Common Ground

by Don Rodriguez

SciTech Festival

The University of Arizona Medical School in downtown Phoenix opened its doors to launch the SciTech Festival with demonstrations just before the Super Bowl.

Arizona universities have experienced an increase in the number of degrees granted in high-demand fields, including those requiring emphases in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). According to the Arizona Board of Regents, credentials in the fields grew from 4 percent in the 2009-2010 academic year to 47 percent in 2013-2014 school year.

An interest in STEM also has been a key driver in the growing popularity of the annual Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide celebration of science and technology that runs through the end of March. What began with 200 events in 2011 will hit a total of 940 events in 45 cities and towns this year. At least that was the count at press time by Executive Director Jeremy Babendure. With more children engaged in STEM and, in turn, libraries getting involved, “part of (the growth) is being aware,” he says.

More than 500 organizations throughout the state will participate. While Babendure’s team spearheads the effort, they have foundational support from the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Science Center, Arizona State University  and The University of Arizona.

In addition to the SciTech Festival’s growth, an extra this year was the first event actually coincided with the kickoff of Super Bowl Week. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to attend an event this year — close to home or during a day trip to such places as the Verde Valley. At right are some options comprised of first-time events. Additional details can be found at

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