2020 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Education

Dr. Alice Christie has dedicated her life to serving others. Currently in her 54th year as an educator, she taught in the K-12 arena for 20+ years, was a professor of education at Arizona State University for 20+ years and spent 9 years traveling to 37 states to provide STEM education workshops to over 5000 PK-12 teachers. In 2017, she founded and self-funded Tynkertopia, Inc. (a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in Flagstaff.

Dr. Christie received her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy and Educational Technology in 1995. She served first as assistant professor, then as associate professor at Arizona State University. She retired in 2008 as ASU President’s Professor Emerita. This designation is one of Arizona State University’s most prestigious faculty honors. It is designed to reward enthusiasm and innovation in teaching, the ability to inspire original and creative work by students, mastery of subject matter and scholarly contributions. Only 36 professors at ASU hold this title.

Flagstaff is America’s First STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Community, and Tynkertopia, Inc. is Flagstaff’s STEAM (STEM + The Arts) Community Center. Its mission is to expand the creativity and inquiry skills of tynkerers of all ages by inviting curiosity, inspiring wonder, encouraging playfulness, and celebrating unique solutions.

Tynkertopia is a place filled with opportunities to play, invent and launch imaginations into overdrive! Designed for kids, parents, teachers, and community members, Tynkertopia encourages independent thinking, questioning, inquiring, designing, building, exploring and tynkering!

No digital-age learning space/place survives and thrives today without technology; but no amount of bright, shiny new technology can take the place of inspiration and dedication. So, Tynkertopia does not focus exclusively on the newest emerging technologies and tools; it focuses on creativity, inquiry, and excitement in learning. Tynkertopia is less of a classroom and more of an environment for experimentation, discovery, learning, and fun.

Dr. Alice Christie describes Tynkertopia as a natural culmination of her experiences teaching science and technology, as well as reading and writing, for over 50 years (AZ Daily Sun). She actualized her vision of a hands-on community learning space and created Tynkertopia, a STEAM Community Center designed to empower participants to cultivate skills, strategies, and confidence as independent, lifelong learners. The Tynkertopia motto is Think with Your Hands, Learn by Doing.

As word spread about the free-to-all STEAM Center, the number of daily visitors increased exponentially. Currently, Tynkertopia serves between 10 and 60 visitors each day. Numbers tell the story of the relevance of Tynkertopia to Flagstaff: over 8000 kids, parents, grandparents, teachers, and community members have visited Tynkertopia since its opening 17 months ago. Dr. Christie’s non-profit organization gives her the opportunity to continue to do what she loves: teach, inspire, and serve her community.

Tynkertopia partners with the US Department of Agriculture and St. Mary’s Food Alliance to offer a free meal to every child between 1- and 18-years of age who visits Tynkertopia. Growing minds require good nutrition, so Tynkertopia is proud to provide nutritious meals to all who wish them.

Alice has been an innovator in the use of technology to expand and deepen learning. Her educational website (www.alicechristie.org) annually receives over 2 million visitors who wish to use her myriad of resources about using technology to enhance their teaching and learning.

Finally, Dr. Alice Christie is recognized globally as an educational leader and innovator. She is a Google Certified Educator and Google Certified Innovator. She received a number of ASU Awards including the Award for Teaching Excellence, the Award for Service Excellence, and the Outstanding Commitment to Students Award. In the spring of 2019, Alice was named Flagstaff STEAM Community Leader, an award given annually by STEM City in recognition of leadership to the Flagstaff community in Science, Technology, Engineering, The Arts, and Mathematics.


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