Wed05042016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Kids + coding + fun = CoderDojo


Courtesy of Erik Zhang
Loyola School fifth-grader Erik Zhang uses programming tools such as Unity, above, with guidance from mentors at the CoderDojo program.

I’m a fifth-grader at Loyola School in Los Altos. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, everyone works in the high-tech industry, and many of them start at a very young age. Nevertheless, it’s still unusual to see 40-plus elementary school kids crowding Microsoft Corp.’s Silicon Valley Campus on a Wednesday afternoon, ready to code with laptops in hand. Fortunately, we aren’t child labor for Microsoft. We are here to learn how to code games with the latest programs like Python, Unity or Scratch.

For free.

It is made possible because a new CoderDojo was formed in our area in August 2012. With the tireless efforts of the founding team, many coding sessions like this have been organized for kids my age featuring great corporate sponsorships (like Microsoft, in this case) and countless volunteer mentors to teach.

CoderDojo, founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton, was started in James’ school in early 2011 when he received some publicity after hacking into an iPod Nano. Some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code. James set up a computer club in his school, where he taught basic CSS and HTML. Later that year he met Bill, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Together, they decided to make the program into something bigger than just an after-school computer club. They successfully launched the first CoderDojo, which provides free and open learning in programming technology, in June 2011.

Since I started going to CoderDojo, I’ve learned many new programming tools, including Unity and Python, and have developed many games of my own. I have shared these games with my little brother and many of our friends, and they all loved them. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to have this wonderful opportunity to play with the latest technology, with so many experts walking around available to help whenever I have a problem.

Not many kids my age have this kind of opportunity. In fact, I remember the comments from my dad about the fact that he never touched a computer until he was 20. Even in this day and age, many kids don’t have a computer, let alone the opportunity to learn from the brightest programmers while they are still in elementary school, for free.

What a wonderful contribution CoderDojo and its volunteers are making for the children lucky enough to have this experience. I hope that when I grow up, I will be able to make similar contributions to less-fortunate people.

As the tagline from IBM states, “Smarter Planet” – let’s make our planet smarter, for us and for future generations.

I just added one of the games I coded at CoderDojo to my website at soundisimore.com. Please check it out. I hope you like it.

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