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May 11, 2023

This year marks the tenth year Astrogeology has joined STEM City’s community-based initiative to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in Flagstaff, Arizona.  

On Saturday, April 29th, members of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center (ASC) went to Fort Tuthill Fairgrounds to participate in the annual Community STEM Celebration.  At these celebrations, local professionals such as teachers and scientists come together to provide educational STEM-related discovery and learning opportunities for Flagstaff youth, teachers, and STEM enthusiasts.   

Astrogeology Team Members at STEM City’s celebration
Left to right: Greg Vaughan, Lori Pigue, Amber Gullikson, Lauren Edgar, and Patricia Garcia.

Our major work involves planetary geologic studies, providing expertise about planetary bodies throughout the solar system, which makes our contribution unique. Students of all ages are curious about planets, space travel, astronaut training, mapping, and similar subject matter, which our experts love to talk about.


We bring information and handouts about careers and paths to working in the field of planetary science for future STEM professionals.


ASC scientists and outreach experts often bring with them demonstrations and handouts that relate to things that we do in our research in addition to the variety of space research that our colleagues do. We can often be seen with 3D prints of asteroids and Apollo landing sites, along with some topographic and geologic maps that we’ve created of the many solar system bodies we work on. Lauren Edgar (pictured behind the table in the photo below) brought a Mars Curiosity demonstration kit with materials that were used to build the Mars Curiosity rover. There is one feature you can always count on when you see the USGS ASC crew: freebies! We often have free topographic and geologic maps of Mars, the Moon, and other planets and moons in our solar system, coloring sheets, stickers, and/or fact sheets.


The earlier you find us, the more likely you’ll be able to go home with a NASA sticker or a poster-size map of Mars!


USGS activity at STEM celebration
Greg Vaughan demonstrates a thermal infrared camera, an all-time crowd favorite.  The camera detects and measures infrared energy (heat) being emitted by whoever is in the camera frame; in this case, two young STEM students’ (in the foreground) heat images can be seen on the monitor on the table.

Regardless of students’ individual interest, STEM classes help form a strong basis for career choices in many fields. We show up because the concentration of expertise at our center is useful to this community as students explore different science fields and because we love sharing our work with our local community. We aim to fulfill a community need, as well as to be a reliable resource to empower, inspire, and educate students in STEM.

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