Tags Articles tagged with "STEAM"


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Curt von Delius prepares his rocket in Nevada. Photo by Darryl Paris

By Fran Lyons

Historic. Supersonic. Near space flight.

Curt von Delius’ high-power rocketry project, PHX4 200000, is that and more.

The mission launched June 16, 2018, from an austere, “in the middle of nowhere” site in the Black Rock Desert located in northwestern Nevada. Von Delius’ two-stage PHX4 rocket attained an altitude of 244,000 feet, easily overshadowing the previous record of 120,000 feet for an amateur, two-stage rocket.

The max speed of Mach 3.53 is compared to a high-velocity rifle bullet. This type of launch classification also required military approval and permits.

After a first attempt at rocket launching failed, Curt was ready to take a break. A friend, “another rocket guy,” pushed him forward to continue his quest and supported the project with funding. It took five years of research, testing and construction to build the PHX4. The entire project, including design and components, was completed at his Maricopa home, in the garage.

Monica Daniels, Curt’s mission manager and life partner of 30 years, said, “He is passionate and puts his heart and soul into his work. His desire to take on a challenge is amazing.”

Curt von Delius
Photo by Victor Moreno

The rocket traveled 3.5 times the speed of sound and coasted to 46 miles above sea level. A camera onboard the spinning vehicle captured the curvature of Earth’s horizon. It touched down more than 6 miles away.

Von Delius felt the pressure of a real mission and the scientific payload that accompanies it. More than 22,000 people, including some of his rocket buddies, have viewed the launch on YouTube, and Mike Fisher commented, “Curt is a very smart dude and a heck of a nice guy. This does not surprise me that he built a rocket capable of this.”

Photo by Darryl Paris

Curt von Delius was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up in Montana and Washington state. He also lived in Hawaii. Daniels was born in Southern California. She traveled to Washington state to learn to become a pilot.

She met Curt, also a pilot, in 1989, when they flew single-engine aircraft and gliders together. They soon became a team and complemented each other’s dreams and goals.

They lived in Seattle and Port Townsend where he learned traditional boat building, being inspired by an 1893 Kingston Lobster boat.

“I fell in love with traditional boats. What draws me is the beauty of craft and working with my hands,” von Delius said. “It’s a talent that comes naturally.”

Curt von Delius preps his rocket launcher for the big day in Nevada. His work resulted in an altitude gain of 244,000 feet.
Submitted photo

They decided to move to Lake Tahoe, where Curt began building high-end houses and Monica worked in property management. In 2005 they left their businesses and semi-retired. They moved to Maricopa and settled in Province to escape the long winters in Tahoe.

Always the adventurer, von Delius was triggered to return to water skiing, another great love. He was active in tournament slalom at Firebird Lake by the racetrack in Chandler. There, he made a friend who introduced him to the world of rockets – the most challenging objects to build and a quantum leap into design and engineering.

Von Delius became hooked and began studying NASA publications, technical theses and using his native inventive wisdom. The rest is history.

“The PHX4 Project was successful – I dreamed it, designed it, built it and moved beyond the challenges and obstacles of the launch. I met and exceeded my expectations,” von Delius said.

After 30 years of flying, building boats and houses and seeking new frontiers, Curt and Monica are taking an extended trip to relax and enjoy off-shore sailing in the South Pacific. Von Delius called it “back to roots – sailing as a reward for the soul.”

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation hosted STEAM Day Nov. 8 at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center with a mixed bag of hands-on experiences for kids. Booths included rockets, martial arts, a 3D printer, popcorn, robots and much more. STEAM emphasizes new and future occupations being created through science, technology, engineering and math.

Dan Miller of Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation invites the community to STEAM Day at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

Science, technology, engineering, arts and math take the spotlight on National STEAM Day Nov. 8.

The Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation will feature STEAM-related, hands-on demonstrations for the whole family from 4-7 p.m. at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. The event is sponsored by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

Santa Rosa and Saddleback elementary schools will demonstrate engineering activities. There will also be coding, virtual reality, 3D printing and STEAM in art. Business and college organizations will offer STEAM exhibits and activities, too.

STEAM Day is supported by the Arizona SciTech Festival, which will have Street Team members leading and showcasing the “STEMonstrations.” Come meet the newest chief science officers from Maricopa, Pinal County and Arizona.

The STEAM Foundation’s goal is to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce by increasing kids’ opportunities for engagement and awareness of STEAM-related disciplines.


What: STEAM Day
When: Nov. 8, 4-7 p.m.
Where: UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, 16000 N. Maricopa Road
How much: Free
Info: Dan Miller, President/CEO, Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation, Inc., dan.miller@maricopasteam.org, 520-840-3727
Donna Jagielski, Technology Integration specialist, MUSD, djagielski@musd20.org, 520-568-5100 ext. 1086.

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Butterfield Elementary students learn some science facts at Central Arizona College during S.T.E.A.M. Day.

By Michelle Chance

The third annual S.T.E.A.M. Day at the Central Arizona College Maricopa campus introduced local sixth-graders to learning sessions that combined science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Jan. 11-12, students from Butterfield Elementary and other schools got hands-on experience during four learning sessions.

In one class, students watched as a 3D printer designed a plastic shark. In another, kids learned about the science behind the culinary arts as they watched Chef Gabe Gardner make marshmallows from scratch.

Students then got to experiment with technology using iPad microscopes and later with LED lights.

Carrie McIntyre, STEM Program Advisor at CAC, said careers in S.T.E.A.M. encompass a wide array of fields including: computer programming, biology, astronomy, engineering, various fields in design and math, among many others.

In fact, careers in S.T.E.A.M. are growing.

According to a report by the Department of Commerce, careers in S.T.E.A.M. are estimated to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, those working in steam related fields typically make more money than those who don’t.

McIntyre said it is important to expose children at a young age to S.T.E.A.M. because they are very exploratory and interested in how the world works.

“If we can begin to direct that vision at a young age to show them fields like engineering, and breaking it down to things like our 3D printer, [it can] really show them how that impacts their world and what they do.”

Butterfield Elementary School teacher Stephanie Shiflett said even sixth graders are not too young to begin considering a career path.

“I see a lot of students who haven’t really looked at who they want to be, and they might be closed off to the realities of what awaits them in the future,” Shiflett said. “So I think bringing the students here, they get to have so many hands-on experiences and it really gives them a wider view as to what they can do in their future.”

Sixth grade student Aubryana Pick said she is interested in interior design, but she might also consider studying culinary arts at CAC after attending the S.T.E.A.M. Day event.

“They have a lot of appliances and you can do a lot in this school,” she said.

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VEX Robots had a very specific task to perform in competition Saturday at Maricopa High School. Photo by Adam Wolfe

For the first time in school history, Maricopa High School hosted a VEX VRC Robotics competition Saturday.

Twenty teams arrived at MHS to compete in the “Nothing but net” state qualifying event. Over the last three months, teams have been developing robots specifically meant to accurately shoot a ball into a net. Competition winners were able to earn a spot in the state competition at the end of the year.

“The goals of the competitions change every year, so this event is very specific to this year’s,” Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation program coordinator Rachael Burno said. “These teams learn the rules and learn the competition and then build their robots. It’s purely their design. They decide how to program it and how to build it and how to run the robot itself.”

Saturday’s state qualifier consisted of two competitions happening simultaneously. One robot was stationary in the corner of the competition area and heaved shots into the net. A second robot drove around the competition area to collect balls to attempt shots from any distance. Scores were based on the number of shots made.

“It’s going alright,” MHS senior Geovana Garcia said. “We’ve had some struggles but we’re trying to work with it. Hopefully our batteries last longer so we can stay in the competition.”

All four Maricopa teams finished outside the top 10, but each team participated in the finals as part of an alliance. The winning alliance of Team Shockwave and Team Lightning from Desert Vista High School (Phoenix), and Team CG Cybercats from Casa Grande Middle School qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association Barrett Foundation Robotics State Tournament with the victory

MHS High School’s “Rams Engineering I” team took home the Judges Award for the team the judges deem deserving of special recognition. Geovana Garcia’s team received the award for having “special attributes, exemplary effort and perseverance at the event that may not fall under other awards.

For MHS, this competition is just the beginning of what they have planned. According to MHS librarian Robin Shoup, the school hopes to hold middle school and elementary school state qualifying competitions next year.


The Robotics program has become so popular it is exceeding its funding and is turning to a unique source to raise more money.

By Adam Wolfe

The VEX robotics teams within the Maricopa Unified School District have gone from one team at Maricopa Elementary School to 14 teams across the district and outgrown the funding available through the Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Foundation.

The robotics program started with one team at Maricopa Elementary in 2012. Its popularity grew slowly, but the program expanded to two teams in 2013 and five teams in 2014. After competitive success grew with more teams involved, the program has exploded and expects to have 14 teams for the 2015 school year.

The growth of the program is a positive sign for youth wanting to get involved with science, according to program coordinator and Intel employee Rachael Burno. The only issue that comes with the program’s growth is the funding needed to support it. The VEX coordinators have turned to GoFundMe.com to help raise money.

“We are still receiving funding from the STEAM Foundation, but we could have some issues providing equipment to all of the teams,” Burno said. “We have enough funding to cover most of the costs. We were able to purchase five more robots. But we need some help with competition costs and other expenses.”

The goal of the VEX robotics program is to keep today’s youth interested in science and math. It allows students to see real world applications of the processes they learn in class, while also developing technological skills that will be increasingly important as they grow older.

“It’s our way to support STEAM,” Burno said. “Students who have the opportunity to join a program like this are more likely to enter a STEAM career field. My goal is to provide our students with enough opportunities here they can build on to bigger and better opportunities later in life.”

This year, the majority of schools within MUSD have at least one team. Maricopa Elementary has one, Saddleback Elementary School has one, Pima Butte Elementary School has three, Santa Cruz Elementary School has one, Maricopa High School has three, Desert Wind Middle School has one, and Butterfield Elementary School may get a team during the year.

Currently, Santa Rosa Elementary School and Maricopa Wells Middle School do not have teams, but the =VEX program is hoping they’ll join.

Leading Edge Academy is the only non-district school to have a robotics program with three teams. Other charter schools are welcome, but the program needs more funding to support the extra teams.

For students, the robotics program offers a hands-on experience to develop skills with mechanics and programming. For parents, it provides another outlet to get their children socially involved with the school and their fellow classmates.

“My son is a freshman, and that is one of the clubs he wanted to be a part of,” active parent Merry Grace said. “It’s not just a high school thing. They have programs throughout the district, and it’s important to keep kids interested in things like this. Otherwise, what will they turn their attention to?”

With so many products existing that keep children inside and sheltered away from others, the school district and the STEAM Foundation are trying to provide more options for their students to be social while still learning important life skills. If the program can gather more funding, Burno believes the robotics program could just be the beginning.

“We are hoping to expand beyond robotics as well,” Burno said. “We want to introduce students to more extracurricular activities.”

For more information about donating or helping the VEX robotics program, visit www.gofundme.com/MaricopaRobotics.