APRIL-The Unoffical Month Long Celebration of Science and Innovation in Arkansas

I was talking with a colleague earlier this month when he remarked to me that we should try to get the Governor to declare day or week as Science Week in Arkansas.  I thought about that for awhile before I realized, Arkansas has already embraced an entire month as its celebration of inquiry, innovation and exploration.

Every year I brace for impact because the end of spring break heralds the coming of April, when all the scientists and engineers come out from their labs to share their research findings with the masses.  We began this celebration with the Arkansas Academy of Science meeting at Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas) on April 4-5, 2014.  This 97-year old society publishes a journal that presents undergraduate researchers in Arkansas the opportunity to engage in the full practice of scholarship early in their careers.  This year’s keynote speaker was Amber Straughn, PhD.  A native of Bee Branch, Arkansas, Dr. Straughn shared her experience of working for NASA as an astrophysicist.


Students and faculty line up around the corner to get into the 2014 AAS meeting at Harding University.

At the same time to the south in Little Rock, the Arkansas Wing Civil Air Patrol hosted their 2014 annual conference in Little Rock.  This group of civilian volunteers has 11 squadrons in Arkansas all working to help promote aviation education outreach.

If that weren’t enough, about 2 miles up the road in downtown Little Rock, high school students from across Arkansas were gathered from April 4-6 for the first ever High School Startup Weekend at the Clinton School for Public Service.  The weekend was full of hands on experiences where 15 teams of aspiring student entrepreneurs explored startup ideas.  This event was the first of its kind the national Startup Weekend HQ has sanctioned that was high school focused.


Second place winners from eSTEM charter school in Little Rock @ Arkansas HS Startup Weekend.

And while these budding entrepreneurs were hard at work in the Capital City, the Southwestern Energy Arkansas Science & Engineering Fair was taking place in Conway, Arkansas, 30-miles north.  This event is hosted annually on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas and showcases the finalists from each of Arkansas’s regional science fair champions.


Central Arkansas Regional Science & Engineering Fair Winners 2014

There was no rest for the weary on Monday, April 7th because it was time for the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium to host its annual Symposium at the Hot Springs Convention Center.  Retired NASA Astronaut Duane “Digger” Carey delivered the keynote address sharing his experience as a member of the Hubble Space Telescope STS-109 crew, the last mission on Space Shuttle Columbia to safely return to Earth.


Astronaut Duane “Digger” Carey talks to students and signs autographs during ASGC Symposium 2014.

On April 10th Arkansas State University hosted its The fourth annual Create @ STATE: A Symposium of Research, Scholarship & Creativity in the Student Union.  Create @ STATE to provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to make oral, poster, creative, and artistic presentations in a professional and supportive setting.



Meanwhile back in Little Rock, April 11th welcomed the 2014 Arkansas Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation participants to share the fruits of their lab findings during their two day annual conference.  Featured on page 23 of ASSETs of Arkansas Spring 2014 Edition (Publication Date: April 29, 2014), Ark-LSAMP is a federal-state partnership that provides funds to support a statewide STEM alliance dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in STEM majors and graduates from campuses that have developed a collaborative plan with a shared vision to increase the number of underrepresented minority STEM professionals.

On Monday, April 14th, Social and Environmental Science was not to be outdone in this month long celebration.  Hendrix College (Conway) in partnership with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation played host to “New Urbanism: Classic Concepts for New Communities in Worsham Student Performance Hall in the Student Life and Technology Center.  The panel discussion centered around how to create more livable, sustainable, and eco-friendly cities.  Participants were invited to take a tour of The Village at Hendrix to illustrate the principles of New Urbanism.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock showcased the talent of undergraduate and graduate students during the 2014 Research and Creative Works Expo in Little Rock.

Former GREEN Student Researcher Anthony Keener featured during the 2013 Research and Creative Works Expo @UALR.
Former GREEN Student Researcher Anthony Keener featured during the 2013 Research and Creative Works Expo @UALR.

Tuesday, April 22nd took a techie turn as AUTIS held its annual meeting at the Wyndam in North Little Rock.  The Arkansas Users of Telecommunications and Information Systems is a nonprofit that provides technology grants that support the community and advance the use of Telecommunications and IT in Arkansas.

photoReuben Canada of the @EASTinitiative shares an update about the impact of past year award from AUTIS.

Bringing the month to a memorable close was the 2014 Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference hosted by Henderson State University (Arkadelphia), April 25-26.


And these are just the events that I know about!  Needless to say, Arkansas has got a lot going on when it comes to research and innovation.  See something you like?  Well, I suggestion you jump on in and get involved because there’s plenty of neat stuff to get into for the young and the young at heart.

To learn more about Science and Technology opportunities in Arkansas check out the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority at http://www.asta.arkansas.gov or follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ARSCITECH or follow us on LinkedIn.

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