Sun10192014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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