For over a decade local science teachers have banded together to form the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative. Together, these educators put on annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math summer camps and provide teacher support.
Paul Anger is the EASI chairperson and one of the creators of the non-profit group in 2008. Anger is also the director for the Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park campus, where the group holds their meetings and multiple youth summer camp activities.
“Teachers meet once a month to go over planning activities to help each other as teachers. A big factor is the extracurricular activities during the summer for the youth,” Anger said. “The idea is Discovery Park will be the hub of science and STEM activity of Graham and Greenlee County.”
Anger said over the years the initiative’s summer STEM camps have grown in popularity. While the cost of attending the three to four-day camps would normally be $260-$280 including food and transportation, the Graham and Greenlee United Way pays the majority of the cost so parents only pay $40-$60. When the camps started, attendance was sparse, but now the camps are popular and attendance space fills quickly.
Each summer the camps include a Tonto Creek STEM Camp in Payson, for grades seven to ten. Students hike in a cave and on the last day they go swimming in Tonto Creek. Children from multiple counties attend, Anger said.
Another popular camp is the three-day Sumer Science camp. This camp includes a tour of the Mount Graham International Observatory telescopes as well as the University of Arizona agriculture farm.
In the spring, there is a girls-only STEM day camp. This camp is specifically geared toward young would-be scientists.
“All the instructors are women, to promote STEM careers in Graham and Greenlee counties,” Anger said.