Wed05062015

News

LASD, city move toward land discussions

The ice may be thawing a bit as the Los Altos School District and the city of Los Altos consider resurrecting discussions on the potential use of public land as a school site.

The city voted to discontinue conversations about civic land with the sch...

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Schools

Mental health expert dispels myths

Mental health expert dispels myths


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto University Professor Paul Marcille addresses a crowd of psychology students and mental health activists last week about myths surrounding mental illness and violence.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandy Hook Elementa...

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Community

Q&A: Meet the city's new public works and administrative services directors

The city of Los Altos has hired three new department directors in the past ten months. The Town Crier recently profiled new Recreation Director Manny Hernandez. This week, the Town Crier profiles Susana Chan, new public works director, and Kim Juran-...

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Comment

Familiar icon pops up in Los Altos: A Piece of My Mind

I was walking to my car parked on State Street when my eye fell on an old familiar acquaintance from my early childhood, totally unexpected to meet in Los Altos. It was the “Steinway” logo over the door of the new Steinway Piano Gallery,...

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Special Sections

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Teaspoon, the milk tea shop at Village Court in Los Altos, above, serves a range of bubble teas and snow ice drinks, right.

Los Altos made it onto the milk tea map this spring with the opening of Teaspoon, a new bubble tea ...

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Business

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing


Alicia Castro/ Town Crier
C2 Los Altos tutor Max Shih, left, instructs Homestead High School student Rajesh Suresh.

Los Altos families have a new resource for helping their children ace the test.

C2 Los Altos – a recently opened education cente...

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Books

People

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

9/17/1918-4/15/2015

Dorothy Puder died on April 15th in Sunnyvale, California. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving, positive and caring ways and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

 PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View

PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View


Lyn Flaim/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” includes, from left, Sophia Graziani (of Los Altos) as Winnifred, Chris Gough (Sunnyvale) as the Prince and Reilly Arena (Palo Alto) as the Queen. ...

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Spiritual Life

Mercifully in His grip: Exploring our true position in Christ

I recently read a wonderful analogy about our true position in Christ. It was shockingly contrary to the messages impressed upon me in church, but deeply rooted in the Bible. The analogy is that of child and a parent. If you have ever taken a small ...

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Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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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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