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News

First St. closure set for Saturday

First Street in downtown Los Altos will be closed Saturday (Nov. 22) between West Edith Avenue and Shasta Street for street paving. The closure is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the event of poor weather, the work will be rescheduled for a later ...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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