Mon09222014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Camps provide tech opportunities for students


Photo By: Courtesy of Bronwyn o”malley
Photo Courtesy Of Bronwyn O”Malley

Students in Ameeta Mukherjee and Shezadi Merchant’s camps have opportunities to explore science and technology in ways that promote learning by doing.

Two Los Altos residents have partnered to present four weeks of summer Science & Technology camps for children entering grades 2-6. Sessions are scheduled 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5-9 and Aug. 12-16.

Ameeta Mukherjee of Science Matters and Shezadi Merchant of Tech Kids Fun said they are passionate about science, technology and children, and want to encourage children to be passionate about those things as well.

After Mukherjee left the workforce in October to stay home with her children, she supplemented her sons’ science curriculum and thought some of their friends might be interested in joining them.

In February, after spreading the word with friends and posting on her neighborhood’s online site, she began teaching a series of science classes Monday and Friday afternoons.

The success of the endeavor inspired Mukherjee to organize a science camp over spring break. The camp, which attracted children from public, private and charter schools, met five hours a day, complete with an Advancement Via Individual Determination volunteer from Los Altos High School.

She also began teaching science after school one day a week to grades K-2 at Almond.

After the spring-break camp, Mukherjee enlisted Merchant to teach coding to the children. Mukherjee said she read in Wired magazine that Estonia started a pilot project to teach coding to first-graders.

“This is the future,” Mukherjee said. “My pestering paid off, and Shezadi said, ‘Let’s do a STEM camp.”

An important component of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is learning by doing, according to Mukherjee.

For the summer camps, Mukherjee and Merchant will swap groups of children for three hours each. Merchant, a computer scientist, will use a program called Scratch, a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, to animate different objects and will teach campers how to create a website.

“The kids want to do stuff on the computer – they just don’t know what to do,” Mukherjee said.

Both sessions will feature new vocabulary words, experiments and unstructured time “to really mess around in a safe manner,” said Mukherjee, adding that “goggles are used a lot.”

Mukherjee emphasizes the scientific method and ensures that the children understand how their outcomes relate to their initial hypotheses. She said the camps will be abuzz, participatory and full of inquiry and conversation, with time for snacks, games, play, exercise and taking walks.

Los Altos resident Julie Watson enrolled her 7-year-old in Mukherjee’s Science Matters classes.

“He learned things I never would have thought to introduce at this age, and had so much fun doing it,” Watson said. “What I didn’t expect was that he would also tell me about the scientific principles involved.”

Mukherjee said she hopes to spark girls’ interest in science, noting that many don’t see it as fun.

“But it is,” she said. “You get started and you think, ‘I just want to keep doing stuff.’ What class can you not make a mistake in?”

For now, Mukherjee and Merchant are conducting the camps in Mukherjee’s north Los Altos garage.

“It’s nice for the children to come to a home,” Mukherjee said. “People are relaxed. I love the idea of pop-up labs in people’s homes teaching children a new skill such as knitting, cooking and building.”

Camps cost $400 per session, $100 per day. The location will be revealed upon enrollment.

For a schedule of sessions and registration information, visit www.sciencemattershq.com or www.techkidsfun.com.

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