Terra Aust
Terra Aust
Helios Scholar
School: Corona del Sol High School
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Mentor: Sara Wilbur, MS
PI: Dave Engelthaler, PhD 

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The city of science

Flagstaff has greatly contributed to scientific discovery over the past decade, and continued investment in STEM fields eventually led to the 1990 launching of the Festival of Science, America’s longest-running science festival. In continuing this trend, Flagstaff was designated America’s very first STEM City in 2012. However, to our knowledge, investigations have not been conducted to determine if Flagstaff is living up to its designation as a STEM City. To evaluate this, we conducted a series of semi-structured interviews, including interviews from Chandler, AZ as a comparator city. We then used qualitative coding to analyze our data by assigning code terms (e.g., “Technology”, “Community Success”, “STEAM”, etc.) to interview transcript text. Interview data suggested that in Chandler, neither the community or schools are taking enough initiative in terms of STEM, while in Flagstaff, community and STEM outreach are viewed more often and more favorably. The small sample size and bias in this study indicate that more research should be conducted before our question can be truly answered. Furthermore, there appear to be more factors than originally assumed that contribute to the success of a STEM City that need further exploration.