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News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Complex LEGO towns turn local students into Kidizens


Courtesy of Kidizens
Kidizens participants make decisions that affect the operations of their LEGO cities. Students attend the program’s city council meeting.

Using more than a million LEGO pieces and 1,000 square feet of green space, local students have the opportunity to create, manage and oversee their own cities through Kidizens, an after-school program offered in Los Altos.

At the start of the program, students ages 8-12 – dubbed “kidizens” – are tasked with creating their own LEGO cities from a space that contains only LEGO grass, water and mountains. The program offers different sessions each day of the week, with every class governing their own city within a larger Kidizens state.

“Each group of kids builds one city among these multiple cities,” said Prerana Vaidya, CEO of the program. “The cities and students are interacting with each other. The kids build different infrastructure projects, come up with laws and policies – it’s a very dynamic system.”

The Kidizens’ economy uses its own currency, the LEGO Dot. Each child begins with 1,200 Dots. Right away, the new Kidizens will have to make some difficult choices. With a limited bank account, they are charged with designing and constructing their new homes. The bigger or higher the house, the more Dots it will cost.

The city treasury storehouses the Dots. The more buildings the city constructs, the more taxes it will need to take from each kidizen’s bank account.

“It’s all about critical thinking and a lot of problem solving,” Vaidya said. “Many kids come in rather shy and take a few weeks to break out of that mold. Over time, they start to speak up and find a voice.”

In addition to the logistics of building a city from scratch, students learn money management via concepts such as budgets, loans, profits and overhead as they take on roles as entrepreneurs opening new businesses in their respective cities.

All the kidizens serve on the city council, which meets during each class. They learn how to propose laws, offer amendments and debate from the floor of their council chambers.

Eventually, the cities hold their own mayoral elections and students’ participation in the city becomes more defined.

Teachers oversee the kidizens, guiding discussions, providing perspective and background and imparting mini-lessons on the subject at hand, but the students have all the power when it comes to running their cities.

The program is more than just another LEGO play-based camp, according to Nancy Krop, whose fifth-grade son attended the summer session in Los Altos.

“My son does camps every summer, and this was the first camp that when I picked him up, he was counting the hours until he returned,” she said. “He was the mayor and he just loved it. What I thought was fascinating was he didn’t even know he was learning political science and economics.”

Krop said she was surprised to walk in one day and see her son giving a speech to his fellow kidizens.

“He was just so excited to participate,” she said. “He walked away with more self-confidence, self-esteem and interest in government.”

The Kidizens program – which sponsors supplementary programs for younger and older students – has scheduled fall and spring sessions, with the first 15 weeks in the fall ready to kick off at Village Court, 4546 El Camino Real, Los Altos.

The sessions are slated after school hours, but the program also runs a well-attended day program for home-schooled students.

For pricing, a class schedule and more information, visit thekidizens.com.

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