Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032
The Great Globe Project developed at the East Valley Institute of Technology is drawing crowds and fascinating young minds at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix.
Under the direction of mechanical engineer Bryan Beaulieu, The Great Globe Project is the creation of a 42-story, rotating replica of the Earth that will be built in south-central Arizona as an educational tourist attraction. The globe’s surface will be made of over 10 million 4-inch triangular tiles detailing every natural and man-made feature that is larger than 30 feet. Using kits made by EVIT students, children from all over the world will research, computer model and fabricate the 3D tiles.
The Great Globe model and lab have been moved from EVIT to the Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix, where they will be on display through Jan. 4. Children who tour the exhibit have the opportunity to go into the lab and create one of the tiles that will form the state of Arizona on the globe.
“Our goal is to have 6,000 tiles made by Arizona kids by Jan. 4,” Beaulieu said. “We’re about half-way there.”
About five years ago, Beaulieu was looking for lab space to develop his project and found it at EVIT, a career and technical education school with two campuses in Mesa serving high school students and adults. In EVIT Superintendent Sally Downey, he found a champion for his larger-than-life dream.
“The Great Globe is not only a vision of a scientific project, it’s a big, hairy audacious goal,” Downey said. “Just the idea that we’re trying to replicate through technology and 3D printers, science, math and engineering something on this scale … It’ll be the eighth wonder of the world.”
“To have a project like this on a high school campus so that kids can see that anything is possible, so they are engaged and inspired to dream and get out of the box and do things they’ve never done before -- that is so important,” she said. “This is a country of innovation, and we need people who can think and do things better and differently.”
Students in numerous EVIT programs, such as Precision Machining Technologies, Welding, Multimedia and Fashion, Interiors & Design, have spent time in Beaulieu’s Great Globe lab learning computer-aided design and drafting. It’s an example of how the STEM academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math are emphasized in career and technical education.
“STEM is the crux of our programs,” Downey said.
In fact, EVIT is one of 11 finalists vying for the title of “Best STEM School” in the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee’s STEM Superhero Awards presented by Freeport McMoRan. Two other schools in the EVIT Joint Technological Education District – Higley High School and Perry High School – are also finalists. Winners will be announced Nov. 12 in a ceremony at the Arizona Science Center.
On Nov. 18, The Great Globe Project will host an open house from 7-9 p.m. at the Arizona Science Center, where the public can learn more about the project and its progress. NASA has been key to the project, Beaulieu said, by providing satellite imagery and topographic data. And the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois has provided mathematical assistance.
Dean Briere, chief innovation officer for the Arizona Science Center, said more than 5,000 people have visited The Great Globe since the exhibit opened on Sept. 20 next-door to the traveling National Geographic Earth Explorers exhibit.
Briere said that many of the exhibits at the center are finished projects that emphasize STEM.
“What we like about The Great Globe is that it’s in process and it engages our guests to be part of it,” he said. “We think it’s an opportunity for people to get involved with STEM.”