Family enjoying Science Center

Broader Impact

Arizona Science Center’s mission is to inspire, educate and engage curious minds through science. We are building enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math learning throughout Arizona and beyond to expand our top-quality programming for students, teachers and families. Guided by our Strategic Vision, we are focused on responding to the needs of our community; providing innovative research-based, standards-aligned STEM education programs, and K-12 educator support, and sharing our results with the science center field.

Educational Partnerships

Thanks to the generous partnerships below, Arizona Science Center is able to bring our mission to the community and beyond.

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Research Related Projects

Arizona Science Center has been a grant recipient or a partner with a grant recipient on several research/evaluation related projects.

Evaluation is a process used to improve the design and function of educational experiences in informal learning environments and to measure progress toward goals.

Research studies are designed to generate findings that will inform the broader field of informal science education. Research studies typically use methods similar to formative and summative evaluation, such as observations, interviews, and surveys with participants; however findings from these studies are often shared more widely to advance informal science education efforts.

Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF)

Learn about AzSEF

AzSEF is an annual, statewide science and engineering competition for grades 5-12 and is affiliated with the Society for Science, which partners to organize the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest international pre-college science competition. Started in 2008, AzSEF combined several existing fairs from Central and Northern Arizona, as well as an American Indian Fair. Arizona Science Center (ASC) has served as the host and lead organizer of AzSEF since 2014. AzSEF is a perfect fit for the Center’s mission of inspiring, educating and engaging curious minds through science.

Scientific Review Committee

The International Rules for Pre-college Science Research: Guidelines for Science and Engineering Fairs is published annually to support students doing independent research safely. They are the official rules of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair and students competing at an SSP-affiliated science fair.

The purpose of these rules is to:

  • Protect the rights and welfare of the student researcher;
  • Protect the rights and welfare of the human participant;
  • Ensure adherence to federal regulations;
  • Ensure use of safe laboratory practices;
  • Protect the environment; and
  • Determine eligibility for competition in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.

Science Teacher Residency (STaR) Professional Development Program 

Learn more about STaR Professional Development Program

Science Teacher Residency (STaR) is a teacher professional development program of the Arizona Science Center that expands access to high-quality teaching practice in science education for Arizona teachers. Over the past three years the program has served 112 teachers (spanning grades 3 - 8), representing 70 school sites in 44 districts.

The STaR program offers deep dives into science subject areas to promote content mastery and equip teachers with the pedagogical skills needed to effectively engage students. In its first three years of operation (2018 - 2021), STaR offered nine modules on topics on Life, Space, Earth, and Physical science. STaR covers all costs related to attending the program—including teachers’ travel and a stipend to fund a substitute for their classroom. Participants leave the residency with all materials needed to effectively implement the lessons and strategies learned.

Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) Grant

National Science Foundation

Learn more about the RAIN Grant

Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) is an Innovations in Development project supporting informal STEM education (ISE) in rural Arizona. Spearheaded by Arizona State University, Arizona Science Center, community leaders in four rural regions across Arizona and the Lifelong Learning Group of COSI, the team will collectively reach 60,000 children and parents and 1,000 STEM professionals by project completion. Each region will develop local ISE projects and experiences, and STEM professional development for community leaders to stimulate dialogue, interest, and engagement of children, families, and organizations in the STEM disciplines, their real-world applications, associated career opportunities, and impact on the local economies.

This project capitalizes on existing ISE and STEM organizations, practitioners, academics, and others to collaborate and explore innovative ways of support for STEM education among underrepresented populations. It will develop a suite of tools and best practices for promoting collaboration of ISE and STEM-based professionals and organizations and transfer of STEM learning that is replicable in other rural and remote settings nationwide. These products will be circulated to rural communities and other ISE organizers both nationally and internationally to facilitate large-scale, statewide STEM education and workforce development. Dissemination will include academic and professional conferences and publications, and made available to local and state governments.

National Informal STEM Education Network Partnership (NISE Net)
Research Projects

Learn more about NISE Net Research Projects

National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net): As a partner with NISE Net, Arizona Science Center has been involved with their projects, in a variety of ways, including but not limited to data collection for their research projects. NISE Net projects where Arizona Science Center serves as lead:

  • NASA: The Moon and Beyond: An Immersive Game for STEM Learning in Museums and Planetariums

NISE Net research projects include:

  • Nano and Society Case Study of a Research-to-Practice Partnership between University Scientists and Museum Professionals (2014)
  • Partnerships in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net): A study of partnerships between university scientists and museum professionals (2015)
  • NISE Net Research on How Visitors Find and Discuss Relevance in the Nano Exhibition (2015)NISE Network Research - Nano Online: Tracking NISE Net’s Digital Footprint (2015)
  • Research on Organizational Change in a National Network of Informal Science Education Institutions (2017)

Multi-Institutional Science Center Effects Study (MISCES)

Learn more about MISCES

The Multi-Institutional Science Center Effects Study (MISCES), conducted by John H. Falk, Scott Pattison, and David Meier, Institute for Learning Innovation, was a multi- institution, national research effort to advance understanding of the contributions science and technology centers make to public science literacy. This study builds on previous research that examined the effects of science centers on perceptions of and interest in science and found that science center visits play a critical role in science learning throughout life. The study represented a joint effort by California Science Center, The Franklin Institute, and Arizona Science Center to better understand what influences youth and adult science interest. It was based on a sample of more than 4,500 youth and adults living in three U.S. metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Philadelphia). MISCES measured the current science interest of youth and adults and attempted to determine how different types of educational resources contributed to that interest.

Facilitating Museum Evaluation with Real-Time Data Mining

Arizona State University

Learn More

This project made novel use of familiar technology (smartphones and tablets) to address the immediate and pressing challenge of affordable, ongoing, large-scale museum evaluation, while encouraging museum visitors to engage deeply with museum content. Using a smartphone app, museum visitors pose questions to a 'virtual scientist' called Dr. Discovery (Dr. D). Dr. D provides answers and the chance to complete fun mini-challenges. The questions visitors ask are gathered in a large database. An analytics system analyzes these data and a password-protected website provides continuous, accessible evaluation data to museum staff, helping them make just-in-time tweaks (or longer term changes) to exhibit-related content (such as multimedia, lecture topics, docent training, experience carts, etc.) as current events and visitors' needs and interests change. The intellectual merit of this project is that it is building evaluation capacity among informal educators, advancing the fields of visitor studies, museum evaluation, informal science learning, and situated engagement, and is contributing to the development of novel evaluation techniques in museums. This project has many broader impacts: The Ask Dr. Discovery system is available to any venue that wishes to use or adapt it to their context. By enhancing the visitor experience and improving museum access to data for evaluation and data-driven decision making across the country, Ask Dr. Discovery has both a direct and indirect impact on museums and visitors of all types. This project is also training the next generation of STEM and education innovators by employing a diverse team of undergraduate students.

Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery for Families Students and Teachers

National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (NIH SEPA)

Learn More

Funding to establish the Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery for Families, Students and Teachers Project (subsequently referred to as the Pathways project) at the Arizona Science Center (ASC) was awarded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The grant project was funded from 2009 to 2014. During that time, the ASC project personnel collaborated with scientists and educators to develop new activities and demonstrations that would promote increased understanding of biomedical research, bioinformatics, and nanomedicine.

Aims of the Project and Results. The Pathways project introduced the general public, students and teachers to current biomedical research encouraged by NIH’s Roadmap, building on the strengths of hands-on informal science experiences and on a multidiscipline Design Team model. In addition to basic medical research, it aimed to highlight the processes and tools involved in current biomedical research, linking directly to Arizona’s Science Standards. Project resources targeted underserved student communities and built the capacity of the state’s only science center to respond to new developments with interpretive programs and statewide outreach.

Impact Grid

Geographic Impact of Arizona Science Center’s Programs

Arizona Science Center provides programming for communities across all of Arizona, from metro Phoenix to the rural areas of the state. Through the generosity of our corporate, foundation and individual donors, Arizona Science Center is able to provide free onsite and offsite STEM education programming to almost 100,000 underserved and underrepresented students, teachers and families each year.

To learn more about supporting, please contact Tammy Stewart, Chief Development Officer, at or 602.716.2000 ext. 223.


We’d love to speak to you. Please contact Beth Nickel, Chief Academic Officer at or 602.716.2075.