first Friday. Artists and businesses integrating science.

Ted Simons: I hear science of chocolate and baseball, I'm interested. That's the key getting people interested in science, correct?
Steve Zylstra: The idea is to go to something that kids have passion about. These are all initiatives that sort of dig into the passion that all kids have for some aspect of what they love.

Ted Simons: And we're talking science, technology, engineering.

Jeremy Babendure: And math.

Ted Simons: And math, ability the stem -- is it kid-specific? Something there for adults as well?

Steve Zylstra: Ranges from -- we like to say three years old to 99. There will be Nobel laureates speaking on panels, on campus, at ASU, for instance, something for all adults and little kids as well. Exciting aspects of science and technology.

Ted Simons: Talk more about these -- give me the science of baseball. What's going on there?

Steve Zylstra: We have the real world myth busters for baseball working with us to launch a fanfest for the city of Scottsdale. Part of a spring training kickoff. We're working through the details but there's going to be actual experiments that the public can go to and be part of the research team to learn something. So there's a lot of myths such as how far radar guns work or the fast ball. We have the researchers from ASU and U of A and around the nation working with us to help integrate this into a fun cultural event.

Ted Simons: The tech crawl, what's that?

Steve Zylstra: We're working with the city of Chandler. Silicon desert. People drive by the facilities and don't know what's there. And we partner with microchip and Intel and the incubators that will open up their doors to meet the people in their backyard, really innovating in Chandler.

Ted Simons: Steve, how did this idea get started? How long has it been in the works?

Steve Zylstra: Three years. I had helped to create a science festival in Pittsburgh and he was running the San Diego science festival. He's from Arizona, went to high school in Scottsdale and graduated from ASU with dis undergrad and kept coming back and forth and meeting everyone and finally we convinced him to come over and he's an expert doing these festivals and done a spectacular job of bringing a lot of collaborators together.

Ted Simons: Is there going to be something different about the festival in Arizona, compared to California or New York? Obviously, solar is huge here. Does that play into the mix?

Steve Zylstra: It does. In Mesa, there's going to be the science of flight, right? There's a lot going on in Mesa. Boeing is out there. We're going to focus on the industries that are critical. Semiconductor. You heard Jeremy mention Intel and microchip and the solar and all of the industries critical that our economy.

Ted Simons: I think I heard science of beer.

Jeremy Babendure: We have groups that want to integrate it, we have tough different regions, one in Tempe and one in Chandler that want to integrate the science of beer. There's a lot of information behind the yeast and how it's brewed and great links with science.

Ted Simons: In comparing Arizona, a festival like that here, as opposed to other parts of the country.

Jeremy Babendure: Right.

Ted Simons: The fact we're young and developing and growing change the dynamic?

Jeremy Babendure: I think we'll have the best festival. Because the public gets we need to move forward with innovation and they're hungry for the information and the other thing we can do is serve as a great platform to pull together the collaborators around stem. The cities -- San Diego has developed, it's already there. We have an opportunity to reach the public in a way that hasn't happened before.

Ted Simons: Is there a blank slate here that allows festivals to get going and not worry about history and tradition and those things?

Steve Zylstra: I think that's true. If you spend any time in the east, there are people you have to check things off with in order to move forward. The west, it's independent, individualistic and people do something and go out and do it. Our goal with this is to get to families and kids so that they choose a career trajectory or educational trajectory that's focused on science and technology and math. And because of making it fun is critical, informal science is the best way to motivate kids to get into these careers.

Ted Simons: Centered around February of next year, correct?

Jeremy Babendure: Correct.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us and good luck with the festival.

Steve Zylstra: Thank you.

Jeremy Babendure: Thank you.

Ted Simons: That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Jeremy Babendure: Director,Arizona SCITECH Festival; Steve Zylstra: Arizona Technology Council Foundation;

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