Arizona Technology and Innovation: Arizona SciTech Festival Statewide Launch Event

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The Arizona SciTech Festival has grown into Arizona’s largest event featuring science, technology and innovation with over 800 events in 45 cities and towns. The launch event for the SciTech Festival will take place February 11. Jeremy Babendure, executive director of the Arizona SciTech Festival, will tell us more.

Steve Goldstein: In tonight's Arizona technology and innovation segment, the Arizona sci tech festival has grown into Arizona's largest event featuring science, technology, and innovation with over 800 events in 45 cities and towns. Here to talk about the festival is Jeremy Babendure, executive director of the Arizona sci tech festival. Jeremy, welcome.

Jeremy Babendure: Thank you for having me.

Steve Goldstein: This thing is really growing.

Jeremy Babendure: This is our 4th season. Communities are really making it their own. When we started out, 200 events, Chandler, Tempe all working to create events. We had on in Tempe called the geeks night out event. Communities have started to embrace this and bring collaborators from business, education, community, government, to really address larger issues related to innovation and science in the regions. It has now grown to involve communities out to Safford, Arizona, Verde Valley -- it has become a statewide engagement.

Steve Goldstein: People are enthusiastic about it. There must be little challenges as you go along as you grow. Can you talk about some of those?

Jeremy Babendure: I think part of it, the time, being able to support them. What's fun about it, each of the community kind of makes it their own. It is almost like a sleuth where you try to figure out they might have a science and technology festival that exists. How do you figure out what are the science and technology assets that they have and helping them realize that they can do it. You might have somebody -- for example, my background, Ph.D. in biotech. People might say I'm a science professional. Somebody who is an auto mechanic, someone who is a cook -- helping them realize that they have a skill set is fun and getting them to be self-empowered that they have that ability to talk about science.

Steve Goldstein: I'm glad you brought up the word fun. When it comes to a festival, I don't think people realize science and technology are such an everyday part of what we do. How do you make it fun so that the generations are interested in this?

Jeremy Babendure: One of the facets we like to talk about -- sneaky science. We work to sneak it into existing opportunities. So, Glendale has a chocolate affair that we have been working with each year. We work with them to do the science of chocolate. In Scottsdale, there's an event called baseball city. Professors from ASU, does the fastball rise? They have one where they break the myth about putting a weighted -- if you weight your bat, does it actually affect your swing? There is ways to look at things that are fun and meet our motivations and really increase people's interest in engagement --

Steve Goldstein: I thought that weighted bat thing was true. I used to put a donut on the bat to make me feel stronger when I took it off.

Jeremy Babendure: They actually find that is not true. In some people they found it was the opposite. Psychology -- more a psychological thing. Hey, I always put this on my bat to swing quicker.

Steve Goldstein: How much involvement do you have personally on what is going on? How many places do you have to be?

Jeremy Babendure: During the festival, I try to go to as many events as possible. As it gets more and more, it is virtually impossible to be there. I try to jump between many events. For example, on Saturday, February 21st, 13 major events happening. There is a Buckeye Air Fair and there is a Chandler Science Spectacular and an event in Tucson -- I can't be in as many places at once. We're trying to get a team to go out there. People can't do everything, but maybe next year they will attend a different event and learn different aspects of how science and technology are part of everything that we do.

Steve Goldstein: As the sci tech festival grows, how do you measure success? Differently than you would have in past years?

Jeremy Babendure: Each year we take basic Metrix, you can look at how many people attend the events. We do a follow-up survey with people to talk about behavior outcomes. Did you talk to somebody about the festival afterwards? Did you follow-up with a local company? When you look at more like are we making an impact on the economic footprint, for example Chandler, the economic development officer can talk that they have been able to recruit companies to Chandler because of the brand and identity it helps to establish in Chandler. We are seeing the festival helps establish long-term relationships and build rapport in communities, that can have a longer-term impact -- as well as collaborations between cities, educators, and the community.

Steve Goldstein: Series of events like this, how important is it to grab people almost right after it as opposed to thinking there is one in a year. Let's make people excited about this. Are there incremental things going on?

Jeremy Babendure: We have some conversations with communities that are still on the fence trying to figure it out. We met with Fountain Hills and they're interested or Coolidge. Now is a great time. They can go and build their collaborative and attend other events. Maybe they go to the Buckeye Air Fair and say -- it is a great time to grab them. Are we trying to attend the events, recruit people, a lot of things going on at once.

Steve Goldstein: How much bigger do you think this can get?

Jeremy Babendure: Ideally, how do you have a festival be almost like an earth day for science and technology? How do you help it reach everybody in their own communities?

Steve Goldstein: Thank you.

Jeremy Babendure: Sure. Thank you for the time.

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Jeremy Babendure:Executive Director, Arizona SciTech Festival;

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